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Emotions in Students

Bullying in schools

Is the expression, “Fight, flight or freeze” a myth or science?

There’s an assumption that if a student in school feels threatened in any way, there’s going to be an immediate response we’ve all heard of before. Those might include “fight” (talk back to teacher, argue or even get physical), “flight” (try to get out of the situation, change seats, rooms or get out school), or “freeze” (quit participating and disconnect from learning).

However, recent research tells us there’s far more going on. In fact, you might be surprised what researchers have discovered about student emotions (and your own)…

Recent Discovery

There are many things you should know about our emotional system, but we’ll focus on just one area (the amygdala) and only the relevancy to school and your own life. Just maybe we can help out your relationships and add joy to your life!

First, there are gender differences in our emotional system.

You may have heard of the amygdala as if it’s singular, but we have two of them (on the left and right side of the brain). Technically, it should be referred to as the amygdalae (plural). Known as small, almond-shaped brain structures, they are highly involved in the fear response. These structures are located deep in the temporal lobes at the foot of the hippocampus in each hemisphere. And, they operate differently in males and females. Read 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. Read more

Brain Based Learning – A Unique Video

Lori Pickering went to a lot of work on this video explaining the 4 elements of Brain-Based Learning.. and she captures the key elements very well. Thanks Lori.

Enjoy…

Tomorrow’s World In Education

Education challenges ahead

“There’s a big front coming in this weekend. Expect temperatures to drop to well below freezing. There will be icy and dangerous conditions. Winds will be near gale force. Please take all necessary cautions to protect life and property.”

Sometimes being right is just as bad as being wrong. Just ask any weatherman or weatherperson. Nobody likes to hear the messenger when the news is bad. It’s no different when the news is about our own lives.

Today, we take a look ahead. That’s always a bit dangerous. Today’s world has so many complex variables that any predictions beyond the next few weeks seem far too tenuous to “bank on.” Who would have predicted interest rates would fall to record lows in 2011? Few would have predicted the Columbia Space Shuttle disaster, which set back the space program by years (and maybe put it out of business). The events following 9/11 changed many things in politics, economics and even tourism. The point here is simple; general timelines are easier to predict, high impact events are, well, unpredictable. We’ll have to exclude in this chapter those catastrophic events (sorry, even psychics get them wrong) and stick with the likely stream of events. Based on the trends so far, there are three possible trajectories. One is the nightmare, where all that can go bad, does. Another is the dream, where most important decisions and events are positive. And finally, there’s the most likely scenario of all. That I’ll leave to the end. Read more

Music Tickles the Reward Centers in the Brain

Now That the Holidays Are Gone

Your Music List Upgraded

Music is a big part of our lives. But if you teach, there’s a chance, it’s an even bigger part of your student’s life. In this post, we’ll see if we can sharpen up your use of music.

You’re likely to have a bit of time this summer to work on your music, since the school year gets pretty hectic. Next month, we’ll show you the newest Alzheimer’s disease interventions.

Recent Discovery

We know that music tickles the reward centers in the brain just like other pleasurable, but evolutionarily significant, experiences. It also appears that music rewards the listener to the degree that the music is found to be pleasant.

There are many studies which suggest that the right music can influence the brain’s reward neurotransmitter, dopamine. The beauty of this is that classroom learning can get associated with positive feelings.

Why is this important? Two reasons come to mind: 1) emotional learning supports long-term memory, and 2) when positive emotions are associated with school, kids attend classes more and are more likely to develop a love of learning.

Unlike a concrete reward, music can arouse feelings of euphoria and pleasure. Scientists used PET scans and found endogenous dopamine release at peak emotional arousal during music listening (Salimpoor, et al. 2011). The time course of dopamine release was also curious; dopamine was more involved during anticipation of the music, and then again at the experience of peak emotional responses.

Put in teacher terms, even the anticipation of an abstract reward (listening to the music for pleasure) can result in dopamine release, distinct from that associated with the peak pleasure itself. By the way, dopamine release is highly beneficial for several things. One, it fosters a love of learning; second, it supports working memory. Both of those are very good in a classroom!

On the other hand, unpleasant music seems to involve a different region of the brain. In another study, scientists played music that contained dissonant chords varying in their degree of unpleasantness. They used brain imaging technology to observe and measure changes in brain activity as participants listened to the music. They found that the more dissonant the music, the less pleasant the participants reported the experience. Additionally, patterns of brain activity emerged that were consistent across subjects. Most active during the more dissonant sections of the music was a site in the brain that is physically situated between the cortex and the limbic system. Known as the paralimbic cortical area, this region mediates between cognition and emotion.

