Currently Browsing: Brain-Based Teaching

Eric Jensen’s Teacher Workshops

When students attend an Eric Jensen event, the content is made compelling, memorable and engaging. Here’s a follow-up video on a recent training sent by Vickie Kaufman.

Click here to check out our upcoming Teacher Workshops.

Turnaround Tools for the Teenage Brain – Eric Jensen’s Latest Book

Turnaround Tools Teenage Brain

New book announcement: “Turnaround Tools for the Teenage Brain”

Learn how to help underperforming students become lifelong learners.

With countless teens struggling in school, the stakes are higher than every before.

Turnaround Tools for the Teenage Brain offers teachers research-based and classroom-tested strategies that prove every student (no matter what their past experience) can learn and succeed, if you know how to do it. This new book shows you how to do.

Education experts Eric Jensen and Carole Snider reveal one powerful tool after another to help teachers, parents and support staff be the real difference-makers in their student’s lives.  Drawing on cutting-edge science, this breakthrough book outlines the core mindsets and actionable strategies that are needed to increase student effort, build attitudes, and improve behaviors.

Step by step, teachers can learn how to tap into a student’s internal motivation to help them become determined learners. The authors also offer guidelines on how and when to use “workarounds” or lasting interventions that rely on the “rules” of how the brain changes.  In addition, the authors include vital information on the role of nutrition, exercise, and life balance on academic achievement.

From the very first chapter, to the final page, you’ll find solutions to many of your toughest challenges so they can become become excited, lifelong learners.

Praise for Turnaround Tools for the Teenage Brain

“I highly recommend this book for all secondary educators. Jensen and Snider have written a teacher-friendly book filled with proactive strategies to reclaim struggling students.” —Dr. Sheryl Feinstein, Department Chair, Education, Augustana College, Sioux Falls, SD; author, Secrets of the Teenage Brain

The Authors

Eric Jensen, CEO of Jensen Learning,  is a former teacher and cofounder of SuperCamp, the nation’s most innovative and largest academic enrichment program. He is the author of numerous popular books about teaching and brain-based education, including Teaching With Poverty in Mind (ASCD) and Enriching the Brain (Jossey-Bass).

Carole Snider is a former teacher and school counselor. She serves on the state governing board for Ohio school counselors, is an adjunct professor, and recently authored the graduate course, Succeeding with Students of Poverty.

This book clearly shows you how to succeed with teens. Research, background and classroom-tested strategies you can use immediately.

  • Build effort so kids will work hard
  • Create better attitudes so kids choose to succeed
  • Build learning capacity so kids can succeed
  • Understand the “different” learners to help them succeed
  • Teach strategies so kids know HOW to succeed
  • Give guidance so teens have a lifelong path to succeed

This is the book that gives you immediate tools, right away.

164 pages of  inspiring ideas, inspiring stories and focused strategies.

You can purchase the book at Amazon by clicking here. Kindle version available now.

The Importance of the Impossible

impossible

For some, a new school year will start this month. If not, this message is just as important to you. I’ll address the importance of the “impossible” in your job, in students and in schools. This post is about impossibility, expectancy, student predictions, high goals and of course, the brain.

But first, I begin with a true story…

A few years ago, Diane and I hired a handyman to replace a cluster of smaller windows with a bigger window. We knew the bigger dining room window would help us enjoy the view more and we reconnected with a trusted guy (Martin) who had done work for us before. After he took out the old windows and prepped the area for the installation of the big new picture window, the main event was about to happen. Only one problem, though…the new window was going in on the second floor and it was too big to take through the house and up the stairs to the second floor. This meant the heavy 6’ x 6’ glass window had to be brought up on the outside. (more…)

Teachers: Why You Should Stop Telling Kids to Pay Attention

Why You Should Stop Telling Kids to Pay Attention and What You Should Do Instead

I am embarrassed to say that I am as guilty as a convicted felon.

As a former middle school teacher, I often used the phrase, “Pay attention!” Now you hear me telling you to never, ever say that.

Why? It seems innocent enough.

Well, first of all, it’s terrible teaching. It’s NOT at all “brain-based teaching.” In fact, it’s one more example of why many kids learn to dislike school more, every year they go. First graders are so pumped up, but by the time some kids make it to their last year in school, they’ve learned that school is not for them. If we do not count the high school certificates and equivalencies, only 70% of our nation’s kids graduate overall. The rates for Hispanics, African-Americans and Native Americans are under 50% in most areas of the US.

