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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Brain Research and Education

Brain Research and Education

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I was just reading an article on how it is important for teachers to know the structure and make up of the brain in order for us as teachers to better be able to adjust our teaching in order to benefit our students and help them to learn. It states that teachers should be aware of the two distictive types of memory (Precedural and Declarative). The article advises that teachers become familiar with the brain, its parts and its function. What I would like to hear is whether we teachers should rely solely on the parts of the brain to influence our teaching? Should we look to appeal to different parts to teach specific lessons? Should we now design a course at Teachers Colleges specifically related to the brain and its role in Education? Im looking forward to reading your comments.

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Susan Giunta's picture

I read about the FAST ForWord Program too and I am very interested. I also went to their website where there were many testimonials to the effectiveness of the program. I am wondering if anyone out there has actually used the program itself and can give me an honest opinion. I am of the old school: "If it sounds to good to be true, It probably isn't."

Paula Attalla's picture
Paula Attalla
First grade teacher

In a previous reading course there was a section on brain research and how our brain stores information. It reflected on the importance of how teaching methods correlate with prior knowledge and recall ability. After viewing the Quantum Learning video and reading what this brain based research has to offer, it sounds encouraging and appears to offer more learning tools to reach a wide diverse group of students. Every year the classroom dynamics change and more challenges arise to meet the needs of every student. The brain-based research seems to offer clarity and more strategies that will ultimately produce more learning. I would like to see examples on early learners. Has anyone experienced this brain-based research on first graders?

Jerrilyn Makins's picture

Should educators be offered a course to learn more about the brain, yes. While educators comment that much is added to their plates and while nothing is taken off, a course to learn more about how the brain functions could be a positive step towards making what is on our plates not so overwhelming.

As an educator I spend a lot of time in a resource room with fifteen students each with very different learning skills. What I know about them is vague, I need more. I feel the same way when I teach in general education classes. I want to know why certain things work for certain students and why sometimes they do not.

The above mentioned is my professional opinion, the following is my personal opinion. As a parent whose daughter was born with a swollen brain which has added more hurdles to her academic learning than most it is important to work with teachers that have as much possible insight and our willing to take the time to work with my daughter and myself on what will work for her.

My daughter is in resource and general education classes. General education classes are a real struggle for her but she wants to understand what she needs to know. Her teachers put a lot of extra work into helping her and I am so fortunate for that.

My daughter's teachers, medical professionals and myself are always asking, "why did this work for her last time but not this time?"

While her condition is unique I can certainly see how more insight about the brain could be a great advantage to an educator of all classes.

JM's picture
Middle School Math

[quote]Math Facts in a Flash is a research based program. It is designed to help students develop recall of addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication facts. Each time they master a set of facts, they move up to the next level. I use it as a tier 2 and 3 intervention. Students work at their own pace 5 to 10 min a day. Go to Scroll down and click on Math Facts in a Flash. The program also has English in a Flash. This program is mostly used with our ELL students. It is sometimed used with our below level readers.[/quote]

Do you find this program useful? What grade level do you use it for? In my district it seems to be the consensus that by the time students get to middle school, if they haven't mastered their facts, they should be taught to use a calculator for that so they can concentrate on the procedures. I'd love to hear more about this program.

Robin D.'s picture

I think brain research can help us as teachers, because it can help us understand how students learn. I do not, however, think we should rely on it soley when planning our lessons. I think we should keep brain development in mind, but other factors should also go into our planning. There is a book called Teaching with the Brain in Mind that I found to be quite informative and helpful with this.

Shiv's picture
Director at

I consider and understanding the processes by which people learn to be essential for any teacher. Sadly it was the thing I've found most lacking in the education system, both as a student and as a teacher. Much of the brain research that exists has only taken place in the last 20 years so it pre dates the training of many teachers. It should be compulsory for all teachers to know about it.

Janet H.'s picture

I am facinated by the brain research being done, but like Forrest, Tracy, Sarah, and so many others, I am cautious. I've seen many "band-wagon" methods come and go, and often I have been required to use them in my classroom. Of course, in the span of a year or so, something new is adopted to replace the old. I am hoping that brain research will be different. With a better understanding of the brain and the way it works, teachers may have the advantage that they and their students need. However, jumping into the practice without full understanding of the research and how to implement it correctly may do more harm than good.

Paula R.'s picture

To me, the research into the brain's capabilities in regards to learning is filled with endless possiblities. There is so much more for us to learn in regards to our students and their learning styles. I believe as educators, we should push our state and fed'l reps to pursue the study of the brain throughout a child's developmental stages. The knowledge that we could learn from this would give us a great leap into new forms of teaching, brain based concepts for computer based applications, etc. I truly believe that we could see marked improvement within the education field, and students.

Julie's picture

Brain research has been an interest to me for awhile. How the brain works is such an interesting subject that I think would truly help teachers reach all students. Just one more area that can help us reach all students.

Kristina's picture

I had often heard people talking about students as "right-brain" or "left-brain", and find it interesting that I just read an article regarding how it is really not that at all. A lot of it has to do with the anatomy of the brain and what parts of the brain are receiving knowledge. It's essential to teach to each student and how they learn best, make the learning experiences relevant, and then practice what is being taught. In the last couple years, the title reading room has recommended serveral students for vision therapy to help with the brain, tracking, and other components necessary to help with reading and processing. Have any of you heard of similar programs? What are some ways all teachers can help with this other than using multiple intelligences and learning styles?

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