Kenneth Wesson is a former higher education faculty member and administrator. He delivers keynote addresses on the neuroscience of learning for educational organizations and institutions throughout the United States and overseas. His audiences range from early childhood specialists to university-level educators. Wesson’s international audiences have included educators and administrative officers from six of the world’s seven continents. His research is frequently published and referenced in Parents Magazine, HealthNet, and the journal Brain World. Wesson regularly addresses educational organizations, counseling associations, school districts and parenting organizations on the subject of “brain-considerate” learning environments.
In addition to his speeches on the neuroscience of learning, Wesson speaks on the subjects of early brain development, design and engineering, STEM and STEAM, contextual learning, and curriculum development. Wesson also serves on the advisory boards for the Korean Institute of Brain Science, Kids at Science, and the International Association of STEM Leaders. He is an active member of Scientists without Borders and he can be seen on PBS specials on human learning and the teenage brain.
Developing 21st Century Learners
In 2005, the 21st century skills initiative began. It was widely recognized that our “flat, interconnected, and technology-driven” world had changed dramatically, but our approach to education had not. During the last two centuries, American education was grounded in the “3 R’s” in order to prepare students for an agrarian or a manufacturing economy. Today, leaders in education and industry are unanimous that the “Four C’s” (critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity) should supersede the “3 R’s”. A century ago, most jobs were “routine” and education taught students the “one right answer” and the one way to arrive at it. Today’s dynamic occupations are nonroutine, analytic, and require interactive communication skills to define and solve problems. We now look at the possibility of multiple answers, multiple approaches, and more ways than one to look at a problem. Our educational focus last century was to see that students did well in school. Our new goal is to make certain that they do well in a more complicated and complex life. What are you doing in your classroom to prepare your students in the 4 C’s for 21st century success?
Teaching Academic Language through Phenomenon-based Science (Pre-conference Session)
Contemporary surveys reveal that “boring” is the most dominant single-word description that students give for education. In our technology-rich and highly-visual world, student engagement and achievement are enhanced through exciting phenomenon-based learning (PhenoBL), where they examine real-life scenarios, which are investigated through a wide interdisciplinary lens. According to Vygotsk, language grows out of interactions with objects and with others. Through these social-experiential learning interactions, language competency develops quickly, naturally, and deeply.
Current research tells us that the human brain learns best when it digests information that is intriguing and relevant. In PhenoBL, the student investigations, discoveries, conversations, questions, and explanations build vocabulary, conceptual knowledge, and critical thinking. As a result, Pheno-BL has been implemented throughout Finland, a country consistently recognized as among the world’s highest achieving nations.
Participants in this workshop will learn how to merge the CCSS E/LA standards and the NGSS (Science) into brain-considerate phenomenon-based learning experiences.