The Anatomy of Brain-Based Learning
John D’Souza mines a rich seam of thinking in this article on Brain-Based Learning…
This article has been reproduced in full from its original posting on LinkedIn: Brain-Based Learning 2: BBL – Brain-Based Learning | JOHN DSOUZA | LinkedIn
Brain–based learning refers to teaching methods, lesson designs, and school programs that are based on the latest scientific research about how the brain learns, including such factors as cognitive development—how students learn differently as they age, grow, and mature socially, emotionally, and cognitively. This is a new paradigm which establishes connections between brain function and educational practice. In a nutshell, brain-based education says, “Everything we do uses our brain.”
BBL Basics, Principles, and Strategies:
- Physical education, recess, and movement are critical to learning.
- Social conditions influence our brain in multiple ways we never knew before.
- All educators should know the brain can and does change every day.
- Chronic stress is a very real issue at schools for both staff and students.
- Schools are pushing differentiation as a strategy to deal with the differences in learners.
- New evidence suggests the value of teaching content in even smaller chunk sizes.
- The role of the arts in schools continues to be under great scrutiny.
- Humans have the remarkable capacity to display many emotions, but only six of them are “hard-wired,” or built in at birth.
- Innovations suggest that special education students may be able to improve far more than we earlier thought.
- The recent brain/mind discovery that even memories are not fixed.
Practical School Applications:
- Support more, not less physical activity, recess and classroom movement. It raises the good chemicals for thinking, focus, learning and memory. Students need 30-60 minutes per day to lower stress response, boost neurogenesis and boost learning.
- Do not allow random social groupings for more than 10-20 percent of the school day. Use targeted, planned, diverse social groupings with mentoring, teams and buddy systems. Work to strengthen pro-social conditions. Teacher-to-student relationships matter, as do student-to-student relationships.
- Give teachers a mandate of 30-90 minutes a day and 3-5 times per week to upgrade student skill sets. Teach attentional skills, memory skills and processing skills. Progress requires focus, “buy-in” and at least, a half-hour a day.
- Teach students better-coping skills, increase student perception of choice, build coping skills, strengthen arts, physical activity and mentoring. These activities increase a sense of control over one’s life, which lowers stress. All of these can reduce the impact of stressors.
- Make differences the rule, not the exception at your school. Validate differences. Never expect all students to be on the same page in the same book on the same day. Allow kids to celebrate diversity, unique abilities, talents and interests. Give them the skill sets, relationships and hope to succeed.
- Teachers should teach in small chunks, process the learning, and then rest the brain. Too much content taught in too small of a time span means the brain cannot process it, so we simply don’t learn it. Breaks, recess, and downtime make more sense than content, content and more content.
- Make arts mandatory and give students the choice of several, and support with expert teachers and the time to excel at it. Arts support the development of the brain’s academic operating systems in ways that provide many transferable life skills.
- Teachers must teach appropriate emotional states as life skills (e.g. honor, patience, forgiveness and empathy) and it’s important to read and manage the other emotional states in the classroom. In good states, students learn well and behave better. Insist that teachers build social skills into every lesson. The better the social skills, the better the academics.
- Make sure all teachers learn the latest in dealing with special education learning delay recovery.
- Teachers should review the content halfway between the original learning and the test. If content is taught Monday and tested on Friday, then a review should be on Wednesday. Teachers should mediate the review process with students through structured reviews such as written quizzes or group work that ensures quality control. Otherwise, the material is more likely to get confused and test scores drop.
Resources for Implementation:
- 10 Great Brain Breaks
- Useful Brainstorming Techniques
- Build Students’ Brains with Thinking Skills Apps