Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Tidbits: Brain & learning (Oh, & blogging, 2)

Jensen's book:

I've really enjoyed reading Eric Jensen's book (1998) Teaching with the brain in mind which I have been reading at the NetLibrary. I've begun to be impressed with the need not only to teach students content, but to also develop their brains. (As I reread this, I think "That sounds funny. Isn't that what we have always thought we were doing!! Maybe. And then again, maybe not... at least not to the extent that we now know is possible.) Not only do we want them to meet specific behavioral objectives, but we want them to develop new neural pathways, and develop recall skills. Some interesting tidbits that seem to have stuck in my brain as I read through this book:

- Teachers have often heard that process has to be stressed and not just product. Jensen says, "Surprisingly, it doesn't matter to the brain if it ever comes up with the right answer. The neural growth happens because of the process, not the solution. A student could go to school for 12 years, rarely get right answers, and still have a well-developed brain. Some learners simply choose harder and harder problems to solve" (p. 36). So, our brains develop when they are appropriately challenged - not too hard, not too easy - and plateau at mastery level. Interesting.

- The importance of the arts is stressed. "...[A]rts education facilitates language development, enhances creativity, boosts reading readiness, helps social development, assists general intellectual achievement, and fosters positive attitudes toward school" (p. 38). Tell that to the person in control of the timetable!!

- The request for students' attention is reasonable when the learning is "relevant, engaging, and chosen by the learner" (p. 42). Yes, blogging fits.

- Students need personal processing time after new learning in order for new material to solidify...blogging fits again!! In fact, there are many aspects to "good learning" that blogging fits....Go ahead and check out the book. It's refreshing!!

Amanda Post made an excellent chart of ideas from this book...check it out.

Sousa's book:

My favorite book, however, is Sousa, D. (2001). How the Brain Learns. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, Inc.. If you want to remember what you've read and if you want practical ideas for the classroom...this is it. Sousa ends each chapter with activities to help you remember the stuff you really want to apply to your teaching practice. It's not a fast read...it's a transforming read!!

On Dial-up:

I just happen to be on holidays and using someone else's computer. It is good to be reminded that some students may be on computers that take longer and have less "options". It is healthy to experience this for a time so that we are more understanding of "equal access" issues.
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