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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in brain-based teaching

Posted by on in Education Resources

I recently watched a TEDx Amsterdam Talk by Sandra von Aalderen "Teachers, know your brain!" and it inspired me to create the infographic below. With the recent developments in the fields of neuroscience and how it affects learning we, the educators, have a unique opportunity to help students leverage the knowledge of how the human brain acquires knowledge to learn more effectively, all the while increasing student motivation, curiosity, creativity, and self-confidence.

Let's spread this message together.


I hope you find the Brain Hacking infographic above useful. You can access the other Brain-Based Learning infographics I created by scrolling down my ED!Blog. Please share it with other educators, parents, and learners. I will feature additional Brain-Based Learning Infographics in my future NEWSLETTERS, so please SIGN UP if you would like to receive more tips and strategies that work in helping students become better learners.

And Remember: You Have the Power to Change the World. Use it often.

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Posted by on in Education Resources

Notes... You can take them by hand on paper or you can use a device and take them digitally. There's recent research that finds taking notes by hand leads to improved memory while learning and better test performance. This is because the pen/pencil users tend to paraphrase more, while the laptop users copy notes verbatim being able to type fast enough to keep up with the lecture. Thus, traditional writing is an ACTIVE learning activity, while typing is largely PASSIVE.  Here's a recent NPR Article: "Attention, Students: Put Your Laptops Away" that discusses the study published in Psychological Science, in which Pam A. Mueller of Princeton University and Daniel M. Oppenheimer of the University of California, Los Angeles tested how note-taking by hand or by computer affects learning.

While I am a proponent of taking notes on paper, I do realize that digital note-taking is here to stay and it is improving to include more active learning strategies. One such example is Sketchnoting, which requires a tablet such as an iPad, a stylus, and an app such as FlipInk or Adobe Draw. THE METHODS PRESENTED BELOW CAN BE USED IN BOTH TRADITIONAL AND DIGITAL NOTE-TAKING.  The trick is to MAKE NOTE-TAKING AND LEARNING FROM THE NOTES INTO ACTIVE BRAIN ACTIVITIES. The infographic below describes the 7 components of awesome notes and explains how to use notes to learn more effectively, so pass it on to all teachers, parents, and students out there!


This was Infographic #7 in my BRAIN-BASED LEARNING SERIES. Please check out Infographic #1 to learn how to Leverage Sleep to Maximize Learning, Infographic #2 to get Strategies on How to Fight Procrastination, Infographic #3 to maximize Memory Retention, Infographic #4 to learn about how to help students Make Sense Out of Nonsense, Infographic #5 to help students become better Problem-Solvers, Innovators, and Creators, and Infographic #6 on leveraging our 2 thinking modes in learning.

Thanks for reading/looking and I hope you find this information helpful. Please share it with other educators and especially young learners who can greatly benefit from knowing how to take notes and use them to study. They might even like it. I will feature the 8th Brain-Based Learning Infographic: "Brain Hacking 303" in my next NEWSLETTER, so please SIGN UP if you would like to receive some tips on how to help your students become better learners.

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

That thing between your ears is a powerful tool. Do your students understand it? Do you? Do you truly know how your brain works and how it can be used to master tough concepts? Can you leverage it, and have your students do the same, to become better learners?

The infographic below explains and simplifies the process of leveraging the brain's two distinct thinking modes: the focused and the diffuse mode, to master difficult concepts. Much of the information is inspired by what I learned from a Massive Online Open Course or MOOC through Coursera and University of California, San Diego named "Learning How To Learn" developed by Dr. Barbara Oakley. I strongly encourage you to watch her TEDx Oakland University Talk on "Learning How To Learn." In my infographics, I combine what I learn with personal experience as a middle school and high school teacher to make K-12 learning accessible to all students.

This is the 6th infographic in the BRAIN-BASED LEARNING HACKS series I've embarked upon a few weeks ago with Infographic #1 about the science of sleep and learning. Each of the six infographics is fact and research-based and intended to be a resource for educators and students. If you are an administrator, please SHARE THEM WITH THE OTHER EDUCATORS in your building/district. If you are a teacher, SHARE THEM WITH YOUR STUDENTS.


This was Infographic #6 in the BRAIN-BASED LEARNING SERIES. Please check out Infographic #1 to learn how to Leverage Sleep to Maximize Learning, Infographic #2 to get Strategies on How to Fight Procrastination, Infographic #3 to maximize Memory Retention, Infographic #4 to learn about how to help students Make Sense Out of Nonsense, and Infographic #5 to help students become better Problem-Solvers, Innovators, and Creators.

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Posted by on in Movement and Play


I was so excited listening to Rae Pica’s program,” How Play Supports Brain Development”. Her two guests, both experts in the field of early learning, emphasized how play is not an option for children. Children’s brains need play like a thirsty runner needs water! Children’s brains run on play. So why would parents worry if their children play in preschool or kindergarten?

I suspect there are many reasons, including that many parents’ early memories of school include academic instruction, and perhaps their struggles with it. Parents don’t want their children to struggle and they acquire the mistaken notion that doing worksheets and flashcards will give their children an edge. They want to see their kids buckle down and learn, darn it! Play looks too, well, uh…fun.

Another reason, I suspect, is that when they shop for preschools, they run into some programs that say they are play-based, but do not know how to make play the center of learning for the children. The teachers do not have the training to scaffold children’s skills to go deeply into their interests, to pursue and develop their ideas in play. The play these parents see is not high-quality play. It is not avid, creative learning. It is just, well, let’s be frank—goofing around. Flitting from activity to activity. I know this from what my college students tell me.

The most important fact, in my mind, is that mature, high-quality play is creative. Creativity is an innate part of cognition. Once I had a pre-K student who noticed that birds seemed to poop all over the playground picnic tables. He developed a hypothesis that if he made a bird toilet, our picnic table would be cleaner. In the classroom, working for over a week, he used constructive materials (boxes, tubes, and magazine pictures) to create his bird toilet. On the seat, he glued a picture of worms to attract the birds so that they would be motivated to use the facility rather than our picnic table. In the process, he explained his contraption (oral language; cognitive development), asked others to find materials for him (social development), and through trial and error, created his invention. He tested his hypothesis outdoors. Now I would love to tell you that the birds flocked (no pun intended) to his creation, but of course, this didn’t happen. What did happen is that other children began forming ideas of inventions they thought might be needed and began creating them. The bird toilet itself was used on the playground for imaginative, if bathroom oriented, play by many children!

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Posted by on in What If?

Einstein play

Play in the early childhood classroom is going the way of the one-room schoolhouse – and there probably couldn’t be a bigger mistake made if we want children to develop to their full potential. Unfortunately, play is now too often considered “frivolous” and unrelated to learning. Few people, it seems, understand its connection to brain and cognitive development. So I invited Ann Barbour and Deborah McNelis to Studentcentricity to explore that connection, specifically as it relates to dramatic play.

After our discussion, Ann, author of Play Today, published by Gryphon House, sponsor of the episode, contributed this takeaway:Play Today

Dramatic play is the primary form of play for preschool and kindergarten-age children. It is foundational to their development and learning across all developmental domains. In addition to helping create and strengthen synaptic connections in children’s brains, it promotes the “executive functions” of working memory, self-regulation and cognitive flexibility, all of which are necessary for success in school and in life.

Teachers can encourage well-developed dramatic play by stocking a designated space with open-ended, life-size materials that support different roles. Changing themes keeps interest up. Being there to facilitate when necessary can help children deepen engagement and benefit most from opportunities to learn.

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