Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development Alexandria, Virginia, USA
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development 1703 N. Beauregard St. • Alexandria, VA 22311-1714 EE. UU. Phone: 1-800-933-2723 or 703-578-9600 • Fax: 703-575-5400 Website: http://www.ascd.org • E-Mail:[email protected]Gene R. Carter, Executive Director Michelle Terry, Assistant Executive Director, Program Development Nancy Modrak, Director, John O'Neil Publications, Mark Goldberg Acquisitions Editor, Julie Houtz Development Editor, Executive Editor, Jo Ann Irick Jones Books, Publisher Principal Associate René Bahrenfuss, Proofreader Stephanie Justen, Proofreader Charles D. Halverson, Project Assistant Gary Bloom, Director, Editorial, Design and Production Services Karen Monaco, Senior Designer Tracey A. Smith, Production Manager Dina Murray, Production Coordinator John Franklin, Production Coordinator Barton, Matheson , Willse & Worthington , Desktop Publisher Copyright © 1998 by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or through any information storage and retrieval system, without permission from ASCD. Figures 1.1, 1.2, 2.1 and 2.4 are LifeArt images copyright © 1989-97 Techpool Studios, Inc., USA (located in Cleveland, Ohio). Figures 2.6, 3.1, 6.1, 8.4, 9.2 and 11.1 are LifeArt images adapted from Eric Jensen. These 10 figurines may not be reproduced in any form without permission from LifeArt Images. All other characters are by Eric Jensen. Readers wishing to reproduce copyrighted ASCD material may do so, for a small fee, by contacting the Copyright Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Dr., Danvers, MA 01923 (Phone: 978-750-8400; Fax: 978-750-4470). 🇧🇷 ASCD has authorized CCC to collect such fees on its behalf. Requests for reprints rather than photocopies should be directed to the ASCD Permissions Office at 703-578-9600. ASCD publications present a variety of viewpoints. Opinions expressed or implied in this book should not be construed as official positions of the Association. netLibrary E-Book: ISBN: 0-87120-772-9 Price $21.95 Premium Paperback: ISBN: 0-87120-299-9 ASCD Product #. 198019 Price for ASCD members: $17.95 Price for non-members: $21.95 on publication dates (for paperback) Jensen, Eric. Brain-Focused Teaching / Eric Jensen. pg. cm. Including references and index. ISBN 0-87120-299-9 (pbk.) 1. Learning, Psychology of. 2. Teaching - Psychological aspects. 3. Brain. I. Title. LB1060.J46 1998 370.15823—dc21
To my colleagues in the Brain Compatibility Movement: Renate and Geoffrey Caine, Jane Healy, Leslie Hart, Susan Kovalik, David Sousa, Robert Sylwester, and Pat Wolfe. Thanks also to William Greenough, Dolly Lambdin, Larry Squire, Pamela Moses, Katherine Roe, and Norman Weinberger for technical review. Many thanks to Ron Brandt for his involvement in this matter. Many thanks to Karen Markowitz for her research and editorial contributions, and to Mark Goldberg for his assistance and editing. And many thanks to my wife Diane for her invaluable support.
Teach with the brain in mind
Mission . 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 Introduction. 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷
1. The new winds of change. 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 1 History and theoretical update on brain research. Current state and direction of research. Tools for learning about the brain. How to interpret new brain research.
7. Motivation and Rewards. 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 What is the new motivational survey? What causes temporary demotivation? What does brain research tell us about rewards? How can we increase intrinsic motivation?
8. Emotions and Learning. 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 The role of emotions in the thinking and learning process. Why link learning more strongly with emotions? Differences between emotions and feelings. Specific strategies for emotional engagement.
9. Movement and Learning. 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 The mind-body connection. What does the research say about the connections between movement and cognition? physical states; How does our body actually learn? The specific roles of movement, art and physical education. Why the change makes sense.
10. The brain as a creator of meaning. 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 The natural mechanisms of meaning formation. Three ingredients for optimal learning. How to promote these ingredients.
2. The learning brain. 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 Basic concepts of the brain: size, content, lobes and basic operations. Key vocabulary. What is integrated and what is not? How we actually learn and remember.
3. Prepare students for learning. 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 The developing brain. prepare students for school. emotional preparation. Preparation of motor skills. The role of threat, sleep and diet. How can we influence parents?
4. Enriched environments and the brain. 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 How enrichment affects the brain. Two enrichment conditions: challenge and feedback. The role of language, motor skills, music and art. What really makes better brains?
5. Attract the brain's attention. 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 The biology of attention. Attract attention, but don't keep it. The brain's high and low attention cycles. An update on ADD/ADHD. Consequences for discipline in the classroom.
11. Memory and Leisure. 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 Why do students not remember? Explosion of memory myths. How to use the brain's best systems for recovery. Make the learning last.
6. How threats and stress affect learning. 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 What is stress for the brain? How does stress affect students? How threats affect learning. What is learned helplessness? Reduce the effects of stress and threat.
postscript. 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 Glossary of brain terms. 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 Bibliography. 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 Follow-up features. 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 Index . 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 About the author . 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷
. . 113 . . 115 . . 119 . . 126 . . 127 . . 133
I first discovered the concept of "brain-compatible learning" during a business development workshop led by Marshall Thurber, a futurist and entrepreneur, in June 1980. The impact was so powerful that I am still filling the page today, almost two decades later. a flip chart of ideas I remember (and still use!). Undoubtedly, the content and course of that day was deeply imprinted in my brain. Speakers clearly understood important principles about learning and the brain and knew how to apply them. After that day, I was so excited (some would say a fan) that I decided to share my excitement with others. Since I was teaching, my first response was, "Why don't my own students have this kind of learning experience every day?" The question was both humbling and promising. I decided to use this new connection between the brain and learning. I co-founded a cutting-edge experimental academic program called SuperCamp in San Diego, California. Our goal was to use the latest brain research to empower teens with life skills and learning tools. We held our first session in August 1982. It was an instant success and we offered it in other states and countries. We
Teach with the brain in mind
viii They were flooded with media attention and soon found ourselves in USA Today and The Wall Street Journal. Later, we appeared on CNN and Good Morning America. Long-term research confirmed that the benefits of our program continued years after the 10-day program itself (DePorter and Hernacki 1992, p. 19). Student grades and school attendance improved, and students reported greater self-confidence. The experience we started years ago is now an international benchmark with more than 20,000 graduates. Today it continues to grow and is headquartered in Oceanside, California.
I've seen, felt and heard firsthand the difference that brain-compatible learning makes. Students of all backgrounds and ages, with every imaginable flaw and lifelong discouraged attitude, can and have found success with this approach. While brain-assisted learning is not a panacea, it does offer important guidance on the way into the 21st century. Programs that are compatible with the natural human way of learning will stand the test of time. The principles of brain-compatible learning will thrive long after many other fashionable educational programs have faded from memory.
The new wind of change
KEY CONCEPTS ◗ History and theoretical update on brain research
We are on the verge of a revolution: the application of important new brain research to teaching and learning. This revolution will change back-to-school times, disciplinary policies, assessment methods, teaching strategies, budget priorities, classroom environments, technology use, and even the way we think about arts and physical education. But before we consider the practical applications of this research, we need to have a useful model for decoding it.
Educational Models The educational model that dominated much of human history was straightforward. If you wanted to learn something, you apprenticed to someone who had skills or knowledge in that field. The path was easy: find people who knew more than you and learn from them. It worked for pawns and kings, fathers and sons, blacksmiths and monks. The Industrial Revolution changed that path. A new model soon emerged with the idea of bringing everyone together in one place and offering a standardized “assembly line” curriculum.
◗ State and direction of current research ◗ Tools for learning about the brain ◗ How to interpret new brain research
Teach with the brain in mind
2 This school paradigm was developed in the 19th century and became popular during most of the 20th century. Often referred to as the "factory model", it drew on the fields of sociology, economics and religion. He emphasized useful skills like obedience, order, unity, and respect for authority. A particular upheaval in this paradigm came in the 1950s and 1960s: during these decades, the dominant theory of human behavior was replaced by the teachings of psychologists John Watson and B.F. Skinner. His theories of behavior went something like this: “We may not know what's going on inside the brain, but we can certainly see what's going on outside. We measure behaviors and learn to modify them with behavior reinforcers. If we like it, reward it. If we don't, punish it." Given what we knew about the brain at the time, this approach made perfect sense. Recently, a new paradigm has begun to emerge. History will likely tell that in the last two decades of the twentieth century, technology paved the way for this paradigm shift, transforming the way we think, live and learn.In the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, as the information age flourished, terms such as "Super Learning" and "Accelerated Learning" emerged. brain scans such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) have opened up new ways for us to understand and see inside the brain. A new generation of “science from within” has emerged: neuroscience, which is an exciting interdisciplinary field Provide access to questions about the brain In 1969, 500 neuroscientists were registered with Internati National Society for Neuroscience. Today there are more than 30,000 members. A gold mine of neuroscientific discoveries is now revealing amazing things
Knowledge about the brain and learning. Schizophrenia and Tourette's syndrome can be treated with medication. We approach the causes of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. The ability to walk again after a spinal cord injury is becoming a very real possibility. A memory pill, nimodipine, helps students better remember what they read. We now know the biological roots of impulsive and violent behavior in the classroom. Many of our conventional pedagogical beliefs shatter like glass.
How do we learn about the brain? We are learning about the brain at an unprecedented rate. Jeri Janowsky, a leading learning and memory neuroscientist at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, says, "Whatever you learned two years ago is old information. . . . Neuroscience is exploding" (Kotulak 1996, p. 124 ) In the coming years, we can expect new and more accurate technologies to continue to unravel the mysteries of the brain.At the moment, the following are the "workhorses" of neuroscience.
Brain Imaging Machines Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines provide high-quality cross-sectional images of soft tissue, such as the brain, without X-rays or radiation. This tool has two new variations. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (f-MRI) is a less expensive, cheaper and much faster option. Another is NMRI (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging), which is 30,000 times faster, capturing an image every 50 milliseconds. This speed allows us, for example, to measure the flow of thought in very narrow areas of the brain (see Fig. 1.1).
The new wind of change
3 FIGURE 1.1
Brain imaging technology (including PET, fMRI, and CT scan)
how much brain activity occurs in problem solving (see Fig. 1.2).
Clinical Trials We can learn a lot from human volunteers, often in university psychology courses. For example, rapidly flashing slides can give us information about the visual system's reaction times. We've learned a lot about what "nature" is and what "care" is through twin studies.
PET Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is an imaging device. The PET process starts when a subfigure 1.2
Common electrode placements for EEG (electroencephalogram) Copyright © 1989-97 by Techpool Studios, Inc., USA.
Animals Laboratory experiments with mice, dogs, cats, snails, monkeys, and other animals provide a rich source of information about how similar brains work. For example, we learned a lot about the role of enriched environments by studying rat brains.
Computerized Electrodes The electroencephalogram (EEG) gives us readings about the electrical output of the brain. Magnetoencephalography (MEG) uses high-tech supercooled liquid helium and superconducting sensors to locate weak magnetic fields generated by neural networks in the brain. They have been used to detect abnormal brain wave patterns and brain functions such as seizures or dementia. These tools can also help us track, for example,
These readings provide information about where electrical activity is taking place in the brain. Copyright © 1989-97 by Techpool Studios, Inc., USA.
Teach with the brain in mind
4 Drink some "fortified water" (015) or radioactive glucose. The PET scan then reads the amount of radioactive substances released when certain areas of the brain use glucose. For example, if you were reading it, it would show glucose activity in the temporal and parietal lobes, with a few in mind. (See the Glossary on page 115 for a brief definition of unfamiliar terms not defined in the text.) A new variant of this tool, developed at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), uses radioactive probes to detect genes to refine, which have been especially "marked" by researchers.
Autopsies Weight, developmental stages, and number of cavities or lesions can be observed or measured by a neurological pathologist. Using autopsies, UCLA neuroscientist Bob Jacobs found that students with more challenging and demanding school lives had more dendritic junctions than those who did not. In other words, their brains physically changed, becoming richer and more complex.
Spectrometers Ignored for decades, spectrometers are evolving rapidly. These devices measure details of brain chemicals, or neurotransmitters, when activity is taking place. For example, if I'm feeling depressed, it can tell me if the levels of certain neurotransmitters in my frontal lobes have changed.
The Knowledge Explosion In the 1990s, brain research exploded into dozens of subdisciplines. apparently unrelated
Fields such as genetics, physics, and pharmacology have been seamlessly intertwined in scientific journal articles about the brain. From technical knowledge about the brain, a new way of thinking about the organ has developed. While we still don't have a comprehensive and coherent model of how the brain works, we know enough to significantly change the way we teach. Primitive models of how the brain works have been around for 2,000 years. The brain has been referred to as a hydraulic system (the Greco-Roman model), a fluid system (the Renaissance), an enchanted loom (early Industrial Revolution), an urban telephone exchange (early to mid-twentieth century), and a computer. (1950-1980). Brain theory from the 1970s told us that we simply needed more right-brain learning. Later, educators were introduced to the tri-brain theory. This three-part evolutionary blueprint told us that survival learning resides in the lower part of the brain, emotions in the midbrain, and higher-order thinking in the upper part of the brain. This model, first introduced in 1952 and popularized in the 1970s and 1980s, is now obsolete. Educators today must take a more complex “whole system” approach to understanding the brain. Much of this book will provide a stronger biological foundation for this new interdisciplinary model of brain research. Before the end of the 'brain decade', the 1990s may be remembered as the rise of the 'learner chemist'. Those with the right "brain chemistry" (more or less serotonin, dopamine, or other related compounds) will succeed, while those whose chemistry is wrong will be inattentive, unmotivated, or violent. Brain-altering drugs, mind foods and smart drugs are already contributing to a multi-billion dollar global industry, and
The new wind of change
5 may soon become the rule of the day. We see children taking Ritalin, fathers taking Prozac, and mothers taking Provera. Grandmothers take estrogen supplements to reduce the effects of Alzheimer's, and grandfathers take GM1 (ganglioside) or GDNF (glial growth factor) to fight Parkinson's. It is indeed a brave new world.
Interpreting Brain Research The military has a system for encoding the security level of surveillance information. At the weakest or lowest level, you have unreliable sources, outdated information, and a lack of alternative sources of confirmation. At the other end of the spectrum is “high confidence”. This means having credible original sources, up-to-date corroborating sources, a variety of high-quality data collections, and personal verification of the data, perhaps even eyewitnesses. Figure 1.3 shows a similar classification system for interpreting brain research. At the lowest level of confidence, Level 1, it's a simple theory. There is nothing wrong with the theory as long as you recognize it for what it is. Level 2 means a discovery or experiment has clarified the theory. It's better than level 1, but it still has a long way to go. As an example of Level 2, consider neuroscientist Daniel Schachter's discovery that the brain stores real-world experiences differently than a made-up story (1996). In medical experiments, PET scans have shown a visible difference in the brain between telling the truth and making up stories. Additional research is needed to determine possible applications of this discovery. A confidence level of 3 is achieved through documented and widely used clinical studies. These studies are usually carried out at universities and give us a moderate level
How to Interpret Brain Research These values are listed from highest to lowest reliability, top to bottom.
Level 4: Applications in context This documented action research, carried out in schools or companies, provides us with test results in real conditions.
Stage 3: Clinical Trials Typically, these university-supported trials are best with multiple experimenters, large, diverse, multi-aged, and multicultural populations (double blind is preferred).
Level 2: Laboratory Discovery Can be from autopsies, experiments, fMRI, PET or EEG.
Level 1: Brain/Learning Theory Any theory about learning and the brain that explains recurrent behaviors.
confidence in research. Confidence level 4 means that action research carried out by you or other colleagues has confirmed that the idea works in all respects, for almost everyone and almost everywhere, reflecting a high level of confidence in the method. Most of the strategies described in this book have the highest confidence levels (range 3-4). Brain research development is exciting and full of pitfalls. The effects can be exhilarating, but it's equally important to consider the pitfalls. For example, educators can only apply a small percentage of brain research. is very
Teach with the brain in mind
6 very esoteric or disease-oriented. Even brain research doesn't necessarily "prove" anything. It just suggests ideas or paths that have a better chance of success. However, much action research is needed to advance our thinking. More importantly, we shouldn't wait for neuroscientists to present us with the "holy grail" of learning. Most paradigm shifting advances have been an innovative multidisciplinary view. While this news is old news for some, for others it is a discouraging revelation. Indeed, much of what is and is not useful will be discovered by thoughtful educators like you who are serious about action research. We need more action research, not academic research. As Frank Vellutino of the State University of New York at Albany observes, “We do more educational research than anyone else in the world, and we ignore more of it” (in Hancock 1996, p. 58).
Practical Suggestions What is an educator to do with all this information? Three steps are given. Become a “literate consumer” in the field of brain research first. learn key terms and research sources; decide who is credible and who is not. Second, we need more action research, not learning theories. Start at your own workplace. Start small and track your results. Third, get this information out to the public. Let your students know what you are doing. Talk to parents about the brain and make sure other team members know the information.
Also. Receive or provide administrative support. This helps generate the long-term resources and support needed for the transformation. We're not going to embrace an idea just because someone somewhere has called it "brain-friendly." We all want solutions to educational challenges, but we must be careful when applying new discoveries. We have already experienced this in many areas. Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences has been used as "proof" for all kinds of things he never suggested, said, or implied. Your own questions should be: “Where did this idea come from? Is it still just theory? Where is the research on this? You'll want to know: "What was the scientific discovery that illuminated the theory? What clinical studies were performed? Is there evidence of successful application in the classroom?" When you get answers that satisfy you, you are ahead of the queue of educators who are still looking for a magic pill to solve their problems. The more you understand, the better you can decide what is truly brain-compatible and what is not. I hope. hope this book helps you separate theory from fact and discovery from well-designed clinical trials. Use it as a study guide. Brain-compatible learning is here to stay. You can bet it will affect almost everything we do, including teaching strategies, discipline policies, arts, special education, curriculum, technology, bilingual programs, music, learning environments, staff development, assessment, and even organizational changes.
the brain that learns
KEY CONCEPTS ◗ Basic concepts of the brain: size, content, lobes and basic operations
If you wanted to fix your car, you would probably go to a mechanic. For legal help, I would consult a lawyer. To understand the brain and how we learn, would you go to a teacher? Probably not. However, every year, millions of parents trust professionals who teach their children about the brain and learning processes. In defense of teachers, even neuroscientists still disagree about some of the brain's internal mechanisms. Most educational institutions offer courses in psychology, not neurology. And these psychology courses provide, at best, indirect information about how children learn. Training is aimed at the symptoms of the problem, not practical knowledge about the brain. Popular articles rarely offer the depth or perspective that today's educator needs. Can we summarize the basics of how our brains learn? That is the purpose of this chapter. There are still questions about the brain, but we know enough to help educators do their jobs better. By understanding how the brain learns, we can better allocate educational resources. Not only will we save money, but most of all, we will improve our success with children.
◗ Key vocabulary ◗ What is included and what is not? ◗ How we actually learn and remember
Teach with the brain in mind
The Human Brain The brain of an adult human weighs about 1,300 to 1,400 grams. For comparison, the brain of a sperm whale weighs about 7,800 grams or 17 pounds! A dolphin brain weighs about 4 pounds and a gorilla brain about 1 pound. Your dog's brain weighs about 72 grams, which is only about 6% of its own brain's total weight. Humans have large brains for their body weight. About the size of a large grapefruit or cantaloupe, it is made up primarily of water (78 percent), fat (10 percent) and protein (8 percent). A live brain is so soft it can be cut with a butter knife. From the outside, the most distinguishing features of the brain are its convolutions or folds. These folds are part of the cerebral cortex (Latin for "cortex" or "cortex"). The cerebral cortex is the thick outer covering of the brain, similar to an orange peel. Pleats allow the cover to maximize surface area (more cells per square inch). In fact, if stretched out, the shell would be about the size of a single unfolded newspaper page. However, it is only a grapefruit-sized organ. Its importance can be attributed to the fact that it represents critical parts of the nervous system and its nerve cells are connected by nearly 1 million miles of nerve fibers. The human brain has the largest area of uninvolved cerebral cortex (with no specific function identified so far) of any species on Earth (Howard 1994). This gives humans exceptional flexibility in learning.
Taking sides when learning We have two hemispheres, the left and the right. They are connected by bundles of nerves.
fibers, the largest known as the corpus callosum. The corpus callosum has about 250 million nerve fibers. Patients who have been cut can still function in society. This interhemispheric highway allows each side of the brain to share information more freely. Although each side of the brain processes things differently, some previous assumptions about the left and right brain are outdated. In general, the left hemisphere tends to process things slowly and sequentially. But musicians process music in the left hemisphere, not the right, as a beginner would. Among left-handers, nearly half use the right hemisphere for language. High-level mathematicians, problem solvers, and chess players have greater right-hemisphere activation in these tasks, while novices have more left-hemisphere activation in these activities. In right-handers, gross motor skills are controlled by the right hemisphere, while fine motor skills are generally more of a left hemisphere activity. The right hemisphere recognizes negative emotions more quickly; the left hemisphere perceives positive emotions more quickly (Ornstein and Sobel 1987). Studies show that the left hemisphere is more active when we are experiencing positive emotions. The importance of this information will become clear later in this book. But for now, the old prejudices that music and art are “right-brain luxuries” are outdated (see Figure 2.1). Scientists divide the brain into four areas called lobes, as shown in Figure 2.2. They are occipital, frontal, parietal and temporal. The occipital lobe is located in the back center of the brain. He is primarily responsible for vision. The frontal lobe is the area around the forehead. Is involved in goal-directed actions such as judgment, creativity, problem solving, and planning. The parietal lobe is
the brain that learns
9 FIGURE 2.1
Main functional areas of the brain Premotor area
engine control panel
Primary sensory area of the cortex
visual processing area
Frontal Cortex Creativity, judgment, planning, problem solving
Broca's area (spoken language)
Learn motor skills, novelty, movement, Wernicke's area (language comprehension)
Copyright © 1989–97 de Techpool Studios, Inc., EE. UU.
on the upper back. Its tasks include processing higher sensory and language functions. The temporal lobes (left and right sides) are above and around the ears. This area is mainly responsible for hearing, memory, meaning and language. There is some overlap in the functions of the wolves. The central area of the brain includes the hippocampus, thalamus, hypothalamus and amygdala (see Fig. 2.3). This area of the midbrain (also known as the limbic system) accounts for 20% of the brain's volume and is responsible for emotions, sleep, attention, body regulation, hormones, sexuality, smell, and the production of most brain chemicals. However, others say that there is no such thing as a "limbic" system, only specific structures that process emotions, such as the amygdala (LeDoux 1996, pp. 97-100). Still others, such as Paul MacLean, disagree and still refer to one half of the brain as "the limbic (or emotional) area" (1990). The location of the area of the brain that lets you know it's "you" (consciousness) is shown.
post May be scattered throughout the cortex or thalamus, or located near the reticular formation in the upper part of the brainstem. Much of the brain, which accounts for 75% of the total volume, still has no single identified purpose and is often referred to as the "association cortex". Gray neurons, or cell bodies, make up the cerebral cortex and other nuclei. The target in the brain is the myelin sheath that surrounds the connective fibers (axons). The sensory cortex (which controls receptors in the skin) and the motor cortex (needed for movement) are narrow bands in the upper-central part of the brain. At the lower back of the brain is the cerebellum (Latin for "little brain"), which is primarily responsible for balance, posture, motor skills, and some areas of cognition (see Fig. 2.3). Recent experiments strongly support the
Teach with the brain in mind
10 FIGURE 2.3
Medial view of the thalamus from the corpus callosum of the brain
Conclusion that essential long-term memory traits for motor learning are found in the cerebellum (Thompson 1993).
Energy to Learn The brain is energetically inefficient. It makes up about 2% of an adult's body weight, but uses about 20% of the body's energy. How does the brain get its energy to learn? Its main source is blood, which provides nutrients such as glucose, proteins, trace elements and oxygen. The brain receives about 8 gallons of blood every hour, about 198 gallons a day. In addition, water takes care of the electrolyte balance for its proper functioning. The brain needs 8 to 12 glasses of water a day to function optimally. Dehydration is a common problem in school classrooms, leading to lethargy and learning difficulties (Hannaford 1995). The role of nutrition will be
explored in the next chapter, but for now we can say that good nutrition helps with learning. Oxygen is obviously essential for the brain. The brain uses one-fifth of the body's oxygen. If the blood supply to the brain is cut off, we lose consciousness within seconds. Fortunately, the brain normally receives enough oxygen for basic functions because the carotid artery ensures that the brain receives fresh oxygenated blood first after leaving the cardiopulmonary system. Higher levels of alertness, mental function and healing are linked to better air quality (less carbon dioxide, more oxygen). Many so-called "smart drugs" that increase alertness, cognitive function and memory improve oxygen flow to the brain. With only 36 percent of K-12 students in a daily physical education class, are they getting enough oxygenated blood to perform better? Many fear they are not.
Where Learning Begins There are two types of brain cells: neurons and glial cells. While most brain cells (90 percent) are glial cells, the remaining 10 percent, neurons, are much better understood. The best-studied brain cells are neurons (Greek for "bowstring"). For comparison: a fruit fly has 100,000 neurons, a mouse has 5 million, and a monkey has 10 billion. They have about 100 billion neurons. A single cubic millimeter (1/16,000 inch) of brain tissue contains more than 1 million neurons. They are about 50 micrometers in diameter. Every day you lose your brain cells through wear and tear, deterioration and disuse. Scholars differ on the exact number; Estimates range from 10,000 to 100,000 per day (Howard 1994). However, you have enough for your whole life. Even if you lost half a million neurons every day, it would literally take you centuries to lose your mind.
the brain that learns
11 The most numerous cells in your brain are called interneurons or glia (Greek for "glue"). They don't have a cell body. You have about 1,000 trillion of them. The role of glial cells may include forming the blood-brain barrier, transporting nutrients, and regulating the immune system. They also remove dead cells and provide structural support that improves strength (see Fig. 2.4). Although the brain contains fewer neurons, they are essential for brain function. Neurons consist of a compact cell body, dendrites, and axons (see Fig. 2.5). they are responsible for
Processing information and converting chemical and electrical signals back and forth. Two things are critical for a neuron compared to other cells in the body. First, new research at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, shows that new neurons can and do grow in some areas of the brain (Kempermann, Kuhn, and Gage, 1997). Second, a normally functioning neuron continuously fires, integrates, and generates information; is a virtual hotbed of activity. Although the cell body can move, most adult neurons remain in place; only her
Common types of glial cells
Brain cells (neurons) dendrites
Glial cells are the most abundant cells in your brain, outnumbering neurons by 10-1. Axon Terminals Copyright © 1989-97 by Techpool Studios, Inc., USA.
Teach with the brain in mind
12 extend the axons outward. Although many dendrites or fibers can emanate from a neuron, each has only one axon. The axon is a thinner leg-like extension that connects to other dendrites. Most axons connect only with dendrites; normally the dendrites do not connect to each other. To connect to thousands of other cells, the axon keeps dividing to subdivide and branch. Neurons serve only to transmit information; none of them are just a receiver or end of connection. Information only flows in one direction; at the neuronal level, it always goes from the cell body via the axon to the synapse. It never goes from the tip of the axon to the cell body. The axon has two main functions: transmitting information in the form of electrical excitation and transporting chemicals. The longest axons (passing through the spinal cord) can be up to a meter long, but most are closer to a centimeter. The thicker the axon, the faster it conducts electricity and information. Myelin is a fatty substance that forms around well-used axons, and all major axons are myelinated. Not only does this appear to speed up electrical transmission (up to 12 times), but it also reduces interference from other nearby reactions. The knots along the axons, in conjunction with myelination, can increase electrical impulses at a rate of 120 meters per second or 200 miles per hour. Shorter axons are probably not beneficial if they are myelinated; it would be like having a hitchhiking fast lane for only half a mile. No neuron is the end point or cessation of information; It's just for streaming. A single neuron can receive signals from thousands of other cells, sometimes up to a meter away, and its axon can branch repeatedly, sending signals to thousands more. But in general, neurons connect
most with other neurons nearby. More connections make communication more efficient. Just as city traffic can create bottlenecks, alternative routes can provide an alternative valve. The sum total of all synaptic responses coming from all dendrites to the cell body at any given time will determine whether that cell actually fires. If enough input signals stimulate the neuron, it will fire. Dendrites are branched extensions that grow out of the cell body in an enriched environment. Information is carried within a neuron by electrical impulses and transmitted across the synaptic cleft from one neuron to another by chemicals called neurotransmitters (see Fig. 2.6). Learning is a crucial function of neurons. FIGURE 2.6
How neurons make connections: axon-synapse-dendrite pathways are electrical, chemical, and electrical
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the brain that learns
13, which cannot be achieved individually, requires groups of neurons (Greenfield 1995).
how we learn What the human brain does best is learn. Learning changes the brain because it can reprogram itself with each new stimulus, experience, and behavior. Scientists don't know exactly how this happens, but they have some ideas about what's going on. First, some kind of stimulus in the brain starts the process. It can be internal (brainstorming!) or it can be a new experience, like solving a puzzle. The stimulus is then classified and processed at different levels. Finally, a memory potential is formed. This simply means that the pieces are in place so that the memory is easily activated. As educators, it's worth taking the time to understand the basics of these. This can give us some useful insights into the way students learn.
The stimulus For our brain, we do something we already know, or we do something new. If we repeat the previous learning, it is very likely that the neural pathways will become more and more efficient. They do this through myelination, which, as mentioned above, is the process of adding a layer of fat to the axons. Once myelination has occurred, the brain becomes more efficient. Researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Hanneke Van Mier and Steve Peterson, found that although many areas of the brain "light up" on a PET scan when a new task is started, the brain becomes brighter and less "glows". ". 🇧🇷 and the less used, the better the task is learned. Beginners use their brains more but are less efficient in the way they do it
use it This trait illustrates how quickly our brains adapt and rewire themselves. While exercise does what we already know, stimulation does something new. Watching a new movie, listening to a new song, singing a new song, visiting a new place, solving a new problem, or making new friends can stimulate the brain. Provided it is persistent, this new mental or motor stimulation generates more useful electrical energy than the old one. This input is converted into nerve impulses. They travel to sampling and sorting stations like the thalamus, located in the center of the brain. In intentional behavior, multisensory convergence occurs and the 'map' is rapidly formed in the hippocampus (Freeman 1995). From there, signals are sent to specific areas of the brain. Once this information is received, each brain cell behaves like a small electric battery. It is powered by the difference in the concentration of sodium and potassium ions across a cell membrane. Voltage changes help improve signaling for dendritic growth. Neurotransmitters are stored at the ends of the cell's axon that almost touches the dendrites of another cell. They are usually excitatory (like glutamate) or inhibitory (like GABA or gamma-aminobutyric acid). When the cell body sends an electrical charge down the axon, it stimulates the release of these stored chemicals into the synaptic cleft, which is the space between the end of an axon and the tip of a dendrite, as shown in Figure 2.7. Once in this space, the chemical reaction releases (or inhibits) new electrical energy in the receptors of the contacting dendrite. It's electrical to chemical and back to electrical. There the process is repeated until the next cell. Finally, repeated electrical stimulation along with increased intake of
Teach with the brain in mind
Learning takes place at the synapse. The tip of the axon that sends the message to another cell
Electric charges travel down the axon, from the cell body to the tip.
Neuron No. 1
Axon tip filled with released neurotransmitters Synaptic cleft
Neuron No. two
The surface of the receptor on the dendrite of another neuron.
Nutrients, cell growth by dendritic branching. These branches help us make even more connections until, in some cases, entire "neural forests" help us understand the subject better and perhaps one day become subject matter experts. When we say that cells "connect" to other cells, we really mean that they are so close together that the synapse can be easily and almost effortlessly "used" over and over again. New synapses usually appear after learning.
The formation of sustainable learning For neuroscientists, learning and memory are two sides of the same coin. You can't talk about one without the other. After all, when you've learned something, the only evidence of learning is memory. Unfortunately, this last part of the learning process turned out to be a huge and frustrating task.