The choice of music you use DOES matter; not all music is good!

Read more

Taking Bold Actions for Complex Challenges In Education

Brain-Based Learning can help to overcome the challenges of poverty teachers face:

Eric Jensen, author of Teaching With Poverty in Mind will present his session on poverty at ASCD’s Annual Conference & Exhibit Show in San Francisco, on Saturday, March 26, 2011, at 1:00-3:00 pm.

Creating Brainiacs

phot by Lisa Krantz/Express-News

photo: Lisa Krantz/Express-News

Eric Jensen led a workshop on brain-based learning for Harlendale Independent School District teachers and administrators at the Boggess Center in July. Jensen spoke about techniques aimed at children from impoverished backgrounds, including helping them cope with stress, learn appropriate emotional responses and increase cognitive stimulation.

Creating brainiacs

During the summer, about 200 educators in the Harlandale Independent School District experienced brain-based learning firsthand as they joined in a fast-paced scavenger hunt all while becoming acquainted with neuroscience research and teaching techniques from expert Eric Jensen.

Between activities meant to engage workshop participants, Jensen spoke about using brain-based techniques with students from impoverished backgrounds. Research has shown that socioeconomic status is associated with childhood achievement. He emphasized helping students cope with stress, learn appropriate emotional responses and increase cognitive stimulation.

What these teachers may not have realized was the basis for these strategies stretches back to experiments half a century ago.

Leslie Owen Wilson, professor emerita at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point School of Education, said brain-based learning can trace its origins to the Split Brain Experiments of the 1960s, in which scientists discovered that the two brain hemispheres had different functions. But, neuroscience research has been slow to diffuse into classroom settings, said Wilson, who is based in Austin and is teaching an online course on the topic this fall.

“Generally, teachers teach the way that they were taught,” said Wilson, who added that an administrator who adopts brain-friendly policies can ease the transition.

For students to retain learning, they must practice, talk about and act upon the information, Wilson said.

“A lot of kids physically have to do something in order to ingrain the learning at a permanent level,” Wilson said. “That takes a great deal of time and teaching artistry and, you know, it’s not on the test.”

Using new techniques

Melva Matkin said that when she became principal of Esparza Accelerated Elementary School in the Northside Independent School District more than 20 years ago, most students were functioning below grade level on standardized tests.

“We knew something had to change,” she said.

Matkin’s formula for creating an “enriched” learning environment included asking teachers to stay current on cognitive research and to use students’ emotional states to optimize learning and behavior management.

For instance, students might hear classical music playing during lunch. Matkin has observed that classical music calms students. The few times someone has slipped the wrong CD into the player, she’s seen the kids get really revved up.

She has also advised teachers to cater to students’ multiple intelligences. This translates to students building a diorama of the Alamo for history class — an activity that would appeal to their spatial intelligence — rather than just reading about the Alamo.

In North East Independent School District, the push toward brain-based learning is coming, in part, from the physical education and health department. There Rachel Naylor, assistant director for physical education, health and athletics, said teachers began incorporating brain breaks into classes last year.

“It could be anything from standing up, stretching, breathing and sitting back down, to going outside for a walk,” Naylor said.

Strategies that work movement into the school day boost blood flow to the brain and can create a domino effect that affects learning, quality of life and, potentially, test scores, Naylor said. A preliminary NEISD analysis from the 2008-09 school year found that obese middle school students had lower passing rates on both the reading and math portions of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills tests than students with a healthy weight.

Overcoming challenges

Rather than lecturing to quiet lackluster learners, teachers may have to adapt to a classroom cacophony — a potential side effect of having engaged students — according to local educators who have made the switch.

But aside from managing energized students, there are other impediments to using brain-based learning techniques.

For instance, educators must first understand the scientific research to translate it into classroom practices, Wilson said.

Another downside is the amount of time it takes to teach using these tactics.

“If I zip through a textbook or indulge in round-robin reading, I can say I covered that material, but I can’t with any certainty say a child learned it,” Wilson said.

Alvarez said he found time management to be an issue when he took students outside to practice graphing, an activity that took twice as long as expected.

“There’s no other way, sometimes, to get through a lesson besides notes and lecture because there are time constraints,” Alvarez said.

Matkin acknowledges that brain-based learning is not a quick fix.

Though the success of these initiatives can be difficult to measure comparatively, Matkin pointed out that Esparza, a school of about 750 students, received an exemplary rating in the 2010 Texas accountability ratings.

