Currently Browsing: Brain-Based Learning

The Best Learning Motivator EVER!

Teacher feedback - Brain based learning

Quick: Name the Best Learning Motivator EVER!

Whether you’re an instructional coach, administrator, counselor or classroom teacher, you are asked to motivate. All of us adults can find our own energy or motivation dropping at times. There’s one factor, when used with another co-factor, that makes the highest contribution to motivation. The secret to motivation is… (more…)

The “Bobby McFerrin Effect” on Your Brain

Bobby McFerrin

Bobby McFerrin is a singer and conductor known best for his 1988 hit song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”. If you haven’t heard the song, go to YouTube or iTunes and listen to it. Pessimists dismiss the song as being “Pollyana” yet those more optimistic typically love the song. But let’s narrow this conversation down to your school and even the classroom. Which side is correct and which is actually better for student learning? You might be surprised at the answer…

The Research

Two game changing studies to report on. Each will answer the question about the “Be happy” effect. But the kind of happiness you’re feeling is what matters, because each type of happiness has a VERY different effect on your physical well-being and your genes.

To your brain, you feel happiness two different ways, producing two types of “happy.” The first is instant gratification from everything from eating great food, shopping, smelling awesome flowers, sex, entertainment and all other forms of “quick fun.” This is known as a “hedonic” experience, where a person seeks pleasure as the outcome.

The second type is different. With this type, pleasure is the by-product. It’s more of a joyful satisfaction, almost a deep smugness of pleasure. This type is called eudaimonic (pronounced “you – day – monic”). This kind of happiness comes NOT from consuming but from producing something. It comes from a sustained effort at working toward something bigger than you, seeking purposeful and meaningful goals. (more…)

The Perfect Music for Brain-Based Learning

Music to use in the classroom

How You Can Choose the Perfect Music Every Time

Here is how to decide what music to play in your classroom to help with brain-based learning. While you could use an endless number of criteria, these  are a good start. I recommend using an iPod with a Bose Sound Dock player. You get the best of all worlds.

1) State. What emotional state are you trying to elicit? Pay attention to what happens to your own body and mind as you listen to a song. Pay attention to the beats per minute (BPM). Songs in the 35- 50 BPM range will be more calming, while those in the middle 55-70 BPM will be more moderate for seatwork. For activities, the pace might be 70-100 and for energizers, maybe 100-160 BPM will REALLY rev it up.

The state is also the feelings you want to have within your students. When students complete an assignment, project or even a simple task, I want upbeat celebration music. When we are doing a class stretching or reflective writing, I want slower, uncluttered, calming music. When we are about to start out on a big task, I want inspirational, upbeat, even marching music. In short, use music as a second teacher in the classroom to support the mood.

2) Age of Listener. What generation am I working with? Stay within your generation! The way to decide is ask this simple question: If they’re adults, what music did they listen to in high school and college? If they’re age 14 or less, what are the current soundtracks to movies that are hot?

3) Type of Music. Do I use music with words or instrumentals only? In general, use words only if it’s for transitions, games that require them or special occasions. Most of the time, instrumentals are better. If you use only one kind of music you’re missing out on some great alternatives. (more…)

Which is Better?

Brain Based

That’s how one of my favorite TV commercials starts out. There’s a guy in a suit sitting on a low chair, with preschoolers seated around him. He asks questions like, “Which is better, faster or slower?” This month’s question is, “Which is better, more fun or less fun?”

The answer may surprise you!

You could have guessed that your students would say, “More fun!” Many teachers would answer, “Less fun, but better learning!”

So, which one is right?

Actually, you can get the best of both worlds. How? It’s time for the research. (more…)

Extreme Schools: How Title 1 Miracles Happen Every Day

Hobart-Boulevard-Elementary-School

Our featured “Extreme School” is one of the nation’s largest Title 1 elementary schools in the country. At one time, it had 2,000 students. Today, the district helped reduce the student load to “only” 1,000 students. Many of the students come from a community of poor and immigrant families. Almost none speak English when they arrive.

How does this school perform?

THE CHALLENGES TO SUCCESS:

The two biggest challenges for academic success are: 1) poverty and 2) non- English speaking students. This school has BOTH issues. Most of the school’s nearly 1,000 students come from immigrant Central American and Korean families. The data shows over 90 percent of the students were living below the poverty level, and ALL were from immigrant families, with a language other than English as a first language. You think your school has ELL issues? This school would rank right up near the top in ALL challenges.

If this were your school, how would you react? Would you find another school to work at, one less challenging? Or, could you honestly say you would do everything possible to make miracles happen at this school? After all, teaching is easy. Teaching well is hard.

HOW DID THEY MAKE MIRACLES HAPPEN?

The story is about one amazing Title 1 teacher who made a difference in the entire school. He changed the culture and changed the lives of thousands along the way.

Today, the school staff is not perfect, but pretty amazing. First, the staff knows there are no excuses for underperforming students. The staff KNOWS that every kid can achieve.

How do they know that? (more…)

How to Avoid Alzheimer’s Disease

cognitive decline

“7 Ways You Can Prevent Or Reduce the Effects of Cognitive Decline (including Alzheimer’s)”

Let’s focus on how to prevent or reduce the effects of cognitive decline. This issue may apply to a family member, or even yourself. After all, every 68 seconds another American is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and it’s a cold, cruel way to die.

When our thinking and memory capacity becomes diminished (by a stroke, trauma, aging or Alzheimer’s) we begin to lose our sense of self and we frustrate those around us. The good news is that there are some well-researched approaches that can make dramatic differences in brain health. The first thing you can do is… (more…)