What is brain-based learning?
“The brain is intimately involved in, and connected with everything educators and students do at school.” is how Eric Jensen, author of Teaching with the Brain in mind, emphasis the importance of knowing the brain to educators who work with the brain. So “what is brain-based learning?” According to Jensen, “it’s the engagement of strategies based on how our brain works”. There are ten principle strategies that educators need to address in order to help students be successful at their school. (Jensen)
- Physical Education, 30-60 minutes a day.
- Social conditions offers “a sense of reward, acceptance, pain, pleasure, coherence, affinity and stress.”
- Brain changes, (rewire) “through skill-building, reading, mediation, arts, career and building thinking skills.”
- Deal with stress by teaching “students better coping skills, increase student perception of choice, build coping skills, strengthen arts, physical activity and mentoring.”
- “Make differences the rule, not the exception of your school”. Validate differences, differentiation isn’t enough.
- Working memory can take in 2-4 chunks of new information.
- Arts on the brain “boost attention, working memory, and visual spatial skills. Arts such as dance, theater and drama boost social skills, empathy, timing, patience, verbal memory and other transferable life skills”. Arts need to be mandatory, choices to pick from and 30-60 minutes a day.
- Emotional states need to be taught early at home or in pre-school. There are two categories for emotional state:
- Hardwired at or since birth: sadness, joy, disgust, anger, surprise, fear.
- Taught: humility, forgiveness, empathy, optimism, compassion, sympathy, patience, shame, cooperation, gratitude.
- Special Education does work, “but not with inclusion-only strategies.” It should be one hour a day, three-five days a week.
- Review material, “every time students review, they might change their memory. Yet without review, they are less likely to recall their learning.”
These are classroom strategies that we can take away from brain-based learning. By using these strategies we are addressing the brain that we are trying to impact. As an elementary teacher, one has to plan your day with your students with these strategies in mind. As a high school teacher, we need to be sure these are addressed throughout the scheduled day by the principal whom is over seeing the “day of the student”.
How can it inform problem-based learning?
Brain-based learning is a great prerequisite for problem-based learning. Students that aren’t wired for educational learning or socialization can be taught the skills in smaller settings to prepare them for learning in a problem based setting. Another support system is in brain-based learning, teachers are taught to keep the instructions down to 2-4 chunks for the memory to absorb the new information. By allowing students to change groups to work and collaborate with others helps them to exercise social skills as well as dialogue with someone about the topic they are learning. Teachers must know how the brain works and how to get the most out of it and combine that with problem-based learning style where the students takes the initiative to research and learn with their group.
Educators get lost in curriculum and standards and they need to remember the key to students is how to connect to their brain. We know we have to keep them safe and to connect with their interest, but we also must know how to maximize the use of brain-power. We need to modify our delivery of information to our students to help them to take in, absorb, process and implement new information in a way that they can recall and use the information when they need it. With the right scaffolding students can catch up by rewiring their brains by teaching them the skills they are lacking. With differentiation we are offering all students a chance to grow from where they stand to high ground. By offering scaffolding to students though inclusion and time out side of class they can learn concepts despite their genes and upbringing. Students are not limited because of their social economic status. As teachers we need to help ALL students to rise above any limitations that they arrive with by teaching skills that will enhance their growth.
Challenge! I challenge you to outline three “ways of being” that will lead to ongoing differentiation and brain based learning in your classroom.
I will make or emphasize these changes in my classroom:
- Show a video to start the thinking on the concept or sell the purpose of the concept that I’m teaching.
- Break the teaching up into 3-4 sections and give time to practice between. Instead of teaching the whole lesson in the beginning, I will stop and let them practice on their assignment.
- Review; Connecting yesterday to today, review mid-way to a test. I can reteach yesterdays or previous knowledge and show how it is connected to today and what is coming in the future (tomorrow or in higher level math).
Chipongian, L. (2004) What is “brain-based learning”? Brain Connection. March 9, 2016. Retrieved from: http://brainconnection.brainhq.com/2004/03/26/what -is-brain-based-learning
Jensen, Eric. Teaching with the Brain in Mind (2nd Edition). Alexandria, VA, USA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development (ASCD), 2005. ProQuest ebrary. March 9, 2016. Retreived from: http://egandb.uas.alaska.edu:2081/lib/uasoutheast/reader.action?ppg=6&docID=10089220&tm=1428258945648
Jensen, Eric. Teaching with Poverty in Mind : What Being Poor Does to Kids’ Brains and What Schools Can Do About It. Alexandria, VA, USA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development (ASCD), 2009. ProQuest ebrary. March 9, 2016. Retrieved from: http://egandb.uas.alaska.edu:2081/lib/uasoutheast/reader.action?ppg=28&docID=10375878&tm=1428259489468
Jenson, E. What is brain-based learning? Brain-Based Learning Strategies. Retrieved on March 2016 from http://feaweb.org/brain-based-learning-strategies