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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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Sherry_K's picture

I don't know a lot about the program. What I have read talks about letter recognition, just looking at two letters and identifying the corrent one. I am sure there is more to it than that. I notice though that Molly W. has a child that has used the program at school. She might be willing to tell you more about it.

Erica Delgado's picture

I taught at a school in Texas three years ago that had this program. All my students were given an initial test through the Fast ForWord program and given a numerical score. The students with the lowest numerical score were chosen to participate in the program. The students with lowest scores were my students who were low achievers in my classroom. They attended the lab for an eight week period for 90 minutes each day. The program consisted of game-like exercises, including nonverbal and verbal sound discrimination, phonological processing, vocabulary recognition, and language comprehensions. The program advanced on to more complicated exercises as the students progressed eliminating frustration within the students. They were not present for a large portion of instructional time, but at the end of the eight weeks, I did see progress in all areas of Language Arts and Reading with the students who attended the program. This is program that I wished we had at my current school because I have students in my class right now that could possibly benefit from such a program.

Erica Delgado's picture

At my school, Fast ForWord was not the responsibility of the teacher. We had a paraprofessional who ran the Fast ForWord lab daily. The only equipment I saw in the lab was the computer (program already installed), headphones and a microphone. The program takes the students out of the regular classroom setting for approximately 90 minutes each day for eight weeks. This program was developed based on brain research. Whether or not this is a fad to use brain research based programs rests on the shoulders of us, the educators.

Jamie Kessen's picture
Jamie Kessen
3-5 Grade Special Education Teacher from Indiana

I am going to look into this program as well. I have many struggling readers within my department. We have started a Saxon phonics program which as helped in many ways, but it does not focus on different parts of the brain. I am so intrigued by the human brain and love to learn more about it, expecially from a teaching standpoint. I must say the amount of information out there tends to be a bit overwhelming though.

Laura F.'s picture

It is incredible all the information out there on brain research. As we become experts in our field, we need to keep well informed about information affecting our profession. Brain research has helped educators better understand how the human brain functions, therefore allowing us to help our students learn more efficiently. Even though, there is still many information needed to be discovered, we can understand the brain better than ever before. In order to become great educators and help our students to the best of our ability, it is important to constantly read articles, books, attend workshops, etc. Inside the classroom, it is important for teachers to create unforgettable experiences. This will help students process the information and retain it with ease.

Molly Whitmer's picture

I do not know a whole lot about Fast ForWord; just what I have read on on the Internet and in brain research articles. Erica D. provided a great summary! I do know my daughter's entire class goes everyday for a half and hour or maybe an hour to the computer lab for Fast FOrWord. My daughter thinks they go to play games, so it must be fun. I am going to parent teacher conferences in the next couple of weeks and will ask a lot more questions about it. I will let everyone know what her teacher says!

Molly Whitmer's picture

I read the same article and found it fascinating! It really proves that teachers must engage students using a variety of experiences so their brain can store the information in many ways and places. I do not think brain research is going to change teaching. I think many good teachers are doing intuitively what brain research is going to prove is necessary. Having said that, I think it is going to it is important research that must be conducted and if findings are implemented correctly by all teachers, it's only going to benefit students.

Vicki Dowd's picture

I have to agree that we have much to learn about how the brain processes information and how we can apply this best in adapting strategies and providing opportunities to learners in our classroom. I look forward to learning more. Anyone have a favorite article that made an impact on your understanding of brain-based learning?

India Hester's picture
India Hester
India Hester is a dedicated 4th grade teacher from Selma, Alabama.

I have an assignment dealing with brain research and teaching. While reading different articles and books, I have learned an enormous amount of information that was unknown to me. The brain is indeed a mystery! When teaching, teachers should realize that the brain is a mystery. While reading, I tried to imagine all the different activity that goes on within student's brain. How they learn is a big mystery. But, with research, teachers can learn how to adhere to students perspectively.

India Hester's picture
India Hester
India Hester is a dedicated 4th grade teacher from Selma, Alabama.

One of my class assignments are geared around brain reasearch and how students learn. The brain is a mystery. While reading articles and books, I have learned that a student's brain is a mystery in itself. We as teachers should be considerate of that fact. I tried to imagine, when I am teaching and asks a question, how each one of my 30 students process that information and derive at an answer. Just thinking about that blows my mind. The brain is not something that we will ever completely understand. However, we could try to analyze it to the best of our ability.

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