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…)
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.
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
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.
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.
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…)
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…)
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…)
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…
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…)
Save your life or extend it! You may be concerned about the “big two” killers of cancer and Alzheimer’s. We’ll focus on cancer and next will be (again) on Alzheimer’s. By the way, every year these suggestions get so many rave reviews that they are re-sent, forwarded and “re-gifted.” Feel free to do so this year.
The first change will reduce your risk of cancer. A recent study shows that… (more…)
PART ONE: Research
This month, we take a side trip from the classroom and go directly into your kitchen or dining room. Many will celebrate school being out soon (unless you’re year-round or living in the Southern hemisphere). All of you will be, of course, eating. This month, I thought I would give you the science behind eating and over eating.
If you know me, you know I am skinny as a rail. But, while I might make it look easy, it’s NOT! I watch what I eat. I rarely eat desserts. I try to avoid artificial sweeteners, artificial colorings and preservatives in my food. On top of that, I go out of my way to avoid so called “natural sweeteners” like high fructose corn syrup. I often eat 8-10 pieces of fruit a week PLUS loads of vegetables. All I’ve told you so far is a “no brainer. But I haven’t told you the most shocking thing yet… (more…)
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.
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
University of Memphis
Carnegie Mellon University
Washington University in St. Louis
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…)