Principles from MBE Science that Shape Our Work
(For more information please see Schwartz, M. (2013). Khan academy: The illusion of understanding. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks.)

Principle #1: Learning should be anchored in a sensori-motor experience

By speaking and moving their bodies to represent stories as plays, children can experience the words of the text in a sensorimotor way. Grounding learning in a sensorimotor experience sets the stage for more complex understanding. Preschool children naturally engage in dramatic play creating a rich platform for building higher level literacy skills.

Principle #2: Feedback should be immediate and intrinsic to the activity

Activities are designed so that children know clearly what their goals are and can easily see what needs to be done to reach them. Children do not wonder how to take action or need lengthy explanation from the teacher. Instead, models from cognitive neuroscience are used to reframe the students’ experience so that immediate feedback is built into the activity itself. Children can then construct their own understandings rather than being told what to notice.

Principle #3: Motivation and self-confidence for writing can be built early

Children typically view the process of writing as negative and laborious. Motivation is increased by a group writing experience where the topic is self-generated rather than teacher-assigned, and the learning is active and social. Having control and autonomy in their learning can influence children toward a positive affect and motivation to mastery of writing (Posner & Rothbart, 2001, p.23). The Story Stage program guides children to create stories that arise from their own personal knowledge or experiences. Grounding learning in prior experience strengthens understanding (Schwartz, 2013; Powers, 1998; Schwartz & Sadler, 2007). Children are intrinsically motivated to connect their ideas in a way that the listener can understand because the stakes are higher when the story is your own.

Principle #4: Practice should be scaffolded and repeated across contexts

Using theater to build narratives as a group creates great potential for repeated practice across many language contexts. Children listen as peers tell their stories. Children offer guided feedback to peers about missing story parts or favorite characters. Children start their own stories, while peers offer suggestions for what happens next. Jonas (2002) notes that students benefit from solving problems together before being charged with solving the same problems alone. A collaborative story building environment generates repeated practice that evolves in a natural, authentic way.