Chariot Learning Blog

We’ve all heard the expression, “Practice makes perfect.” In fact, most of us are guilty of repeating that old bromide, typically to encourage some extremely imperfect activity. Nonetheless, this hoary oyster holds within a pearl of pure truth. Neuroscience tells us that practice makes perfect because of myelination. Our incredible brains never stop changing, which can be a bad thing depending on how we invest or squander our time. As they say, you are what you do, thanks to myelination. Everything we think, say, or do involves the firing of long chains of neurons in our brains. Myelin is an insulating tissue that forms a layer or sheath around the axon of a neuron. Apparently, myelin develops along neural pathways that fire over and over, and its function is to increase the speed of neural impulses along these pathways. In essence, the more we perform a certain task, the faster…

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Effective test preparation delivers so many benefits beyond the obvious improvement in test scores. This post is authored and published by the National Test Prep Association and shared here with permission.

Often, we focus so much on high stakes tests that we fail to recognize them merely as intermediate steps to a larger goal. The SAT and ACT, for example, matter quite a lot, but mainly only for students striving for their choice of four-year college. And while we sometimes miss the big picture, the test makers always keep that test-to-college connection firmly in view. This, in a nutshell, explains why ACT, Inc. provides ACT College Readiness Benchmarks. The College Readiness Benchmarks are the minimum scores in each section of the ACT associated with a 50% chance of earning a B or better and approximately a 75% chance of earning a C or better in the corresponding college course or courses. ACT English is associated with introductory English Composition classes. The ACT Benchmark for English is a scale score of 18, which is approximately 39th percentile. ACT Math is associated with…

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People who aren’t involved in education might be surprised to learn what an ever-changing field it is. We’re always learning new things about learning, and teachers are always switching up their techniques to find out what works best. One approach to teaching that’s making waves in schools around the country is the “flipped classroom” model, which literally turns traditional teaching methods on their head. Conventional education is based largely on Bloom’s Taxonomy, which you might have seen represented as a pyramid with simple, concrete goals at the bottom and abstract, complex tasks at the very top. Classrooms traditionally devote instructional time to the bottom of the pyramid; that is, relaying basic facts and testing for recall, and leave the critical thinking and formulation of original ideas for students to complete at home. But in 2012, high school chemistry teachers Johnathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams argued that this is completely backwards,…

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Working in test prep is often inspiring because so many of our students are striving to surpass their personal bests to redefine what they are capable of achieving. Admissions exams are, by nature, challenging, in the way that all great tests are. The process of studying for a test should instill greater competence and understanding, just as rehearsing music cultivates virtuosity and practicing sports develops athleticism. If you’re feeling challenged, get psyched… that’s where real growth begins!

Reading, as we say over and over and over, is fundamental to learning, understanding, and living well. But maybe the practice would be more popular if enthusiasts weren’t tagged with such insulting monikers. Who wants to be called a bookworm anyway? According to Addison Rizer’s comprehensive History of the Bookworm, this derogatory term dates back to the 16th century: The earliest documented appearance of the word bookworm, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is in 1580: It appears in Three Proper and Witty Familiar Letters, a series of correspondences between scholar Gabriel Harvey and poet Edmund Spenser. One of the men writes of someone reading too much, “A morning bookeworm, an afternoone maltworm.” Back then, the term denoted idleness or vice: “Those who were bookworms were ‘candle-wasters’ and ‘maltworms,’ a reference to being an alcoholic.” Today, most devoted readers enjoy recognition of their erudition, despite being compared to vermin. Interestingly,…

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