Treatment challenge for scientists. Just when they think they've figured it out, they discover it's more like a house of mirrors. In short, they are still looking for answers. Donald Hebb, the great Canadian psychologist, correctly postulated over 50 years ago that learning occurs when a cell needs less information from another cell the next time it is activated. In other words, he “learned” to react differently. Recently, an MIT research team led by Nobel Prize winners Susumu Tonegawa and Eric Kandel identified a single specific gene that activates this critical memory formation (Saltus 1997). This finding may explain why some people have better memories than others: it is partly controlled by genes. Persistent learning or long-term potentiation (LTP) has been tentatively accepted as essential to the actual process of physical learning. Since its discovery in 1973 by Bliss and Lomo, countless experiments have defined its complexity. In short, here's the process. A cell is repeatedly electrically stimulated to excite a neighboring cell. If a weaker stimulus is applied to the neighboring cell shortly thereafter, the cell's excitability increases. Neural activity can be excitatory or inhibitory. Suppression of an inhibitory process can lead to its activation. Another effect also helps us in learning. LTD (Long Term Depression) occurs when a synapse is altered in a way that makes it less likely to fire. By reducing the chance of a wrong connection, faster learning is encouraged. This is what happens when we engage in trial-and-error learning (Siegfried 1997). In other words, cells change their receptivity to messages based on past stimuli. It seems that the cells "learned" and changed their behavior. In short, our learning occurs through changes in synaptic effectiveness.
the brain that learns
15 Learning and Behavior While understanding real cell connections is exciting, learning and behavior are often different. Perhaps you learned from a book how to teach a better lesson. But your behavior can remain the same as ever. Why and how does this happen? We could certainly point to external circumstances such as excessive stress or a student's behavior. However, our behavior is more dictated by our complex emotional states and memories. Our brain's everyday chemistry adds great complexity to the question, "How does our brain learn?" Our daily behavior is strongly influenced by other "floating" chemicals in the brain: monoamines and peptides. In fact, one researcher estimates that over 98 percent of all internal communication in your brain and body takes place via peptides rather than synapses (Pert 1997, p. 139). While the previously mentioned neurotransmitters like glutamate and GABA act like "cell phones" that provide targeted communication, the other chemicals act more like giant megaphones that can broadcast to large areas of the brain. These chemicals are usually serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. These produce the behaviors you might actually see in the classroom, such as alertness, stress, or drowsiness. Later chapters discuss these issues in more detail. In short, learning occurs at many complex layers simultaneously, from the cellular to the behavioral level.
Getting Smarter The end result of human learning is intelligence. Regardless of how you define intelligence, having a bigger brain or more brain cells per cubic inch doesn't help. A dolphin has a larger brain, and a rat's brain has a higher cell density than a human's.
Brain. The key to getting smarter is developing more synaptic connections between brain cells and not losing existing connections. It's the connections that allow us to solve problems and make sense of things. What percentage of your physical brain do you use? On any given day, most areas will be used, as functions are well distributed across them. In addition, it adapts to your lifestyle from the day you were born. It usually works well for you because it encouraged you to evolve into your real world. If you're good at music, chances are you sing, compose, or act. If you are good at sports, chances are you practice or play. If you're good with numbers, you probably do math every day. In the real world, your brain is perfect for you. On a more theoretical mathematical basis, the story looks very different. It is estimated that we use less than 1% of the 1% of our brain's designed processing capacity. Each of its 100 billion neurons is normally connected to 1,000 to 10,000 other neurons. But in theory they could connect to a lot more. Since each neuron has several thousand synapses, your entire brain has trillions of them. Your brain is capable of processing up to 1027 bits of data per second (Hobson 1994). However, Paul Churchland (1995) postulates that the total possible configuration is 10 to the power of 100 billionths. This number far exceeds the number of known particles in the universe. Our brain is truly a marvel. The brain is what we have; the mind is what it does. In other words, "spirit" is not a thing; It's a process. Could this potential neural connectivity explain so-called "cool" behavior in isolated individuals? We don't know yet. Nearly 10% of children under age 5 have a photographic memory, as do 1% of adults. the wise can
Teach with the brain in mind
16 calculate huge numbers and sometimes as fast as a computer. There are documented cases where subjects spoke a dozen or more languages, conveyed thoughts, read quickly, or demonstrated super memory. Others have shown us the extraordinary use of extrasensory perception, remote viewing, or early musical gifts (Murphy 1992). Could they become commonplace in our classrooms? Could we chart the evolution of another Albert Einstein, Maya Angelou, Amadeus Mozart, Martha Graham or Bill Gates? Finally, if learning is what we value, then we must value the learning process as much as the learning outcome. Our brain is highly efficient and adaptable. What guarantees our survival is adaptation and creating options. A typical classroom reduces our thinking strategies and reaction possibilities. Educators who insist on unique approaches and the "right answer" ignore what has kept our species alive for centuries. Humans have survived for thousands of years by trying new things.
things, not always the "right" and verified answer. That's not healthy for developing a smart and adaptable brain. The idea of limited standardized tests to get the right answer violates the law of adaptability in a developing brain. Good quality education encourages the exploration of alternative thinking, multiple responses and creative ideas. So what do we do with this brain knowledge? Is it a useless theory? Not for the professional educator. As long as we're in the "learning business," the brain is relevant. We finally learned enough to formulate some key action steps. Many areas require more research, but dozens of studies are clear and robust enough to translate into classroom practice. Share with your students how their brains learn and function. Talk to interested parents about this. Many solutions to everyday problems are presented in the following chapters. But be prepared: there will also be a lot of questions.
Preparing students to learn
KEY CONCEPTS ◗ The developing brain
Educators constantly complain that students are unwilling to learn. They arrive at school malnourished or malnourished, angry or apathetic, stressed, threatened and sleepy. When given homework, they often don't do it. This, of course, greatly complicates the role of the teacher and the student. It seems that schools have a choice to make: make students ready to learn when they walk in the door, or become a "surrogate family" that helps children prepare to learn every day. This chapter examines how educators and parents can best deal with the influences that prepare children's minds and brains for school.
Are children really different now? It is common to hear experienced teachers talk about "what the kids were like". But are children's brains really different today than they were 30 or 40 years ago? We don't know exactly. Nobody kept a variety of brains for comparison, and current technology was not available at the time (see Fig. 3.1).
◗ Preparing students for school ◗ Emotional preparation ◗ Motor preparation ◗ The role of threat, sleep and food ◗ How we can influence parents
Teach with the brain in mind
Are today's children biologically different from those of 30 years ago?
Less natural foods and more additives
More children are growing up in single parent families with fewer resources
Increased exposure to drugs and medications.
More exposure to passive babysitting and sedentary entertainment such as television.
The use of car seats and seat belts restrict movement, but it is safer. Copyright © 1989-97 by Techpool Studios, Inc., USA.
Less early motor stimulation from swings, seesaws, carousels and garden games due to safety and liability concerns
Preparing students to learn
19 Interestingly, there is evidence that children today are less prepared for school than they were a generation or two ago (Healy 1990, pp. 13-46). If you're wondering why kids seem more violent, stressed, distracted, unfocused, and generally less ready for school, you're not alone. Many scientists agree with you, for example Craig Ramey of the University of Alabama and Christopher Coe of the University of Wisconsin. Evidence can be seen in many critical areas including emotional development, sensory motor development and school day readiness.
School Readiness Begins at Conception The first opportunity to prepare children for school is in the womb. We know that drugs, smoking, diet and heredity affect the embryo (Van Dyke and Fox 1990). The most important things a pregnant woman can do are eat right, avoid drugs, and manage stress. A developing fetus is very sensitive to stress and poor nutrition. Most brain cells are produced between the fourth and seventh month of pregnancy. These rapidly developing cells, called neurons, form a vast network that connects to other cells. A newborn has over a trillion connections in its brain. The developing brain grows so rapidly that counting brain cells is useless (although Figure 3.2 tries to illustrate the rate of growth). University of Chicago neurobiologist Peter Huttenlocher says it's like counting snowflakes in a blizzard or raindrops in a torrential downpour. At its peak, the embryo is producing brain cells at a rate of 250,000 per minute, or 15 million cells per hour. Yea
Knowing that your brain forms at this rate, would you be careful what you do with it? Some parents are not careful and we have to work with their children in school every day.
Emotional Intelligence Starts Early The book Emotional Intelligence (Goleman 1995) brought the public's attention to the importance of our emotional lives. But when does emotional intelligence develop and is it too late to cultivate it by the time kids start school? There is evidence that emotional intelligence develops early and that schooling may be a last resort to promote emotional competence. A baby's relationship with their primary caregiver often determines whether the child develops a learning disability. Harold Rubenstein of Dartmouth Medical School says that early broken relationships cause a child's brain to use glucose to deal with stress, glucose that could be used for early cognitive functions. Early exposure to stress or violence also causes the brain to reorganize and increase the sites of chemical alert receptors (Kotulak 1996). This increases responsiveness and blood pressure, and the child becomes more impulsive and aggressive at school. Much of our emotional intelligence is learned in the first year. Children learn how to respond to parents in hundreds of simple cause and effect situations. These situations make you feel disappointed, delighted, anxious, sad, anxious, proud, ashamed, delighted or regretful. Children need this close, connected interaction and guidance (Wilson, Willner, Kurz, & Nadel, 1986). This process, known as "tuning in," should take place during the critical first year of role-modeling or children.
Teach with the brain in mind
20 FIGURE 3.2
Accelerated pace of prenatal brain development
You could end up being corrupted emotionally. Even parental gestures are important (Thal, Tobias, & Morrison, 1991). "It's when the primary caregiver reproduces appropriate and critical emotional responses," says psychiatrist Daniel Stern (Begley 1996). We now understand that the first 48 months of life are crucial for brain development. time
Researchers have always known that child development is important, but they've never known just how important. Wayne State neurobiologist Harry Chugani says that first-year experiences "can completely change a person's behavior" (Kotulak 1996, p. 46). But most of the time in today's world, the early years are spent in a
Preparing students to learn
21 kindergarten. Typical infant and toddler to caregiver ratios are 3:1 to 12:1. If parents understood the opportunities for development in the baby's brain during these months, they might change their decision about who cares for their baby. How much temperament is learned and how much is inherited? Harvard psychologist Jerome Kagan has studied babies extensively and says it's fifty-fifty. The genetic part of our behavior is controlled by the developing area of the midbrain. "Physiological data implicate inherited variations in amygdala excitability and its projections as the basis for contrasting styles," says J.M. Kagan (1994, pp. 35, 171). But the first 24 months of parenthood make the difference between many dramatically different and possible futures. For example, parents who recognize and commit to taking reasonable risks often produce more courageous children. Parents who are afraid communicate this by restricting crawling or walking (Kagan 1994).
Preparing the brain early Are today's children getting the stimulation they need to get ready for school? "Usually not," says Lyelle Palmer, a professor of special education at Winona State University in Minnesota. “The human brain is the most reactive organ imaginable. But even when a universe full of learning potential awaits us, we often fail even the basics" (1997). The brain adapts to your particular lifestyle literally from the day you are born. Soon after, the brain removes cells unnecessary and billions of unused connections. It's a big time
mouse selective susceptibility. The question is, "What are you adapting your brain for?" For educators, the question is even more precise: “Exactly what talents, skills, and experiences are students being exposed to, and what, in turn, are they missing out on?” Here are some examples.
The Driving Brain Most educators recognize the value of “slow time” in developing student readiness. However, many children today do not receive the early motor development necessary for basic, let alone optimal, school success. Today's baby is babysitting on TV, sitting in a walker or strapped into a car seat for hundreds of precious hours of motor development. In 1960, the average two-year-old spent about 200 hours in a car. Today's two-year-old has spent around 500 hours in a car seat! While baby's safety is paramount, few parents balance the hours of captivity and tethering. Given the abundant evidence of the effects of early motor stimulation on literacy and attention skills (Ayers 1972, 1991; Hannaford 1995), it is not surprising that many children have reading difficulties. While research on the general value of motor skills emerged many years ago, it is only now that we know the specific value of reading, stress response, writing, attention, memory, and sensory development. For example, the vestibular area of the inner ear plays a key role in school readiness. Restak (1979) says: "Babies who received periodic vestibular stimulation from rocking gain weight more rapidly and develop vision and hearing earlier." Lack of vestibular stimulation is associated by many with dozens of learning problems, including dyslexia (Cleeland 1984). How important is the timing of motor development? Felton Earls of Harvard
Teach with the brain in mind
22 The medical school says: “There is a kind of irreversibility. 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 By the time you're four, you've essentially designed a brain that won't change much more” (Kotulak 1996, p. 7). And although much learning takes place after the age of four, much of the brain's infrastructure is already in place.
Visual Brain neurobiologists tell us that much of our vision develops during the first year, mostly in the first 4 to 6 months, with strong growth between 2 and 4 months of life. This window is much earlier than indicated by previous studies. With over 30 different visual areas in the brain (including color, movement, hue and depth), the growing baby needs to be given a variety of stimuli, including lots of practice handling objects and learning their shapes, weight and movement. A variety of objects, games and parental responses shape how vision develops from a very early age. "Children need a flood of information, a feast, a party," says neuroscientist Martha Pierson of the Baylor College of Medicine (in Kotulak, 1996). The "tide" should not come from the television, which is often used as a nanny (Tonge 1990). Television does not offer time for reflection, interaction or three-dimensional visual development. Parents would do well to spend time talking to their babies, using short sentences and pointing to objects that are here and now or three dimensional. TV is two-dimensional, and the developing brain needs depth, says V.L. Ramachandran, a neuroscientist and vision expert at the University of California, San Diego. Television moves quickly and speaks of abstractions that often do not exist in children's environments. Close your eyes
there is no time to relax. This stress can make learning difficulties worse. Television is a poor substitute for sensorimotor development time and important relationship time. Exposure to violence and a very fast vocabulary take their toll (Healy 1990, Strasburger 1992). Many scientists and researchers say they would ban television for all children under the age of 8 (Hannaford, 1995). This gives the brain time to better develop its language, social and motor skills.
Early Thinking Skills By nine months, the brain is fully ready to think through tactile learning. The cortex is not fully developed, but the cerebellum is ready. This cauliflower-shaped organ in the lower back of the brain works overtime in babies. And some researchers suggest that he is highly developed in his ability to learn (Greenfield 1995). Fascinating studies suggest that babies can understand basic counting principles and simple physics before the age of 1. Neural circuits for math and logic are ready to "plant the seeds" at this age. Some have shown (Wynn 1992) that babies can learn simple math long before their brains are ready for abstraction. Even though babies can only do a fraction of what they seem “programmed” to do, that's a lot. Parents who exploit these opportunities lay the groundwork for long-term school success.
Auditory brain Patricia Kuhl of the University of Washington (Begley 1996) says that babies develop a perceptual map of sensory neurons in the auditory cortex during their first year of life. Circuits in the auditory cortex map cells and receptor sites to what are quickly being considered the first sounds of survival. This card is created by listening to the first tones and accents.
Preparing students to learn
23 and the pronunciation of words plays an important role in this. These phonemes alert babies to certain inflections, such as a rolled-up "r" in Spanish or a "Hello!" spicy in japanese. As a result, the brain allocates specific neurons that are receptive to those specific sounds. This evolving map is so adapted to the home that children are "functionally deaf" to sounds outside their home environment. The more early vocabulary children are exposed to, the better. All first sounds shape the brain, even music and rhythm. In fact, research from the University of California at Irvine suggests that babies are very receptive and demanding of music. Since mathematical and musical circuits are related, the introduction of music in this era of mathematics can help later (Weinberger 1994).
Language Development Rutgers University neuroscientist and language expert Paula Tallal says, "Language problems in children are associated with stressful pregnancies." She adds, "Having a distressing pregnancy is strongly correlated with the inability to exhibit the expected structural lateralization" (in Kotulak 1993, Section 1, p. 4). As a result, children often develop stuttering and dyslexia. The left hemisphere processes auditory information faster than the right hemisphere. This skill is crucial for breaking down speech sounds into different units for understanding. The left hemisphere, responsible for language development in general, develops more slowly in the male brain. Therefore, men tend to develop more language problems than women.
Babies whose parents talk to them more often and use larger "adult" words will develop better language skills, says Janellen Huttenlocher of the University of Chicago (in Kotulak 1993, Section 1, p. 4). “During this period, it is important to acquire a broad vocabulary.” This turning point sets the stage for later reading skills (Begley 1996, p. 57). Unfortunately, many parents still don't understand the importance of reading for their children. A recent survey found that 82% of parents say they do not encourage reading at home ("Reading at Home" 1996). Even worse, three out of four adults say children are "too distracted" by the TV to read. Another survey reports that 90 percent of 9- to 13-year-olds play video games ("Video Games" 1996). While 43% play less than an hour a day, 27% play 2 to 6 hours a day. Developing reading skills is a different story. Although babies can learn to see, point and say a word, it doesn't matter until they have enough life experience to put words and experiences together. Studies suggest that babies hear words before they even speak. All words, understood or not, contribute to the development of syntax, vocabulary and meaning. This period is believed to be crucial for language development. Surprisingly, there is no absolute timetable for learning to read. Three-year differences are normal. Some children will be ready to read by age 4; others will finish as usual in 7 or even 10 years. The child who reads at age 7 may not have a "developmental delay" as many have diagnosed. JM Kagan talks about how different babies can be, even at just a few months old. "I have never seen a child awakened by all kinds of events: some were awakened by moving images but not by sounds, and others showed the reverse profile" (1994, p. 39). Is it full language or
Teach with the brain in mind
Are 24 Direct Phonetic Instructions More Brain Friendly? Research suggests there is value in everyone; a combination is better. The Sudbury Valley School in Framingham, Massachusetts is an example of a school that understands how readiness and differences in students' brains can coexist. Its K-12 program does not require any student to read. They believe that young people are already exposed to thousands of words in the world. Rather than teaching them to read, the school simply gives students the option of doing it when they are ready. As a result, some kids are reading by age 5, some by age 6, some by age 10. But according to school founder Daniel Greenberg, the school has 100% truly functional literate graduates. There is no such thing as dyslexia or dyslexia, and everyone loves to read. It's an approach that says, "Wait until the brain is ready to read, then you can't stop it!" (Greenberg 1991).
Sweet Dreams Teachers often complain that children sleep at school. Is it the fault of the parents or the school? Studies that question why children in the middle and high school grades seem to fall asleep so often have now turned to biology. Researchers had already looked at two possible culprits that didn't seem to matter much in the end: part-time work and late nights. The answer wasn't social pressure either. it was puberty. Sleep is regulated by many chemicals, including amines, glutocorticoids, and oleamide, a chemical that induces drowsiness, says Dale Boger, a molecular biologist at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. Late accumulation of oleamide means that a teenager's natural sleep clock generates a bedtime closer to midnight with a wakeup time closer to 8am.
The change is believed to be spurred by the hormonal changes of puberty. Sleep expert Mary Carskadon, formerly of Brown University, confirms that most teenagers are affected by this critical biological shift in their internal sleep clock (in Viadero 1995). "We have kids who are so sleep-deprived it's almost like they're on drugs. Educators like me teach walking zombies," says James Maas, an expert on sleep disorders at Cornell University (in L. Richardson 1996, pp. E-1). Sleep experts found that teenagers simply couldn't fall asleep early, as their frustrated parents suggested. Carskadon calls this "delayed phase preference," and blames a change in body chemistry. Although many researchers aren't sure of the direct cause , the results are easy to detect. They should be able to sleep earlier, but they can't. It's like the biological clock injecting amphetamines into the brain. Milton Erman, professor at the University of California, San Diego, says: "High school students suffer of severe sleep deprivation. . . . [It makes] very little scientific sense to make these children function so early" (in L. Richardson 1996, pp. E-1). Richard Allen, U.S. Sleep Disorders Center Johns Hopkins University, studied two groups of teenagers. Those who rose later did better academically. One started school at 7:30 am. p.m., the other at 9:30 p.m. m. Researchers have found that at night, the first few minutes and last few minutes of our four-part sleep cycle put us in a theta state. This is our own "twilight zone" when we are half awake and half asleep. The brain wave cycles here are 4 to 7 per minute as we randomly drift in and out of sleep. Typically, our waking times are in alpha and beta periods, from 8 to 25 cycles per second. During the theta state, we can easily wake up and often review the day or think about the things we have.
Preparing students to learn
25 until the next day. This light sleep phase usually takes up only about 5% of our night. It usually happens when waking up and going to bed. This drowsy or deep sleep is a slightly altered state of consciousness, good for free association. The heaviest, dreamless sleep states are important for physical renewal. During our "dead world" states, the pituitary gland provides additional growth and repair hormones into the bloodstream. This helps rebuild tissues and ensure our immune systems are working properly. In this state, you rarely hear a noise in your home, unless it's a near-explosion. This period of rest and repair makes up most of our sleep time. Theta normally lasts less than 5%, sleep time 25% and our delta state ("deep sleep") is the rest. The critical moment in question is the state of sleep or REM (Rapid Eye Movement) time. This state is considered critical for maintaining our memory (Hobson 1994). One very active area during REM is the amygdala, a structure known to be critical in processing intense emotions. Furthermore, the entorhinal cortex is also active (Ackerman 1996), which is known to be crucial for long-term memory processing. Bruce McNaughton of the University of Arizona found that the brain activity patterns of a rat in REM matched the patterns of the daytime study session (Lasley 1997). This suggests that, during sleep, the hippocampus repeats the learning sent to it by the neocortex. This “instant replay” consolidates and improves memory. This could be why waking up too early interferes with important REM sleep. Of all the time for sleep, we need the last few hours the most. Both Carskadon (Viadero 1995) and Carey (1991) propose a solution. Elementary and secondary schools must start later than elementary school. Although 7:30 am is adequate for primary school, a
Start at 9:30 am. M. generally works best for middle and high schools. In Corpus Christi, Texas, a district-wide shift to later school start times resulted in better learning, fewer teens sleeping in school, and fewer discipline problems. It makes sense: if we want kids to learn and remember, they need to stay awake at school and get enough sleep to consolidate their learning at night.
Eat to Learn Many school feeding programs are designed for bone and muscle growth, not the brain's learning needs. There may be a middle ground. Food must provide the nutrients needed for learning, and essential nutrients include protein, unsaturated fats, vegetables, complex carbohydrates, and sugars. The brain also requires a variety of trace elements such as boron, selenium, vanadium and potassium. The National Research Council publishes an annual nutritional report and many have summarized the results (Woteki and Thomas 1992). The report concludes that Americans are eating too much saturated fat, sugar and simple carbohydrates. You eat very few fruits, vegetables and complex carbohydrates. Even with government-sponsored breakfast programs, many children continue to get only simple carbohydrates. This is insufficient for much suboptimal basic learning and memory (Wurtman 1986). In addition, many children have food allergies (most commonly dairy) that can cause behavioral and learning problems (Gislason 1996). Are certain foods particularly good for the brain? There are a lot of them, but children rarely get tired of them. These include green leafy vegetables, salmon, nuts, lean meats and fresh fruit (Connors 1989). Other evidence suggests that vitamin
Teach with the brain in mind
Supplements of 26 amino acids and minerals can stimulate learning, memory, and intelligence (Ostrander and Schroeder 1991, Hutchinson 1994). Calpain has been found to act as a synapse “scavenger” and dissolve protein deposits (Howard 1994). This makes them more efficient for neural transmission and therefore for learning. The dietary source of calpain is dairy products (yogurt and milk are best) and green leafy vegetables (spinach and kale are excellent). Most children eat to avoid hunger and lack enough information to learn optimally. This is concerning given that essential myelination and maturation of the brain is in high gear by age 25.
Drink to Learn Dehydration is a common problem associated with poor learning. To be at their best, students need water. When we are thirsty it is because the water content of the blood is decreasing. When the water content in the blood drops, the salt concentration in the blood is higher. Higher salt levels increase the release of fluid from cells into the bloodstream (Ornstein and Sobel, 1987). This increases blood pressure and stress. Stress researchers have found that five minutes after drinking water, there is a marked decrease in corticosteroids and ACTH, two hormones associated with increased stress (Heybach and Vernikos-Danellis, 1979). Furthermore, the typical hormonal response to stress (elevated corticosteroid levels) is "significantly reduced or absent" (Levine and Coe, 1989) when water is available in the learning environment. These studies suggest that water plays an important role in controlling students' stress levels. Because the brain is made up of a higher percentage of water than any other organ, dehydration quickly takes its toll. loss of attention,
and lethargy sets in. Dehydration means that many children need more water more often. Sodas, juices, coffee or tea are diuretics that don't help much. Teachers should encourage students to drink water throughout the day. Parents, knowing this, may suggest that their children use water as the main thirst-quenching food instead of soft drinks (Hannaford, 1995). Figure 3.3 summarizes this chapter's suggestions for what parents can do from birth to prepare their children for school.
Practical Suggestions It may seem that there is little that educators can do about this. After all, it is the parents who prepare their children for learning. But this issue is so important that we must do something about it. We cannot afford not to act. There are three levels we can work on to impact some of these readiness areas: students, staff and community. Since we're already influencing you in so many other ways, let's start with the students. We can talk to them about nutrition and what encourages better thinking, learning and memory. We can ask them to run nutrition projects to study the effects of different foods. We can ask them to keep a private journal so they can begin to relate what they eat to how they feel and how they are doing in school. Guest speakers can bring something new or credibility to the topic. Perhaps most important, teachers and parents can be role models for good nutrition. At the team level, we can influence what is served at the school for breakfast or lunch. We can change what goes into vending machines. We can provide the district office with information about this.
Preparing students to learn
School Readiness: What Can Parents Do?
Provide loving care, reassurance, healthy stress response, hugs, laughter, smiles; attachment to your child; avoid threats
role model of feelings of cause and effect, empathy; provide a happy home; establish clear rules; avoid shouting
Stimulate crawling, sitting and pointing; promote the use of balls, rattles and various toys; provide cell phones; Grab, touch and rock your child frequently
Encouraging games (such as hide and seek), spinning, drawing, walking, running, balance exercises; give your child the freedom to explore (safely); play and encourage to play instruments
Use many objects, a variety of movements, color identification; schedule eye exams; avoid television
Play attention games and hand-eye coordination activities; teach to concentrate; provide outdoor time; avoid television; Schedule eye exams
Provide short sentences and a consistent high volume of input; repeat sounds; Use melodies; ear infection monitor
Familiarize yourself with longer sentences, second languages, larger vocabulary and a variety of contexts. Schedule regular hearing tests
Be overly curious about your child's world, just tell, show cause and effect
Use demonstrations, ask lots of questions, teach basic math and principles of motion and volume.
sing lullabies; give your child rattles; repeat rhymes; allow early contact with popular folk songs and other children's songs
Sing; plays instruments; listening to structured and harmonious music; provide access to a wider range of music genres.
Breast milk is still the best; avoid excess juice; pay attention to sufficient nutrients; Supply of moderate fats OK
Introduce a variety of foods; Start with balanced meals, rich in fiber and vegetables; use vitamins
Teach with the brain in mind
28 Nutrition to learn. On the school's open day, we can offer parents a lecture and a folder on the theme “eating to learn”. We can also influence the district office if it is necessary to change the start time of classes. Many schools across the country have already done so successfully. Finally, we must use school and community resources to educate parents on how to prepare their children for school. A lot of parents just don't have access to the information, do they?
they think they already know. Partner with local hospitals, chambers of commerce or local businesses to get the word out. Prepare pamphlets and offer free parenting sessions on the benefits of preparing your children for learning. Talk to them about motor development, crawling and how it affects reading and writing. Encourage them to talk more, play music and solve more problems. Share with them the power of TV and some easy-to-use alternatives.
Enriched Environments and the Brain KEY CONCEPTS ◗ How Enrichment Affects the Brain
Human beings are born more helpless than any other mammal. This mixed blessing means the baby isn't very good at taking care of itself and adapting its growing brain to the world it encounters. This “neural adaptation” can arise from exposure to a barren wasteland of random stimuli or a rich landscape of reflective sensory information. “We used to think that the brain was hardwired and didn't change. 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 [but] positive environments can actually produce physical changes in the developing brain,” says Frederick Goodwin, former director of the National Institute of Mental Health (in Kotulak 1996, p. 46). This chapter focuses on the importance of enrichment. We know enough to say that the environment must be rich. But what are the specific components of a “rich” environment in practice?
Environmental Influences The pendulum has been swinging for 100 years. For many decades, those who believed that character and intelligence depended primarily on our genes ("nature") defended and dominated
◗ Two conditions for enrichment: challenge and feedback ◗ The role of language, motor skills, music and art ◗ What really builds better brains?
Teach with the brain in mind
30 national debates. They cited studies on the "spelling gene", the "music gene" and even a "math gene". But over time, those who believed in environmental influence ("creation") were vocal enough to bring their cause to public attention. Today, consensus tells us that heredity provides about 30 to 60 percent of our brain's wiring, and 40 to 70 percent is environmental effects. Why the variation? It depends on what specific trait or behavior you are considering. Male pattern baldness is on the X chromosome, which comes from the mother. If it is strongly expressed in your parents and grandparents, your chances of inheriting and expressing it are close to 100%. If you are female and your mother was a strong leader, your chance of being a strong leader is about 30%. This small number reflects the complex environmental variables of circumstance, opportunity and skills learned. As educators, we can have more influence on the “care” aspect of students. While this chapter focuses on what makes the brain rich, it also looks at the overall quality of the learning environment. Therefore, we must follow a cardinal rule when assessing how the brain responds to certain influences: start by removing threats from the learning environment. No matter how excited you are to add positives to the environment, work to remove the negatives first. This includes embarrassment, finger-pointing, unrealistic deadlines, forcing kids to stay after school, belittlement, sarcasm, lack of resources, or just plain bullying. There is no evidence that threats are an effective way to achieve long-term academic goals. Once the threats are eliminated, we can start working on the enrichment process.
Our Malleable Brain In 1967, brain pioneer Marian Diamond, a neuroanatomist at the University of California, Berkeley, discovered an amazing malleability of the brain (Diamond 1967). His studies and subsequent research by dozens of colleagues changed the way we think about our brains. The brain can literally develop new connections to environmental stimuli. Diamond says, "As we enrich the environment, we get brains with a thicker cortex, more dendritic branches, more growth spines, and larger cell bodies" (Healy 1990, p. 47). As a result, brain cells communicate better with each other. There are also more support cells. This can happen within 48 hours of stimulation. Subsequent studies support the conclusion that these are highly significant and predictable effects. It's the process of making connections that counts. This suggests a possible cause for the increased learning ability that many report: increased neural stimulation. Smarter people probably have more neural networks and are more complexly intertwined. These changes correlate well with those derived from complex experiences, particularly learning and memory (Black et al. 1990). This view suggests that the environment affects the brain's connections as much as the person's actual experiences. Dendritic branching was easy to find, but evidence for synaptic plasticity is relatively recent. We now know how the brain is structurally changed; depends on the type and amount of use (Healy 1990; Green, Greenough, and Schlumpf 1983). Synaptic growth varies depending on the type of activity being performed. New synapses are generated in the brain for new motor learning.
