Brain Matters Workshop
October 18, 2006
Debriefing Notes from students

A. What are the most salient points about the brain, research, technology that you would emphasize in the text?

Research and knowledge of the brain can be used to inform educational practice. Book alludes to the idea that some disabilities may be based in the brain as well as influenced by other factors. Research on brain, e.g. How nutrition, lighting, teacher voice can affect brain activity.

The fact that there are different areas in the brain that complete these functions. Understanding the functions of the brains and using this for ways to diagnose/understand behaviors. And know how learning is applied to the brain. Nutrition and importance for brain function.

Knowing different way to x-ray the brain. There are different options for examining the brain. Current findings that neurons regenerate.

For us the most salient points are those that explain why we should learn about the brain and how we can utilize that knowledge
-Proper nutrition
-LD identification

The anatomy and functions of brain and various diagnostic techniques. Interpreting brain images can be useful for teachers in that it gives insight to possible learning disorders.

1. Concerning public school students, the importance of nutrition to brain function seemed paramount
2. Understanding the functions of brain development and disability.
3. Stimulation of different parts of the brain through environment manipulation (i.e. turning off the lights)
4. Multiple modalities and intelligences and the stimulation of those varied learning styles.
5. The advent of research (MRI, EEG) confirming the different functions of different parts of the brain.

The way various parts of the brain work and how important these interactions are in the ability to complete various activities. Research is important so we can learn as teachers what sorts of brain irregularities cause learning disabilities. This will help us to be able to plan learning activities that can be absorbed by different kinds of brains.

-Why is brain research for teachers to know.
-Lesson presentation of the parts and functions of the brain, touch on different modalities.

The brain is the most important organ in the body. The more we understand the brain, the better we’ll be able to design instruction to match how the brain works. Brain research is in its early stages – we shouldn’t jump on the bandwagon for new “conclusive” research. Technology is still evolving.

Being able to make informed decisions based on a working knowledge of the brain and how it functions.

B. Why do you think these points bear emphasis on the world of teaching/learning?

Teacher should be informed about research rather than attributing behavior to personal flaw, different way of behavior may lead to more teacher acceptance, adaptation.

The brain plays a major part in the world of teaching/learning because it explains the function of the brain and teaches learning techniques and strategies that work with particular brain functions.

This info gives teachers more control in the classroom.

Teacher need to understand the function of the brain to be effective planners of both the curriculum and the environment.

-Having concrete evidence of the different learning capabilities and styles and from that building teaching strategies.
-Being able to encourage empathy on the part of staff and parents for different brain function and dysfunction.

We as teachers need to be aware of the major functions of the brain, so that we can understand how our students will best be able to absorb knowledge in their learning process.

-Brain research can help teachers be more effective
-Understanding disabilities
-Nutrition and water breaks, importance of
-Classroom management

They offer a scientific approach and a theoretical foundation from which teachers can shape their teaching.

C. How might knowledge show up in your personal classroom, depending on what you’ll teach?

Learning about memory and different parts of the brain could help a teacher to design activities, curriculum to increase comprehension and heighten the chance that knowledge goes into long term memory. Procedures like turning off lights, laying head down can be used to calm children down, elicit certain behaviors.

In elementary school, this knowledge about the brain will help us understand children’s learning styles. Nutrition plays a bug part. And also address and teach to them. In high school this knowledge will help understand students as well.

Can give students snacks, can plan curriculum based on brain images of students.

Teachers can be aware of the different teaching strategies that will stimulate different parts of the brain.

-Knowing how to manipulate your class room environment and transitions to encourage learning.
-Assessment based on ability (dyslexics don’t take spelling tests)
-Being knowledgeable to technology, disorders, etc.

-The effects of the environment on brain functioning. Ex. Lighting, diet, sleep, etc.
-How different brains may process information differently (children with ADHD will still be able to learn, but in different ways possibly)

-Provide nutritious snacks
-Being aware of learning disability
-As teachers, we need to keep up with new research

Learning about the brain can be worked into interdisciplinary learning. If students are going to learn about other parts of the body, they can learn about their brain and how it works. It’s important to understand how memory is reformed to help students develop long-term memory. Understanding conditions of the brain may affect how you teach information – in hopes of activation multiple parts of the brain, making learning relevant and retained in memory.

Two examples of where this might be used in the classroom are in knowing what techniques might “calm the brain” and having knowledge of the brain as a may of understanding how students learn, or don’t learn, and finding other reasons unruly students misbehave other than just being “bad.”

D. What in the workshop process (small or big) would you possibly incorporate in your classroom teaching? What would you modify of delete?

Use of expert groups that then merged with other experts and taught mini lessons; also liked coming back together in expert groups and making visuals for teaching. Strict time breakdown. Eliminate large group random reporting back in front of whole class.

Liked jigsaw, however we found the last mixing of groups not necessary. Liked to see what groups came up with and found good teaching techniques.

Clear instructions. Learn/teach approach is effective. More time for preparation.

Splitting the class into three groups and then splitting those groups into three groups was effective in that it produced multiple ways of analyzing data.

-Different modalities: art, song, repetition, movement, presentation
-Working with multiple groups. Good for different perspectives
-Having kids develop their own lessons “so how do you guys want to do this?”

-Use of song and rhyme to promote interest in the subject, as well as retention
-The process – interchanging of groups – worked well and kept us actively engaged
-We liked that each group had different instruction, to keep in interesting

-Group sizes were good
-Allow more time – example for group 2’s topic, it was gathering information throughout
-Limit transitions in number (we’re all elementary)
-Use music during transitions

Working with random people helps students learn from people they may not know. Sharing knowledge as “experts” helps make learning more active and important. Working in small groups before large group work may help those who are less comfortable speaking in large audiences.

One thing we found useful was the “PREpare phase” where each student is able to develop their own ideas about what activity or idea they had and could contribute to the group. In addition, the “seminar group” phase was also useful because it allowed for a “safe environment” to explore and try out our ideas before becoming “experts!” One concern, however, was the lack of time in preparing the lesson. Also more content (i.e. more material) could have been used.