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Fires in the Mind: What Kids Can Tell Us About Motivation and Mastery    by Kathleen Cushman Amazon.com order for
Fires in the Mind
by Kathleen Cushman
Order:  USA  Can
John Wiley & Sons, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Motivation and subject mastery are topics that have sparked plenty of research projects in the academic community. Kathleen Cushman tries a novel approach she asks students what gets them interested in a subject and keeps them persisting at difficult activities both in school and out.

In a yearlong collaboration dubbed The Practice Project, 160 high school students investigated the concept of deliberate practice. After numerous interviews the group took the findings to create a framework that addressed motivation, practice and high standards.

By developing effective ways to give feedback to teachers about what helped the students learn, the young people were able to offer positive suggestions on how to improve classroom procedures.

Suggestions for improvement included breaking down what needed to be mastered and then setting realistic goals for learning the material. Students also want to see more than one method (visual, tactile, aural) used in presenting subject matter and they feel it is important to have continual assessments of understanding rather than just one high-stakes test.

Besides defining an approach that will engage young learners, the author offers exercises and resources that will enable teachers and parents who may be home schooling their youngsters to create an environment that is more conducive to real and lasting learning.

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