Rich environments and the brain
31 white shell. During exercise (repetitive motor learning), the brain develops a greater density of blood vessels in the molecular layer (Black et al. 1990). Some researchers found that an area of the midbrain involved in attentional processing, the superior colliculus, grew 5 to 6 percent more in an enriched environment (Fuchs, Montemayor, and Greenough 1990). Using fMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) technology, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania discovered that our brains have areas that are stimulated only by letters, not by words or symbols (Lasley 1997). This suggests that new experiences (e.g. reading) can be wired to the malleable brain. In other words, the more diverse the type of environment, the more diverse the way the brain develops. However, all of this can be tricky. A student's early sensory deprivation may play a role. "In bad experiments, the wrong synapses are lost and the system fails," says neuroscientist William Greenough of the University of Illinois (1997). Retaining too many synapses can be harmful, as in the case of Fragile X-Mental Retardation. At school, more than ever, there is an interest in creating the right kind of welcoming environments. There's a good reason for that. One of the most compelling arguments comes from the former director of the Institute of Mental Health, Frederick Goodwin. He says, “[T]here is now a better understanding of what the environment can affect you. 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 [;] You can't turn a person with an IQ of 70 into a person with an IQ of 150, but you can change your IQ measurement in a variety of ways, perhaps up or down by up to 20 points depending on the environment . (Kotulak 1996). That's a 40-point range! How much can a school affect the brain? Neuroscientist Bob Jacobs confirms that animal brain enrichment research directly translates to the human brain. This one
found that postgraduate autopsy studies had up to 40% more connections than the brains of high school dropouts. The group of graduate students who participated in challenging activities showed more than 25% more overall "brain growth" than the control group. However, education alone was not enough. New learning experiences and frequent challenges were crucial for brain growth. The brains of graduate students who "wandered" around school had fewer connections than those who challenged themselves daily (Jacobs, Schall, & Scheibel, 1993). Challenging sensory stimulation has rightly been likened to a "nutrient" for the brain. Figure 4.1 illustrates the differences between depleted and enriched neurons. FIGURE 4.1
How Enrichment Changes Brain Cell Structure Exhausted Neuron
Teach with the brain in mind
32 Wayne State neurobiologist Harold Chugani notes that the school-age brain almost "glows" with energy intake, burning through 225% of an adult's glucose levels. The brain learns faster and more easily in the early school years. It nearly explodes with spectacular growth as it adapts to the world around it with incredible precision. During this time, stimulation, repetition and new things are essential to lay the groundwork for further learning. The outside world is real food for the growing brain. It takes smells, sounds, sights, tastes and touches and strings the inputs together into a myriad of neural connections. When the brain starts to understand the world, it creates a neural earth.
enrichment for whom? For many years, the myth was that only a few "gifted and talented" students would benefit most from enrichment programs. It couldn't be further from the truth. The human brain is born with over a trillion connections. Many new synapses are created with early sensory development, but any excess synapses are later removed. Greenough, a pioneer of enrichment studies, says that experience determines which synapses are lost or, more importantly, which are preserved. This forms the 'blueprint' on which further development is based (Begley 1996, p. 56). Our brains have a “baseline” of neural connectivity, and enrichment contributes to this. Students can graduate with a “baseline” or an “enriched brain”. Can we really afford to deprive all "talentless" students of their biological destiny to develop enriched brains? Rutgers neuroscientist Paula Tallal comments on this important learning opportunity that everyone should have. "Don't wait. You won't get another victory-
such an opportunity,” he says (in Kotulak 1996, p. 33). For example, it's much easier to play an instrument or learn a foreign language before age 10 than at any other time. But only attractive school populations and gifted and talented students received this kind of exposure. It's easy to see why parents want their kids to be called "gifted." If you miss this opportunity, your child may be doomed to "neural terrain".
What is enrichment? Countless experiments have been conducted on animals and humans to determine which conditions predictably and accurately make better brains. William Greenough, who has studied the effects of an enriching environment for over 20 years, says two things are particularly important for developing a better brain. The critical ingredients in any useful student brain enrichment program are that learning is first challenged with new information or experiences. Novelty is usually enough, but it has to be a challenge. Second, there must be a way to learn from experience through interactive feedback. The challenge is important; too much or too little and students will drop out or get bored. The mental challenge can come from new material, adding a difficulty level, or limiting features. This includes different times, materials, approaches, expectations or support in the learning process. Novelty is also important. It makes sense to change classroom wall decorations every two to four weeks, but ask students to do so for the best enrichment. Change teaching strategies frequently: use computers, groups, field trips, guest speakers, pairs, games, student instruction, journaling, or cross-age projects (see Figure 4.2).
Rich environments and the brain
33 FIGURE 4.2
Maximize brain growth
problem solving critical thinking relevant projects complex activities
Targeted, multimodal, timely, learner-oriented
Second, maximize student feedback. Because feedback reduces uncertainty, it increases coping skills while reducing pituitary-adrenal stress responses. Even without control, feedback has value (Hennessy, King, McClure, & Levine 1977). The brain itself is exquisitely designed to work with feedback, both internal and external (Harth 1995). What is received at any given level of the brain depends on what is happening at that level. And what gets sent to the next level depends on the things that are already happening at that level. In other words, our entire brain is self-referential. Decide what to do based on what has just been done. We couldn't learn without our wonderful feedback system. For example, after a student writes an assignment, the peer-editing process is a great way to get feedback.
Understandably, other students can be the greatest asset in the learning environment. But many traditional environments are not yet organized to take advantage of this opportunity. The best types of groups may be multi-age, multi-state groups (Caine and Caine 1994). While there is little "rigorous biological research" on the value of cooperative groups, they clearly do two important things. When we feel valued and cared for, our brain releases pleasure neurotransmitters: endorphins and dopamine. It helps us enjoy our work more. Another positive aspect is that groups are an excellent social and academic feedback tool. When students talk to other students, they receive specific feedback about their ideas and behavior. Several conditions make feedback more effective. The reaction must be specific, not general. Both a video game and a computer provide specific feedback, as does peer editing of a student's story. Group interaction provides feedback because it provides a lot of dramatic evidence, such as: B. non-verbal. Creating a classroom model or playing an educational game provides interactive feedback. Feedback is often most helpful to students when it is immediate. Occasionally, a stressed or threatened student will prefer delayed feedback. Greenough says that optimal feedback involves making choices; It can be created and modified at will. If it is difficult to achieve or performance cannot be changed after receiving feedback, the brain will not learn quickly. Immediate, self-generated feedback can come from many sources: posting achievement criteria, reviewing personal goals, using a computer, or when the student checks in with a parent or teacher at a different grade level. What content should the enrichment have? Fortunately, the sources are endless. here we go
Teach with the brain in mind
34 cover only five of them: Reading and Language, Motor Stimulation, Thinking and Problem Solving, Art and Environment.
Enrichment through reading and language Without exposure to new words, a child will never develop the cells in the auditory cortex to discriminate sounds well. Parents should read to their children starting at 6 months and not waiting until they are 4 or 5 years old. Before puberty, most children learn any language without a “foreign accent”. The cell stock and connection in the brain is ready and available. There is enough to learn even the smallest nuances of pronunciation. But after puberty, the connections all but disappeared, and cells potential for language were hijacked by more aggressive cells for other functions. Schools should expose children to larger and more challenging vocabulary and foreign languages by age 12. Neural loss and synaptic pruning make second language acquisition more difficult every year. The more vocabulary the child hears from his teachers, the greater the vocabulary for life. A simple way to get a bigger vocabulary is for teachers to model it, anticipate it, and make it part of learning. Reading is also a great way to build vocabulary, but not forcing students right from the start. For some students' brains, the "normal" time to learn to read is 3 or 4 years. For others, the “normal” time is 8 years. In fact, there can be differences between a few months and 5 years. years in completely normally developing brains. A 6-year-old who cannot read may not have a “developmental delay”. In many countries, including Sweden, Denmark, Norway and New Zealand (all with
high level of literacy), formal reading instruction begins at age 7 or 8 (Hannaford 1995). While reading is useful for stimulating the growing brain, writing is another way to build vocabulary. We usually teach children to write before cursive. This makes little sense because the typical brain is not yet developed to make the necessary visual and fine motor distinctions. Kids still struggle with lowercase D and B, as well as H, N, A, and E. The frustration kids experience is because their brains aren't ready for it yet. Cursive is much easier and is best taught first. With the advancement of technology and especially computer keyboards, printing is less important today than it was 50 years ago. The brains of children with speech disorders are very balanced. That's not good, says language expert Paula Tallal. If both sides are equal, the left hemisphere is too weak; The left side must be physically larger and more active than the right hemisphere. A bigger and faster left brain means you can adjust the sounds you hear. This means that the words are clear and not like a stream of watery noise. That's what many dyslexics hear: words that belong together. New software programs that stretch words until the brain can learn to sort them are about 80 percent successful in retraining the brain, says Tallal (in Begley 1996, p. 62).
Enrichment through motor stimulation Is exercise good for the brain? Remember that repeating a movement or exercise only does what we already know. Enrichment for brain stimulation does something new. Lyelle Palmer of Winona State University has documented the beneficial effects of
Rich environments and the brain
35 early motor stimulation in learning for many years. He used hand-eye coordination tasks, turning, tumbling, swaying, pointing, counting, jumping and ball tossing to stimulate the early neural growth pattern. Palmer's "Opportunity to Learn Project" at Shingle Creek Elementary School in Minneapolis showed positive effects on students on the Metropolitan Readiness Test, the Visual Perception Test, and the Otis Group Intelligence Test (Palmer 1980). In similar studies, the experimental group consistently outperformed the control group. The benefits of early motor stimulation don't end in elementary school; there is enormous value in new motor stimulation during high school and for the rest of our lives (Brink 1995). Schools should require a planned program of targeted motor stimulation in grades K-1, but should also incorporate physical activity throughout the curriculum. In sports, we expect students to use their brains to count, plan, calculate, and solve problems. Every athlete is heavily involved with cognitive functions. It makes sense that we would expect students to use their bodies for kinesthetic learning in academic instruction (see Fig. 4.3).
Enrichment through thinking and problem solving The best way to develop a better brain is to challenge it to solve problems. This creates new dendritic connections that allow us to make even more connections. The brain is ready at the age of 1 or 2 to solve simple, concrete problems. But the more complicated variant usually has to wait. There is a bud of dendritic branching in the right hemisphere between 4 and 7 and in the left hemisphere.
Key factors influencing early brain development and academic performance
Feedback and the arts challenge
Sphere between 9 and 12 (Hannaford 1995). Between ages 11 and 13, both sides are fully developed and generally ready for complex abstractions. Then the main bridge between the left and right hemispheres, the corpus callosum, is fully mature. It then transports four billion messages per second through its 200 to 300 million nerve fibers and is ready for new challenges. Some brain maturation continues into the mid-20s. Children have complex and challenging problems to solve. But problem solving is not limited to one area of the brain. Finally, a problem can be solved on paper, with a model, with an analogy or metaphor, through discussion, with statistics, with illustrations, or during a demonstration. As a result, we need to develop as many neural pathways in children's brains as there are ways to solve a problem. This means that it is crucial to introduce students to a variety of problem-solving approaches.
Teach with the brain in mind
36 slogans (Gardner 1993). As students feel more capable of solving a problem, their thoughts change their body chemistry. Albert Bandura of Stanford University found that as participants became more competitive, they released less catacholamine, the body's natural chemical response to stress. Surprisingly, the brain doesn't care if it ever finds an answer. Neural growth occurs because of the process, not the solution. A student can go to school for 12 years, rarely get the answers right, and still have a well-developed brain. Some students simply pick problems that are increasingly difficult to solve. This can stimulate the release of norepinephrine and also produce dendritic growth. Richard Haier of the Brain Imaging Center at the University of California, Irvine, says, "The newer and more difficult the video game, the more neural activity" (in Marquis 1996, pp. B-2). Smarter people work their brains harder at first and relax later. When presented with new stimuli, brains with higher IQs initially fire more neurons and thus allocate more resources (Howard 1994). There is a much greater use of glucose when learning a new game than when the game is mastered and the player scores high. At the "mastery" level, the brain levitates. All typical puzzles, puns, hypothetical problems and real world problems are good for the brain. But be patient: being good at one type of puzzle doesn't mean you'll be good at another. That's why someone is usually good at crosswords but not riddles. Or they're good at Scrabble and Jeopardy but weak at cards and dominoes. The neural pathways that help us develop excellent thinking skills are so specific that the whole concept of being "smart" or "talented"
and gifted" (Gardner 1983). It makes sense to encourage young people to get involved in any problem-solving activity; the more real the better. Science experiments or construction projects are also good. Unfortunately, only 5% of all children in 11 year olds have developed formal thinking skills; that number is 25% by age 14. By adulthood, that percentage rises to just 50% of the population (Epstein 1986).
Enrichment through the Arts For most of the 20th century, a strong arts program meant you were raising a culture-conscious child. But current biology suggests that the arts can help lay the groundwork for later academic and professional success. A strong artistic foundation develops creativity, focus, problem solving, self-efficacy, coordination, and values focus and self-discipline. The Musical Brain. We've all heard about the value of music as part of enriching learning. Many schools offer music classes in so-called gifted education programs. But what evidence is there that daily music instruction should be universal for all students in grades kindergarten through grade 12? Is it just an anecdote or has new brain research caught up with you? In short, the evidence is compelling that (1) our brains can be wired for music and the arts, and (2) a music and arts education has positive, measurable, and lasting academic and social benefits. Indeed, there is ample evidence that a broad musical and artistic education should be required of all students in the country. Music is not a "right brain flyer". Robert Zatorre, a neuropsychologist at the Montreal Neurological Institute, says, "I have little doubt that listening to real music involves the whole brain" (in Shreeve 1996,
Rich environments and the brain
37 p. 96). Reading music engages both sides of the brain, said the late Justine Sergent of the Montreal Neurological Institute. Once someone learns to read, compose, or play music, the left side of the brain becomes very involved. How does music fit into the concept of enrichment? Think of music as a tool that can be used in at least three possible categories: to wake you up, as a vehicle for words, and as a primer for your brain. Arousal means that music increases or decreases attentional neurotransmitters. An example of "upbeat" music might be the theme to "Rocky". Relaxing music can include a waterfall or soft piano melodies. This type of music can significantly affect the condition of students. And, of course, this can affect learning. A study of eighth and ninth graders published in Principal magazine showed that background music significantly improved students' reading comprehension (Giles 1991). A second use of music is as a carrier. In this case, the melody of the song acts as a vehicle for the words themselves. You may have noticed how easily students pick up words in new songs. It is the melody that helps them to learn the words. How did you learn the alphabet? It was probably through the alphabet song. You heard this song over and over again when you were a baby. When it came time to learn the lyrics, he simply "glued" the lyrics to the melody notes. The result was a quickly learned alphabet. There is a third and very powerful use of music. In fact, it can prime the brain's neural pathways. Neurons are constantly firing. What separates "neural conversation" from clear thinking is the speed, order, and strength of the connections. These variables represent a trigger pattern that can be triggered or "triggered" by specific musical snippets. For example, have you ever used one?
A song to help you complete a task like cleaning the house or garage? To review the evidence, we turned to Norman Weinberger, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Irvine. He is an expert on the auditory cortex and its response to music. He says, "A growing body of research supports the theory that the brain specializes in the building blocks of music" (Weinberger 1995, p. 6). Much research suggests that the auditory cortex responds to pitches and pitches, not just raw sound frequencies, and that individual brain cells process melodic contours. Music can actually be central to later cognitive activity. Lamb and Gregory (1993) found a high correlation between pitch discrimination and reading ability. Mohanty and Hejmadi (1992) found that musical dance training improved scores on the Torrance Test of Creativity. What causes the correlation? It all depends on the speed and pattern in which the brain cells are firing. Frances Rauscher says, "We know that neural activation patterns are basically the same for music comprehension and abstract thinking. . . ." (In Mandelblatt 1993, p. 13) In the University of California, Irvine's highly acclaimed "Mozart Effect" study, there were three listening conditions. One was relaxing music. The other, the control, had no music. third featured Mozart's “Two Piano Sonata in D Major.” After just 10 minutes of listening with headphones, Rauscher, Shaw, Levine, Ky, and Wright (1993) found that selecting Mozart transiently improved spatiotemporal reasoning. Rauscher points out that this is a causal relationship, not a correlation. This study was the first to show that listening to music is the cause of improved spatial intelligence. Other studies simply showed that music was a contributing factor or had indirect correlates. Listen to Mozart first
Teach with the brain in mind
38 evidence is valuable; Listening during a test would induce neural competition by interrupting the neural firing pattern. A review of studies suggests that music plays an important role in improving a variety of academic and social skills. On the one hand, it activates procedural (body) memory and is therefore permanent learning (Dowling 1993). Furthermore, James Hanshumacher (1980) reviewed 36 studies, 5 of which were published and the rest were unpublished dissertations. He concluded that arts education facilitates language development, encourages creativity, increases literacy, supports social development, promotes general intellectual achievement, and encourages positive attitudes toward school (Hanshumacher 1980). Finally, music is a language that can improve the skills of children who are not particularly good at expressing thoughts verbally. Does the evidence support the value of the chant? Music researcher M. Kalmar found that music has many positive school correlates. Between the two groups, only the experimental group showed better abstract conceptual thinking, greater motor development, coordination, creativity and verbal skills. Another study (Hurwitz, Wolff, Bortnick, and Kokas 1975) concluded that musical groups (trained only on folk songs) "exhibited significantly higher reading scores than the control group, with scores at the 88th percentile versus the 72nd percentile." Singing is good brain stimulation, “a means of promoting both musical competence and full development. 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 (Weinberger 1996). enrichment of art. How is artistic research maintained? Arts education has received a tremendous boost thanks to discoveries in neuroscience. The old paradigm was that left brain thinking harbored the necessary "higher order" thinking skills and
right-brain activities were ornaments. This paradigm is completely wrong. Current research tells us that much of learning is "both brains". Musicians generally process melodies in their left hemisphere. Positron emission tomography (PET) scans of problem solvers show activations not only in the left frontal lobe but also in other areas where music, art, and movement are stored (Kearney 1996). Many of our greatest scientific thinkers, like Einstein, spoke of incorporating imagination into scientific work. The neuropsychological art therapy developed by Garner (1996; see also Parente and Anderson-Parente 1991, McGraw 1989) or the NAT model has been successful worldwide. The use of art not only to draw but also to teach thinking and to develop emotional expression and memory is a remarkable demonstration of the plasticity of the brain. By learning and practicing the art, the human brain actually rewires itself to make stronger connections. Researchers have learned this using it as a therapy for brain damage (Kolb and Whishaw 1990). Jean Houston says the arts encourage body awareness, creativity and self-confidence. Indeed, he says, "The child without access to the arts is systematically excluded from most ways in which he can experience the world" (in Williams, 1977). Policymakers and educators often seek data to support the role of the arts. In Columbus, Ohio, the results were measurable. Talk to Principal James Gardell at Douglas Elementary. This predominantly arts-oriented school has performance scores 20 points above district standards in 5 out of 6 academic areas. Demand for his show is strong; more than 100 children are on the school's “waiting list”. Does the emphasis on art make a difference? "There's a definite connection," says Gardell
Rich environments and the brain
39 (1997). Other area schools such as Duxbury, Clinton, and Fair Avenue have seen similar academic success through their emphasis on the arts. Norman Weinberger insists that the argument that art and music are luxuries "does not find objective support". He summarizes: “Teachers should be encouraged to bring or amplify music into the classroom” (Weinberger 1996). But does it have to be experts or music teachers? Music experts are preferred, but in the absence of an expert, something is better than nothing.
Enriching the Environment Teachers are often happy to share their “enriched classroom” with others. They proudly display all the affirmations, mobiles, posters, colors and pictures on the walls as symbols of enrichment. The word enrichment is obviously used very loosely here. Remember that enrichment comes from challenge and feedback, not artistic merit or aesthetic pleasure. Does this mean we should encourage classrooms with bare walls? Absolutely not! While decorative and busy classrooms are likely to have questionable asset value, they serve other very valuable purposes. They can be a source of inspiration, affirmation and content. They can help students feel safe and comfortable or keep pace with their learning (Debes 1974). Do you think it matters what we see? In hospitals, a controlled study found that patients with "a room with a view" recovered faster than those who looked at a brick wall. Stimulation apparently affects more than just well-being; it also nourishes the brain (Urich 1984). Most students will acquire, to some extent, a rich classroom environment filled with posters, cell phones, maps, photos, and graphic organizers.
Practical Tips We understand that the two main ingredients for enrichment are challenge and feedback. As what is challenging for one student may not be for another, this makes an excellent case for choice in the learning process, including self-directed learning and a greater variety of strategies used to better engage students. 🇧🇷 Examples of choices include the student's ability to choose the complexity or nature of a project. In addition, selection can include student decisions about computers, videos, partners, seating, and the final format of the expected end result. Diversity means that no matter what students choose, it is imperative that the educator exposes them to a variety of methods. That means alternating individual and group work, theater, music, presentations, independent work, computers, guest speakers and traveling to new places, even if it's just a classroom at school. To increase enrichment, it is time to reaffirm the integration of arts and movement into the curriculum. In the 2000 Declaration of National Objectives, the arts were barely mentioned; this makes little sense compared to its long-term value. Art and movement are often great forms of challenge and feedback. Norman Weinberger calls for "widespread pedagogical essays" in arts and music education. Just as a new drug is tested in controlled trials under FDA oversight, schools must conduct systematic, formally documented trials involving arts and movement education. To do this, we could: • Form better partnerships between local schools and universities to initiate and conduct better studies.
Teach with the brain in mind
40 • Increase appropriate use of music, including singing, listening to music, and playing instruments. • Increase the richness and variety of student choices in the environment, such as seating, lighting, and peripherals. Two rules come from the field of brain research and enrichment. One is to eliminate the threat and the other is to get rich like crazy. Before we understand the collective impact of an enriched environment, perhaps it would be acceptable to justify a minimalist classroom. Gone are the days when any teacher could justify a sterile classroom with a one-page reading as the only input. Today, the evidence is overwhelming that enriched environments produce better brains. Furthermore, the early developing brain grows faster and is better prepared for change. This opportunity must be used.
While the case for getting rich is strong, what happens if we don't get rich? In "juvenile" rats, a blunt environment had a greater cortical thinning effect than a positive enriched environment on cortical thickening (Diamond 1998, p. 31). Boredom is more than just an annoyance for teens, it can weaken their brains! Fortunately, studies show that shrinkage can be reversed in just four days (p. 31). Considering that schools provide forums an average of 6 hours a day, 180 days a year and for 13 years, this represents a potential exposure of over 14,000 hours. Therefore, educators have an important moral and ethical responsibility to enhance or limit someone's life potential. Are those hours being spent nurturing a better brain or literally pushing the boundaries of that potential? The answer is simple. Let's all get rich like crazy.
Get the brain's attention
KEY CONCEPTS ◗ The biology of attention
Getting and keeping students' attention was the brass ring in the teaching world. Many of us look up to the masters of Hollywood films like Stand and Deliver, Dead Poets Society, and Dangerous Minds. They capture students' and ours' attention, and we respect peers who can emulate their methods in real life. But what if that teaching model is wrong? What if attention was the exception rather than the rule? What if we make unreasonable and often unreasonable demands on students, and the more a teacher has a student's attention, the less real learning can take place? That is the focus of this chapter: attention and its relationship to learning in light of recent brain research.
The Mindful Brain At the start of each new school year, well-meaning teachers divide students into two categories: those who pay attention and those who don't. Translated, this means the "good children" and the "problem children". consequently a huge
◗ Getting Attention, Not Keeping It ◗ The High and Low Attention Brain Cycles ◗ An Update on ADHD ◗ Implications for Classroom Discipline
Teach with the brain in mind
42 A lot of energy is spent getting children to “behave”. The stakes are high and the tools include promises, rewards, uprisings, threats, speeches and gimmicks. Almost all experienced teachers have surefire ways to stand out. For years, new masters have enthusiastically modeled these "topgun" master methods. They also wanted to grab and hold the students' attention. But is this really a good lesson? For much of the 20th century, attention was the domain of psychology. But over the past decade, several lines of research have made compelling arguments for the role that biological factors play in attention and learning. We now know that the purpose of attention appears to be (1) to promote survival and (2) to prolong pleasurable states. For example, research has shown: • Attention systems are located throughout the brain. • Contrasts of movements, sounds and emotions (eg threats) occupy most of our attention. • Chemicals play the most important role in care. • Genes may also be involved in maintenance. When we are awake, we have an important choice to make each moment: where to focus our attention. A normal person makes this decision about 100,000 times a day. The brain is always paying attention to something; Your survival depends on it. Generally, when we speak of “attention” in an educational context, we refer to external and focused attention. This means that the student looks at the teacher and only thinks about the material presented. However, the brain's attention systems have many other possibilities. attention can be
external or internal, focused or diffused, relaxed or alert. We ask students to identify appropriate objects of attention (usually a teacher); hold that attention until told otherwise (even if it's a one-hour conference); and ignore other, often more interesting, stimuli in the area. This request is perfectly appropriate when the learning is relevant, engaging, and student choice. If these conditions are not met, attention in the classroom is a statistical improbability. We now know that the two main determinants of our attention are sensory inputs (such as an attractive threat or opportunity) and the brain's chemical "taste of the moment." One is focused like a laser beam, the other is diffused, more like a string of Christmas tree lights. Both constantly regulate our attention, so let's look at each one.
The forms of attention The attention process consists of alarm, orientation, identification and decision. This sequential process of laser beams is similar to "Whoops, something's going on" and then "Where?" and finally "What is this?" The answer to the last question usually tells us how long we should care for it. Attention is expressed in a student when there is a greater flow of information in the specific target area of the brain pathways compared to the surrounding pathways. In short, as specialized brain activity increases, alertness increases. Figure 5.1 illustrates the different areas of the brain involved in acquiring and maintaining attention. How does your brain know what to pay special attention to at the moment? The secret is that our visual system (which has over 80
Get the brain's attention
43 FIGURE 5.1
Areas involved in getting and keeping your attention Corpus callosum Thalamus Pulvinar nucleus Posterior parietal lobe Frontal lobe Occipital lobe
Superior colliculus reticular activating system
percent of information sent to the brain in soft learners) is a two-way street. Information flows in both directions, back and forth from our eyes to the thalamus and visual cortex. This feedback is the mechanism that "shapes" our attention so that we can focus on a specific subject, such as a professor giving a lecture or reading a book (Kosslyn 1992). Surprisingly, the amount of information that our "center of attention" receives as feedback from the cortex is almost six times greater than the original information from the retina. This amount of feedback causes certain selective neurons along visual pathways to fire less frequently because their membranes are hyperpolarized to prevent normal processing. Proper attention functioning means not only stimulating lots of new neurons, but also suppressing unimportant information. Somehow the brain corrects incoming images to keep you attentive. What we see and what we pay attention to is a balancing act in both directions.
Construction and maintenance of stimulus feedback. When you ignore something, the brain has an innate mechanism to shut off inputs. The brain's receptivity to paying attention is strongly influenced by priming. We are more likely to see something when we are told to look for it or when we are told its location. Neuroimaging methods have shown increased neural firing in the frontal lobes and anterior cingulate when someone is making an effort to pay attention. In general, the right parietal lobe is involved in changes in attention. When you're looking for a book you left in class, your left frontal lobe tells the midbrain area how to organize the incoming data. There, the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) shuts out all the other books, binders, pamphlets, boxes, and other book-sized objects that look like this book but aren't what you want (LaBerge 1995). 🇧🇷 Not only that, the mere thought of this book will draw your attention to any similar book. When trying countless possibilities in a matter of seconds, the brain is often right on target: it finds the book, reports it as lost, loses interest, or decides to keep looking. Selective attention depends on suppressing irrelevant data and reinforcing relevant data. Students are highly successful academically when they have the ability to "tune in" like a radio to an accurate and focused "bandwidth." What's out of reach has to be important to get your attention. If you want to stand out, present a strong contrast to what you've been up to. We get used to a new smell within seconds, so it takes a new one to get our attention again. Teachers who raise their voices in an already very noisy classroom may become frustrated. It makes more sense to use a high contrast signal system such as a desktop
Teach with the brain in mind
44 bell, a raised hand, a whistle on the playground or a dramatic change of scene.
The Chemistry of Attention The chemicals in our brains are the very lifeblood of the attentional system and have a lot to do with what students pay attention to in school. Chemicals include neurotransmitters, hormones and peptides. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that appears to be linked to drowsiness. In general, its levels are higher in the late afternoon and evening. Of course, with higher levels of adrenaline, we are more alert. Researchers suggest that, of all chemicals, norepinephrine is most involved in attention (Hobson 1994). Studies show that our norepinephrine levels are usually low when we are sleepy or "passing out"; if we are very "hyper" and stressed, the values are too high. Under stress and threat, the dominant chemicals in the brain are cortisol, vasopressin, and endorphins. The first two are particularly important in our responses to stress and threat. When a student is about to be called into the principal's office, the body's stress and threat response kicks in. The pulse is high, the skin is red, and the body is "on edge". A change in chemicals means a likely change in behavior. For example, if you want students' creativity, you may have found that getting them out of a stress state with a walk, music, humor, or storytelling works.
Attention Cycles on a Rollercoaster You may have noticed that you have natural attention shifts throughout the day. These are the ultradian rhythms, one of the main cycles of our brain, lasting between 90 and 110 minutes. This means that we
They have about 16 cycles lasting 24 hours. The strange thing is that although we are used to "light and deep" sleep, we rarely associate it with the typical high and low cycles of rest and wakefulness throughout the day. Some students who are constantly tired in class may be at the end of their attention span. Movements such as stretching or walking can help focus attention. Students should be encouraged to get up and stretch silently when they feel sleepy. The brain changes its cognitive abilities during these high and low cycles. There is literally a change in blood flow and breathing in these cycles that affects learning (Klein, Pilon, Prosser & Shannahoff-Khalsa 1986). Our brains alternately become more efficient at processing verbal or spatial information. These periods of fluctuating performance seem to correlate with a well-known rhythm, the "basic rest-activity cycle" (BRAC), which was recently discovered by sleep research. In the studies by Raymond Klein and Roseanne Armitage, eight subjects were tested on two tasks, one predominantly verbal and the other spatial, every 15 minutes for 3-minute periods during an 8-hour day. The differences are significant; the increase in verbal tasks went from an average of 165 to 215 hits, while spatial ones decreased from 125 to 108 (Klein and Armitage 1979). This oscillation suggests that we will get worse results if we test students at the wrong time. It presents arguments for choices in the learning process and choices in the assessment process. Portfolios built over time are more comprehensive and accurate than a "snapshot" test because they can better average peaks and valleys. Figure 5.2 shows the brain's cycles during the day and night. Figure 5.3 shows electrical activity during brainwave states.
Get the brain's attention
45 FIGURE 5.2
The brain goes up and down between 90 and 110 minutes
The daily low or low portions of the 90- to 110-minute cycle reflect our brain's message: take it easy. Several researchers say that mental breaks of up to 20 minutes several times a day increase productivity (Rossi and Nimmons 1991). Rather than struggling with low energy or alertness, educators can take advantage of this. Pearce Howard (1994) says that workers generally need a 5- to 10-minute break every hour and a half. Why should students or staff be any different? This would fit well into the "floor" of the 90 to 110 minute cycle. In high schools, running from class to class isn't a true "timeout" for most students. These loops are a good argument for using block programming in secondary school.
up until. With more time, the teacher can build activities into the break without feeling pressured to teach content every minute.
The Role of Inattention or "Processing Time" In general, the brain malfunctions with sustained high levels of attention. In fact, true "external" cleanliness can be maintained at a consistently high level for a short period of time, typically 10 minutes or less. This brings us to the biological question: "What intelligent adaptive benefits might a shorter attention span have?" The researchers suggest there could be several good reasons. They can react quickly to predators and prey. Allows you to update your priorities by selecting again
Teach with the brain in mind
46 FIGURE 5.3
Brainwave states are measures of electrical activity (cps = cycles per second)
Alfa 7-12 cps
Teta 4-7 cps
Delta 0,5-4 cps
Keys to understanding specific Beta brain wave states... Highly Active: Brainstorming, Exercises, Complex Projects, Alpha Competition... Relaxed Attention: Reading, Writing, Observing, Problem Solving Theta... Deep Responsiveness: Drowsiness, Meditation, Processing of Delta Time... Unconscious: deepest sleep, "dead to the world"
object of their attention (LaBerge 1995). This confirms the value of focused study time followed by diffuse activities like reflection. In the classroom, there are three reasons why constant attention is counterproductive. First, much of what we learn cannot be consciously processed; it happens very fast. We need time to process it. Second, we need inner time to create new meaning. Meaning is always generated from within, not from without. Third, after each new learning experience, we need time for the learning to “imprint”. In fact, it can take up to six hours for new physical abilities to solidify. John Henry Holcomb
Hopkins University claims that other new learnings contaminate the memory process. "We've shown that time itself is a very powerful component of learning," he adds (in Manning, 1997). Our visual performance, measured in bits per second and carried by the optic nerve, is in the tens of millions (Koch 1997). This is too much to consciously process (Dudai 1997). To proceed or discover everything, the student must "go within" and give up this "external" attention. We can't consciously process everything, so the brain keeps processing information before and long after we realize we're doing it. As a result, many of our best ideas seem to come out of nowhere. As educators, we must allow ourselves this creative time if we want new learning to happen. After brand new learning, teachers should consider short, divergent activities like playing ball or walking that strengthen communication skills. Human beings are natural organisms in search of meaning. But while the quest is innate, the end result is not automatic. Since meaning is generated internally, external input impinges on students' ability to convert what they have just learned into something meaningful. It can grab your students' attention or have meaning, but never both at the same time. Therefore, teachers can allow students to have a small group discussion after presenting new material to explore, ask questions, and develop what-if scenarios. Synapses become stronger when neural connections have time to solidify because they don't have to respond to other competing stimuli. Cellular resources can be spared and concentrated on critical synaptic connections (see Fig. 5.4). Alcino Silva of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory found that the mice improved their learning with short training sessions interspersed with periods of rest.