Brain-based learning is “a philosophy and approach to education that’s kid-friendly and it’s, frankly, teacher-friendly,” the principal said. “It is not an easy way to teach, but it is a fun way to teach.”

Read the full article at San Antonio Express-News:

Teaching with the Brain in Mind Workshop

We recently finished the “Teaching with the Brain in Mind” program. Wow! What an amazing event.

Some came to it concerned about the challenges of brain-based learning. Others wanted brain-based strategies. Only a few were brain-skeptics. Most just wanted to deepen or widen their skill set and knowledge base. Suffice it to say, all left the program excited and ready to make changes.

“This is the best professional development experience I’ve had in 27 years of teaching. I will use so much of what I learned here and I am eager to return to my students and work with them in a more enlightened approach.” Patricia Gefert, Ohio.

Student learned the most critical brain principles. By the way, these are NOT the principles you’ll find in any book. These are the most updated, cutting edge principles anywhere. Every principle is illustrated, unpacked, debriefed and role-modeled. On top of that, there are the demonstrations, interactions and, yes, even a “field trip.”

One of the highlights was the visit to Dr. Daniel Amen’s Brain Clinic, where participants got to see inside the actual patient clinic that has been grabbing headlines for years. Amen has been “ahead of the crowd”, just as Eric Jensen has been.

Spect scans of the author's brain taken at Amen Clinic in Newport Beach, California. In the four surface views on the left, the less active regions of the brain show up as holes or dents. The scans on the right show the most active 15 percent of the brain in red and white. Photo: Daniel Amen

At the end, when asked for suggestions to others, who might be considering the program, one participant said, “Do it! It will change your teaching forever.” Kelly Small, Alberta, CA

Another highlight was the appearance, in person, of Dr. Larry Cahill, a pioneer in memory, emotions and gender. His lab has made not one, but three breakthroughs in neuroscience. Everyone was riveted to his talk on how emotions and gender influence our memory. Everyone was spellbound!

“Every single concept, activity and interaction was of great value to me.” Lois Cameron. Shaker Heights, OH.

The “Teaching with the Brain in Mind” program gives you the scientific background, the strategies that can transform the classroom and once again, the actual demonstration of the strategy. This way, you can see it, hear and feel how it works. This makes it the most practical, and yet, research-based program on the brain anywhere.

The next “Teaching with the Brain in Mind” program happens in San Antonio, Texas. The content will be awesome, the guest speaker is riveting and the field trip is over the top good.

If you have not yet taken the “Teaching with the Brain in Mind” program, this is your only chance. Find out how to meet the challenges of brain-based learning and teaching. Meet other like-minded participants. And, most of get inspired and rocket-propelled to teach smarter, with less stress.

See you in San Antonio!

Click here for details.

Brain-Based Learning: Practical Applications For Teachers

Let’s pop all these ingredients in our “brain-compatible classroom activity generator” and let it help us get practical. We want to combine the science behind emotions, physical movement and socialization. Presto! It just so happens that one of the brain-based learning strategies I use is the engagement of rituals.

Here are the five ingredients of a quality classroom ritual. If you do anything less than ALL five, it will dramatically degrade your results.

  1. The ritual must solve a recurring problem.
  2. It must include and engage everyone.
  3. The ritual must be simple and easy to do.
  4. It must be highly predictable and the students know when it’s going to happen.
  5. The actual event must end up in a positive emotional state.

The use of rituals can make your life easier. If rituals don’t actually solve a problem, kids will lose interest, because there’s no point in doing them. Let’s use, as an example, the problem of starting class, on time, with a good attitude, every single day, for weeks and months on end.

That means you need a ritual, so let’s create one and then we’ll break it down.

Problem to solve: You need to start class.

Ritual name: “Startup response”

When it’s used: Use when students arrive at school from home, or back from recess or lunch.

What do I do: I play a pre-designated “call-back song” and the second it’s over, I say, “If you made it back on time, raise your hand please and say, ‘Yes!'” I also role model the behavior and raise my own hand, saying, “Yes!” Then I say, “Now turn to your neighbor and say, ‘Happy Monday to you!'” (Or, if they’re getting back from recess, it’s, “Welcome back!”)

What the students do: They raise their hand and say, “Yes!” Then they turn to the person nearest himself or herself and say “Happy Monday to you!” (or “Welcome back”.) This silly little process solved a critical problem: to get students quiet, to remind them of the social conditions and get into a positive state. It took 4 seconds and cost you nothing.

