George Lucas Educational Foundation
Professional Learning

Understanding How the Brain Thinks

Former neurologist and teacher Judy Willis will be presenting a 5-part series on how young brains develop neurologically; she’ll also offer some research-based classroom strategies to teach critical thinking and other 21st century skills.

November 2, 2011

Judy Willis(@judywillis on Twitter) is an authority on brain research as it relates to learning. She is a regular blogger at Edutopia. You can also find her online at RADteach.

For 21st century success, now more than ever, students will need a skill set far beyond the current mandated standards that are evaluated on standardized tests. The qualifications for success in today's ever-changing world will demand the ability to think critically, communicate clearly, use continually changing technology, be culturally aware and adaptive, and possess the judgment and open-mindedness to make complex decisions based on accurate analysis of information. The most rewarding jobs of this century will be those that cannot be done by computers.

For students to be best prepared for the opportunities and challenges awaiting them, they need to develop their highest thinking skills -- the brain's executive functions. These higher-order neural networks are undergoing their most rapid development during the school years, and teachers are in the best position to promote the activation of these circuits. With the help of their teachers, students can develop the skillsets needed to solve problems that have not yet been recognized, analyze information as it becomes rapidly available in the globalized communication systems, and to skillfully and creatively take advantage of the evolving technological advances as they become available.

See the entire series below

Part One: Understanding How the Brain Thinks

Part Two: The Brain-Based Benefits of Writing for Math and Science Learning

Part Three: Improving Executive Function: Teaching Challenges and Opportunities

Part Four: Three Brain-based Teaching Strategies to Build Executive Function in Students

More coming soon

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