Get the brain's attention
47 FIGURE 5.4
Give brain connections time to solidify
The synapse is strengthened when there is no competing neural input for several minutes.
(Lasley 1997). He says the rest period allows the brain to recycle CREB, an acronym for a protein switch that is crucial for forming long-term memory. Other research also suggests that periods of goal-directed processing may be ideal as “incubations for learning” (Scroth et al. 1993). It may be idle time, which we now know is not really "empty", that is more important for processing new information. Learning can become more functional when external stimuli are turned off and
the brain can link it to other associations, uses and procedures. "This linking and consolidation process can only happen during downtime," says Allan Hobson of Harvard University. This finding suggests that perhaps we should allow a few minutes of reflection after new learning. Recording or discussing new learning in small groups makes sense for the learning brain. It is essential that teachers promote "personal processing time" after learning new things in order to consolidate the material. The variety of options above reflects the different needs, learning styles and intelligences of students. As you accumulate more content per minute or move from session to session, little is virtually guaranteed to be learned or retained. In fact, many teachers who complain about having to "revise" so much are the same ones who try to learn too much. Processing time depends on the difficulty of the material and the student's background. Teaching "heavy and new" content to beginners can require 2-5 minutes of editing time every 10-15 minutes. But a review of old material for well-rehearsed students might take as little as one minute out of every 20 minutes. (See Fig. 5.5.) This old notion of sustained attention is also a problem for teachers themselves. Teachers need more personal, quality downtime throughout the day. With a schedule that rarely allows for more than a moment of solitude or rest, stress is the order of the day. The work schedule wreaks havoc on the teacher's high and low brain cycles. To stay alert, teachers often become addicted to caffeine, constantly consuming coffee and soft drinks. It makes sense for teachers to find quiet times whenever possible. If not, they should reduce their intake of sleep-inducing carbohydrates and stay as physically fit as possible.
Teach with the brain in mind
48 FIGURE 5.5
Factors that influence attention to learning
Increase Intrinsic Motivation Attract attention for 10 to 90 minutes
Increase apathy and resentment. Grab attention for 10 minutes or less
Offering options: content, time, people, projects, processes, environment or resources.
100% running, no student input, limited resources e.g. working alone
Make it personal: relate it to family, neighborhood, city, stages of life, love, health, etc.
Irrelevant Impersonal, useless, taken out of context and made just to pass a test
Make it emotional, energetic; do it physically; Use student-imposed deadlines and peer pressure.
Cut off from the real world, little interaction, reading, sit-down work or video
as active as possible with exercise, stretching, and deep breathing. Edison was famous for taking short, quick naps during the day. Some sleep experts are now encouraging employees to take naps every day. Nike's offices in Beaverton, Oregon have a "relaxation room" for this purpose. Even the FAA, which has banned "naps" for pilots, is considering a plan to legalize naps. Cornell University sleep researcher James Maas recommends a 20-minute nap in the afternoon to combat fatigue. He says people who take naps think more clearly and perform much better than their exhausted peers. (Valais 1996). For the
For today's K-2 teacher, having downtime or naps is perfectly acceptable. For students ages 8+, a quiet 15-minute “choice time” can allow them to nap, read, think, write, or draw. The key ingredient to personal downtime or response time is choice. When a teacher uses that time to assign assignments or projects that meet deadlines, it's not a break for the brain.
How Attention Affects Discipline A classroom plagued by discipline problems can have many overlapping causes. One of the first starting points is attention. cutting length
Get the brain's attention
49 expected or required concentrated attention span. Remember that the human brain is bad at continuous attention. As a guide, use 5-7 minutes of direct instruction for K-2, 8-12 minutes for sets 3-7, and 12-15 minutes for sets 8-12. After learning, the brain needs time to process and rest. In a typical classroom, this means rotating mini-lessons, group work, reflection, individual work, and team project time. Neuroscientists are currently researching the causes of inattention and temperamental behavior. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter known for regulating emotions, movements and thoughts. The researchers found that there is a genetic link between temperamental, hesitant and inattentive behavior and a specific receptor gene for dopamine. Students who have a longer DNA sequence in this gene do much better on tests that measure novelty seeking and impulsivity. The implications of this are significant: some students will get out of control, but the cause of their behavior may be genetics, not bad parenting (Hittman 1996). Teachers need to drop the misconduct label and simply deal with the behavior. Sometimes adding more active learning strategies is enough.
Attention Deficit We've learned that the brain is poorly designed to maintain focused attention. The opposite, too much attention, is also a form of attention deficit. Trying to pay attention to everything is just as problematic as not paying enough attention when it's due. In the United States, attention deficit disorder (ADD) accounts for nearly half of all childhood psychiatric referrals (Wilder 1996). Studies show that 1 in 20 children ages 6 to 10 and about 3% of all children under age 19 have ADD.
medications such as Ritalin or Cylert. Prescriptions currently stand at 1.5 million and are increasing dramatically (Elias 1996). Some schools have up to 10% Ritalin. ADD is not without controversy. While some researchers believe it is a specific medical condition, others believe the label masks many other more narrowly defined problems such as: B. poor hearing, poor eyesight, or inadequate nutrition. Current research into the biological basis of ADD links the disorder to several factors. A large sample of 102 children diagnosed with ADD found evidence of smaller structures of attention in the outermost regions of the right frontal lobe and basal ganglia (Wilder 1996). These two areas are believed to be essential for directing focus and blocking out distractions. Second, there is evidence of defective regulation of glucose metabolism and the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. Finally, S. Milberger, Joseph Biederman and their colleagues at Massachusetts General Hospital discovered a surprising link between ADD and maternal smoking (George 1996). Research suggests that other psychiatric disorders often present with ADD, making detection confusing. These include an inability to form intimate relationships, anxiety and stress trauma. Those with ADD are often restless, with distracted attention. The main qualifying symptoms for diagnosing a child with ADD are that the symptoms must be excessive and long-lasting. The ability to focus attention and limit inappropriate motor actions does not indicate that children with ADD are incapable of paying attention; they pay attention to everything. They continually attenuate one signal in favor of the next irrelevant signal. His system is deficient in norepinephrine, so the pharmacological intervention (if appropriate) is to give him a stimulant.
Teach with the brain in mind
50 Ritalin is a central nervous system stimulant that inhibits the reuptake of dopamine and norepinephrine. ADD drugs are usually amphetamines, which reinforce the "signal" of the most important information and help to inhibit some of the distracting motor movements. Some students will outgrow the behavior; others do not. Researchers aren't sure what percentage of children with ADD are likely to continue with the disorder into adulthood. Hill and Schoener's model predicts a 50% decline every 5 years after childhood (George 1996). Most psychiatrists today specify ADD symptoms as "predominantly inattentive", "predominantly hyperactive", or "combined". According to the researchers, the most common feature is “comorbidity”. This is the phenomenon of finding more than one psychiatric disorder at a time. The disorder often occurs concurrently with behavioral, anxiety, and learning disorders (Biederman et al. 1996). While most medical professionals have dismissed a poor upbringing, poor environment or poor nutrition, others take a different view. One of the most vocal, Thomas Armstrong, is the author of The Myth of ADD. He suggests that many other variables are suspect, including a mismatch between teaching and learning styles, poor diet, and poor parenting (Armstrong 1995). Many researchers believe that ADD is overdiagnosed. All too often, children are prescribed Ritalin after a short visit to the GP and without any parental or teacher involvement. But one might be equally disturbed by the few children who have ADD and are not getting help. For them, life is a horror movie they cannot escape. ADD is difficult to recognize and diagnose. First, many students are misdiagnosed with ADD when their problem may be crowded classrooms,
Discipline difficulties, a teacher who demands undue attention in the classroom, or lack of self-discipline. Diet or allergies are often contributing factors. The best solution may be to ensure that the intervention evaluation team and the student have exhausted all non-prescribed options, including changing classes or teachers. If drugs are used, they must be carefully monitored to ensure that the results are as expected.
Practical Tips The ancient notion of attention was about getting it and keeping it. Today, you can have students' attention 20-40% of the time and get great results. We know how to draw attention: use contrast. In fact, almost everything new attracts attention; The contrast alone is enough. As classroom teachers know, a student prank, an unwanted visitor, threats, a spanking, or body noises will get our attention. But this is not the kind of care we have in mind. A change of location is one of the easiest ways to get attention, as our brain's posterior attention system is specialized to respond to location rather than other cues such as color, hue, shape, or movement (Ackermann 1992 ). For example, teachers can move to the back or side of the room during class. Students can move to the back of the room, to the side, or even step outside for a moment. If necessary, switch rooms with another teacher for just one class or day. Tours are the biggest change of venue and are well worth arranging. In general, you should strike a rich balance between novelty and ritual. New attracts attention
Get the brain's attention
51 and ritual ensure there are predictable structures under stress. Use an amazing piece of music as novelty one day and have students bring something that makes music the next day. Ask students to present what they learned to each other, then in small groups. Bring a guest speaker from your own school. Use fun, nurturing rituals for opening and closing lessons and more repetitive lesson processes and activities. A double clap and a stomp can start an important daily summary. A change in voice pitch, tempo, volume, or accent is noticeable. props, rattles, bells, whistles,
Costumes, music or singing can attract attention. You can also incorporate attention-getting rituals, such as B. raising your hand or clapping as a group daily. Then enter the novelty to ensure the highest attention bias. These suggestions should be used once or twice a day. Teachers don't have to be circus performers. On the contrary, in the best classrooms, the students are the “show”. But teachers need to recognize that constant changes in pace and time to think are essential to learning. Once you have attention, make the most of it; Otherwise, you will have to start over.
How Threats and Stress Affect Learning KEY CONCEPTS ◗ What is Stress for the Brain?
Part of the Hippocratic Oath states that the first rule in medicine is not to harm patients. This can also apply to educators. Excessive stress and threats in the school environment can be major contributors to impaired academic learning. That's a strong statement, but when you understand the many potential threats facing students and how the brain responds to each of them, it makes sense. This chapter focuses on the negative effects of threats and high levels of stress on the brain, behavior, and learning.
Why Ordinary Threats Fail Threats have long served as the weapon of choice for regulating human behavior. When schools were optional, threats were less relevant; a student who was upset might just walk away. But today students have to endure threats because their presence at school is required by law. The most common threats teachers make to students are detention, lower grades, or loss of school privileges. Detention has an impact only when one of two variables is present: either the student could make better use of the time, or detention is a miserable experience.
◗ How does stress affect students? ◗ How threats affect learning ◗ What is learned helplessness? ◗ Reduce the impact of stress and threats
How threats and stress affect learning
53 enz. Many students have no better use of their time than staying after class. And if staying later is a miserable experience, bad feelings "contaminate" the student's general beliefs about the teacher, the classroom, and the school. This damage can be fatal to long-term motivation and morale; therefore, interrupting students is usually not worth it. Many students do not respond to bad grades or loss of privilege, so these threats may be weak. In short, on a purely behavioral level, threats make little sense. But what happens on a more biological level?
Stress and Learning When we feel stressed, our adrenal glands release a peptide called cortisol. Our bodies respond with cortisol if we are faced with physical, environmental, academic or emotional danger. This triggers a number of bodily reactions, including suppression of the immune system, contraction of large muscles, blood clotting, and increased blood pressure. It's the perfect response to the unexpected presence of a saber-toothed tiger. But at school this kind of reaction creates problems. Chronically high levels of cortisol lead to brain cell death in the hippocampus, which is essential for explicit memory formation (Vincent 1990). These physical changes are significant. Stanford scientist Robert Sapolsky found that the level of hippocampal atrophy in Vietnam veterans with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) was between 8 and 24 percent greater than the control group. Chronic stress also impairs a student's ability to discern what is important and what is not (Gazzaniga 1988). Jacobs and Nadel (1985) suggest that thinking and memory are affected
to emphasize; the brain's short-term memory and ability to form long-term memories are inhibited. There are other problems. Chronic stress makes students more susceptible to illness. In one study, students showed a weakened immune system at the time of the test; they had lower levels of an important infection-fighting antibody (Jermott and Magloire 1985). This could explain a vicious academic cycle: more test stress means more illness, leading to poor health and missing classes, which contributes to lower test scores. Figure 6.1 illustrates the differences between a stressed and an unstressed neuron. The stressed one has fewer and shorter dendrites. This deficiency impairs communication with other dendrites. What caused this dramatic difference?
How social stress can affect neurons
Typical neuron of an animal with a dominant role
Typical neuron of someone in a subordinate role
Copyright © 1989–97 de Techpool Studios, Inc., EE. UU.
Teach with the brain in mind
54 Social position changes both attitudes and behavior. Part of the body's and brain's response to these changes is increased serotonin levels and changes in neural structure. This evidence points to the value of differential leadership in class groups. A stressful physical environment is linked to student failure. Overcrowded conditions, poor student relationships, and even lighting can all play a role. Optometrist Ray Gottlieb says school stress causes vision problems. This, in turn, impairs academic performance and self-esteem. Typically, he says, a stressed-out child tightens his breath and changes the way he focuses to deal with the stress. This pattern affects both short-term and long-term learning. Under stress, the eyes become more aware of the fringes as a natural way of identifying predators first. This makes it almost impossible to track a printed page by focusing on small areas of print. Is this an exception or typical? To find out, psychiatrist Wayne London turned on the lights in three classrooms at an elementary school in Vermont. For the test, half had regular fluorescent lights and the other half had lights that simulated natural light (full-spectrum light). Students in full classes missed 65% fewer school days due to illness. Because? Normal fluorescent light has an almost imperceptible but very strong flicker and hum. Apparently, the brain responds to this auditory-visual stimulus by increasing blood cortisol levels and excessive blinking, both indicators of stress. In another study, elementary school children missed fewer school days and reported better mood in daylight and full-spectrum classrooms (Edelston 1995). Using computers in the classroom or watching videos can also strain your eyes. it's hard for everyone
Age, but for a different reason when students are young. Your eyeballs are very soft and can get distorted from constant close focusing, which is harder on the eyes than more relaxed distance vision. Neurophysiologist Dee Coulter says that the task of keeping the eyes focused on a flat backlit screen is stressful (McGregor 1994). Many children spend up to five hours a day watching television, playing video games or using a computer. As a result, teens need glasses much sooner than ever before, says Coulter. Social situations can also trigger stress. Although stress hormones such as cortisol are often released during stress, serotonin levels are also affected. Reduced levels of serotonin have been linked to violent and aggressive behavior. For example, students who are "top" at home and "one of many" in the classroom become more impulsive. Some of these students suddenly thrive when assigned roles as team leaders. Studies suggest that classroom state or social hierarchies can change and alter brain chemistry. This makes a good case for the importance of switching roles frequently to ensure everyone has a chance to lead and follow. Another source of environmental stress is the fact that our predictions rarely match reality. For adults, it's a day of dissatisfaction with noise, erratic drivers, broken copiers, co-workers forgetting their promises, and computer crashes. It is no different with students. A typical school day is filled with expectations and disappointments, projects that don't work out, poor grades, and classmates who don't behave the way they should. All these "disorders" can be a source of stress. The brain usually reacts to this as a threat. What's the solution? Provide predictability through school and classroom rituals. A foreseeable event, eg. B. when a graded work is returned
How threats and stress affect learning
A groom or partner cheering up the party calms the restless brain (Calvin 1996). A little stress isn't necessarily bad for learning. At Stanford University, Seymour Levine showed that young rats exposed to stressful shock experiences performed better as adults than unstressed controls (Thompson 1993). But the rats were not asked to write a research paper. These studies remind us that the military is known for deliberately creating stressful environments. Army and Navy boot camps demand an endless list of perfectly executed tasks. To force recruits to meet standards, threats of physical retaliation are common (push-ups, rollovers, extra assignments). But all this deliberate stress is for good reason: real fighting is stressful and threatening. More importantly, recruits are rarely asked to think creatively, which is undermined by stress. In summary, for most learning conditions, a low to moderate level of stress is best. High levels of stress or threats have no place in schools.
Threat and Learning It should be noted that externally we all react differently to potential threats. Some reject them, while others see them as a challenge and rise to the occasion. For others, they are devastating. However, the brain responds to threats in predictable ways. As soon as a threat is recognized, the brain springs into action (see Fig. 6.2). The amygdala is at the center of all our fear and threat responses (LeDoux 1996). It focuses our attention and receives direct and immediate input from the thalamus, sensory cortex, hippocampus and frontal lobes. Neural projections (bundles of fibers) from the amygdala activate the entire sympathetic system. usually solves it
Simple functional threat response
1 The brain gives immediate priority to threatening stimuli
Goes to sensory classification structure (thalamus)
Faster response to threats (amygdala)
Slower, more reflective response (cortex)
Release of adrenaline, vasopressin and cortisol. These directly change the way we think, feel and act. Figure 6.3 summarizes the more detailed biological pathways of stress and threat. Alan Rozanski reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that even harsh remarks and sarcasm can trigger cardiac arrhythmias in predisposed patients (Rozanski 1988). New research shows that threatening environments can even trigger chemical imbalances. Serotonin is the ultimate modulator of our emotions and subsequent behavior. When serotonin levels drop, violence often increases. Not only can these imbalances trigger impulsive and aggressive behavior, but they can also lead to lifelong violence. Students who have been exposed to threats and high levels of stress from an early age, particularly from families with abusive parents.
Teach with the brain in mind
Complex threat response paths
This binding ensures that stimuli that cause threats are given immediate priority.
The result is that the body is now full of chemical reactions that allow it to fight, freeze or flee. The measurable remainder of that single biochemical reaction can last up to 48 hours.
However, they are often the ones who have the hardest time attracting attention. Its vision and voice constantly change, scanning the room for potential predators or "prey". They often hit or hit other students to establish a "rating". This territorialism is at the root of some children's remarks to others: "Don't look at me that way!" What they do is avoid possible problems. The receptor sites in your brain have adapted to a
survival-oriented behavior. While this behavior frustrates teachers, it makes perfect sense to the student whose life seems to depend on it. The list of potential threats to students is endless. Threats can exist in the student's home, on the way to school, in hallways and in the classroom. Threats could be an overly stressed parent threatening violence, loss of privilege at school or at home, a boyfriend or girlfriend
How threats and stress affect learning
57 threatens to break off the relationship, or a bully shouts harsh words in the hallways. In the classroom, it could be a rude classmate or an ignorant teacher who threatens a student with humiliation, detention, or embarrassment in front of their peers. Any one of these events and thousands more can put the brain on high alert. It bears repeating: Threats activate defense mechanisms and behaviors that are good for surviving but bad for learning. Threats have other costs. You get predictable, instinctive behavior when the brain recognizes a triggering threat of impotence. Survival always replaces pattern recognition and complex problem solving. Students are less able to understand contexts or recognize higher levels of organization. This fact has enormous implications for learning. Learning is reduced to memorizing isolated facts. Less stressed students are able to build relationships, understand broad underlying theories, and integrate a wider range of materials. Student-induced stress, threat, and helplessness must be removed from the environment to achieve maximum learning (see Fig. 6.4).
speed and quality of learning
Influence of stress on learning performance
Low optimal learning performance
Sleep • Apathy • Worry • Relaxed Attention • Anxiety • Distress • Chaos
lower stress level higher
Learned Helplessness Unlike temporary disengagement, learned helplessness is a chronic and devastating condition. It is often overdiagnosed, but still worth an in-depth discussion. We see its symptoms in student comments such as, "I'm stupid (or unlucky), so why bother?" Students show almost total apathy and persistent passivity. Learned helplessness is quite rare in most classrooms, but when it does occur it is quite disheartening. To qualify as learned helplessness, the following conditions are generally met. • trauma. The student was in a circumstance involving a severe and uncontrollable event. Although the most common events are threats or severe trauma, learned helplessness occurs even when the uncontrollable event is positive or neutral (Peterson, Maier, & Seligman, 1993). The event can be verbal, physical or psychological. What is out of the question would be a teacher politely telling a student to shut up or having a private discussion after class. What is often questioned is a bully in the hallway, an abusive home life, or an insensitive teacher embarrassing or humiliating a student in front of their peers. Under certain conditions, trauma can be second-hand. For example, when a school shooting occurs, counseling teams often need to help students who have witnessed the trauma. • Lack of control. The student must have experienced a lack of control and coping skills with the traumatic threat. An example is the student who is severely humiliated in class and feels paralyzed with shame. This differs from an abusive parent, where the student develops and copes with coping skills by fighting, getting help, or
Teach with the brain in mind
58 on the run. In this case, the student recognized the danger and made proactive decisions. Some argue that asking students to do tasks they don't have the resources for can also contribute to immobilization. • Decision. The student must have made a paralyzing decision to explain the event and their reaction to it. It usually takes the form "I can't do anything right" or "It's my fault" or "I'm just unlucky". These conclusions are the harbingers of forming such a negative expectation about the future that the result is no effort at all. These conclusions can also come from repeated criticisms of teachers, such as "You're hopeless" or "You're just not trying" (Peterson et al. 1993). Which students are most vulnerable to learned helplessness? Vulnerable students, coming from threatening homes and exhibiting aggressive street survival behavior in the classroom, may be hardest hit. This notion suggests that we can take a fresh look at what is called "lack of motivation" in discouraged students. The kids at school who seem to handle failure the best, the outgoing and verbal students, may be the least able to deal with it.
The Biology of Learned Helplessness Here, the evidence is omnipresent: certain traumas can literally rewire the brain. Stresses resulting from lack of control in students "are typically so severe that they alter the activity of almost all neurotransmitters in a given brain region and some neurotransmitters in almost all brain regions," say Peterson and colleagues (1993). 🇧🇷 By this time, scientists have collected a huge number of "problems".
capable biological suspects", but still don't have the collective "gang". It's like they know the notes but not the whole symphony. Serious illnesses require intervention. Some students can get help with prescription drugs, whether they be stimulants or tranquilizers. Several instructive animal studies (Maier and Geer 1968) illustrate the severity of lack of control. Dogs were kept in separate cages. They were given light taps on the floor of the crate with no chance of escape. Once their withdrawal became chronic, the terror was withdrawn in the middle of the cage. The dog was then dragged to the secure area so that he could feel the broken grid and see the light indicating security. But the dog immediately backed away in surprise and ducked again in fear. It's like a schoolboy who has learned to make mistakes and doesn't even try. How long do you think it took the dog to become actively involved in decision-making again? Five moves or ten?" After 30 to 50 of these moves, the dogs c began to respond on their own," say Peterson and colleagues (1993). If you think people are different, think again. When the brain is rewired through experience, lives change. To see for yourself, visit a shelter for abused women. Or go to most high schools and you'll see a lot of laid-back kids saying, "I don't care and it doesn't matter." Unconsciously, teachers often give up on these students after 5-10 successful attempts. In fact, students who have learned to be helpless need dozens of positive choices before they can mobilize again. The brain must be rewired to change behavior. Surprisingly, a single trauma can produce changes in receptor sites in the brain. However, remember that it is a matter of control which
How threats and stress affect learning
59 is at the heart of learned helplessness, which has powerful biological consequences. If the student is in a traumatic situation and making decisions, the state will not occur regardless of the outcome. This may be why educational reformers have repeatedly promoted the notion of student control. In a typical school, almost all decisions, from study hours to work, are dictated and managed outside the students' control.
The Consequences of Learned Helplessness What conclusions can be drawn from these biological changes? Two researchers, P. Villanova and C. Peterson (cited in Peterson et al. 1993) reviewed 132 studies of learned helplessness involving several thousand people. Part of the analysis compared effects on humans with effects on animals. The study states: “[Calculations] suggest that the effect in humans may be even stronger than the analogous effect in animals. 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 (pg. 107). Human experience with uncontrollable events impairs performance on test tasks. Impaired problem solving is just the tip of the iceberg. The words the authors used to describe the effects were not trivial: they were "moderate" and "robust". In the "researcher's speech", these words indicate convincing data. The suggestion is that we could take strong actions to reduce the occurrence of learned helplessness states and deal with them proactively. Subjects' emotional reactions ranged from fear to anger to depression. People who were encouraged to become helpless often also became anxious, depressed, and restless. Trice (1982) found that exposure to impotence increased liking for hostile rather than innocent humor. You may have noticed that some
Your colleagues or students use excessive sarcasm and make offensive comments to others. Students can become helpless when asked to work (even in groups) on problems that cannot be solved. This is an example where learned helplessness does not require an initial traumatic event (Peterson et al. 1993). Fortunately, certain strategies can reduce stress, eliminate threats, and prevent learned helplessness.
Practical Tips There are two approaches to reducing student stress. One is to manage the conditions that can produce them and the other is to use personal strategies that mediate and resolve them. Help students learn what causes stress and what to do about it. Teach them stress management techniques such as time management, breathing, the role of downtime, relationship skills, and peer support. In the classroom, stress can be relieved through drama, peer support, games, exercises, discussions and celebrations. Exercise triggers the release of a brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which improves neuronal communication, elevates mood, and aids in the formation of long-term memory (Kinoshita 1997). A neurotropic factor is any drug that affects brain function. These include internal factors such as hormones or external agents such as caffeine or Valium. Work on the following three variables: threats from outside the class, threats from other students, and threats from you. You have little control over the external environment, so be sure to set a transition time for when students can start class. This allows them to escape the potentially dangerous outside world (a bully in the hall, fights
Teach with the brain in mind
60 on the way to school, threats on the way to school). The transition period might involve something physical: stretching, dancing, manipulation, a game, or a walk. It can be interpersonal, such as a discussion with a small or large group or with a neighbor. Finally, it can be personal, including journaling, reflection, and creative writing. Reduce threats from other students in the class by setting clear expectations about how to behave in the classroom. Exemplary emotional intelligence. Discuss and use conflict resolution strategies. Follow and enforce class rules. Never tolerate students threatening or hurting each other. Talk about what language is appropriate at school. Allow students to demonstrate acceptable and inappropriate behavior. Encourage involvement from partners, workgroups, and teams. Rotate them every three to six weeks to ensure everyone has opportunities to meet and collaborate with others in various leadership and support roles. Special vigilance is needed to reduce threats. Avoid meeting unrealistic deadlines by simply asking in the middle of an activity, "How many need a few more minutes?" Or: "How many of you think a one-week expiration date is realistic?" Order whatever you want without adding a threat at the end. Instead of saying, "Kenny, decline or I'll have to ask you to stay late," say, "Kenny, we're short on time today. Can you please keep it down? Office. Either you send someone or no. Involve students in class discipline so that peers can assist in the process. Also, avoid assigning blame. Help students find important resources, such as materials and classmates. Help students set specific, realistic, and measurable goals. Finally, ask students what is going on
in your way of learning. Sometimes it's a second language, a learning style, or even the student sitting next to you. As a teacher and as an adult, you don't tell students that you will do whatever they ask. However, it is important to show a willingness to listen to them and learn from them. If you involve them in your planning, their commitment and morale will increase and their change requests will become more reasonable. Several strategies are effective in reducing the effects of learned helplessness. Fortunately, the destructive effects usually disappear with time, say Young and Allin (1986). The length of time depends on many factors, including how often the stressor is reactivated and whether intermittent therapy is used. It can range from a few days to several years. It is important for educators to recognize the situation early on. Because? Surprisingly, students can be "immunized" against the possibility of learned helplessness (Altmaier and Happ 1985). The process is simple, but not easy. Help students see the connections between their actions and outcomes. Just give them rich experiences of choice at school, especially in stressful situations. When an upcoming roll becomes crippling, make it a "teachable" moment. Explain to students how our bodies normally respond to stress. Give them ways to de-stress and options and resources to help them reach their academic goals. Visualization, dealing with negative self-talk, and testing strategies can all be helpful. Students may need to know how to better manage their time, find information in the media center, or arrange to meet a study partner. Also, encourage students to explore alternative ways to explain a seemingly simple mistake. Finally, put them in situations where they can read and write.
How threats and stress affect learning
61 Allies relearn how to mobilize against the threat. Team activities and sports can help, as can drama or theater with public performances. For many students, the Outward Bound Challenge or high ropes courses provide a great vehicle for learning how to make decisions in the face of a perceived threat. Biology offers us another way to approach some of the persistent problems faced by educators.
The role of excessive stress helps us understand why so many students struggle to distinguish between what is important and what is not. Stress contributes to more illness, poor pattern recognition, and poorer memory. Threat effects remind us to be careful. We cannot allow environmental threats to occur, and we certainly need to eliminate our own threatening behaviors and policies.
motivation and reward
KEY CONCEPTS ◗ What is the new research on motivation?
All educators deal with the topic of motivation from an early age. Indeed, in the first few weeks of class, teachers often mentally divide students into "motivated" and "unmotivated" categories. The rest of the school year usually represents this initial perception of who is "ready to learn" and who is not. A variety of tools, strategies, and techniques are marketed to a hungry audience of frustrated educators who work with "hard to reach" or perpetually "disconnected" students. Does our new understanding of the brain tell us anything about motivation to learn? Is there really an unmotivated student? Why are some students intrinsically motivated? And what does brain research tell us about using rewards? While the previous chapter focused on the role of stress and threat, it also highlighted chronic demotivation—a condition known as learned helplessness. This chapter focuses on temporary motivational difficulties, the role of rewards, and the development of intrinsic motivation.
Students and Motivation The popularity of behaviorism in the 1950s and 1960s inspired a generation of educators
◗ What causes temporary demotivation? ◗ What does brain research tell us about rewards? ◗ How can we increase intrinsic motivation?
motivation and reward
63 seek rewards as a teaching strategy. We knew very little about the brain at the time, and the rewards seemed cheap, harmless, and often effective. But there was more to the use of rewards than most educators realized. Surprisingly, much of Watson and Skinner's original research has been misinterpreted. For example, the stimulus-response rewards popularized by behaviorism were only effective for simple physical actions. But schools often try to reward students for solving challenging cognitive problems, writing creatively, and designing and completing projects. There is a big difference in how the human brain responds to rewards for simple and complex problem solving tasks. Short-term rewards can temporarily stimulate simple physical responses, but more complex behaviors are often influenced rather than supported by rewards (Deci, Vallerand, Pelletier, and Ryan 1991, Kohn 1993). Furthermore, behaviorists made a false assumption: that learning depends primarily on reward. In fact, like humans, rats constantly seek out new experiences and behaviors without any noticeable reward or push. The experimental rats responded positively to simple novelty. Presumably, the search for novelty could lead to new sources of food, security or sanctuary, thus improving the conservation of the species. Choice and control over the environment led to more social and less aggressive behavior (Mineka, Cook, & Miller, 1984). Is it possible that curiosity or just information seeking can be valuable in and of itself? Studies confirm that it does, and people are eager to seek out novelty (Restak 1979). We have all been looking for solutions to “motivate” students. Long-term promises of better grades, pleasing others, a degree, and future employment are common "hooks." short term teacher
offer options, privileges and leave on time or earlier. These types of rewards seem to work for some students, but not for all. A study of 849 Los Angeles County 8th graders found that they did 13% better if they were paid $1 for each correct answer on a national math test. According to study researcher Harold O'Neill (Colvin 1996), one of the things this study suggests is that some students know the material but are not motivated to demonstrate it. A student may be temporarily in a state of apathy, or the demotivation may be chronic and debilitating. It takes a little detective work to tell the two apart. If the student goes back and forth between “motivation states” and occasionally engages in learning, it is likely to be a temporary state. This condition has a variety of possible causes, but the solutions are relatively simple. Completely different is learned helplessness, the more chronic and severe demotivation. (Discussed in the previous chapter.)
