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Brain Research and Education

Ameina

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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Laura F. Thank you for the

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Laura F. Thank you for the website. I will be sure to check it out!

I am currently taking a

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I am currently taking a graduate class and this weeks homework is on brain based research. This blog has been very helpful in gathering information of things I would like to look up and learn more about. I also recently attended a workshop about brain based activities and ways to reach all students. It was very hands on and informative.

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I do not possess a great deal of knowledge about brain research, but I can tell you that from my readings I have discovered that a childs healthy development is based on the interactions that take place between the parents and the child.

4th grade teacher from California

Fast ForWord

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Thanks to Heather Maddox for the web site on the Fast ForWord program. I seriously think that if it is that good it should be in all schools. I am sure we all have students who have English Language Learners who would benefit greatly from this program. I know I definitely do.

In response to the article

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In response to the article Laura F. mentioned ("Addressing Literacy Through Neuroscience"), I agree that it was very informative. Like so many who have posted already, I am fascinated by what is being discovered about the brain and how it works.

At the same time, I feel a bit overwhelmed by all of the information as I try to stay on top of the new findings coming out and assessing the implications for my teaching. Several have asked or mentioned the question of how closely brain research findings and eductation should be aligned. I say that a certain amount of alignment is very important and will benefit all involved, yet I am a little tenuous about going too far.

I often feel like there is pressure, from outside of education, to "fix" or "figure out" how to educate better. I'm not saying that improvements can't be made. I haven't met a teacher yet that will say, "I've got it all figured out," but the process of educating is very complicated and individualized. I would hate to see the growth of a notion that over simplifies this process with quick-fix answers.

I plan to continue learning more about how the brain works and try to stay abreast of new findings, but I am going to be selective in the changes made in my room. After all, it is a classroom, not a laboratory.

Reference:
Miller, S., & Tallal, P. A. (2006, December). Addressing Literacy Through Neuroscience. The School Administrator. Retrieved January 25, 2010, from http://www.aasa.org/publications/saarticledetail.cfm?ItemNumber=7812

FastForward

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I'm reading the same article as Maureen and Sally.....

The elementary school I work at has been using FastForward for the last 4 years. I have been working there for the last 4 years. I was able to see the improvements, or the lack-there-of since the beginning. For the struggling readers it really can be beneficial.

FastForward is a computer program that has to be used consistantly in order for it to make a difference. We have a before and after school time slot open where students can attend. Our district allows anyone that might be interested in having their child participate. This means a child that may not need the extra support, which the program is not intended for. We didn't see any improvements in these kids.

I think that our district is using the program in the way it's not intended. When we first started the program, the struggling students were getting pulled out of class to participate. We did see improvements in those struggling kids, BUT, they were missing things in homeroom. The improvements we were seeing weren't that significant. We have now made it a program that is purely before or after school.

Our speech teacher is the person that "sold" the district on FastForward. The teachers have not seen the improvements that the program promised. This may be because it's not being used the way it was intended for. Another issue is, the cost. In our small district this program costs the same amount as a full time teaching position. She is now trying to "sell" our new superintendant on the program and is opening it up to speech and special ed. students just so there are more kids using the program than the current number of students, which is a small amount.

I would be interested to hear from other teachers that are using this program at their school, and how it's being used.

First Grade Teacher

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I read an article called Addressing Literacy through Neuroscience. It mentioned a program called Fast ForWord which is a reading and language training program. Its focus is to increase students' brain processing speed. It is a computer based intervention program. Has anyone ever heard of this program or used it in your classroom? It mentioned being a beneficial program for ESOL students. My school has many ESOL students and I am curious to find out more information on this program.

1st grade teacher in CA

I find brain research to be

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I find brain research to be fascinating. I would have loved my teaching courses to have at least touched upon the subject. I look forward to learning more on brain research.

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I have began using what we call brain gym in my classroom. These are different activities to wake up the brain before reading and when students become restless. I love using them in my classroom. The students have been very responsive to these activities.

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Like many people on this board, I was intrigued and excited about the use of "brain-based" learning.
I was even more intrigued when the article started talking about the Fast ForWord program. My first year of teaching (03-04 school year) was in Wake County, North Carolina and the second half of the school year they started using the Fast ForWord program. Like any program given to a group of teachers it met with varying degrees of disgust or excitement. I only taught there one year and only had one student involved in the program. Here is what I remember from the discussions:

Pros: Some kids had definite improvements in reading, some kids really enjoyed going to "play" games on the computer, the room of kids could be supervised by one teaching assistant

Cons: some kids hated going, I remember going to observe the program and standing behind a student who was playing a memory matching game and the student was just clicking on the squares without even trying, it seemed like all kids who had trouble reading got placed in the program and it didn't work for everyone, it was a big time commitment and students missed instruction time in the classroom which angered some teachers

I wish I would have taught there longer so I could see what came of this program, I know they continued to use it for at least a couple more years and I heard that it became more successful as they worked out the "kinks" such as moving the computers to a classroom instead of being set up in the library. As far as the one student I had in the program, unfortunately I didn't see much change in her reading. She was absent several times which could have had an effect and she also seemed confused by the games on the program. Like someone else mentioned, no program is going to be effective for all students who struggle with reading, but this program seems to be effective for many struggling readers.

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