Brain Research and Teaching

The science behind learning, for me, is much more important than the politics. Just found a good list of 20 teaching tips derived from brain research.

  1. The brain learns from its environment. Enrich the learning environment.
  2. One’s personal, emotional state greatly influences what is recalled during a learning episode. Deal with emotional influences in your classroom before teaching.
  3. Prime the brain for learning. Provide visual outlines or show select pictures representing different parts of the upcoming lesson.
  4. give the brain time to process verbal information. Pause 3-7 seconds between important statements.
  5. Wait 5 seconds after asking a factual question and 10 seconds after asking a complex question.
  6. Present, rehearse, apply, then review.
  7. Develop concept before content.
  8. Teach by asking questions.
  9. Teach pattern recognition. Often.
  10. Research suggests that neurons need some downtime to consolidate information. Teach new information over time, providing periodic review.
  11. The % of information remembered increases as the learning episode shortens and decreases as the lesson time lengthens.
  12. Change the type of instruction or student activity every 20 minutes.
  13. Teach students how to ask great questions while they are reading.
  14. Periodically, have students record/share 3 things they learned from the lesson or 3 things they found interesting.
  15. Sleep is required to store information into long term memory. John Hopkins University found that it takes 6 hours for a new skill to be consolidated and tagged for long term storage. (Teenagers need at least 9 hours of sleep a night).
  16. Have students listen to music before writing and spatial reasoning activities.
  17. On average, learners will only remember 5% of a lecture 24 hours after it is given. However, they will remember 90% of the information 24 hours later if they teach it to someone else.
  18. Use personal, white, dry erase boards in class to check for understanding as you are teaching.
  19. Very specific and positive comments will be remembered over time and will be immediately motivating to the students.

and then, just to keep bloggers happy,

  1. Journaling has been found to improve memory and cognition. It enhances motivation to read and reading comprehension.

Flickring Classroom Displays

This is a great idea for using Flickr in an educational context for lots of reasons. 3 immediate ones:

  1. It always seems a shame taking down a classroom display. Storing them online means there’s some permanence
  2. If part of the point of displaying work is to make students feel proud of what they’ve achieved, why not show them you’re proud enough to put their work up in front of the word?
  3. I’d been wondering about using Flickr at school. There are real problems at primary level with regards to security and privacy. Of course, I’d not been clever enough to make the leap that you can just show the children’s work.

One thing I do think’s a little bizarre though is this sets’ copyright. All rights reserved? Shouldn’t we be encouraging a creative commons in the classroom?

Anyway, thanks Alec for the link.

Crowd Control

At the school I’m working at, one of the teachers is coming to the end of her career. She gave me a quick distillation of how she’s learnt to keep control in a classroom.

There are 3 golden rules:

  1. Move around
    As you move around the classroom, you spread your influence and it’s easier to stop children switching off. Moving your questions around, i.e. not always asking the same children, keeps everyone involved.
  2. Vary your delivery
    Whispers, sharp yelps, different visual cues all keep children on their toes and focused on what’s coming next.
  3. Balance criticism and praise
    If you have to reprimand a child make sure you come back to them later, and find something good to say about what they’ve said, how they’re behaving. It stops children making a virtue of being naughty.

Gold dust, really. What she missed out, I think, was to say how much her enthusiasm for what she teaches engages the children, but then she’s modest like that.