Friday, October 14, 2011

Brain Rules

I once heard my cousin David say, "I have no original thoughts of my own."  For those of you who know him well, you'll nod your head when I say, "Baloney."  Even though I completely disagree with wise cousin David, I must admit that when I first entertained the idea of my own blog, my immediate reaction was, you guessed it, "I have no original thoughts of my own."  (Can I admit the thought still lingers?)  It's practically true.  I'm just like every other good teacher.  Simply put, I borrow from others.  Here's proof.

This past summer I enjoyed an enlightening read by John Medina called Brain Rules. He lays out twelve rules of the brain in such a way that even this little first grade teacher can understand.  (This brain stuff can get a bit wordy and complicated at times.)  Ever since, the book has been collecting dust on my living room floor, patiently waiting for me to figure out how it was going to impact my teaching on a daily basis.  Recently I dusted it off, started typing, and ended up with a list of the brain rules that connected with my heart the most, as well as questions to keep me on my teaching toes.  It's currently hanging by my desk at school, reminding me how the 27 unique brains in my room work best.  Maybe it will inspire and enlighten your teaching too, especially if you too feel a lack of original thoughts every so often.

Brain Rules
  • Exercise boosts brain power
  Movement improves children.
  Their brains hunger for energy.
   What areas of my instruction can be improved with more movement?
  • Every brain is wired differently
  Their brains change when they learn something.
   The brain is like a muscle that grows stronger with use.
   How do I accommodate for different brains?
  • We don’t pay attention to boring things
   Too much information in too little time is counterproductive.
   Instead of force feeding, let them digest.
   How can I hold their attention better?
  • Repeat to remember
   Use 10-minute segments of instruction.
   Repeat, repeat, repeat   
   When can I incorporate storytelling to improve attention and memory?
  • Remember to repeat
   Use real-world examples in instruction to improve memory retrieval.
   Hooks and introductions are everything.
   How can I improve their ability to retrieve information later?
  • Stimulate more of the senses
  Use words and pictures at the same time.
  Where are pictures useful in my day?
  • Vision trumps all other senses
   Vision is the best tool for learning anything.
   How can I be more visual?
  • We are powerful and natural explorers
   Stimulate curiosity.
   Where have I encouraged their curiosity?
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