Temporary demotivation Students who come to school every day have shown some motivation. Eventually, they came to class while the truly unmotivated students were still in bed or somewhere other than school. Therefore, there are very few truly unmotivated students. The students you see may seem like school is the last place they want to be, but at least they've adjusted to their class. And most likely they are temporarily unmotivated. Because? There are three main reasons. The first has to do with past associations, which can produce a negative or apathetic state. These memory associations can be stored in the amygdala in the center of the brain area.
Teach with the brain in mind
64 (LeDoux 1996). When activated, the brain behaves as if the incident were happening. The same chemical reactions are triggered and the adrenal glands release adrenaline, vasopressin and ACTH into the bloodstream. A teacher's voice, tone, or idiosyncrasies may remind a student of a previous teacher he disliked. Past failures can trigger such feelings, as can memories of consistently failing a class or an embarrassing or "catastrophic" fall in a class. An initially significant threat can be reactivated by a much smaller incident (Peterson, Maier, and Seligman 1993). A second reason is more current and more ecological. Students can be turned off by inappropriate learning styles, lack of resources, language barriers, lack of choice, cultural taboos, fear of embarrassment, lack of feedback, poor diet, prejudice, poor lighting, inadequate seating, temperature, fear of failure, disrespect, irrelevant content, and many other possibilities (Wlodkowski 1985). Each of these conditions can be treated according to the symptoms. If students are visual learners, the more they can see, look and follow with their eyes, the better they will do. If students cannot understand the teacher's language, they will do better if the teacher provides strong nonverbal communication or if they work with others in a collaborative group approach. A third factor in student motivation is their relationship to the future. This includes having clear and well-defined objectives (Ford 1992). Student substantive beliefs (“I have the ability to learn this subject”) and contextual beliefs (“I have the interest and resources to succeed in this class with this teacher”) are also crucial. These goals and beliefs create powerful states of liberation.
brain chemicals. Positive thinking engages the left frontal lobe and usually triggers the release of pleasure chemicals such as dopamine as well as natural opiates or endorphins. This self-reward reinforces the desired behavior. Students in any of the above three categories are simply in a temporarily unmotivated state. States are a snapshot of your mind and body: your brain chemical balance, body temperature, posture, eye pattern, heart rate, EEG, and many other measurements. Since anyone can slip into a myriad of states (happy, hungry, fearful, curious, content) at any given moment, the state called apathy may simply be one of many highly appropriate responses to the environment. After all, we all fly in and out of thousands of states every day. Our condition changes with what we eat, humidity, fatigue, special events, good or bad news, success and failure. In the classroom, a teacher who understands the meaning of states can be very effective. Apathy usually goes away with a simple, engaging activity, listening or sharing, or using music or group activities.
Rewards and the Brain Dean Wittrick, director of the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), says current classroom teaching is based on flawed theory. "For a long time we believed that children should be immediately rewarded when they do something right," he says. “But the brain is much more complicated than most of our teachings; there are many systems working in parallel” (p. 2). The brain is perfectly content chasing novelty and curiosity, embracing relevance, and bathing in the feedback of success. Suggest advanced project applications
motivation and reward
65 ects and problem solving where the process is more important than the answer. This is the real reward, he says (Nadia 1993). However, the old paradigm of behaviorism told us that, to reinforce a behavior, it was enough to reinforce the positive. When negative behavior is displayed, we must either ignore it or punish it. This is the "outside-in" view. It is as if we consider the student as the subject of an experiment. This approach states that when demotivation is an established condition, there are causes and symptoms. This way of understanding classroom behavior made sense to many. But our understanding of motivation and behavior has changed. Tokens, cheats and coupons no longer make sense compared to more attractive alternatives. Neuroscientists have a different understanding of rewards. First, the brain creates its own rewards. They are called opioids, used to regulate stress and pain. These opiates can induce a natural high similar to morphine, alcohol, nicotine, heroin and cocaine. The reward system is based in the center of the brain, the hypothalamic reward system (Nakamura 1993). The pleasure-producing system allows you to enjoy behaviors such as affection, sex, entertainment, affection, or conquest. You could call it the long-term survival mechanism. It's as if the brain is saying, “That was good; Let's remember this and do it again!" Your limbic system works like a thermostat or personal trainer and usually rewards the brain's learning with good feelings every day. brain? The answer is no. This is because the brain's internal reward system varies.
from one student to another. They would never be able to have a fair system. How students react depends on genetics, their specific brain chemistry, and the life experiences that have programmed their brains in unique ways. Rewards function as a complex system of neurotransmitters that bind to receptor sites on neurons. These places act as ports for ships to dock. Here, neurotransmitters send an excitatory message to an NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptor or an inhibitory message to a GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptor. Without these "on" and "off" switches in the brain, brain cells would fire indiscriminately. This would give equal weight to all life experiences, and learning would be drastically hampered or nearly impossible. Most teachers have found that two different students receive the same external reward in different ways. However, when a learning experience is positive, almost all students respond positively in their unique biological ways. This makes the rewards uneven from the start. Steven Hyman of Harvard Medical School says that "genetic susceptibility runs through the reward system" (cited in Kotulak 1996, p. 114). But the researchers aren't sure to what extent. Life experiences play an even more important role. Bruce Perry of the University of Chicago says that early childhood experiences of violence, threats or significant stress actually rewire the brain. To survive, these brains typically evolved more norepinephrine receptor sites. Behaviors include hyperarousal, intense attention to nonverbal cues, and aggression. But in a classroom, there is no reward for displaying impulsive behavior, threatening others, or interpreting nonverbal words as aggressive. These students' brains are not
Teach with the brain in mind
66 FIGURE 7.1
The brain's internal reward system The thalamus is a key area of the brain involved in sensory input and self-reward.
the prefrontal cortex
Receptors for pleasure-triggering molecules are distributed throughout the body, but clustered together in this "reward loop."
Dopamine is produced and secreted in the upper part of the brainstem
rewarded for the satisfaction of completing the task. They learned to thrive simply by surviving. The disciplinary strategies employed by most teachers will fall short if they do not understand why these students behave the way they do. They will thrive when placed in multiple teams and cooperative roles where they can be leaders and followers in the same day. You also need emotional competence to read non-threatening non-verbals. From a social and educational perspective, rewards have been studied and largely dismissed as a motivational strategy (Kohn 1993). But educators are divided on what constitutes a reward. A useful definition is that rewards require two elements.
mind: predictability and market value. Suppose a teacher's class performs a play for the school and parents once a year. At the end of the work, the audience gives a standing ovation. The children descend from the stage and the proud teacher announces that she invites everyone to eat pizza. this is a reward No, it's a celebration. If I had told the students just before the curtain went up, "Do it right and you all get pizza," that would have been a reward. Pizza, sweets, stickers, privileges and certificates have market value. Research suggests that students will crave them each time the behavior is required, they will crave an increasingly valuable reward, and the rewards are short-lived or non-existent.
motivation and reward
67ing pleasure. Amabile (1989) has extensively documented how the use of rewards undermines intrinsic motivation. While most schools recognize that even grades are a form of reward, few have switched to a credit/no-credit system.
Promoting Intrinsic Motivation While it is fashionable to label students as 'motivated' or 'unmotivated', the reality is very different. Most students are already intrinsically motivated; just the motivation depends a lot on the context. The same student who is lethargic in a traditional math class can be quite energetic when he learns about his first job payroll deduction. From this we can conclude that we were looking for motivation in the wrong places. This can lead many educators to ask themselves, "If we can't reward positive behavior, how do we motivate students?" Perhaps a better question is "What happens in the brain when students are motivated?" Or: "What are the conditions that promote this precious inner impulse?" Researchers tell us that several factors are at work: compelling goals, positive beliefs, and productive emotions (Ford, 1992). Any discussion of intrinsic motivation must also include the learner's natural search for meaning and subsequent meaning making. The meaning will be explored in a later chapter. Although neuroscientists have not yet discovered the biological correlates of goals and beliefs, we know much more about the emotion factor. Feelings of stress and threat can mobilize us or make us passive. On the positive side, several neurotransmitters are involved in natural intrinsic motivation. If it's mild cognitive motivation, we might see elevated levels of norepinephrine or dopamine. When it is stronger, more active.
Motivation could be increased levels of the peptide vasopressin or adrenaline. The artificial manipulation of these chemicals is usually done through medication and food. At school, teachers can do many things to encourage the release of these motivating chemicals. Figure 7.2 presents five key strategies to help students discover their intrinsic motivation. The first strategy is to eliminate the threat. It takes time and a strong intention, but it's worth it. Some teachers have asked students to get together in small groups to make a list of things that are getting in the way of their learning. The groups could then discuss how some of the issues could be mitigated. Use an anonymous class poll to ask students what would make learning more effective and enjoyable. Second, setting goals daily (with some student choices) can lead to a more focused attitude. Prepare students for a topic with “teasers” or personal stories to pique their interest. For example: “Today we're going to explore the body's nutrient transport system, the circulatory system. The last time he got sick, this system was part of the solution to getting well again.” This ensures that the content is relevant to them. Third, influence students' beliefs about themselves and learning in as many ways as possible, symbolically and concretely. This includes using affirmations, recognizing student achievement, positive non-verbals, teamwork, or positive posters. Fourth, manage students' emotions through the productive use of rituals, drama, movement, and celebration. Also, teach students to manage their own emotions. After all, feedback is one of the greatest sources of intrinsic motivation. Configure the learning you study
Teach with the brain in mind
68 FIGURE 7.2
Useful alternatives for using rewards
Create a strong positive climate
Eliminate threats Detect issues Extend transition time Avoid lawsuits
Acknowledgments Enriched Environment Policies/Rituals Relationship Building
Make sense of students' choices. Valid Reasons. clear purpose
Activate and awaken positive emotions
Colleagues/Family Projects Computer Self-Assessment Natural Results
Theater, music, artistic celebrations, service games/win-win competition
Teeth can survive on endless self-managed comments. A computer does that perfectly, but so can well-crafted projects, group work, checklists, parts, peer editing, and rubrics.
The SuperCamp Model One academic program contains the five proposals. Co-founded by the author (Eric Jensen) and Bobbi DePorter, SuperCamp is a 10-day academic immersion program for undergraduates.
12-22. Many students come to the program with a history of chronic demotivation. However, long-term follow-up studies suggest that after just 10 days of participation, students become voracious learners, improving their grades, academic engagement, and self-esteem (Dryden and Vos, 1994). SuperCamp has become a model for schools around the world, showing how to bring out the best in children. SuperCamp staff are extensively trained to eliminate threats from the camp environment. Is it over there
motivation and reward
69 ask the question: "What do children experience and what threatens them?" So it's very exciting to see Threat Removal in action. You might want to gather your employees and compile factors that might contribute to threats and high stress. Some of the likely sources are threatening comments, disciplinary strategies to "keep points", sarcasm, unannounced "pop" tests, lack of resources, unrelenting deadlines, and cultural or language barriers. Create "emotional bridges" from the students' world outside the classroom to the onset of learning. Expect (although this is not always the case) that your students will need time to transition from their personal lives to their academic lives and from one professor to another. You never know what's going on in the halls. At the beginning of class, students may still be in shock over an insult, a breakup with a close friend, an argument, or the loss of something valuable. Using trusted activities that trigger specific, predictable states can be the perfect way to connect to learning. Proper rituals keep stress levels low and can even suppress threat responses. For example, every morning at SuperCamp starts with study time. These safe, predictable rituals include a morning walk with a partner, time with teammates to discuss personal issues, reviewing the previous day's learning, and stretching during morning physical activity. These seamless transitions allow the brain to switch to the correct chemical state necessary for learning. It also allows everyone to "sync" their clocks to the same study schedule. Subsequent studies show that this threat reduction process works (DePorter and Hernacki 1992). During the day at SuperCamp, a high level of novelty, movement and choice is very enriching.
current curriculum (how to train your own brain, problem solving, conflict resolution and learning to learn). The end of the day follows the same routine as the beginning, almost the other way around. Closing rituals help students move the day's learning to its new cognitive-emotional place. You might consider arrival and opening rituals that include musical fanfares, positive greetings, special handshakes, hugs, or time together. Certain songs can be used to bring students back from a break and let them know it's time to get started. (Music certainly sounds!) Group and organizational rituals also help, such as team names, applause, hand gestures, and games. Successful situational rituals include applause when students contribute, a song to conclude or complete something, affirmations, discussions, journaling, applause, self-assessment, and gestures. These opportunities to influence the affective side of learning sustain longer blocks of instruction in high school. This way, a teacher can practice some of these strategies while still having enough time for the content. The SuperCamp environment provides numerous opportunities for students to receive personal and academic feedback. Students typically receive this feedback 10 to 20 times a day through mindful use of time-sharing, goal setting, group work, question and answer, observing others, and journaling. Teachers who specifically design their learning to provide dozens of student-generated feedback methods, not just one or two, find that motivation soars. Peer feedback is more motivating and helpful than teacher feedback in achieving lasting results (Druckman and Sweets 1988). The whole issue of learned helplessness is dramatically addressed at SuperCamp. Studies show that the best way to treat the condition is to use multiple attempts at violence or violence.
Teach with the brain in mind
70 positive selection (Peterson et al. 1993). In other words, if you always let a student do whatever he wants, a lot of times he won't do anything. At camp, the double-edged sword of united teamwork and an Outward Bound-style "high ropes course" with a specific goal is usually sufficient. In the full-day course, students find themselves in the position of having to make dramatic decisions. “Should I take another step up that 50-foot ladder? Am I jumping off that trapeze bar? Do I trust others and fall back into their arms?” These decisions are made repeatedly throughout the day. They help students realize that they matter to others and that they can make good decisions and gain support from their team. You probably won't be able to use a "high ropes course" with your students, but the drama, goal setting, physical activity, and accountability in the classroom have proven to be helpful.
Practical Tips Temporary demotivation is common and should not normally be seen as a crisis. The causes can be varied and the solutions are quite easy to find.
administrator. This includes better training of staff in cultural awareness, learning styles and government administration, as well as more resources such as peer support, computers and criteria checklists. Breaking down language barriers, increasing the use of student choices, and eliminating any form of embarrassment or use of sarcasm are also helpful. Please also take the time to provide more quantity, variety and quality of feedback and to promote better nutrition. It also helps when students set clear, well-defined goals and learn positive thinking skills. Researchers are developing better tools for understanding the inner workings of the motivated brain. Taken together, the research we've gathered leads us to understand that part of the problem is how we treat students. They are not factory workers to be pressured, persuaded and motivated by bribery, management or threats. Rather than asking, "How can I motivate students?" a better question would be, "How does the brain naturally motivate itself from within?" Can you use this to promote better learning? The answer is definitely yes, and educators around the world are already doing it every day.
emotions and learning
KEY CONCEPTS ◗ The role of emotions in thinking and learning
The cognitive side of learning often gets a lot of attention, but it remains an undercurrent. It is the realm of emotions, the so-called affective side of learning. We all know it's there, but it's commonly seen as a distraction from studying. In fact, some still believe that learning and emotion are at opposite ends of the spectrum. It's time for all of us to catch up on the investigation. Biologically, emotions are not only a very current science, but also a very important science. Neuroscientists are breaking new ground in mapping this important component of learning. The affective side of learning is the crucial interaction between our feeling, acting and thinking. There is no separation between mind and emotions; Emotions, thinking and learning are intertwined. This chapter argues that emotions have an important and legitimate place in learning and school.
Western Culture and Emotions Western culture has a particular attitude towards human emotions. While we recognize that emotions exist, they have always taken a backseat.
◗ Why tie learning more closely to emotions? ◗ Differences between emotions and feelings ◗ Specific strategies for emotional engagement
Teach with the brain in mind
72 Literature has portrayed the emotional world as unpredictable, frivolous, uncontrollable, capricious, and even sinister. The stable, reliable, "scientific" path was that of reason and logic. But what if what we thought was logical was actually emotional? What if it were more rational to include emotions in our thinking and decision-making? For many, the mere thought is unheard of. Science is about facts, not feelings. As a result, most scientists, particularly biologists and neuroscientists, have considered professional suicide to study emotion as a serious matter. "Best to leave it to the psychiatrists," was the prevailing opinion. In fact, it could be said that emotions are the black sheep of the brain family. Peter Stearns says that our society has become "anti-intense", heralding a new low emotionality; otherwise it is presented as "out of control" (Atlas 1996). This view may have been prompted by the media's portrayal of violent people as lacking in self-discipline. But what are the scientific connections between emotions and learning? Could it really be smarter to organize learning around emotions?
Emotions Become Common Though a number of researchers have referred to emotions and occasionally conducted studies, none have made a career out of it for very long. It remained so until the mid-1980s, when five eminent neuroscientists emerged: Joseph LeDoux of New York University, Candace Pert of Georgetown University Medical Center, Jerome Kagan of Harvard, and Antonio Damasio and Hanna Damasio of the University of Iowa. with important research. Each made significant contributions that helped transform the way we think about emotions.
Emotions direct attention, create meaning, and have their own memory pathways (LeDoux 1994). You can no longer relate to learning. Says Kagan: "The rationalists who believe that emotions undermine the most adaptive decisions are dead wrong. A reliance only on logic without the capacity for feeling . . . would make most people do much, much more nonsense" (1994, p. 39). The old way of thinking about the brain is a separation between mind, body and emotions. António Damásio reminds us of the history of this idea: “The body . . can represent the indispensable frame of reference for . . the spirit” (1994, p. xvi), and indeed, "the reduction of emotions may be an equally important source of irrational behavior" (p. 53). Emotions help reason to focus the mind and prioritize. Many researchers now believe that emotion and reason are not opposites. For example, our logical side says, "Set a goal." But only our emotions make us passionate enough to care enough to work toward that goal. Jack Mayer, a of the original scholars who theorized He believes that emotions convey information, just like data or logic. Psychology has become too atomized in the sense that it has divided intelligence, motor behavior and emotions into distinct domains rather than considering the inseparable links between them (Marquis 1996, pp. B-2). The popularity of the bestseller Emotional Intelligence (Goleman 1995) has raised emotions to acceptable, if not respectable, levels. Some now call it an entirely new discipline in neuroscience (Davidson and Sutton, 1995). 10 years ago, you would never have found this kind of scientific support for the role of emotions. What caused the change?
emotions and learning
73 Three discoveries in the field of emotions have changed the way we think about emotions. First there is the discovery of the physical pathways and priorities of emotions. Second are insights into the brain chemicals involved in emotions. The third is a connection between these pathways and chemicals for everyday learning and memory. The first element gave "solidity" to the emotions, a kind of grounded reality that we could measure. It was concrete information that you could see in an autopsy or on a screen. The second discovery helped us understand the ubiquitous nature of emotions. The third was the researcher's biggest prize: the fundamental link that our survival depends on emotions.
Measuring emotions Neuroscientists often separate emotions and feelings. Emotions are generated from biologically automated pathways. They are joy (pleasure), fear, surprise, disgust, anger and sadness. Cross-cultural studies show that these six expressions are universal. The only emotions researchers have found in specific locations in the brain are fear and joy. For this reason, the first biologically linked learning models were dominated by reward-threat studies. Feelings are different; they are our culturally and ecologically designed responses to circumstances. Examples are: worry, anticipation, frustration, cynicism, and optimism. Emotions are very real. When we say that emotions play a role, we have a wide range of highly specific and scientific ways to measure exactly what is going on, including skin reactions, heart rate, blood pressure and EEG activity. It's easy to get readings from a student's response
The Objectivity of Emotions We can use information from the autonomic system (sweat glands, heart activity, blood pressure, and gastrointestinal tract); central (electrical activity of brain neurons); or sensorimotor systems (breathing, eye movements, etc.) to measure emotions. SCR ... skin conductance pulse response ... heart beats per minute EGG ... electrogastrography ... gastrointestinal system measurements PA ... blood pressure BEAM ... brain electrical activity mapping SPR ... ERP skin response potential. .. potentials related to central nervous system events fMRI...functional magnetic resonance imaging EEG...BR electroencephalography...breathing rates CBFR...regional cerebral blood flow MT...HRPSA muscle tension...heart rate MEG output spectrum analysis... PET magnetoelectroencephalography... positional emission tomography, SC blood flow measurements... skin color, reddened skin
being afraid, but we still cannot measure feelings of sympathy, for example. Figure 8.1 shows information we can use to measure emotions.
Emotional pathways General emotional states and intense feelings of fear and joy follow separate biological pathways in the brain (LeDoux 1996). (Figure 8.2 summarizes the areas of the brain involved in emotion.) While feelings take a slower, more circuitous route through the body, emotions always take the "highways" of the brain. In the midbrain area, LeDoux (1992) found a bundle of neurons running directly from the thalamus to the amygdala. Any
Teach with the brain in mind
74 FIGURE 8.2
Areas of the brain that are strongly activated by emotions. endocrine system thalamus
Prefrontal Cortex Anterior Cingular Cortex Amygdala Hypothalamus
Note: Other body regions are also activated. See Figure 8.4.
Information will take emotional priority before measured thinking occurs. Any experience that creates a threat or that activates pleasure circuits in our brain activates specific neurons that only respond to those events. A time-consuming assessment can cost you your life in an emergency. Any life-and-death situation requires immediate resources, not reflection and contemplation. This allows us, as Goleman suggests, to be "emotionally hijacked" by our reactions (1995, Chapter 2). Although our emotional system acts independently, it also works in conjunction with our cortex. For example, a student receiving a threatening glare from another student may react to the perceived threat before even thinking about it. The teacher's "behavior improvement lesson" after the event usually changes little in the next "automatic" beat.
Students must learn emotional intelligence skills in a repetitive way that makes positive behaviors as automatic as negative ones. This point is particularly important because, although today's students do not have to deal with saber-toothed tigers, they do face equivalent threats. This includes fear of embarrassment, failure with peers, or bullying in the hallway. Your brain has adapted to treat these emotional, psychological and physical threats as a threat to life. According to Jeff Tooby of the University of California, Santa Barbara (Marquis 1996), the emotion expression circuitry in our brain is widespread. While the old model connected the entire midbrain (the limbic system) to emotions, the amygdala, an almond-shaped structure, seems to be more involved. There is no evidence that other areas of the so-called "limbic system" are strongly involved in direct emotions. Therefore, according to LeDoux (1996), the term "limbic system" does not make sense. The amygdala has 12 to 15 different emotional regions. So far, only two have been identified that are related to anxiety. Other emotions can be connected to other areas. The amygdala exerts tremendous influence on our cortex. There are more inputs from the amygdala to the cortex than vice versa. However, information flows both ways. The design of these feedback loops means that emotions tend to have a greater impact. It becomes the weight of all our thoughts, prejudices, ideas and arguments. In fact, it is an emotional taste that excites us, not a logical one. When teachers evaluate student performance, it's about how they see and hear what they see and hear. Feelings add a strong flavor to the assessment. We call this professional opinion, but to say there is no emotion would be a case of gross denial.
emotions and learning
75 Our emotions are our personality and help us make most of our decisions. In general, when researchers remove areas of the frontal lobe (the area of so-called higher intelligence), human performance on standard intelligence tests drops very little. Removal is usually necessary for brain tumors that grow, compress, and kill nearby tissue. In general, patients recover reasonably well and retain their ability to think (Damasio 1994, p. 42; Pearce 1992, p. 48). However, removing tonsils is devastating. It destroys the capacities for creative play, imagination, critical decisions, and the undertones of emotion that drive art, humor, imagination, love, music, and altruism. These are many of the qualities we attribute to those who make great contributions to our world. The genius of Quincy Jones, Martha Graham, Stephen Hawking, Eddie Murphy and Mother Teresa are examples of emotions that drive creativity.
The Chemistry of Emotion Brain chemicals are not only transmitted by the commonly cited axon-synapse-dendrite reaction, but are also spread throughout much of the brain. The depressed person is usually treated with Prozac, a drug that modulates serotonin levels. Caffeine increases amine levels, which increases alertness. If you have a gut feeling, it's because the same peptides released in your brain are also coating your GI tract. Memory is regulated by levels of acetylcholine, adrenaline and serotonin. These active chemicals are expelled from areas such as the medulla, adrenal glands, kidneys and pons. As a result, emotions chemicals can affect most of our behaviors. these chemicals
they persist and often dominate our system. Because of this, it's difficult for the cortex to simply turn off an emotion as soon as it occurs. From choosing the curriculum to controlling the dining room, how we feel is often how we act (Fig. 8.3). The old paradigm was that our brains were powered by the physical connections made at the synapse site. But the most recent and emerging discovery is that chemical messengers known as peptides are not only distributed throughout the brain and body, but exert a much greater influence on our behavior than previously thought. Miles Herkenham of the National Institutes of Mental Health says that 98 percent of all communication in the body can take place via these peptide messengers (in Pert 1997, p. 139). This view implies a much greater role in understanding and integrating emotions in learning. The reason these states are so powerful is because they are produced and modulated throughout the entire body. Each cell has a myriad of receptor sites for receiving information from other areas of the body; The bloodstream is the body's second nervous system! Figure 8.4 shows how ligands (messenger peptides) dock at receptor sites, relay their information, and new cellular behavior begins. Multiply that by millions of cells and a student will feel different.
Emotions as states of mind and body Emotions affect student behavior because they produce different states of mind and body. A state is a moment consisting of a specific posture, breathing rate, and chemical balance in the body. The presence or absence of norepinephrine, vasopressin, testosterone, serotonin, progesterone, dopamine, and dozens of other chemicals dramatically alters your state of mind and body. How important are states?
Teach with the brain in mind
Chemical influences on attention and behavior
High risks • Anxiety • Obsessive thoughts • Low self-confidence • Withholding aggression
High risks • Hyperarousal • Rapid pulse • Increased likelihood of impulsive violence
Low Risks • Depression • Impulsive Aggression • Alcoholism • Explosive Anger • Suicide
Low stakes • Lack of thrill • Thrill seekers • Risk taking • More likely to engage in cold-blooded violence
Note: Displayed values are high or low compared to the norm. In general, men have 20-40% lower serotonin levels than women. Human behavior is complex and there are factors other than chemical imbalances that influence it.
for us? You are all we have; they are our feelings, desires, memories and motivations. A move of state is what your students use the money for: buying groceries to ease hunger, buying Nike shoes to feel more secure, or to please their classmates. They even buy drugs to change their lives
state, either to feel better or just to feel something. Educators need to be aware of this. Teachers who help their students feel comfortable in their learning through classroom success, friendships, and celebration are doing exactly what the student's brain wants.
emotions and learning
How emotions affect the student: they are the second nervous system of the body
Central nervous system chemical messengers (peptides to receptor sites) (axon-synaptic dendrites) peptide messengers distributed in the bloodstream produce effects throughout the body
Information only travels along fixed axonal pathways
Emotional states have a strong impact on students' discovery of meaning, motivation, everyday behavior and cognition. For example, even if you like to dance, you might miss out if you're tired. Copyright © 1989-97 by Techpool Studios, Inc., USA.
Neurosurgeon Richard Bergland says, "[Thoughts] are not imprisoned in the brain but are scattered throughout the body" (Restak 1993, p. 207). He adds that he has little doubt that the brain works
more a gland than a computer. It produces hormones, bathes in them and is controlled by them. Emotions trigger the chemical changes that transform our moods, our behavior, and ultimately our lives. Yea
Teach with the brain in mind
78 People and activities are the content of our lives, emotions are the contexts and values we hold. We cannot run a school without recognizing emotions and incorporating them into daily operations. Many schools are already doing this. They have pep talks, guest speakers, poetry readings, community efforts, storytelling, debates, clubs, sports and theater.
How emotional states affect learning
Emotions, Learning, and Memory For years, we've been brainwashed into thinking that it's our frontal lobes that give us glowing thoughts about "the best of humanity." Although the frontal lobes allow us to work out the details of our goals and plans, it is the emotions that generate them and drive their implementation in our lives (Freeman 1995, p. 89). Therefore, it is important to ask students to explain why they want to achieve the goals they have set for themselves. You might say, "Write down three good reasons why achieving your goals is important to you." Then ask students to share their answers with others. The reasons are the emotions behind the goals and the source of energy to achieve them (see Fig. 8.5). Emotions are a distillation of learned wisdom; Life's critical survival lessons are emotionally embedded in our DNA. We are biologically wired to be fearful, worried, surprised, suspicious, happy, and almost immediately relieved. We need to break the old habit of seeing emotions as irrational or unrelated to our way of thinking. Emotions are an important source of information for learning (LeDoux 1993). What would happen if you ignored your feelings every time you did something dangerous or reckless? If you get frustrated and berate your boss, you could jeopardize your career very quickly. happily feelings
This produces responses like the ones on the right
This greatly influences whether a student is motivated to take action or not.
Feelings of guilt or remorse are likely to prevent this. Students who are reluctant or afraid to speak up in front of their peers do so for a "logical" reason: failure can cost them significant social status. Making daily decisions based on emotions is no exception; It's the rule While extreme emotions often damage our best thinking, a compromise makes sense. Appropriate emotions greatly accelerate decision-making (Damasio 1994). When asked to have lunch with a colleague, base your decision on quick intuition:
emotions and learning
79 things: yes or no. Gathering enough information can be rude or time-consuming. Where are we going to have lunch? How's the food? Who else will be there? what is the schedule Who is paying? Will be fun? Who's driving? Is the car safe? when will we be back Is there a better offer? It's usually much more helpful to have an idea of what to do next and then do it. Emotions not only help us make better decisions faster, they also help us make better quality decisions based on values. In fact, every day we make thousands of micro-decisions that shape our character, whether they are on time or late, honest or sleazy, chatty or noble, creative or unimaginative, generous or mean. Each of these decisions is made by a guiding hand: our values. All values are simply emotional states. If my value is honesty, then I feel bad about being dishonest. On the contrary, I feel good when I do honest things. In a way, our character is shaped by being aware of our emotions. While too much or too little emotion is often counterproductive, our normal everyday emotions are an important part of life. While we all know we have emotions, few of us realize that it's not the cards on the table, but the table itself. Everything we experience has an emotional tone, from calm to anger, from pain to pleasure, and from relaxation to threat. And since emotions convey our meaning, they actually shape our day. Every day, as our day goes by, so do our emotions. Even if you use a logic-based rubric to grade each student's project, emotions still prevail. On a bad day, your feelings about certain students or a certain rubric will cause you to judge one project as more creative, another as more organized, another as standard, and another as inappropriate.
We also remember what is most emotionally charged. This is because all emotional events are preferentially processed (Christianson 1992) and the brain is overstimulated when strong emotions are present. Emotions give us a more activated and chemically stimulated brain, which helps us remember things better. The more intense the amygdala excitation, the stronger the imprint (Cahill, Prins, Weber and McGaugh 1994), says Goleman (1995). In fact, Larry Squire, a neurobiologist and memory expert at the University of California, San Diego, says emotions are so important that they have their own memory pathways. James McGaugh, a neurobiologist at the University of California, Irvine, and other researchers agree. When emotions are repressed or expressed inappropriately, we have discipline problems. As teachers, we can consciously engage in productive emotions. It is common for students to remember the death of a friend, a field trip, or a hands-on science experiment far longer than most lectures. Good learning doesn't avoid emotions, it embraces them. Award-winning neuroscientist and emotion researcher Candace Pert of Georgetown University Medical Center says, “When emotions are expressed. 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 All systems are combined and completed. When emotions are repressed, denied and prevented from being what they are, the pathways in our network become blocked, interrupting the flow of vital feel-good unifying chemicals that control both our biology and our behavior.” (Pert 1997, p. 273).
Practical Strategies Triggering emotions at random is counterproductive. Furthermore, extreme emotions are often counterproductive to school goals. lack of emotion
Teach with the brain in mind
Movement is as dangerous as uncontrollable emotions. The old adage was, "First take control of the students, then teach." Today's neuroscientists can recommend that you properly engage with emotions whenever you have the opportunity. Include emotions as part of learning, not as an add-on. You may have used music, games, drama, or storytelling to create emotion. Here are five easier ways.
Model teachers must simply demonstrate their love of learning and enthusiasm for their work. For example, bring something with a lot of emotion to class. Create suspense, smile, tell an exciting story, show a new CD, read a book or bring an animal. Get involved in community work, whether it's for vacations, humanitarian aid, or ongoing ministry. Let students know what excites you.
