The Brain-Compatible Classroom: Using What We Know about Learning to Improve Teaching

The Brain-Compatible Classroom: Using What We Know about Learning to Improve Teaching

The Brain-Compatible Classroom: Using What We Know about Learning to Improve Teaching

The Brain-Compatible Classroom: Using What We Know about Learning to Improve Teaching

Synopsis

Did you know that the best time to learn something new is during the first two hours after you wake up and the last two hours before you go to sleep? Did you know that stressing key points in color can boost memory retention by 25 percent? Author Laura Erlauer has studied brain research and applied it to classroom teaching in a way that is both intuitive and scientific. Synthesizing recent research exploring how the brain works, she explains how students emotions and stress affect their ability to learn, how the physical classroom environment influences learning, and what forms of assessment work best. Drawing on her experience as a teacher and principal, Erlauer summarizes current brain research and shows how teachers can use this knowledge in the classroom every day. The book covers a wide variety of topics, including
• The most effective use of collaborative learning;
• Simple ways to keep the attention of your students for the whole class period;
• Keys to involving students in decision making to increase their engagement and achievement;
• Ways to make lesson content relevant to motivate students; and
• Things every teacher can to do limit stress in the classroom and school environment. Each chapter provides examples from real classrooms, showing how the research can be used to improve student learning. The ideas and strategies presented are from a variety of grade levels and subject areas and can be used immediately to create a classroom where students can reach their full potential.

Excerpt

era—the brain era. We now know a great deal about the human brain and the biology of learning, and new discoveries are continually adding to that knowledge. One exciting facet of this knowledge explosion is the fact that people in general, not just neuroscientists, physicians, and psychologists, are interested in the findings and implications. Mass media and the popular press are highlighting brain-related topics that affect typical people. Average citizens, and parents in particular, are proving to be avid consumers of this information.

Until recently, our knowledge about the human brain was limited to what we could learn through the study of injured brains during surgery or from autopsies. Advances in medical technology over the past two decades—positive emission tomography (PET) scans and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)—allow physicians and scientists to actually see how the brain functions while it is thinking or performing tasks. The implications of the current research on living brains are staggering, not only for the medical field, but also for the field of education. Educators are becoming privy to the biology of learning and therefore can discover which teaching practices actually maximize learning.

While many teaching methods have worked for decades, educators have found that some strategies haven't worked well at all. Tradition, intuition, and trial and error have been the basis for much of the instruction used in our classrooms. Today, education is poised to move beyond tradition for tradition's sake. Although we certainly have not uncovered all there is to know about the brain and learning, the medical field has given us some concrete, physiological data to consider when developing and implementing teaching strategies. Most undergraduate training of teachers has been based on how the adult should act, or how the teacher should teach. It is now time to study how the children act, how the learners learn. Educators can and must become learning experts. It is time to discover . . .

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