I use 10-15 rituals in the “Teaching with the Brain in Mind” 6-Day workshop. This is the best place for you to learn about brain-based learning rituals and other strategies, because you get to experience them live! The best book on rituals is Super Teaching (2008), available from Corwin Press.

This process of integrating brain-based learning rituals into your school (macro) and the classroom (micro) reminds us to cut to the chase: everything you do in your classroom is likely to have SOME effect on the brain.

Brain-based education says, “Be purposeful about it.” Now, go have some fun and make another miracle happen!

Creative Commons License photo credit: Polska Zielona Sieć

Don’t Miss Our Upcoming Teacher Workshop

“Teaching with the Brain in Mind” workshop

Feb 15-20 (Newport Beach-CA)

You might have experienced some very cold temps in the last few weeks. Cognitively, brains work best in cooler (but not cold) temperatures. But the rest of our body sure likes it a bit warmer.

If you were thinking of “warming up” to some “very hot” learning, I’ve got something pretty amazing for you, and it’s in a warm place!

In fact, you can get a huge savings on your hotel where the winter rates are slashed-but not for long.

Our Amazing, Newly Revised 6-Day Program:

You Get 1st Class Brain-Based Teaching, Plus…
Astonishing Student Achievement, 100% Scientific,
100% Research Based, and Guaranteed.

And, it’s Classroom-Proven!

I do this amazing course only twice a year. It’s the world’s “gold standard” for brain-based learning. Fortunately, you can add exciting, fresh new content (AND MAXIMUM STRATEGIES) into your skill set.

This workshop is an enriching, high energy, research-based, team-working experience. The heart and soul of this program is joyful immersion. Learn with like-minded people, in an optimal environment, with state-of-the-art resources and a first-class facilitator.

You can expect inspiration, camaraderie and potent, roll-up your sleeves ideas that will last for years.

Oh wait… Did I mention you’ll get to ask questions of a world-renowned neuroscientist in person? You will. But it gets even better… but first:

What is Brain-Based Learning? You may be shocked to find out! Not 1 in 1000 Educators REALLY Knows!

Unfortunately, most educators think brain-based learning is simply knowing about axons, dendrites and synapses. That’s “old school” and it’s ridiculous! Brain-based learning is the process of thoughtfully implementing purposeful strategies based on research derived from a synergy of sizzling cutting-edge disciplines. They include, but are not limited to: cognitive neuroscience, chemistry, nutrition, social neurosciences, biology, pharmacology, computational sciences, quantum systems thinking, and artificial intelligence modeling.

More has been discovered about the brain and mind in the last 20 years than in all of recorded history. Yet, most teachers have no clear understanding of how the brain learns, remembers and behaves except on a superficial basis. Sadly, this lack of knowledge leaves the average educator with an education formulated in, and designed for, the last century. But there’s hope.

When you attend a Jensen Learning program, you’ll discover the genuine “Brain-based Learning” in a completely new way.

Your presenter, Eric Jensen is a twenty-year veteran of the brain-based field. He’s trained more people, written more books and innovated more than anyone in the field. Every principle, every idea and strategy is role-modeled so you can see it, hear it and feel HOW it works.

“(This workshop is) way better, more useful than most graduate courses.” -R.Z. Vernon, NJ

This program is literally, teaching with the brain in mind. It is purposeful, dynamic and easy to implement. The scientific, research-based teaching that BBL advocates involves the use of ten fundamental brain-mind principles. Each of these has been well supported by rigorous, quality scientific studies. These principles are revealed to you through activities, case study, lectures, video and discussion. Each of these principles is so powerful, that implementing even half of them will make a mind-blowing difference in your work.

But don’t take my word for it. Listen to what one of our participants has said…

“I took your workshop a couple of years ago and have been training other teachers. I had just turned around another group of skeptical teachers. As we were packing up, my new training partner said, “OK, it works. I was skeptical and didn’t agree with all the things you were doing, but I’m convinced that it makes a huge difference.” She never questioned what I was doing after that. She just began questioning why so she could understand it better too.” B. Felip, Trenton, NJ

This program is a dynamic overview of Eric Jensen’s revised book Teaching with the Brain in Mind. This course provides specific, practical brain-compatible strategies for all educators. All teachers influence their students. Now you can discover what it takes for students to acquire complex learning and achieve their best. You’ll want to learn these essential rules for how our brain works.

>>>> CLICK HERE TO REGISTER<<<<

Here’s what you can expect… Read more