Celebration usage recognition, parties, high fives, food, music and fun. A celebration can showcase student work in many ways. For example, when students have finished mind mapping, ask them to stand and show their poster-sized mind map to eight other pairs of students. The goal is to find at least two things they like. As they carry their mind map, they point things out to students and learn from their peers. He plays festive music and everyone has fun. Ideally, celebrations are "institutionalized" for students to celebrate without the teacher instructing them to do so every time.
A controversy Creating a controversy can involve a debate, dialogue or discussion. every time you have two
Pages, a vested interest, and the opportunity to voice opinions, you'll act! Have students prioritize a list by consensus and you'll be hooked. Then separate the sides for an external tug of war. Research shows that when emotions are activated immediately after a learning experience, memories are much more likely to be recalled and accuracy increased (McGaugh, Cahill, Parent, Mesches, ColemanMesches, and Salinas 1995). The debate can take place in pairs of students or turn it into an academic decathlon or game show. Theater and acting can generate strong emotions: the bigger the production, the greater the risk, the more emotions are involved. For example, if your group agrees to put on a school-wide play, there will be rehearsal, stress, fun, fear, anticipation, tension, excitement, and relief.
Mindful Use of Physical Rituals Rituals in your classroom can engage students immediately. These rituals may involve clapping, cheering, singing, movement or a song. Use them to announce arrivals, departures, a celebration, and the start of a project. Keep the ritual fun and quick and change it weekly to avoid boredom. Each time teams completed their tasks, they could cheer for the team. Or they could give each member a special treat upon arrival and another at the end of the day. Of course, the rituals must be age-appropriate.
Introspection The use of journals, discussions, exchanges, stories and reflections about things, people and issues involves students personally. If there is a disaster on the news, ask students to write or talk about it. Current events or personal drama also work well.
emotions and learning
81 If appropriate, students could share their thoughts with a neighbor or classmate. Help students make personal connections with their classroom work. For example, if students are writing journals, ask them to read and discuss or even critique “Letters to the Editor” in a local newspaper. Students can choose a topic that appeals to them and submit letters to be printed. Good learning involves feelings. Emotions are not an addition, but a form of learning. Our emotions are the genetically refined result of life.
wise times. We learn what to love, when and how to care, who to trust, the loss of esteem, the joy of success, the joy of discovery, and the fear of failure. This learning is as important as any other part of education. Many activities have powerful lifelong effects, but there are few results that can be seen on a daily scorecard. Emotions encompass one of these areas. Research supports the value of including appropriate emotions. They are an integral and invaluable part of every child's education.
movement and learning
KEY CONCEPTS ◗ The mind-body connection
n times of scarce financial resources, educators must make difficult decisions. Are dance, theater and sports part of the budget? Are they frilly or basic? What exactly does brain research tell us about the relationship between body and mind? For years, it seemed that the educational and scientific communities believed that thought was thought and movement was movement, and the two would never meet. For decades, lateral scientist-thinkers have envisioned connections between thought and movement, but with little public support. Today we know better. This chapter shows the strong links between physical education, the arts and learning.
Mind and body If we want to engage in drug education, second languages, diversity education, multiple intelligences, improving literacy, reducing school dropouts, empowering girls in math and science, topical education and AIDS awareness, that's fantastic. But what are we going to remove to make time for these things? Anything considered a luxury will likely go first. For some myopic employees, this means
◗ What does the research say about the connections between movement and cognition? ◗ physical states; How does our body actually learn? ◗ The specific roles of movement, art and sport. ◗ Why the move makes sense
movement and learning
83 Training Cal. Recent brain research tells us this is wrong. Part of the reason for the old-fashioned mind-body split comes from simple observation. If the brain is in the head and the body is under the head, how can there be connections? What if the cerebellum, an area most commonly involved with movement, turned out to be a virtual control panel for cognitive activity? The first evidence of a mind-body connection came decades ago from Henrietta Leiner and Alan Leiner, two neuroscientists at Stanford University. His research initiated what would eventually redraw "the cognitive map" (S. Richardson 1996). The Leiners' work focused on the cerebellum, and they made some crucial discoveries that spurred years of fruitful research. First, the cerebellum occupies only a tenth of the brain's volume, but contains more than half of all its neurons. It has about 40 million nerve fibers, 40 times more than the complex visual tract. These fibers not only carry information from the cerebral cortex to the cerebellum, but also relay it back to the cerebral cortex. If it were all about motor skills, why are connections so heavily distributed in both directions in all areas of the brain? In other words, this subsection of the brain, long known for its role in posture, coordination, balance and movement, may be our brain's sleeping giant. (Figure 9.1 shows the location of the main brain areas involved in movement.) Previously, it was thought that the cerebellum simply processed signals from the brain and relayed them to the motor cortex. The mistake was in assuming that the signals went only to the motor cortex. They don't (S. Richardson 1996, p. 100). The last place where information is processed is the cerebellum.
Location of key brain areas involved in movement in the sensorimotor cortex
a tail fish
Brainstem of substantia nigra anterior cingulate
before being sent to the cortex, it is the dentate nucleus. Although the dentate nucleus is absent in most mammals, it is larger in primates with the greatest learning abilities. A smaller area, the neodentate nucleus, is unique to humans and may play an important role in thinking. Portland, Oregon neurologist Robert Dow was one of the first to make the connections. One of his patients had cerebellar damage and, surprisingly, impaired cognitive function (S. Richardson 1996, p. 102). Suddenly, the connection between movement and thought became inescapable. What is the importance of movement for learning? Ask neurophysiologist Carla Hannaford and she'll tell you all day. She says that the vestibular (inner ear) and cerebellar (motor activity) system is the first sensory system to mature. In this system, the semicircular canals of the inner ear and the vestibular nuclei are an information gathering center and
Teach with the brain in mind
84 Feedback source for motions. These impulses travel along neural pathways from the cerebellum to the rest of the brain, including the visual system and sensory cortex. The vestibular nuclei are strongly modulated by the cerebellum and also activate the reticular activating system (RAS) near the apex of the brainstem. This area is vital to our attention system as it regulates incoming sensory data. This interaction helps us maintain our balance, put our thoughts into action, and coordinate our movements. For this reason, yard games that encourage inner ear movement, such as swinging, rolling, and jumping, are valuable. Peter Strick of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Syracuse, New York, made another connection. His collaborators traced a path from the cerebellum to the parts of the brain involved in memory, attention and spatial perception. Surprisingly, the part of the brain that processes movement is the same part of the brain that processes learning. Here's another example. Neuroscientist Eric Courchesne of the University of California, San Diego, says that autism may be related to cerebellar deficits (L. Richardson, 1996). His brain imaging studies showed that autistic children have a smaller cerebellum and fewer cerebellar neurons. He also linked cerebellar deficits to a decreased ability to quickly shift attention from one task to another. He says the cerebellum filters and integrates incoming data streams in sophisticated ways, allowing for complex decision-making. Again, the part of the brain known to control movement is involved in learning. Surprisingly, there is not a single "motor center" in our brain (Greenfield 1995). Movement and learning are in constant interaction. In Philadelphia, Glen Doman has had spectacular success with autistic and brain-damaged children.
Children through the use of intensive sensory integration therapy. Over the years, many teachers who have incorporated productive "games" into their curriculum have found that learning has become easier for students. At the 1995 Society for Neuroscience Annual Conference, W.T. Thatch Jr. moderated one of the most well-attended symposia: "What is the specific role of the cerebellum in cognition?" He is a researcher at the University of Washington School of Medicine and has been collecting data for years. The 800 participants listened attentively as the panel launched a collective attack on a neuroscientific community blinded by years of prejudice. Nearly 80 studies were cited, pointing to strong connections between the cerebellum and memory, spatial perception, language, attention, emotions, non-verbal cues and even decision-making. These findings strongly indicate the value of physical education, exercise and games in promoting cognition.
Motor Development and Learning In fact, there is extensive biological, clinical, and academic research to support this conclusion. The area known as the anterior cingulate is particularly active when new moves or new combinations are initiated. This particular area seems to associate some movement with learning. Early studies by Prescott (1977) indicate that when our movements are impaired, the cerebellum and its connections with other areas of the brain are compromised. He says the cerebellum is also involved in "complex emotional behavior" (emotional intelligence). His experiments with rats confirm his conclusions. Rats with cerebellar deficits performed worse in maze tests. Our brain creates movement by sending a barrage of nerve impulses to the muscles, or
movement and learning
85 the larynx. Since each muscle receives the message at a slightly different time, it's a bit like a well-timed explosion created by a special effects team. This amazing brain-body sequence is often referred to as the space-time pattern (space-time). Researcher William Calvin calls this the brain code. While simple movements like chewing gum are controlled by basic brain circuits closest to the spinal cord, complex movements like taking a dance step, throwing a ball or conducting a science experiment are quite different. Some simple movements, such as those involving sequences, are controlled at subcortical levels such as the basilica ganglia and the cerebellum. But new moves change the focus on the brain because it has no memories to rely on to execute it. Suddenly, we include the prefrontal cortex and the posterior two-thirds of the frontal lobes, specifically the dorsolateral frontal lobes. This is an area of the brain commonly used for problem solving, planning and sequencing new things to learn and do (Calvin 1996). Many researchers (Houston 1982, Ayers 1972, Hannaford 1995) confirm that sensorimotor integration is essential for school readiness. In a study conducted in Seattle, Washington, third graders explored language arts concepts through dance activities. Although districtwide reading scores showed a 2% decline, students engaged in dance activities increased their reading scores by 13% at 6 months (Gilbert 1977). A complete routine included twisting, crawling, rolling, swinging, circling, pointing and adjusting. Lyelle Palmer of Winona State University has documented significant gains in attention and reading with these stimulating activities (Palmer, 1980). While many educators are aware of this connection, nearly as many reject the connection once children pass grade one or two. research proposal
Gestures The relationship between movement and learning continues throughout life. Acting classes at Garfield High School in Los Angeles give students renewed hope for success in life skills. The sensorimotor skills learned as children through play and orchestrated school activities mean that the correct neural pathways have been established (Miller & Melamed, 1989). How critical is the initial move? There may be a link between violence and physical inactivity. Babies deprived of tactile stimulation and physical activity may not develop a brain connection between movement and pleasure. Fewer connections are made between the cerebellum and the brain's pleasure centers. Such a child may grow up not being able to experience pleasure through the usual channels of pleasurable activity. As a result, the need for intense states may develop, one of which is violence (Kotulak 1996). If the child has an adequate supply of the “medicines” needed for movement, that's fine. If you steal it, you're in trouble.
Physical Education and Learning An incredible 64 percent of US middle and high school students do not participate in a daily physical education program (Brink 1995). In experiments by William Greenough of the University of Illinois, mice that trained in enriched environments had a greater number of connections between neurons than those that did not. They also had more capillaries around neurons in the brain than sedentary rats (Greenough and Anderson 1991). Just as exercise shapes the muscles, heart, lungs and bones, it also strengthens the basal ganglia, cerebellum and corpus callosum, key areas of the brain. We know that exercise delivers oxygen to the brain, but it also delivers neurotropins.
Teach with the brain in mind
86 (nutrient-rich food) to promote growth and greater connections between neurons. Aerobic conditioning is also known to help memory (Brink 1995). Figure 9.2 illustrates the main pathways between movement and learning. Researchers James Pollatschek and Frank Hagen say, "Children who participate in daily physical education classes demonstrate superior motor skills, academic performance, and attitude toward school compared with their peers who do not participate in daily physical education classes" (1996, p.2). Aerobic exercise and other forms of "strengthening" exercise can have lasting mental benefits. that's the secret
Neural connections between movement and learning
Axonal projections are much greater from areas associated with storage and movement production to areas of perception than vice versa. This suggests that exercise may affect cognition more than previously thought. Copyright © 1989-97 by Techpool Studios, Inc., USA.
Exercise alone appears to train a rapid adrenaline-norepinephrine response and rapid recovery. In other words, when training your body, you better prepare your brain to respond quickly to challenges. Moderate exercise, three times a week, 20 minutes a day, can have very positive effects. Neuroscientists at the University of California, Irvine found that exercise triggers the release of BDNF, a brain-derived neurotrophic factor (Kinoshita 1997). This natural substance improves cognition by increasing the ability of neurons to communicate with each other. At Scripps College in Claremont, California, 124 subjects were divided equally into athletes and non-athletes. Those who exercised 75 minutes a week reacted faster, thought better, and remembered more (Michaud and Wild 1991). As studies suggest that exercise can reduce stress, there is also an added benefit. Chronic stress releases neuron-killing chemicals in the critical area of the brain for forming long-term memory, the hippocampus. Brink (1995) states that physical exercise remains one of the best ways to stimulate the brain and learning (Kempermann, Kuhn and Gage, 1997). There is other evidence for the power of physical exercise. We know that a large part of the brain is involved in complex movements and physical exercises, it is not just “brick”. In fact, depending on the type of exercise, the part of the brain involved in almost all learning, the cerebellum, comes into play (Middleton and Strick 1994). In a Canadian study of over 500 school-aged children, those who added an extra hour a day to physical education did much better than those who did not exercise (Hannaford, 1995). This is what Dustman's research (Michaud and Wild 1991) revealed
movement and learning
87 Among the three test groups, the one with vigorous aerobic exercise improved short-term memory, reaction time, and creativity. All K-12 students need 30 minutes of daily physical activity to stimulate the brain, says the Presidential Council on Fitness and Exercise. The Vanves and Blanshard projects in Canada revealed something even more dramatic. When physical education time was increased to one-third of the school day, academic performance increased (Martens 1982).
The Arts of Movement The top three countries in mathematics and science (Japan, Hungary and the Netherlands) have integrated intensive music and arts education into their primary school curricula. In Japan, all children are required to play a musical instrument or participate in choir, sculpture and design. Art classes for students have also been associated with better visual thinking, problem solving, language and creativity (Simmons 1995). Many studies suggest that students enhance academic learning through games and so-called "recreational" activities (Silverman 1993). The case for doing something physical every day is growing. Jenny Seham of the National Dance Institute (NDI) in New York City says she has spent years observing the moving and measurable academic and social outcomes of school-aged children studying dance. Seham is thrilled with the positive changes in self-discipline, grades, and life purpose his students are demonstrating. He is now in the process of quantifying the results of the more than 1,500 children who dance weekly at NDI. Researchers know that certain movements stimulate the inner ear. This helps with physical balance and fine motor skills.
Coordination and stabilization of images on the retina. David Clarke of the Ohio State University College of Medicine confirmed the positive results of one type of activity: spinning (1980). As rides and swings disappear from parks and playgrounds and liability costs rise, a new concern arises: more learning disabilities. Clarke's studies suggest that certain pivotal activities lead to alertness, attentiveness, and relaxation in the classroom. Students who lean back on both legs of their chairs in class often stimulate their brains with a rocking motion that activates the hallway. Although it is an unsafe activity, it is good for the brain. We should offer students more often activities that allow them to move safely, such as role plays, skits, stretching or even games like musical chairs. Give a school daily dance, music, drama, and visual arts classes that have a lot of movement and you might see a miracle. In Aiken, South Carolina, Redcliffe Elementary School's test scores were among the lowest 25% in the district. After adding a strong arts curriculum, the school rose to the top 5% in 6 years (enough for students to advance from 1st to 6th grade). This rural Title I school, with 42% minority students, demonstrated that a strong arts curriculum is the creative core of academic excellence, not more discipline, higher standards, or the Three Rs (Kearney 1996). Arthur Stone of the State University of New York at Stony Brook says having fun can be good for your health. Reduces stress and improves immune system function for three days after the fun. Most children enjoy dancing, arts and games. This isn't just good for the brain, it's also good. Through experiments with primates, neurophysiology
Teach with the brain in mind
88 Essences James Prescott and Robert Heath discovered that there is a direct connection between the cerebellum and the pleasure centers in the emotional system (Hooper and Teresi 1986). Children who love playing on the playground do so for good reason: Sensorimotor experiences feed directly into the brain's pleasure centers. This is not of trivial importance; The joy of the school makes students come back year after year.
• What are my goals for today and this year? • What do I need to do today and this week in this class to reach my goals? • Why is it important to reach my goals today? You can ask as many questions as you like, or ask students to come up with some as well.
Acting, theater and role-playing
Practical Tips Current research on the brain, mind and body makes important connections between exercise and learning. Educators must integrate movement activities into everyday learning in a targeted way. This includes much more than hands-on activities. It means daily stretching, walking, dancing, acting, acting, changing seats, energizers and physical education classes. The whole idea of using only logical thinking in math class contradicts current brain research. Brain-friendly learning means that educators must combine math, movement, geography, social skills, role play, science, and physical education. In fact, Larry Abraham of the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Texas at Austin says, “Teachers need to get kids moving for the same reason as physical education. Teachers made children count” (1997). Sport, movement, theater and art can be a permanent theme. Don't wait for a special event. These are examples of easy to use strategies.
Goal setting in motion Start the lesson with an activity where everyone pairs up. Students can play or mimic their goals with a partner or take a short walk while setting goals. Ask them to answer three focal questions, such as:
Accustom your class to role-playing on a daily or at least weekly basis. Ask students to do riddles to review key ideas. Students can act out an improvised pantomime to dramatize a key point. Make one-minute TV commercials to announce upcoming content or review past content.
Energizer Use the body to measure things in space and report the results. For example: “This cabinet has 99 knuckles.” Play a Simon-Says game with game content: “Simon says he faces south. Simon says to point out five different sources of information in this room." Work as a team on puzzles using giant poster-sized mind maps. Stand up and tap seven colors in succession on seven different objects around the room. Teach a system of movement using memory keywords For example: "Stay in the room where we learned about it..." Ball toss games can be used for review, vocabulary building, storytelling, or self-expression. Students can, in pairs or teams, rewrite lyrics to well-known songs. The new lyrics to the song are a revision of the content; They then perform the song with choreography. They practice in other ways as well. They play a tug-of-war, in which each has a partner and a partner selects
movement and learning
89 topics from a list that everyone learned. Everyone has an opinion on the matter. The goal is for each student to have 30 seconds to convince a partner why their topic is more important. After the oral debate, the pairs form two teams for a giant tug-of-war over a physical challenge. All partners are on opposite sides.
Cross-sides Learn and use cross-arm and leg activities that can force the two sides of your brain to better "talk" to each other. "Tat your head and rub your belly" is an example of a crossover. Other examples include marching in place while tapping opposite knees, tapping opposite shoulder, and touching opposite elbows or heels. Several books explore these activities, including Brain Gym by Paul Dennison, Smart Moves, and The Dominance Factor by Carla Hannaford.
Stretches At the beginning of class, or whenever you need more oxygen, ask everyone to stand up and stretch slowly. Ask students to lead the group as a whole or have teams do their own stretches. Allow students more mobility in the classroom at certain times. Offer them errands, have a jump rope ready, or just let them wander around the back of the class as long as they don't disturb the other students. In general, you should do everything you can to support physical education, the arts, and physical activity in your classroom. make it a point
Promote these activities in your school and district. We are in a time when many children are not attending physical education classes. Budget cuts often target arts and gym classes as "fancy". This is unfortunate, as there is good evidence that these activities can attract many students to school and help improve school performance. "Physical activity is essential to promote normal growth of mental function," says Donald Kirkendall (Pollatschek and Hagen 1996, p. 2). Carla Hannaford says: “The arts and athletics are not a luxury. They are powerful ways of thinking and skillful ways of communicating with the world. They deserve a larger, not a smaller, share of school time and budget” (1995, p. 88). While making it more important than the school itself is counterproductive, the movement must become as honorable and important as the so-called "workbook". We need to better allocate our resources to harness the hidden power of exercise, activity and sport. Norman Weinberger, research scientist in the Department of Neurobiology of Learning and Memory at the University of California, Irvine, says: "Arts classes facilitate language development, encourage creativity, increase reading skills, help with social development, achievement general intellectual and promote the attitude to school” (1995, p. 6).This attitude has become increasingly common among scientists who study the brain.It is time for educators to take notice.
The brain as a creator of meaning
KEY CONCEPTS ◗ The natural mechanisms of meaning formation
When students say, "School is boring," part of the comment reflects a general teen sentiment. But there's more: Students want school to be meaningful and valuable. With so many different personalities, cultures and student types, how can the school make sense for everyone? The theme of this chapter is that you can make learning richer and more engaging by intentionally shaping terms to make more sense.
Search for meaning Traditionally, the school was a social space and an information transfer system. Not much thought was given to whether the information was significant or not. The information age has changed all that. While a college student in the 1950's was faced with a few textbooks, three TV stations, a few novels and several magazines, things are very different today. The sheer volume of accessible information slows us down. Hundreds of TV channels and a variety of magazines and books are readily available. There are thousands of websites, numerous contacts on the Internet, e-mail, fax, cell phones,
◗ Three ingredients for optimal learning ◗ How to nurture these three ingredients
The brain as a creator of meaning
91 and pagers to hack into the brain's information processing system. Although the brain is very adept at learning, the amount of information flowing through our lives today is potentially hundreds or thousands of times greater than it was 50 years ago. This virtual avalanche of data can lead us to simply "turn off" as a defense mechanism. In schools, more classes, more content and more information to learn can have a negative impact on students: stress due to information overload. One of the solutions is to guarantee the quality of the information, not the quantity. We can do this by consciously orchestrating meaning. A nice side effect is that exploring meaning can be very motivating intrinsically. Researchers tell us that there are two types of meaning: reference meaning and sense meaning (Kosslyn 1992, p. 228). Others refer to the meaning as "superficial" or "sincere" (Caine and Caine 1994). The first is a kind of meaning pointer, a dictionary definition that refers to the lexical territory of the word. For example, a raincoat is an "oversized waterproof garment made of fabric or plastic". But the meaning of the word "sense" is different. Although I know what a raincoat is, it means little to me personally. I live in a climate where it rarely rains (San Diego). The rain cover I have is rarely used (when I travel) and most of the time feels like a waste of storage space. Contrast this with an entirely different "sense" or "sincere" meaning. Let's say you use your raincoat 50 to 60 days a year because you live in an area where it rains a lot. Your raincoat can protect you from the rain, make a nice addition to your wardrobe, and earn you compliments. Your overcoat has a "meaning" to you with years of memories. It's more than an outfit; it is a necessity and a "friend".
In the classroom, the concept of the Vietnam War can be presented on a superficial level or with a deep meaning. The latter can happen when the teacher is a Vietnam veteran sharing experiences with his students. In this chapter, we avoid the "pointer" dictionary type and cover the "sense" type.
The Biology of Meaning Many of the meanings we feel deeply in our lives are wired in our brains. An example would be the human grief response to illness and death. People have simply learned over the centuries to value life over death. One suspect of this mechanism is that the release of emotion-based chemicals can alter the physical structure of the brain. Research by Nobel laureate Roger Sperry (Thompson 1993) shows that chemical gradients in mice stimulate the growth and direction of axons to a specific target cell. The modified organism may have an adaptive advantage over one that has not developed this response. For example, fear of a rapidly approaching large predator is automatic. In ancient times, people who responded to this appropriate level of fear likely had a much higher survival rate. That said, it's not hardwired, it's a bit more complicated. This "constructed" meaning could be more like a fulfilling Thanksgiving break with family or a challenging high school science project. PET scans show that sense has a biological correlate, but it depends on what the sense is. When something is important in the reading, there is usually more activity (as measured by using glucose) in the left frontal, temporal, or parietal lobes, says Michael of the University of Oregon.
Teach with the brain in mind
92 FIGURE 10.1
Meaning formation takes place in many areas of the brain.
Frontal lobes: optimism, pattern formation, and context
The importance of relevance
Parietal Lobes: Perceptions, inspiration, meaning "meaning", satisfaction and pleasure Temporal Lobes: Relevance, connections to the past
but the reverse is not true. Something can be relevant and not make sense at the same time. A nutritionally healthy diet is very important. It can also mean little to most students.
Occipital lobes: pattern recognition and spatial organization
Cerebellum: movement and novelty
Posner. If it has a more spiritual meaning, it is probably parietal lobe activity, says V.I. Ramachandran of the University of California, San Diego. When it's emotionally felt meaning, it can show activity in the frontal, occipital and midbrain areas, says Antonio Damasio of the University of Iowa. Kind of meaning, it's more left frontal lobe activity. These different areas of location suggest that the concept of meaning can also be diverse (cf. Fig. 10.1). In short, the meaning is complex. We know the connections, but we don't have causal connections. There is evidence that these factors are likely: relevance, emotions, and context, and pattern formation. Relevancy is a brain function that connects existing neural sites. Emotions are triggered by brain chemistry and context triggers the creation of patterns that may be related to the formation or activation of larger neural fields. Every meaning has at least one of these three components,
Which biology is relevant? It is one of the simplest and most common types of meaning. It takes place on a simple cellular level. An existing neuron simply “plugs in” to a neighboring neuron. If the content is irrelevant, it's unlikely to connect. Although neurons are constantly firing, most of the time it's an inaudible conversation. Relevant connections are made more often and therefore stronger. Every thought you have increases the likelihood that you will have that thought again. Some thoughts activate entire neural fields that can transcend cellular and axonal boundaries. The more connections and associations your brain creates, the more neural territories are involved and the more neurologically intertwined the information will be. Conversations with Nobel Laureate Buckminster Fuller were so fruitful because he was able to create so many associations that almost everything reminded him of almost everything. A conversation about birds could bring up the history of birding, changes in food supplies, economics of conservation, geography, bird economics, biology, love, rituals, myths, politics and beauty. Almost everything was relevant to him. For many students, the problem is the opposite. Classroom information lacks the personal relevance necessary for any meaning.
Practical Tips for Creating Meaning Never assume that something that is relevant to you is also relevant to your students. help them with this
The brain as a creator of meaning
93 Discover relevance, but don't impose your connections. Give students time to link prior learning through discussion, mapping, and journaling. Harness the power of current events, family histories, stories, myths, legends and metaphors to make learning relevant. Throughout human history, stories have helped to understand and appreciate the people and teachings of the past. Ask students to explain what is being taught in their own words. You can use relevant personal stories. You can also reach out to local or national media. Encourage students to share their own experiences. Teachers who continue to emphasize one-way reading methods violate an important tenet of our brains: we are essentially social creatures, and our brains grow in a social environment. As we often understand ourselves through socialization, the whole role of discussion among students is sorely underused. When used correctly, collaborative learning is very brain-friendly. Talking, sharing and discussing are essential; we are biologically wired for language and for communicating with each other. Use discussion questions or allow students to form pairs and share personal experiences. Make time for “free association”. You can ask questions like "Has this ever happened to you?" Or, "Can you compare and contrast this with personal experience?"
The meaning of emotions Why and how are emotions related to meaning? Neurobiologist James McGaugh of the University of California, Irvine says that intense emotions trigger the release of chemicals adrenaline, norepinephrine and vasopressin. He adds, "[It] sends a signal to the brain: 'This is important, put it away!'" (Hooper and Teresi 1986). Without a doubt: emo
Function and meaning are linked. The frequent question is: “Which comes first, the emotion or the meaning?” It's a bit like the chicken and the egg thing. The systems are so interconnected that emotion chemicals are released almost simultaneously with perception (Hobson 1994, LeDoux 1996). We create emotions about what is happening in each moment. However, most of our emotional states are not very intense. In general, we experience emotions only in relation to what is important, say psychologists Bernice Lazarus and Richard Lazarus. We know that our sense of evaluation of events, people, and things seems to make sense of things ("Is it good or bad?"). We were taught that the ability to distinguish between good and evil is a cognitive function based on life experience. This is only partially true. When we rate, we add feelings to content. This suggests the connection between feelings and meaning. Everything is processed at the subconscious level in the midbrain and brainstem area (Cytowic 1993 and LeDoux 1996). Lázaro and Lázaro add: “The dramatic action or personal meaning that defines each emotion is universal in the human species. . . . [Regardless of culture, no competent person fails to understand strong emotional events. . . .” (Lázaro and Lázaro 1995) Emotions have meaning and predict future learning because they maintain our goals, beliefs, biases, and expectations. You can use this process. When your students set goals, it is your emotions that create the goal and your self-interest in achieving it. To evoke these emotions, ask students to share with another person why they want to achieve their goals. In a classroom, emotional states are an important condition around which educators must orchestrate learning. students can get bored
Teach with the brain in mind
94, afraid of an upcoming test or discouraged from a photo shoot. You might be hyperactive about an upcoming sporting event, past gym class, or relationship. Rather than trying to eliminate emotions to achieve "serious cognitive" learning, it makes more sense to incorporate them into our curriculum. Renate Caine, professor at California State University, San Bernardino, says that when we ignore the emotional components of a subject we teach, we rob students of meaning (Caine and Caine 1994). Emotions drive the trio of attention, meaning, and memory. The things we orchestrate to include emotions in a productive way will do the "triple duty" of capturing all three.
Engaging Emotions Deliberately There is a big difference between simply evoking random emotions and productively inviting or including emotions on purpose. In the first case, it's cheap and irreverent. In the latter case, it is intelligent teaching. How can you help students develop “heartfelt meaning” involving productive emotions? Here are some specific strategies.
Expression Make sure the student has a positive and safe way to express negative or positive emotions. To start over, you could place a “trash can” by the door for students to throw out any negative feelings, either on paper or symbolically. Use a mind-quieting visualization or relaxation exercise, or do something physical like walking, crawling, stretching, or playing. Encourage discussion or sharing time among peers or small groups
Every group. Take time for internal reflection to log, self-evaluate, or set goals.
Movement Ensure that learning involves positive emotions through role-play, acting, drama, pantomime, art and simulation. Also use music, play instruments, sing, clap, shout, debate, tell personal stories, improvise, dance, trivia, exercise, stretch, games, field trips, and student or guest speakers.
Put more emphasis on learning by setting goals or using public presentations to evoke emotional involvement. Make choice an important ingredient and have fun. As long as students have resources and peer support, most are quite willing to undertake large or public projects.
Novelty In animal studies, novelty was one of the most potent experimental conditions leading to a hormonal response (Levine and Coe 1989). Too young and you will create fear. Too little and you get bored. Make news relevant, social, and fun. Create immersive environments where space has been reimagined or decorated as a city, a new place or a foreign land. Ask students to design the classroom as a rainforest, an airplane, a company, or another country.
Share Develop greater collaboration between colleagues, make projects collaborative. Use partners, long-term teams or temporary groups for specialized activities.
The brain as a creator of meaning
95 Learning Encourage the use of more relational learning by providing learning relationships with experts. Mixed-age classrooms, Big Brother/Big Sister programs, and active adults in the community are perfect examples of support systems.
Think big Do fewer but more complex projects, especially long, multi-level projects, as long as you have the time and resources. Students in a science class might be planning a five-year trip to Mars. The project would include skills in math, science, problem solving, research, business and soft skills. Complex projects offer more opportunities for curiosity, mystery, social interaction, frustration, emotion, challenge, satisfaction, and celebration than shorter, simpler ones.
The Importance of Context and Patterns In his book Pattern Thinking, Andrew Coward (1990) states that the brain quickly forms hierarchies to extract or create patterns. Patterns provide context to information that would otherwise be dismissed as meaningless. This desire to shape learning into a meaningful pattern seems innate. Children develop games that organize behaviors and arrange objects in patterns rather than randomly. Adults organize plates, carts, tools, sewing supplies, storage sheds, file cabinets and book chapters. Researchers believe this pattern may start at a micro level. Individual neurons don't seem to exhibit learning, only groups of neurons. This one
Networks or "clouds" of neurons appear to be capable of recognizing and responding to meaningful learning. Indeed, scientists are currently testing models of perception and learning that can mimic the brain's visual system (Bruce and Green 1990). These "connectionist" models reflect neuronal clusters and synapses. Although we are warned that this is a biological coincidence, the first results are encouraging. Other areas of neurobiology suggest that pattern formation may be innate. In a classic experiment, babies were shown a series of pictures. Each illustration had exactly the same elements of a human face. But only one had them in a coherent human face shape and form. The others had scratched eyes, noses, hair and mouths. To determine a baby's interest and worth, careful records were kept of which characters were favored by Blickzeit. The pattern of a human face in its correct form had much more meaning for babies, even those just a few days old (Franz 1961). Babies 10 months of age and younger are attracted to and recognize patterns faster than non-patterns (Mehler and Dupoux 1994). On the videotape, babies show puzzled looks when presented with scattered and "patternless" material. These studies suggest that we are hardwired to pay attention to certain patterns. In tests of visual cognition, researchers have shown that we are not only "natural" at learning pattern distinctions, but also at applying them to other models. One researcher says that creating familial connections (relevance) and locating conforming neural networks (pattern formation) are critical to meaning formation (Freeman 1995). How important is the process of pattern formation to the brain? Child development expert Jane Healy says: “I am increasingly convinced of this.