If we do not count the high school certificates and equivalencies, only 70% of our nation’s kids graduate overall. The rates for Hispanics, African-Americans and Native Americans are under 50% in most areas of the US.

If you think you know brain-based teaching, there’s a lot to learn! But, now that I’ve “taken away” from you one of the most commonly used attention-getters (“Pay attention!’), what should you do instead?

I’m glad you asked… I just happen to have the answer…

The Research

You’re driving over to a friend’s house. But it’s the first time and you’re looking for street signs. You slow down to a crawl, turn down the music, stop talking, and stare at every sign. Why is that? Neither the music nor talking affects your vision. Or, do they?

YES! They all demand resources.

When kids pay attention, they focus better, learn and remember more.

First, paying attention protects the quality of working memory (Jie Huang, J. and Sekuler, R. (2010) and Zanto, T. and Gazzaley, A. (2009) This is critical because working memory is the DRIVER of cognition. WHAT? Here’s an example: try to remember yourself solving a problem at the same time you are asked to meet new people. Working memory and attention are co-factors in the learning process. And, both are teachable.

Second, the ability to pay attention is regulated by many factors. For example, there are sex differences in sustained attention, and they are task specific (Dittmar et al. 1993). Your frontal lobes are highly susceptible to stress (Galinsky et al. 1993), emotions (Dolcos, F. and McCarthy, G.), training and caffeine (Smith, et al. 2003). But the key thing is that attentional skills are not random. We can “train” our own brain through mindfulness practice, playing musical instruments, martial arts, reading, meditation and writing.

Finally, when we “pay” attention voluntarily, our brain is more likely to encode and remember the information (Kilgard, M., & Merzenich, M., 1998). Our goals direct our brain to activate acetylcholine (the neurotransmitter for formation of memory) via pathways such as the nucleus basalis. So, why stop telling kids to pay attention? (more…)

10 Powerful Steps for Improved Learning

Brain Based Teaching and Teacher Workshops

How to Make Your Job Easier and Give Students an Amazing Gift
for a Lifetime:

It’s the “Gift” of “How to Learn”

Usually, we feature a column on how to be a better teacher, administrator or trainer. This month, we’ll pause for a moment and work at the other end of the process. What do STUDENTS NEED to be doing to become far more effective learners? Some of the research tells us things we already knew.

PART ONE: The Research

We all know that teaching kids HOW to get more organized for study is important. But there might be a few surprises that are downright counter-intuitive. For example, you’ll be surprised to find out that quizzing MORE OFTEN actually promotes learning. But that’s just one of the 10 powerful steps for improved learning. If you are in a position to share these with staff that can reach students, please share this upcoming list. The research for this month was collected by the following scientists:

Harold Pashler (Chair)
University of California, San Diego
Patrice M. Bain
Columbia Middle School, Illinois
Brian A. Bottge
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Arthur Graesser
University of Memphis
Kenneth Koedinger
Carnegie Mellon University
Mark McDaniel
Washington University in St. Louis
Janet Metcalfe
Columbia University

Typically, I use this area to fill your brain with the “why” behind all the action. This month, it’s posted, so you can look it up. The full research document is posted on the web. Only one of 50 of you either: 1) work with students in this capacity, or, 2) are hungry enough to look it up. The document can be downloaded here (pdf).

The research tells us that the following suggestions have reasonable scientific support for them. If something’s not a good idea, you won’t hear it from me. But wait, there’s more! The online research posted 7 ideas and I have added 3 of my own, for a total of 10. (more…)

What’s it like teaching in a high-performing school?

Leslie_Profile_548

By popular demand, we feature a teacher this month, not an entire school. After all, teachers make the difference. This teacher works at an “Extreme School.” Her high school is one of many underperforming schools in this low-performing district, within a high-poverty area. Another teacher in her place might feel like she has the deck stacked against her and every excuse to give up on her kids. Every other teacher at her school already has their excuses lined up, but this teacher doesn’t give up. In fact, the achievement scores that HER kids get are.

THE TEACHER

“In fact, the achievement scores that HER kids get are… so awesome that 100 percent of her students passed their state-mandated, end-of-course exams despite data from the state’s predictive model suggesting that over a third would not.” In short, she out-teaches every other teacher in her district.

Her school, Ben Smith High School, has 1,200 kids and 80% of its kids are from poverty. Academically, the school performed worse than 75% of the schools in North Carolina, meaning that Ben Smith is in the bottom 25%. About 96% are children of color. As a school, it struggles. But, is the problem with the kids or the staff?

First a bit of background about HOW this teacher succeeds… (more…)