“And so our group, we're working on evaluation instruments other than Torrance, which costs a fortune,” Presley said, adding that from store managers to CEOs, “everybody says we need our workforce to be able to solve problems creatively and to be able to collaborate.
“So that's what these things are working on.”
Presley said PISD is using strategies from studies developed at the University of Texas at Dallas Center for BrainHealth's SMART program, which stands for Strategic Memory Advanced Reasoning Training. Based on cognitive neuroscience principles, SMART aims to engage frontal brain networks to build strategic thinking, advanced reasoning and innovative problem solving skills.
“The teachers are trained in how to get the kids to do the strategic reasoning, come up with a gist, which is like the big idea, and then apply it, especially with reading and with writing,” Presley said. “They tried this and demonstrated not only an increase in the innovation / creative thinking skills, but also an increase in test scores.”
Presley said the program was so successful that the legislature approved funding for it to go all over the state.
“So it's offered to any district free of charge,” Presley said. “What our group has been brought in to do is to integrate this with STEAM learning and with math and social studies, (and to see) how we can integrate writing and science. We've discovered when the students are writing, especially in the reflections, they're learning a lot.
Presley said PISD is looking to hone strategies to determine how they can be used, and how they can be integrated with content learning on a large-scale state model.
“That's where Palestine comes in,” she said, calling it the “pilot project.”
“We now have a name, logo, goals, vision and a project. We're in the process of staging the cells and the criteria for this research project, and we're going to launch it probably this semester.”