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96 Patterns are the key to intelligence. Information patterns really mean organizing new information and connecting it to previously developed mental hooks” (1994, p. 49). Utilizing the areas of the brain that recognize and generate patterns is essential for proper development. Healy adds, “Children who don't learn to seek meaning are often good 'technicians' in grades 1 and 2 because they can handle bits of data, but when the demands for understanding increase, they push a wall. You just can't put it all together and make sense of it. Those who can are often considered more intelligent” (p. 50). Structuring the brain to create meaningful context was originally used as a rationale for integrated thematic instruction (Kovalik 1994). However, there is a significant difference between what constitutes a standard for a beginner and an expert. Although the brain is a gifted pattern maker, intellectual maturity enriches the process dramatically. PET scans indicate that a novice chess player burns more glucose and gradually utilizes the left hemisphere of the brain. A skilled chess player uses less glucose while targeting larger patterns in the right brain. And a historian is clearly more likely to see a century-old pattern in human behavior than a fourth grader. As a result, teachers can see themes, connections, and relevance that a student cannot see because the adult's accumulated prior knowledge ties it all together. For younger students, learning simply needs to be practical, experiential, and relevant to standards development. Complex thematic patterns emerge after the brain collects enough data to create a meaningful context. Patterns can only be forged and constructed if enough "basic information" is already known. As a result, the subject
The program may be more useful for older students than younger ones. Because the 16-year-old already has the knowledge milestones from which he can create a pattern. Metaphorically, he already knows the fence posts, making the fence construction easier. In summary, the evidence linking the brain's natural search for meaning with integrated thematic instruction is anecdotal and interpretive, not biological. Kovalik now says that having a point of view, a principle from which to operate, is much more useful than using a simple year-old theme. Universal concepts and basic organizing principles, such as B. interdependence, can make much more sense to young people. There is also much value in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary models. They create much more relevance and context, and most importantly, they help students understand the connections as they study. In the classroom, it is the ability to see ideas in relation to others and how individual facts are given meaning in a wider field of information. Help students understand how economics is related to geography, math to art and music, and ecology to science and politics. Through discussion, art, or visual thinking, students can create important and meaningful patterns. In short, we know the ingredients but not the recipe. The ability to create meaningful patterns and use context seems to activate the frontal lobes. The ability to show relevance taps into our past experiences, and that area is our temporal lobes. Rather, meaning formation through emotional arousal originates in the midbrain reward circuit. The thalamus, amygdala and even inferior parietal areas are involved. The formation of meaning is complex. Any of the three ingredients can trigger it, but none are guaranteed. This suggests that we should invoke them all in our general practices (see Fig. 10.2).
The brain as a creator of meaning
97 FIGURE 10.2
FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO THE FORMATION OF SENSE
Meaning is done here
context and patterns
Practice Notes Context can be explicit or implicit. Implicit learning forms a powerful pattern called a mental model. Teachers who reveal their own mental models and receive models from students may be surprised at the value. They appear to be virtual "windows of the mind" that make implicit learning explicit. Ask students how they know what they know using "how" questions. How does democracy work? How is the weather changing? How does our body digest food? How do you solve problems? These types of questions will identify patterns that can reveal limitations, limitations, and genius in students' thinking. Explicit learning models can contain graphical organizers. They are a way of giving information
Context base for better understanding and meaning. Studies show consistent success with this "patterned" learning (Jones et al. 1988/1989). Mapping can serve as a pre-exposure to a subject's patterns. These web-like drawings are a graphic and creative visual representation of the subject and the key relationships, symbols, and catchphrases that create meaning for the student. According to Jeff King, director of human resource development at the Art Institute of Dallas, they help students learn more, remember more and improve their attitudes. Once on paper, they can be shared with others to increase their meaning and add context and detail. The former Soviet Union had one of the highest math and science scores in the world. A glimpse of this achievement comes from the pioneering work of legendary high school teacher Victor Shatalov. As one of the country's most respected teachers, Shatalov set high standards for success with his "no one fails" attitude. Students of his used color-coded graphic organizers to reinforce important material. He also alternated daily between global and detailed learning and shared his mental models for learning the material (Soloveichik 1979). There are many other ways to encourage more standards in students. • Patiently answer children's endless stream of “why” questions without being sarcastic, curt, or long-winded. • Point out patterns in nature. For example: "Can you see all the shapes of the leaves on the trees?" • Show skills for grouping objects, ideas, names, facts and other key ideas. • Just read to the kids and ask about organization standards. These can be cycles of cause and effect, problem and solution, or intense drama and downtime.
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98 • Ask questions that compare and contrast elements of nature. • Help children learn how to use puzzles, blocks and dominoes. • Use sewing to learn patterns. Order buttons, needles, thread and other sewing supplies. Use toolboxes to sort nuts, bolts, screws and tools. Use sorting skills for simple home, school, or life objects. • Teach and learn sound patterns. Look for wildlife patterns such as B. Birdsong. • Before starting a topic, use flashbacks, videotapes or videodiscs and posters to get an overview. • Help students use fine motor skills to guide them through a learning process before they need to know. • Prepare students days or weeks before starting a topic with oral previews, applicable games in text or handouts, metaphorical games.
Descriptions and mind maps on the topic on the walls. • When finishing a topic, ask students to weigh the pros and cons, discuss relevance, and demonstrate their pattern with models, games, and lessons. More and more schools are recognizing the importance of integrating educational practices with current brain theory. The types of practice highlighted in this book fit well with current theory and practice of contextual learning and constructivism (Parnell 1996). Those who defended the individual and purposeful construction of meaning are right. Ultimately, everyone has to give things their own meaning. It's no longer content that students want; This means. One of the things that good schools do is understand the importance of meaning making and provide an environment that contains the necessary elements for meaning making.
memory and memory
KEY CONCEPTS ◗ Why don't students remember?
Memory and recall are critical elements in the learning process for very practical reasons. We only know that students have learned something when they show that they remember. But why do many students seem to forget minutes or hours after learning something? Why do they seem to have "faulty" memories? Adults often think that we remember things better in school than today's students. It's true that schools rely less on memorization for academic success than they did 50 years ago, but do we really remember better when we were students? This chapter is about memory and recall. By themselves, recent discoveries about the brain may not be tremendous. But together, they provide a powerful framework for understanding and improving memory and recall. There are very good reasons for the almost universal phenomenon of forgetting. Understanding this won't give us a perfect memory right away, but it can shed light on some potential strategies for change. In fact, today's children are probably learning a lot more than they let on, and the way we want to remember is part of the 'forgotten student' problem.
◗ Exploding memory myths ◗ Leveraging the brain's best retrieval systems ◗ Making learning permanent
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Major Memory Discoveries Much of our outdated ideology about how human memory works stems from a misinterpretation of the important work of Canadian neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield. He reported that during surgery, electrical stimulation of the temporal lobe produced flashback episodes, almost like watching movie clips. Many have concluded that our brains are a kind of "videotaped" life and that in order to remember things, our memories simply need to be stimulated. But these flashback episodes occurred in only 3.5% of Penfield's patients. Some psychologists have since dismissed the alleged recall, which he reported as "solicited" (Fisher 1990), and the findings have not been replicated by other surgeons. Somehow the popular but erroneous concept of a brain record or videotape of life persisted. No way. We can define the memory process as the creation of a lasting change in the brain by a transient stimulus. How does our brain do this? The researchers still aren't 100% sure; It was very frustrating trying to crack the complete code of all our memory processes. However, neuroscientists have recently made some important discoveries that could be useful in the classroom.
Fluency memory is a process, not something fixed or a unique skill. There is no single place for all our memories. In fact, many different locations in the brain are involved in specific memories (see Fig. 11.1). For example, sound memories are stored in the auditory cortex. And researchers discovered an area of the inner brain, the hippocampus, that is very active in forming spatial memories and other explicit memories, such as remembering to speak, reading and even remembering an emotion.
national event. Memories of names, nouns and pronouns go back to the temporal lobe. The amygdala is quite active for implicit, mostly negative, emotional events (LeDoux 1996). The skills learned are related to the structures of the basal ganglia. The cerebellum is also crucial for the formation of associative memory, especially when it comes to precise timing, as in learning motor skills. (Greenfield 1995). We also know that the peptide molecules that circulate throughout the body also store and transmit information. This awareness helps us understand why "our bodies" sometimes seem to remember things. Yet most of your "content knowledge" is distributed to the temporal lobes of the cortex. These days, scientists say it's best to think of memory as a process rather than a specific location in the brain. The retrieval process is much more consistent than where the storage was retrieved from. Multiple memory locations and systems are responsible for our best learning and recall (Schacter 1992). This "risk-sharing" strategy is why someone can lose 20% of their cortex and still be good at retrieving information. Different systems explain why a student can have a good memory for sports statistics and a bad memory for famous figures in history.
Scholars of education generally believe that the specific process for the formation of explicit memories is long-term potentiation (LTP). That's just a quick change in the strength of synaptic connections. MIT Nobel Laureate Susumu Tonegawa found that this LTP process is mediated by genes that initiate a series of complex cascading steps (Saltus 1997). At the same time, the team led by neurobiologist Eric Kandel of Columbia University identified a
memory and memory
Locations of our stored memories AMYGDALA (meaning emotional threats, fear, etc.)
CORTEX temporal lobe (semantic retrieval) HIPPOCAMPUS (mediates semantic and episodic memory)
PREFRONTAL CORTEX (working memory)
CEREBELLUM (procedural learning, reflective learning and conditioned responses)
PARIETAL Lateral intraparietal (working memory)
Memories are also stored in peptide molecules that are distributed throughout the body.
Copyright © 1989–97 de Techpool Studios, Inc., EE. UU.
critical protein molecule known as CREB. It serves as a logic switch, signaling nerve cells to store short-term memory or permanently incorporate it into long-term memory (Wickelgren 1996). Tim Tully and Jerry Yin of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory have shown that activating CREB gives fruit flies photographic memory, or the ability to remember.
after a single attempt which usually required many attempts (Lasley 1997). Most researchers believe that the physical evidence of memory is stored as changes in neurons along specific pathways. Randy Gallistel, Endel Tulving, William Calvin, and others emphasize that it is the recovery process that activates sleeping neurons to fire our own.
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102 Memoirs (Calvin 1996, Gazzaniga 1997). They argue that memory and retrieval cannot be separated: memory is determined by the type of retrieval process activated. Each type of learning requires its own type of activation. If enough neurons of the right kind are stimulated, firing in the right way, you will have a successful recovery. In larger patterns, entire neural fields can be activated (Calvin 1996). For example, certain words like "school" can activate hundreds of neural circuits and trigger a flash of inspiration. The most important way to evoke or trigger memories is through association.
Chemistry Many modulatory compounds can increase or decrease memory when administered at the time of learning. Examples of this are hormones, food or neurotransmitters. Calpain, derived from calcium, helps digest proteins and unblock receptors. Researchers suspect that calcium deficiency is linked to memory loss in older people. Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter associated with stress-related memories. Phenylalanine, found in dairy products, helps form norepinephrine, which is also involved in alertness and alertness (Mark 1989). Adrenaline acts as a memory fixative, blocking memories of exciting or traumatic events (Cahill, Prins, Weber & McGaugh 1994). The brain uses the neurotransmitter acetylcholine to form long-term memory. Elevated levels of this neurotransmitter are linked to better memory. Lecithin, found in eggs, salmon, and lean beef, is a food source that increases choline levels and has been shown to enhance memory in many studies (Ostrander and Schroeder, 1991). Choline is an important ingredient in
acetylcholine production. Studies show that even the presence of table sugar in the blood stream can improve memory when given after a learning event (Thompson 1993). Scientists postulate that our body chemistry, which regulates our physiological states, is a crucial element in the subsequent activation of our memory. Learning acquired in a certain state (happy, sad, stressed or relaxed) is more easily remembered when the person is in the same state. This phenomenon of improving memory by comparing learning and testing states even works with chocolate (Schab 1990). Eat chocolate while studying and you'll remember more by test time if you eat chocolate again. Realistically, however, this is only a small part of the whole equation.
Reconstruction Our memoirs are not retrieved from a file like chapter notes. Most of them are rebuilt on site. There are two theories about how this miraculous process takes place. One is that we have "indices" that contain instructions to the brain on how to relive the content; they don't index the content itself. University of Iowa researchers Hanna Damasio and Antonio Damasio call these "convergence zones," which help put the pieces together so you can recover properly. The best analogy is that your semantic memory works like "just-in-time" manufacturing, creating a "car on the fly" in your own auto parts store. This is a nifty process as the "parts" are reusable on the next "car" or any other "car" you want to create. In most of our word-based recall, we use mental "indexes" to help us find the word we are looking for (Damasio 1994). A word like classroom is likely to be linked to several related indices like school,
memory and memory
103 Workspace, children, teachers and meetings. Our language is a classic example of having to pull hundreds of words “off the shelf” in a matter of seconds to assemble even the most common sentences. This theory explains why a similar, similar, but still wrong word comes out of our mouths when we try to say something. The other theory is that memories are frozen patterns waiting for a resonant signal to wake them up. They're like ripples on a bumpy road that don't make a sound until a car drives over them. Neurobiologist William Calvin says that content can be embedded into "space-time themes" that resonate and create the critical mass needed for recovery. Enough identical copies of that thought have been made that the brain's code flips an "action switch" for you to remember (Calvin 1996). This theory of computation explains why a student trying to memorize information for an exam takes half an hour to answer. That's how long it can take to "remember the intention" to generate enough "activated thought patterns" to reach critical mass. Previously, the brain may have processed too much competing information to retrieve.
Diversity Our separate memory paths are used for different types of memories. Recovery is quite specific. Neuroscientist Jeri Janowsky of Oregon Health Sciences University says it's common for us to be good at one type of memory, like faces and places, but not at others, like addresses and dates. For example, consider the link and pin systems popularized by media storage experts such as Harry Lorayne and Kevin Trudeau. These systems ask you to associate a new element with a previously memorized word or
Number. If the word brain were second on my watchlist, I might associate it with my second keyword, which is the word pants. I imagined brain spray images painted all over my new pants. The association is now pants = brain. Each additional word would have its own linking word. But can we memorize all these “tricks”? Most students can use pen systems and benefit greatly from them. Often seen as "lazy learners", students can only remember what they know. Just because your students remember names and dates doesn't mean they are good at remembering geographic locations. Figure 11.2 shows these memory paths.
Explicit Includes short-term (5 to 20 seconds) and working (seven blocks +/-) memory
A B C
Semantic words, symbols, abstractions, videos, textbooks, computers, written stories
Process physical skills: riding a bike, learning the body, manipulating, learning by doing
machine learning, not conscious
Episodic places, events, circumstances, "Where were you when...?"
Intense conditioned emotional responses
Emotions of the "hot stove effect"... flashcards or from trauma to pleasure many repetitions
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104 Retrieval There is no fixed difference between thinking and remembering (Turkington 1996). We can restore almost anything we were originally looking for. However, the success of this recovery is highly state, time and context dependent. To test this theory, researchers simulate the appropriate learning conditions, such as the right context or state, and then test the content. When done right, the results are amazing. Bahrick (1975, 1983, 1984) and Bahrick and Hall (1991) showed remarkable recall of Spanish, mathematics, city streets, places, names, and faces when special attention was paid to context and status. On recognition tests, even older subjects given contextual cues scored 80 to 90 percent or higher for peer recognition after 35 years. The variety of ways in which we store and retrieve information tells us that we need to start thinking less about "our memory" and more about "what kind of memory and how it can be accessed". School is a complex experience; By looking at all the ways we learn, test, and test, we can figure out how we can do our jobs better. By using the right system in the right way, students can consistently and better remember what they've learned. This chapter reviews all rescue systems, but focuses specifically on the most useful ones. The general process is described in Fig. 1. 11.3.
Explicit memory Neuroscientist Larry Squire of the University of California, San Diego says that the explicit or declarative memory system is formed in the hippocampus and stored in the middle temporal lobes.
It used to be called our conscious memory, but many researchers now say that it is simply what we can explain, write, and describe (Schacter 1996). In general, it is more used in schools when we ask for a memory exam or an essay. There are several forms, including more word-based semantic memory and event-type episodic memory.
Semantic Pathways Semantic memory is also called explicit, factual, taxonomic, or linguistic memory. Part of our declarative system, it contains the names, facts, numbers, and textbook information that seem to frustrate us the most. In fact, only explicit memory pathways have short-term or working memory. Short term refers to the amount of time we can "hold" it in our mind, which is usually 5-20 seconds. Working memory refers to the number of units of information we have. For the average adult, it's usually seven plus or minus two. For example, we meet someone at a social gathering and forget their name within seconds of an introduction. Or our heads go blank after reading a single page of a book and we don't remember a thing. Is there a reason we seem to forget so much? There are actually several reasons. First, semantic memory storage appears to be well distributed throughout the brain. It's not that we're stupid or incompetent; The brain may not be well equipped to routinely recall this type of information. Requires the use of voice triggers by association. This may be a relatively new need; Humans had little use for semantic memory until recent history, when books, schools, literacy and social mobility became commonplace. This is indeed the weakest of our recovery systems.
memory and memory
Key steps in memory storage processes
The amount of information readily available to the student decreases with each successive level.
It encompasses both conscious and unconscious stimuli, literally millions of bits per second.
short term memory
It usually lasts from 5 to 20 seconds. Only a small part of what we record is stored in this cache.
To retain declarative knowledge, we need to actively process it, for example through discussion, art, mapping, thinking or debate.
long term memory
It includes explicit memories that have been processed and implicit learning (including skills and conditioned responses).
Teach with the brain in mind
106 Furthermore, much of our semantic learning is inaccessible because the original learning was trivial, too complex, lacked relevance or sufficient sensory stimulation, or was too “tainted” with other learning. Most of our learning is only temporarily erased, say Capaldi and Neath (1995). It can be retrieved under the right conditions, as long as one pays attention to it first. His view, shared by many, is that forgetting is simply a "temporary failure." (Students will tell you that they often remember important things after the test is over, too late for a grade increase.) Our semantic retrieval process is affected by "when" and "what" is learned. Studies indicate small efficiency gains when recalling details and texts learned in the morning and context in the afternoon (Oakhill 1988). Some researchers suggest that daily increases in the neurotransmitter acetylcholine may contribute (Hobson 1994). We also seem to remember things that are new, first on a list, different from others, or simply unique. If the novelty is strong enough, the chance of remembering the substance increases dramatically. Our semantic memory lives in the world of words; it is activated by associations, similarities or contrasts. Capacity bottlenecks are more strongly influenced by the strength of the associations made than by the absolute number of items. We remember best fragments that are related thoughts, ideas, or groups of ideas. For a 3-year-old, the normal limit is about 1 piece ("Put away the shoes, please"). For a 5-year-old child, the limit is 2 pieces; for a child of 7 years old, 3 pieces. This increases to 7 shards at age 15. Our "working" memory is block bound and generally lasts less than 20 seconds unless tested, revised or reactivated.
Unfortunately, this type of memory requires strong intrinsic motivation. This is often referred to as a textbook, pamphlet, or "book learning". Teacher usage increases as grades progress, and student frustration and failure correspondingly increase each year. At best, teachers who demand moderate or great memory for texts build self-discipline in their students. At worst, they create discouraged students who feel unnecessarily inadequate. Should we discard the traditional “book learning”? No, it's useful for many, many reasons. Students still need facts, instructions, references, and safety information. You still need to read poetry, novels, letters and texts. On the other hand, if you ask students what they've learned that's interesting in the past year, most of it won't be semantic. It could be another type of memory called episodic.
Episodic pathways This system is also known as loci, spatial, event-related, or context-related memory process. It is a thematic map ("a place in space") of your daily experiences. In this case, learning and memory are controlled by location or circumstance. The hippocampus and medial temporal lobe are involved in the formation of this natural memory. It is motivated by curiosity, novelty and anticipation. It is reinforced by heightened sensory inputs such as sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touch. Our episodic memory process has unlimited capacity, is formed quickly, easily updated, requires no practice, requires no effort, and is used naturally by everyone. Ask the content question, "What did you have for dinner last night?" and most immediately ask themselves first, "Where was I?" Location triggers content. Common examples are “Where have you been and when . 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 moon
memory and memory
How did the landing happen, an earthquake, a flood, a bombing, an assassination, the Challenger disaster... or when your first child was born? How does this process work? Surprisingly, our visual system has “what” (content) and “where” (place) trajectories (Kosslyn 1992). Many researchers believe that this information is processed by the hippocampus into visual tissue, or "head space tissue". Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with how this spatial, configurational, and relational cue system works. Yet somehow we have a backup storage system based on location cues, as every life experience needs to be contextualized in some way. Therefore, all learning is associated with sights, sounds, smells, places, touches and corresponding emotions. You can't "be anywhere" when you're learning. All learning provides contextual cues. Scents can be a powerful clue, as our olfactory memory is only minimally eroded. The odor molecules dissolve in the mucous membrane of the nasal roof. Olfactory receptors are stimulated, triggering nerve impulses that, unlike our other senses, bypass the sensory integration center, the thalamus. In this way, the smell travels directly to the frontal lobes of the brain and, more importantly, to the limbic system. The brain's system for such "automatic reminders" as a certain perfume, homemade ham or freshly baked cinnamon rolls seems like magic. It could be because smells have a quick direct path to the brain. In fact, you're just a synapse away! Episodic processing has one big disadvantage: contamination. This is what happens when you have too many events or materials embedded in the same place (like months of studying in the same place in the same classroom at the same school). It's like a virus that renames all the files on your computer with the same file name: the information is there,
but it's almost useless. This often happens to students who really know their material but don't have the specific "hooks" or mental "file names" to recall all the learning. This helps us understand why students like multiple-choice test formats; They provide the signals the brain needs. Forgetting occurs because these cues are rarely present when recall is needed.
Larry Squire, an implicit memory neuroscientist, discovered that he could induce amnesic patients to complete or fail a task simply by changing the instructions. Patients had temporal lobe damage and were given lists of words to remember. If they were asked to memorize as many words as they could from a previous list, they got it wrong. But when they were instructed to just say the first word that came to mind after a cue, their memories were just as good as those without brain damage. This led researchers to conclude that our ability to remember something depends on which path we access it. A lot of information is still in our brain; it's not just a recovery deficit. We know, but we don't know that we know. This is the implicit memory system. Skill learning, caregiving, and classical conditioning are intact in temporal lobe damage, although we cannot answer simple questions about them (LeDoux 1996). That's because they affect other areas of the brain. The implication here is that students may know more than we think. We may have chosen the wrong path to recovery.
Procedural This is often referred to as motor memory, body learning, or habit memory. Voiced by the student.
Teach with the brain in mind
108 reactions, actions or behavior. It is activated through physical exercises, sports, dance, games, theater and dramatizations. Even if you haven't ridden a bike in years, you can usually get back to riding without practice. Procedural memory appears to have unlimited storage space, requires minimal revision, and requires little intrinsic motivation. Memories of learned skills affect both the basal ganglia (near the center of the brain) and the cerebellum. In fact, the best example of physical evidence found so far for memory in the brain is skill memory. This evidence is found in the cerebellum (Thompson 1993). To the brain, the body is not a separate and isolated entity. Body and brain are part of the same interconnected organism, and what happens to the body happens to the brain. This double stimulus creates a more detailed "map" that the brain can use for storage and retrieval. (Squire 1992). Perhaps this is why most students will say that their most memorable classroom experiences have come from hands-on learning. This physical process (forming a line, acting out conflict resolution, conducting a hands-on science experiment, animation, or creating a project in an industrial arts class) is highly likely to be remembered. In fact, these are the most widely used methods for early childhood learning. A child's life is filled with activities that involve standing, riding, sitting, tasting, eating, moving, playing, building, or running. This creates a broader, more complex, and generally greater source of sensory information for the brain than mere cognitive activity. At school, this type of learning declines each year until it is absent from virtually all curricula except physical education, industrial or theatrical arts, or theater. However, a summary of the research tells us that this learning is
easier to master, is reasonably well remembered and creates lasting positive memories.
Reflective Much of what we remember happens automatically. This memory pathway depends on several cortical pathways. These include the amygdala for emotional responses, muscle conditioning and the cerebellum. Our elaborate memory system, often called the "hot stove effect," is rife with instantaneous associations. I say hot, you say cold; I say up, you say down; I say inside, you say outside. I reach out to shake his hand and his hand reaches out without thinking. In the classroom, a student drops something and tries to pick it up. It's not unlike an orthopedic surgeon tapping your knee to test your reflexes. In the classroom, reflective recall can be done through flashcard review or other forms of "super learning." This may be why a student who struggles to learn from the textbook may excel at noun raps. Raps trigger implicit memories of stored material and employ a different part of the brain than a rehearsal. Teachers would do well to include them in the many other types of retrieval methods mentioned. Emotions are handled preferentially in our brain's memory system. Researchers at the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory at the University of California, Irvine tested the effects of emotions on memory. Their studies (Cahill et al. 1994) suggest enhanced memory for events associated with emotional arousal. For many, unfamiliar and stressful events can trigger the release of chemicals like adrenaline, cortisol, or ACTH. These serve as memory fixers and strengthen nerve tracts. the negative
memory and memory
Emotions seem to be more easily remembered (LeDoux 1996), but all emotionally charged experiences are more easily remembered than neutral experiences. Working with patients with accidental damage to specific areas of the brain, it has been found that intense experiences such as fear, passion, and anger appear to be processed in the amygdala (Damasio 1994, LeDoux 1996). Auditory memories are powerful emotional triggers. A favorite school song or the emotionally charged sounds of a football game can bring back feelings from the past. The researchers speculate that this stimulation takes different paths than the mundane and content-laden ones. This may be why traumatic events have such a lasting effect. They have their own "automatic" recovery triggers. Students who receive a standing ovation or a stern reprimand from a teacher, or appreciate and celebrate the completion of a project, are likely to remember this moment for years.
Best practices Applying the wrong recovery method to the job often results in a performance deficit – the “forget”. By itself, this is not a disaster. But over time, it contributes to lower self-image and effort. There are correlations between memory skills, better self-esteem and academic performance. The good news is that it's easy to make the necessary changes to promote these items.
Explicit Declarative Strategies The way to recover this type of learning is through strong activation with rhymes, visualization, mnemonics, keywords, music and discussion. Otherwise, reading one chapter will be too much.
unforgettable event. Remind students to periodically stop every quarter or half a page and take notes, discuss, or reflect on what they have read. Conduct verbal or written reviews, both daily and weekly. Students can pair up or rotate into teams to present daily recaps. You can review key ideas 10 minutes after original learning, 48 hours later, and 7 days later to tie it all together. Graded learning with pauses and breaks for reflection is valuable. Without silent processing time, much of what is learned is never transferred to long-term memory. Keep fragments to a minimum to deal with memory limitations. When guiding and guiding 6-9 year olds, use small parts, 1-3 items at a time. For older students, ages 10-17, use up to 7 pieces. Morris and Cook (1978) state that it teaches students to use acrostics (the first letter of each keyword forms a new word). The planets are: "My best mother only sells nuts until Easter" (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars...). For years we learned the notes in the clefs by memorizing "Every Good Boy Does Fine". We learned the Great Lakes by forming a word with the first few letters: HOMES (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior). To help students learn the definitions, many teachers ask them to create action pictures that connect the two words. To memorize the semantic word, we can imagine a "sailor with ticks on his face" (semantic) holding a long list of words to remember. This effectively combines the two concepts in memory. Many successful teachers find that mind maps or other graphic organizers help students keep their learning current. Some teachers ask students to work with partners and a flipchart sheet
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110 to create a weekly mind map for your review. The mind map has a central organizational theme (such as an author, scientific topic, or mathematical concept). Peripheral branches provide the detail. We remember material best when it is structured and meaningful. Teachers may want to put the most important material first and last for better memorization. Open and close the lesson with the three most important words or concepts of the day. Use music, props or costumes to introduce them. Or, use opportunities for personal or controversial discussions that engage students emotionally. At the end, ask students to share what they learned with their peers. Also, integers taught before parts are better remembered. Whether the subject is a Shakespearean play or an anatomy assignment, our brains remember best with context, global understanding, and complete images to remember. You can introduce Shakespeare by first showing a modern video or creating a pictorial overview. Once students understand the general issues and relevance, the details and deeper study will make more sense. In anatomy, if you study the whole body first, you can better understand the parts. Use poster-like peripherals to create more visually impactful scenarios. Ask students to draw, arrange, or symbolize the key points on the graph paper. Make sure they are legible, use bright illustrations and colors. Hang the chart on the wall and leave it hanging for weeks after your workout. Create and use storyboards (eg oversized comic book panels) of your main ideas. Better yet, ask students to make them. Peer teaching and sharing also work. Ask students to teach others what they have learned. They may be at different grade levels or paired with others.
with an adult Create opportunities for students to discuss, report and show small parts of their learning. Students can summarize in their own words what they have just learned. This is most effective when asked to analyze or break down your learning into smaller distinctions. Studies show (Matthews 1977) that it is the analysis of the material that helps to remember it. What else do we know about memory? They remember most of the learning processes that were temporarily interrupted. Cliffs work! Present an urgent and relevant problem that needs to be solved and postpone brainstorming solutions until the next day. It is better to remember the material when we rearrange it several times. In a classroom, climate can be understood in terms of its benefits or harms, its geography, mythology, past meteorological history, or effects of technology. attitude is important. Tell students, "Yes, you can." Start with a new attitude towards memory and remembering. Avoid saying, "Wow, I have to go back. I forgot something." A more accurate statement is: "Hey, I just remembered something; I have to go back In other words, you never forget anything; you just remembered later what you wanted!
Episodic Strategies The film Dead Poets Society provided examples of why students remembered their learning so much. There were changes in location, circumstances, use of emotion, movement and new positions in the classroom. We know that students remember much more when learning is related to a field trip, music, disaster, guest speaker, or new place of learning. Follow up with a peer discussion, journaling, project, or class. To use
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111 location changes (context). To improve recall and better encode or "mark" learning, learn concepts in different locations, so that each location is an important clue to the content. Take the class outside to learn something new. Help students link study and assessment states. Studies tell us that the only states consistent with poor memory were neutral mood states. Apparently being sad to learn and sad to test or eager to learn and willing to test is much better than emotionless learning, emotionless testing. The discrepancy between learning states and testing states is widely recognized among researchers as a source of performance degradation (Bower 1981 and Overton 1984). There are two ways to influence this phenomenon. First, teach students to better manage their own states at the time of the test (for example, through relaxation techniques or positive self-talk). Second, it is to rehearse learning in various states to encourage "resistance to recall." This strategy means that students can remember what they learned during a test because they studied in multiple states. Many astute teachers use multi-state reviews to help students get used to the range of emotions they are likely to feel at exam time. This means using timed tests, public tests, small group presentations, and structured timed practice practice. This gives students the opportunity to practice in multiple states, one of which may coincide with the test state. Remember to take the test in the same room where students learned the material. This better simulates testing conditions, and studies suggest that students are more likely to achieve their learning level. Reinforce event-like memories by bringing in a guest speaker (perhaps someone from your own school) for special emphasis. change where
the class is taught from one side of the room to the other. Create themed days (skepticism day, repetition day, thinking day, accountant day) or themed weeks (autumn, orange, sport) to add color to learning. On Skepticism Day, students are invited to challenge their assumptions about almost everything they know. During a themed week, there is another set of “hooks” or associations for students. For example, when the class is studying anatomy during “Sports Week”, the topic comes alive with additional connections between sport and the human body. Actual studies of subject-based classroom learning suggest that duplication of learning effort is common (Bower 1973).
