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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Fun Brain

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I absolutely love teaching, and I am constantly reflecting on new strategies and techniques that I can use in my classroom to impact my students.

I recently read the article "Brain Research on Education: Fab or Foundation?" by Pat Wolfe. In the article Dr. Wolfe discussed the relationship between brain research and education. It was very interesting to read about the intuitions teachers have always had, and how the current research is confirming their intuition. Brain research is so important to teachers because we are constantly wanting to understand how are students are learning.

Over recent years, the school district that I work in has been holding Highly Effective Teaching professional development trainings that focus on brain research. After attending a simplified training, I learned many new techniques and strategies to use in my classroom. They discussed how important it is to greet your students at the door in the morning with a positive attitude. I feel as though the way I start my morning with my students, directs how the rest of the day will go. They also discussed classroom environment such as using cool colors and plants to create a calming effect. My classroom is done in blues and greens, I use lamps for lighting (I am in a classroom with no natural lighting), and

After completing this training and reading the article "Brain Research and Education: Fad or Fashion?", I am eager to learn more about brain research and its relation to how students learn.

References:

Wolfe, P. (2003, Fall). Brain-compatible learning: Fad or foundation? Retrieved May 24, 2007, from http://www.mcli.dist.maricopa.edu/forum/fall03/brain.html

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Jennifer Brayard's picture
Jennifer Brayard
4th grade teacher from Riverside, CA

I have always greeted my students at the door every morning. I feel like that is very important. This year I intended to buy some plants for the class. I have spent the last 7 years in a classroom without natural light, so I was excited to have natural light this year. I have yet to buy plants, but after reading your post I am planning a trip to the store this weekend. Brain research is quite interesting!

pamnripley's picture
pamnripley
pre-k teacher

I am presently teaching pre-k at our school. The parents have to bring the students and pick them up. Greeting them and their children each morning and afternoon has been rewarding to me. I feel it helps how the parents and students perceive me as a person and as a teacher. The articles on Brain research are so very much interesting. I once had a professor that analyzed what we did in class to see if we were predominantly left or right brained. Wouldn't it be wonderful if educators could guess the first week how our student's learn and what clicks for them? Pam

Nikki Glinski's picture

I also read the article on Brain Research by Pat Wolfe and found it very compelling. I, too, found it very interesting that recent brain research is validating what teachers have always known, based on intuition. We are by no means scientists, but teachers have the ability to get to know their students and understand the best ways for them to learn. Some of the examples from the artile that I'm refering to in particular are using experiments over lecture, repitition to enhance memory and the role of emotion during the learning process. It is satisfying to know that research has been done to back up pratices that teachers have been doing for years.

What the previous posters have said about lighting and other environmental comforts, as well as a proper morning greeting, all envoke a certain emotion that we now know enhances their learning.

In my classroom, I play music every morning when the students come in and do their morning work. We also occassionally take breaks in between lessons to stretch or do other simple exercises to get the blood flowing!

I'd love to hear more examples of the little things like that that we can do to help our kids learn!

Danielle Jenkins's picture

According the articles about brain research, songs and pneumonic devices help our students to retain information and store it for a long period of time. I use a ton of these strategies in my classroom. I teach fourth grade, and so far this year my students and I have rapped about the divisibility rules and sang a song about onomatopoeia to the tune of Old McDonald. We also use a ton of pneumonics such as HOMES to learn the five great lakes and Does McDonalds Serve Burgers to memorize the steps in long division. The kids really enjoy these lessons and remember them throughout the year.

I also play music in the morning for my students as they complete morning work. I also play classical music very softly during their independent writing time and during math assessments. My students say it makes them feel at ease. They really love it!

I would love to hear other strategies!

Rachelle's picture

After reading these posts I have become inspired! I have been teaching for three years and this year I have forgotten to greet my students at the door! I changed buildings this year, and I guess I forgot my routine. I also plan to bring in more music than I currently do. Thank you for the reminders.

Jenny Wooten's picture

I am a substitute teacher and one of the first things I look for in a classroom, besides kleenex, is music. I am a strong believer that classical music does help calm students down and allow them to work better. I have also been in a variety of kindergarten classes that use songs to teach simple math concepts, but the students remember those songs after they leave kindergarten. If I'm having a difficult time with a class, I usually will pop in a cd and we'll take a break from what we're doing. It not only stimulates their brain, but may involve physical movement as well which will lead to better work time. So, please teachers, give subs access to your library of music!

Pam's picture
Pam
High school teacher from Des Plaines Illinois

I agree and think music is important in the classroom. I teach a classroom with students who have severe emotional and behavior issues. I give music beaks many times to my students. And we even dance with our breaks. One students gets a "Temptation Break" I put on the song "My Girl" from the Temptations and he and me and the assistants dance to the music. This many times distracts him from his poor behavior and puts him on track again. Love music in the classroom!

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