Procedural Strategies Almost anything can be done with movement. When you can point to three points, ask students to stand up. Ask them to take three steps in any direction. Briefly present the first of the three points as a preview. Add an action to associate it with the topic. Ask students to take three more steps. Repeat this step. Once you enter the three dots, you have space. This is a simple example of physical learning, as well as using dance, sculpture, industrial art, and total physical response to learn. Integrate emotions into learning. Add a little daily celebration to heighten the excitement. Since the first and last minutes of a class make the strongest impressions, you spend the most time influencing emotions in the middle of the class. Create role-playing games, improvisation theater or role-plays. Ask students to make presentations in front of the class. Ask them to form pairs or teams and discuss what they learned. Create or repeat a song. He rewrites lyrics to an old favorite and raps in key.
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112 terms or ideas. Create a working template that includes key elements of the main ideas presented. Use Dramatic Concert Readings: Read key points you want to remember, with dramatic instrumental music in the background. Invent a story using the key elements; It will provide meaningful context for the elements, and the plot will provide an associative thread of ideas to trigger the next one. Studies in this area are numerous; include Bartlett and Santrock (1979) and Bower (1981).
Reflective Strategies Filling in the blanks on a written test can be an indicator of semantic or reflective recall, depending on how the material was learned and the level of repetition. The more practice, the more "automated" the learning, the more likely it becomes reflective. Flashcards, games like hopscotch, and other quick reaction activities can help store and recall memories. the automatic nature
of a rap means that it can also trigger implicit memories through physical movement and auditory cues. Many students who would fail miserably with semantic storage and retrieval attempts actually succeed using rap and other reflective strategies. There is certainly more to a better education than memory. Broader questions include questions like: "How much study time should someone have to memorize?" Or "Is the teacher's role primarily content-oriented (and letting students figure out how to improve their memory) or catalytic (to help students learn how they can learn by teaching them these strategies)?" While there is certainly less emphasis on the need to memorize extensive material, except at university levels in science, medicine and law, it is still a crucial skill. And while it remains important, educators have a duty to share with students the strategies described in this chapter.
any. 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 What am I doing on Monday? As more educators attempt brain-based learning, many questions arise. Some of these can be answered with what we currently know about the brain. For example, we now know enough to help us design much better assessments, create more productive learning environments, and develop smarter employees. Other types of questions need to wait for answers. For example: “What are the lasting effects of computers on the brain?” and “At what age should children start learning certain subjects?” It's easy to speculate, but we're not sure of the answers to these questions. Part of the reason we're not sure is because very little current brain research focuses on education. It is powered by donations, pharmaceutical companies and private funding. Each of them has its own agenda for what is studied. It could be cancer, genes, cloning, drugs or stress. As a result, educators must accept available research proposals. As practitioners, we must commit to systemic action research. Does a certain type of music prepare the brain for writing poetry? Share your class and find out. Does it reduce threat and stress?
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114 Promote participation? Divide your class into low and medium loads and experiment. We all want to be treated like professionals; Let's start behaving like curious, passionate students who really want to know how our students learn best. Knowing important information about how you do your job is no longer optional. May I suggest that understanding recent research about the brain and its connections to learning is becoming a standard requirement for educators? You don't have to be a biologist or neuroscientist to understand these key concepts. Avoid delving into vocabulary or neural processes. Indeed, too much interest in the biology of this movement can divert valuable time from something more important: the practical work needed to transform education. This process consists of three steps. First, learn about the brain. Know the most important ideas and principles. Second, apply what you've learned as quickly as possible. And third, look for the “big win” and start transforming the whole school and the whole district. This information is not a fad or HR development day to “get out of the way”. It should be a long-term guide for day-to-day decision-making: “Given what we know about the brain and how it learns, is this a good idea for student learning?” Now the real work begins. We need to use what we know about the brain not just to pique our curiosity, but to actively involve educators in the process of change. Use our knowledge of the brain not only with students, but with our staff as well. Brain-friendly features for team building include brainstorming time, choice, reflection, teams, journaling, peer coaching, more feedback, and experimentation. From these will emerge innovators
Models that optimally develop the natural abilities of each teacher. With minimal risk of downside, we can create new, complex, orchestrated learning communities that can take traditional performance appraisals to new heights. However, that is not why I wrote this book. I'm more interested in how we can all build a better society. For example, most families still don't know what is needed in the first five years to prepare their children for school. So I suggest we start asking ourselves different questions. What kind of world could we have in 20 years? What do tomorrow's citizens really need to know? Do we develop lifelong learners? Are students familiar with complex systems? Are we forming more participative citizens for a democratic society? Are we developing better thinkers? Can they read, fill out forms? How can we best support community service, art, music and science? Do graduates like to learn more? Evidence suggests that together we are not successfully dealing with these issues. Is brain-compatible learning the answer? is one of them. Fortunately, we already have enough knowledge to make drastic and impactful changes in the way we conceive, shape and implement education policy. While research doesn't always give us the specific shape or structure of how to shift the paradigm, it's clear that we have enough to figure it out. Don't wait for more or more investigations, there will always be updates. It makes more sense to start with what you can already do today and take the first step. Some additional resources are listed on page 126. Very lucky. We count on you.
Glossary of brain terms
◗ Acetylcholine. A common neurotransmitter that is particularly involved in the formation of long-term memory. It is specifically released at neuromuscular junctions and is present in highest concentrations during rest and sleep. These connections are found at the end between the axon of a motor nerve and a skeletal muscle fiber. ◗ ACTH. Also adrenocorticotropin hormone. This stress-related substance is produced by the pituitary gland. It is released into your system when you experience an injury, emotion, pain, infection or other trauma. ◗ Adrenaline. Under conditions of stress, anxiety or excitement, this hormone is released into the bloodstream by the adrenal gland. When it reaches the liver, it stimulates the release of glucose for quick energy. Flashovers caused by anger can constrict the heart's arteries, requiring the heart to pump at higher pressures. Also known as epinephrine. ◗ Almond. Located in the center of the brain, this almond-shaped complex of related nuclei is a critical area of sensory processing. Associated with the hippocampus, it plays a role in emotionally charged memories. It contains a large number of opioid receptor sites involved in anger, fear and sexual feelings. ◗ axons. These are the long fibers that extend from brain cells (neurons) that carry an output (an electrical nerve impulse) to other neurons. They can grow up to a meter in length. There is only one axon per neuron, but axons can divide to connect many dendrites.
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116 Axons usually accumulate a white, fatty insulation called myelin.
specialized neuronal receptor, with the amygdala and hippocampus regions being particularly affected.
◗ basal ganglia. Groups of nuclei deep in the brain and in the upper parts of the brainstem that play an important role in generating continuous smooth muscle actions to stop and start movements.
◗ FRC. Corticotropin releasing factor. A chemical secreted by the hypothalamus that causes the pituitary gland to release a stress hormone, ACTH.
◗ brainstem. Located at the top of the spinal cord, it connects the lower part of the brain with the central part of the brain and the cerebral hemispheres. It is often referred to as the lower brain. ◗ Broca's area. This is part of the left front area of the brain. Convert thoughts into sounds (or written words) and send the message to the motor area. Impulses go first to Wernicke's area, then to Broca's area. ◗ cerebellum. A cauliflower-shaped structure located below the occiput and lateral to the brainstem. The word is Latin and means "little brain". Traditionally, research has associated it with balance, posture, coordination, and muscle movement. Recent research has linked it to cognition, novelty, and emotion. ◗ cerebral cortex. This is the outermost layer of the brain, about the size of a newspaper and 1/4 of an inch thick. It's wrinkled, six layers deep, and full of brain cells (neurons). Cortex is the Latin word for "bark" or "husk". ◗ brain. This is the largest part of the brain, made up of the left and right hemispheres. It has the frontal, parietal, temporal and occipital lobes. ◗ Girdle rotation. This structure is located just above the corpus callosum. It is involved in communication between the cerebral cortex and midbrain structures. ◗ Corpus callosum. A bundle of 200 to 300 million white matter nerve fibers that connects the left and right hemispheres. It is located in the midbrain area and is about four inches long. ◗ CUT. Corticotropin is a steroid hormone released by the adrenal cortex during stress. He joins a
◗ dendrites. These are the thread-like fibers that emanate from the nerve cell. Like cobwebs or cracks in a wall, they are the receptor sites for axons. Each cell usually has many, many dendrites. ◗ Serrated core. A small structure in the cerebellum. Responsible for processing signals to other areas of the brain. ◗ dopamine. A powerful and common neurotransmitter primarily involved in generating positive moods or feelings. It is secreted by neurons in the substantia nigra, midbrain, and hypothalamus, and it also plays a role in movement. It is often scarce in patients with Parkinson's disease. ◗ Endorphin. This neurotransmitter is a natural opioid and is similar to morphine. It is produced in the pituitary gland. It protects against excessive pain and is secreted in the brain along with ACTH and enkephalins. ◗ Enkephalin. This morphine-like substance is made up of five opiate-like amino acids. Released in the brain with ACTH and endorphins to combat pain. ◗ Fornix. Circular arrangement of fibers connecting the hippocampus to the hypothalamus. ◗ frontal lobes. One of the four main areas of the brain, the upper brain area. It controls voluntary movement, verbal expression, problem solving, willpower, and planning. The other three areas of the brain are the occipital, parietal and temporal. ◗GABA. Abbreviation for gamma-aminobutyric acid. This common neurotransmitter acts as an inhibitor, an "off" switch. Neurons are constantly "talking" with random firings, and GABA prevents the electrical impulse from traveling down the axon.
Glossary of brain terms
117 ◗ glia. It is one of the two main types of brain cells. The other is a neuron. Glia outnumber 10-1 neurons, also known as interneurons. They transport nutrients, speed repair and can form their own communication network. Glia is short for “Neuroglia”.
◗ myelin. A white fatty shield that surrounds and insulates the axons. They can help make cells (neurons) more efficient and allow electrical impulses to be transmitted up to 12 times faster. Habits can be the result of myelinated axons.
◗ glutamate. An amino acid found in every cell in the body and also used in the nervous system as a "fast excitatory" neurotransmitter.
◗ Neurotropin. Any nutrient that improves brain function. It may contain food, hormones or medication.
◗ hippocampus. It is located deep in the temporal lobe, in the center of the midbrain. It is shaped like a crescent and is heavily involved in learning and memory formation.
◗ neuron. One of two types of brain cells. We have about 100 billion of them. It is stimulated by its branches called dendrites. It communicates with other neurons by firing a nerve impulse down an axon.
◗ Hypothalamus. Located in the lower central half of the brain area below the thalamus. A complex thermostat-like entity that influences and regulates appetite, hormone secretion, digestion, sexuality, circulation, emotions, and sleep. ◗ lateralization. It refers to the activity of using one hemisphere more than the other. The term "relative lateralization" is more accurate because we usually use at least part of the left and right hemispheres at the same time. ◗ Limbic system. An older term coined by Paul MacLean in 1952. It describes a group of connected structures in the midbrain area, including the hypothalamus, amygdala, thalamus, fornix, hippocampus, and cingulate gyrus. ◗ Lower Brain. This is the lower part of the brain, which consists of the upper spinal cord, medulla oblongata, pons and part of the reticular formation. It sorts sensory information and regulates survival functions such as breathing and heart rate. ◗ Medulla oblongata. Located in the brainstem, it relays information between the cerebral hemispheres and the spinal cord. It controls breathing, circulation, wakefulness, respiration and heart rate. ◗ midbrain. Refers to the geographic area behind the frontal lobes, above the brainstem and below the parietal lobes. The structures it contains include the thalamus, hippocampus, and amygdala.
◗ neurotransmitters. The biochemical messengers of our brain. We have more than 50 kinds of them. These normally act as a stimulus to excite a neighboring neuron or as an inhibitor to suppress activation of the electrical impulse traveling from the cell body to the axon. ◗ NMDA receptor (N-Methyl-D-Aspartate). A receptor for the amino acid glutamate, which is found in every cell in the body and plays a central role in brain function. ◗ Norepinephrine. A common neurotransmitter primarily involved in our states of arousal: fight or flight, metabolic rate, blood pressure, emotions and mood. ◗ occipital lobes. Located at the back of the brain. This lobe is one of the four main areas of the upper brain and processes our vision. The other three areas are the parietal, frontal and temporal lobes. ◗ Oxytocin. A peptide also known as an "engagement molecule". It is released during sexual intercourse and during pregnancy and influences "unlearning" and bonding with the partner. ◗ parietal lobes. The upper part of our upper brain is one of the four main areas of the brain. This area deals with receiving sensory information from the opposite side of the body. It also plays a role in reading, writing, speaking and arithmetic. The other three lobes are the occipital, temporal and frontal lobes.
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118 ◗ Peptides. A class of hormones composed of chains of amino acids. These proteins also serve as messengers of information about states, moods and thoughts. They travel throughout the body. ◗ phoneme. One of the smaller language units, such as B. m for mat and b for bat, that distinguishes one word or phrase from another. ◗ bridge. Located near the top of the brainstem, over the medulla. It is a basic relay station for our sensory information. ◗ Reticular formation. A small structure located in the upper part of the brainstem and in the lower part of the midbrain area. It is the regulator responsible for attention, arousal, sleep-wake and consciousness. ◗ division. A thin partition or membrane between two body cavities or soft tissue masses. ◗ Serotonin. A common neurotransmitter primarily responsible for inducing relaxation and regulating mood and sleep. Antidepressants (such as Prozac) often suppress serotonin uptake and make it more active. ◗ substantia nigra. A cluster of dark-colored neurons in the midbrain area that contains high levels of
Dopamine These connect to the basal ganglia to control movement. ◗ synapse. It is the communication hub where neurons interact. When an axon of one neuron releases neurotransmitters to stimulate the dendrites of another cell, the resulting process in which the response occurs is a synapse. Adult humans have billions of synapses. ◗ Temporal lobes. Located on the side of the brain (in the middle of the upper part of the brain, next to the ears), it is an area considered responsible for hearing, the senses, hearing, language, learning and retaining information. 🇧🇷 The other three main areas of the brain are the frontal, occipital and parietal lobes. ◗ Thalamus. Located right in the center of the brain, it is an important sensory relay station. It is also part of the body's reward system. ◗ Vasopressin. A stress-related hormone that is partly responsible for our aggression. ◗ Vestibular. The system in the inner ear that helps maintain balance and judge a person's position in space, even with eyes closed. ◗ Wernicke's area. Refers to the superior posterior border of the temporal lobe. This is where the brain converts thoughts into language.
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Brain-Friendly Training Certification: Eric Jensen leads six-day workshops and in-depth programs called Brain-Friendly Facilitator Training. This practice-oriented staff development program builds long-term, cost-effective internal resources. For free information and videos, please fax your request to (619) 642-0404. Call (888) 63-TREN or email[email protected]net.com catalog of brain-supported resources ("The Brain Store"). Contains the latest books, videos, audios, practical manipulatives and much more. Call 800325-4769, fax 619-546-7560. Contact address: The Brain Store, 4202 Sorrento Valley Blvd., Suite B, San Diego, CA 92121.
Acetylcholine and attention, 44 definition of, 115 memory and, 75, 102, 106 ACTH, 108 definition of, 115 and thirst, 26 action research, 6, 113–114 ADD, 49–50 definition of adrenaline, 115 and intrinsic motivation, 67 memory and, 75, 93, 102, 108 adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), 108 definition of, 115 and thirst, 26 affective side of learning. See amphetamine emotions and attention deficit, 50 amygdala, 9, 10f definition of, 115 effect on behavior, 21 and emotional pathways, 73–74, 109 and memory, 63–64, 100, 108 during REM sleep, 25 and response to threats, 55 animals, brain research and 3 anterior cingulate and motor development, 84 apathy. See Amotivational Learnings, 1, 95 Scents and Memory, 107 Art, Enrichment Through, 38–40, 87 Association Cortex, 9 Brain Attention Pathways, 42–44, 43f Chemistry, 44, 76f page number followed by “f” see figures.
Attention cycles, 44–45, 45f–46f and discipline, 48–49 influencers, 48f and “processing time”, 45–48 purposes, 42 acquisition/maintenance techniques, 50–51 attention deficit disorder (ADD), 49 –50 attunement and early brain development, 19–20 auditory brain development, 22–23, 27f and sound memories, 100, 109 autism, cerebellar deficits, and, 84 autopsies and brain examination, 4 axons, 11f, 11–12, 12f definition of, 115–116 basal ganglia and attention deficit, 49 definition of, 116 and learned skills, 100, 108 basic activity-rest cycle (BRAC), of attention, 44 brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) ), 59, 86 behavioral and educational models, 2 and student rewards, 62–63, 65 block programming, 45, 69 blood and brain energy, 10 body learning, 107–108 mind-body separation, 82–84 brain anatomy, 8–10, 9f pathways of attention in, 42–44, 43f cellular structure of, 10–13, 11f –12f chemistry of, 4–5. See also neurotransmitters
Teach with the brain in mind
128 brain (continued) emotional pathways in, 73–75, 74f, 79 energy consumption through, 10, 32 learning process in, 13–16, 14f malleability of, 30–32 meaning in, 91–92, 92f pathways of memory in , 103 , 103f, 107 working models of, 4 and nutrition, 10, 25–28, 27f past versus present, 17–19, 18f prenatal development of, 19, 20f rewards and, 64–67, 66f size of, 8 and stored memories, locations of, 101f brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), 59, 86 brain imaging, 2, 3f, 43 brain research on emotions, 72–73 interpretation of, 5f, 5–6 2 –4, 3f brainstem , definition of, 116 Broca's area, 9f definition of, 116 calcium deficiency and memory loss, 102 calpain, as a "cleaner" of synapses, 26, 102 cell body, of neuron, 11, 11f cells, in the brain. See glial cells; Neurons Cerebellum, 9–10, 10f definition of, 116 and early thinking skills, 22 and motor skills, 83–84, 100, 108 cerebral cortex, 8, 116 cerebral hemispheres. See brain lateralization, definition of, 116 challenge, in education, 32, 33f, 39 “learning opportunity project”, 35 chemistry, of the brain, 4–5. See also neurotransmitters and memory, 102 and sleep patterns, 24 selection, student experience of, 39, 60, 70 choline and memory, 102 cingulate gyrus, definition of, 116 clinical trials and brain research, 3 computerized electrodes and research of the brain, 3, 3f computers, in classrooms and visual stress, 54 levels of trust and brain research, 5, 5f awareness, location of, in the brain, 9 contamination, episodic memory processing, 107 content/contextual beliefs, 64 contextual and recreational memory, 104
Context (continued) and search for meaning, 92, 95–97 Process of contextual memory, 106–107 Control, ignorance, and learned helplessness, 57–59 Zones of convergence and memory retrieval, 102 Cooperative groups, in educational settings, 33, 94 Corpus callosum, 8, 35, 116 CORT, definition of, 116 corticotropin, definition of, 116 corticotropin releasing factor (CRF), definition of, 116 cortisol, release of, 53, 108 CREB (protein molecule) and retention of memory, 101 interdisciplinary curriculum, 96 cross-curricular exercises, 89 Cylert, 49 Dance activities and learning skills, 85, 87 Declarative memory, 104–107 Meaning “sincere”, 91 Dehydration and brain function, 10, 26 Delta State, Stress Cycle sleep, 25, 45f , 46f Chronic Demotivation. See Temporary learned helplessness, 63–64 Dendrites, 11f, 11–12, 12f, 116 Irregular nucleus, 83, 83f, 116 Detention, ineffectiveness of, 52–53 Discipline and attention, 48–49 Dopamine, 15 Definition of, 116 and Impulsivity, 49 and the internal reward system, 66f, 67 “time limit” and information processing, 45–48 sleep state, sleep cycle, 25 dyslexia and prenatal stress hormones, 23 early thinking skills, development from , 22, 27f feed. See nutrition and brain function education, models of, 1–2 EEG (electroencephalogram), 3, 3f electrodes and brain research, 3, 3f electroencephalogram (EEG), 3, 3f emotional intelligence, 72, 84 early development of, 19– 21 , 27f Chemistry of emotions, 75 and decision making, 78–79 commitment to, proposals for, 79–81, 94–95 and learning/memory, 78f, 78–79, 108–109, 111–112 conventional research on , 72–73 and Meaning, Mission, 92–94
129 Emotions (continued) measurement of, 73, 73f as mind-body states, 75–78, 77f–78f, 93–94 pathways of, 73–75, 74f, 79 Western culture and, 71–72 endorphin, definition of , 116 energy, brain use of, 10 enkephalin, definition of, 116 enrichment, of educational environment, 32–40, 33f, 35f and brain structure, 31f, 31–32 for “gifted and talented”, 32 entorhinal cortex, during sleep REM , 25 classroom environment, 39. See also Enrichment, educational environment versus genetics, 21, 29–30 Episodic memory, 106–107, 110–111 Event recall process, 106–107 Excitatory neurotransmitters, 13, 65 exercise. See Motor development/stimulation Explicit learning, 97 Explicit memory, 104–107, 109–110 External versus internal rewards, 65 “Factory model” of education, 1–2 Factual memory, 104–106 Feedback and attentional pathways, 43 and emotional pathways, 74 interactive, in an educational setting, 32–33, 33f, 39, 67–69f MRI (functional MRI), 2, 3f Essen. See Nutrition and Brain Function Fornix, definition of, 116 frontal lobes, 8, 9f, 75–78 and attention deficit, 49 definition of, 116 and movement sequences, 85 and positive thinking, 64 9, 9f Functional MRI (f MRI ), 2, 3f Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), 13 definition of, 116 and internal reward system, 65 genetics vs. environment, 21, 29–30 and internal reward system, 65 from memory, 14 "cool" behavior and neural connectivity, 15–16 "gifted and talented", environments enriched for, 32
Glial cells, 10–11, 11f definition of, 117 glucose metabolism, 32, 36 and attention deficit, 19 and stress, 19 glutamate, 13, 117 goal setting and movement, 88 and student motivation, 64, 67, 78, 93 habit memory, 107-108 hemispheres, in the brain. See lateralization of the hippocampus, 9, 10f, 13 definition of, 117 effect of cortisol on, 53 and memory formation, 100, 104, 106 during REM sleep, 25 effect of stress on, 86 hormones, stress and attention, 44 J early brain development, 19, 23, 65 years competitiveness, 36 years learning, 53–55, 57f reduction of, 59–61, 86 in social situations, 54 years thirsty, 26 hypothalamic reward system, in the brain, 65 hypothalamus , 9, 10f definition of, 117 disease and chronic stress, 53 image, brain, 2, 3f, 43 immune system, effect of stress on, 53 implicit learning, 97 implicit memory, 107–109 inattention, role of, 45–48 , 47f indices , for Word-based Memory, 102–103 Industrial Revolution and Educational Models, 1–2 Information Age and Educational Models, 2 and Search for Meaning, 90–91 Inhibitory Neurotransmitters, 13, 65 Inner Ear. See Vestibular system Thematically integrated instruction and pattern discovery, 96 Intelligence and synaptic connections, 15–16 Interactive feedback, in an educational setting, 32–33, 33f, 39, 67–69 Interdisciplinary curriculum, 96 Internal versus external rewards, 65, 66f interneurons. See Glial Introspection and Information Processing, 47, 80-81
Teach with the brain in mind
130 Language development, 23–24, 34 Lifelong learning, formation of, 14. See also memory lateralization, 8–10 and art, 36–38 definition of, 117 and language disorders, 23 , 34 and stress hormones, 23 Learned helplessness, 57–59 Biology, 58–59 outcomes, 59 coping strategies, 60–61, 69–70 learning and behavior, 15 and changes in the brain, 13–16, 14f u early childhood development. See School Readiness and Emotions, 78–79, 78f and Motor Development, 84–85, 86f, 87 as Process vs. Result, 16 and Stress Hormones, 53–55, 57f and Threats, 55f, 55–57, 59–61 Lecithin and memory, 102 left brain, 8. See also lateralization and language development, 23, 34 ligands and emotional states , 75, 77f lighting, in the classroom and stress, 54 limbic system, 9, 74 definition of , 117 language memory , 104–106 link and peg systems, memory retrieval, 103 lobes, of the brain, 8–9 , 9f location, change, as an attention-getting technique, 50 loci process of remembering, 106–107 long-term depression (LTD ), of synapses, 14 long-term potentiation (LTP), 14, 100 Lower brain, definition de, 117 Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), 2, 3f Magnetoencephalography (MEG), 3 malleability, of the human brain, 30–32 Market value of rewards, 66–67 Mathematical skills and handling Music, 23, 37–38 Biology of meaning de, 91 –93, 92f and information overload, 90–91 and memory restoration, 110, 112, 46, 67, 90–98, 97f mood-altering drugs brain, 4–5, 49 medulla oblongata, definition of, 117 MEG (magnetoencephalography), 3 memory and changes in the brain, 14 affecting chemicals, 102
memory (continued) classroom suggestions for improvement, 109–112 and emotions, 78–79, 78f, 108–109, 111–112 fluency, 100 emergence, 100–102 location, 101f and music, 38 as a process, 100 reconstruction of, 102–103 and REM sleep, 25 memory process, phases, 105f and stress, 53 midbrain definition of, 117 effect on behavior, 21 and emotional pathways, 73–74 mind-body gap, 82–84 models , Education, 1–2 Monoamines and Behavior, 15 Motivation. See also demotivation; Intrinsically learned helplessness, 67–70, 68f and rewards, 62–70 Motor cortex, 9, 9f, 83, 83f Motor development/stimulation Instructional suggestions for, 88–89, 94 Enrichment through, 34–35, 39–40 and learning, 84–85, 86f memory e, 107–108, 111 and school readiness, 21–22, 27f and stress reduction, 59, 86 and violence, 85 motor memory, 107–108 movement. See Motor Development/Stimulation; physical education “Mozart Effect”, 37–38 MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), 2, 3f music and auditory brain development, 23, 27f enrichment through, 36–38, 87 myelin, 11f, 12–13 definition of , 117 nap, as processing time, 48 Nature versus Nurture, 21, 29-30 neodentate nucleus, 83 neuroimaging, 2, 3f, 43 neural pathways, 12f, 12-13 neurons, 10-13, 11f-12f definition of, 117 effect of stress in, 53f enriched vs. impoverished, 31f, 31–32 prenatal development of, 19, 20f neuropsychological art therapy (NAT) model, 38
131 Neuroscience, development of, 2 neurotransmitters, 4–5, 12–13 and attention, 44 definition of, 117 and internal reward system, 65, 66f, 67 and restoration of memory, 106 and music, 37 neurotropic factors, 59, 86 neurotropins definition of , 117 and movement, 85–86 NMDA receptor definition of, 117 and internal reward system, 65 N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor definition of, 117 and internal reward system, 65 NMRI (magnetic resonance imaging), 2, 3f norepinephrine, 15, 76f definition of, 117 and problem solving, 36 and stress response, 65 norepinephrine and attention, 44, 49, 93 and intrinsic motivation, 67 and memory, 102 novelty in education, 32, 50–51, 94 human tendency to seek, 63–64 and memory restoration, 106 magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI), 2, 3f nutrition and brain function, 10, 25–28, 27f occipital lobes, 8, 9f definition of, 117 oleamide and sleep patterns, 24 olfactory memory, 107 opiates, with or internal reward gene, 65 oxygen and brain function, 1 0 oxytocin, definition of, 117 paradigm shift, in the making, 1–2 parietal lobes, 8–9, 9f and shifts in attention, 43 definition of, 117 attentional pathways, 42–44, 43f axon synapse dendrite, 12f , 12–13 emotional, 73–75, 74f, 79 memory, 103, 103f, 107 pattern formation and search for meaning, 92, 95–97 peptides and attention, 44
peptides (continued) and behavior, 15, 75, 77f definition of, 118 and internal motivation, 67 and learning, 53 and memory, 100 PET (positron emission tomography), 3f, 3–4 brain-altering drugs, 4 – 5 , 49 phenylalanine and memory, 102 phonemes, 22–23 definition of, 118 physical education. See also Motor development/stimulation and learning, 85–87, 86f bridges, definition of, 118 PET scan, 3f, 3–4 post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), 53 predictability of rewards, 66–67 for stress relief , 54 –55, 69 Prenatal development and school readiness, 19, 23 readiness and nurturing, 43 problem solving, enrichment through, 35–36 procedural memory, 107–108, 111–112 processing time, role of, 45–48, 47f Prozac u serotonin levels, 75 puberty, sleep patterns during, 24–25 Rapid Eye Movement (REM) state, during sleep, 25 predisposition. See Preparing for School Reading Skills and Dance Activities, 85 80-81 Reflex Memory, 108-109, 112 Memory Relevance and Retrieval, 110 and Purpose Seeking, 92-93, 95 Rapid Eye Movement (REM) ) Sleep, 25 Reticular Activating System (RAS), 84 Reticular formation, definition of, 118 retrieval, memory, 101–104, 106, 110–112 reward behavior and, 62–63, 65 and brain function, 64–67 , 66f right hemisphere, brain, 8. See also Ritalin lateralization, 49-50 Ritual balanced with novelty, 50-51 for emotional engagement, 80 for stress relief, 54-55, 67, 69
Teach with the brain in mind
132 School readiness and early childhood development, 21–26, 27f Prenatal effects on, 19, 23 Selective attention, 43–44 Semantic memory, 104–106 Semicircular canals. See the importance of the sense of the vestibular system, 91 sensory cortex, 9, 9f septum, definition of, 118 serotonin, 15, 75, 76f definition of, 118 and social stress, 54 and threats, 55 short-term memory, 104 singing and brain stimulation, 38. See also Music Sleep patterns and naps, 48 during puberty, 24–25 Spatial recovery process, 106–107 Spectrometers and brain surveys, 4 Emotional and behavioral states, 15, 64, 75–78 , 77f, 78f, 79 and Learning, 93–94 and memory restoration, 104, 111 stimulus processed in the brain, 13–14, 14f stress/stress hormones and attention, 44 and early brain development, 19, 23 , 65 effects on neurons, 53f and feelings of competition, 36 and information overload, 91 and learning, 53–55, 57f reduction of, 59–61, 86 in social situations, 54 and thirst, 26 stuttering and prestress hormones -natal, 23 substantia nigra, definition of, 118 SuperCamp model, vii–viii, 68–70 Meaning of “surface”, 91 Sin apse/ synaptic connections, 12, 12f, 13–1 4, 14f definition of, 118 and intelligence, 15–16 malleability of, 30–31 and “processing time”, 46, 47f
Temporal lobes, 9, 9f definition of, 118 and memory, 100, 104, 106 Temporal amotivation, 63–64 Thalamus, 9, 10f definition of, 118 and emotional pathways, 73–74 and internal reward system, 66f and nova stimulation , 13 Thematic instruction and pattern discovery, 96 theta state, sleep cycle, 24–25, 45f, 46f thinking skills, early development of, 22, 27f thirst and brain function, 10, 26 threats and brain “rewiring” 65 in educational settings, 30, 40 and attention, 44 and learning, 55f, 55–57 reasons for failure of, 52–53 reduction of, 59–61, 67–69 response pathways to, 56f, 73–74 trauma and learned helplessness, 57 tri-brain theory, 4
Taxonomic memory, 104–106 teachers, attention cycles, 47–48 technology and models of education, 2 television and literacy, 23 and visual development, 22
Whole-system approach and brain research, 4 Working memory, 104, 106, 109 Writing skill, development of, 34
Ultradian rhythms, attention, values 44–45, 45f–46f, such as emotional states, 79 definition of vasopressin, 118 and intrinsic motivation, 67, 93 definition of the vestibular system, 118 early development of, 21–22 and learning, 83 – 84 , 87 video games and reading skills, 23 violence and early brain development, 19, 65, 85 and serotonin levels, 55–56 and classroom transition period, 59–60 vision/visual cortex and attention pathways, 42–43 development of , 22, 27f and memory restoration , 107 and school stress, 54
About the author
A former professor and current member of the International Society for Neuroscience, Eric Jensen has taught at all levels, from elementary school to college. He is included in Who's Who Worldwide. In 1981, Jensen co-founded SuperCamp, the nation's first and largest teen learning program, which now has over 20,000 graduates. He has written Secrets of Student Success, Brain-Based Learning, Brain-Friendly Strategies, The Learning Brain, and SuperTeaching. He remains firmly committed to making a positive, meaningful and lasting difference in the way the world learns. Jensen currently speaks at conferences and conducts training and consulting internationally. Phone (619) 642-0400. Email:[email protected]
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