BRAIN-BASED LEARNING

Considering the number of students who feel disengaged and fall behind because the way they learn doesn’t match with how they are being taught, we should all personalize learning; in other words, modify instruction to individual students’ learning needs, interests and learning styles rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach. We all know that all programs should be based on the learner, learner-centered and process-oriented approaches rather than teacher-centered approaches to enable learners to become aware of their abilities and potential in the learning situation. Of course, engaging diverse minds with multiple activities and engaging each student as he or she enquires into problems is not an easy task to do especially for teachers who have neither been educated nor trained that way. Luckily enough, we have technology as a great source to provide more flexible learning opportunities for our students and the new discoveries in neuroscience give us valuable information on how our brain functions. Therefore, as a first step to personalize learning, both teachers and students should understand how learning takes place.

ASCD’s A Lexicon of Learning defines brain-based learning as:

Approaches to schooling that educators believe are in accord with recent research on the brain and human learning. Advocates say the human brain is constantly searching for meaning and seeking patterns and connections. Authentic learning situations increase the brain’s ability to make connections and retain new information. A relaxed, non-threatening environment that reduces students’ fear of failure is considered by some to enhance learning. Research also documents brain plasticity, which is the brain’s ability to grow and adapt in response to external stimuli.

 

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From University of Washington Neuroscience for Kids

 

The first chapter of the book, Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning: Insights from a Neurologist and a Classroom Teacher by Judy Willis gives excellent information on Memory, Learning, and Test-taking Strategies. Please try to read it even though it is a bit long because it gives very useful information on how the brain works, how learning occurs, and what kind of activities teachers should implement in the classroom to enhance learning. The handbook, Six Tips on Brain-based Learning and the resources published by Edutopia may also be useful.

We should consider the principles of Brain-based Learning and Howard Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences while preparing  our lessons. Considering the fact that each brain is unique and people have different learning styles, we should all help our students discover and develop their talents to become self-motivated and competent lifelong learners.

 

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From University of Washington Neuroscience for Kids

 

Below you can find some brain-based activities you can implement in your classes to enhance learning:

BGFL MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCES: Students can take the test on Multiple Intelligences after reading the information on learning styles. You can use the results to differentiate learning. You can use VARK LEARNING STYLES INVENTORY for the same purpose as well.

LDPRIDE.NET: This website provides an explanation of what learning styles and multiple intelligence are all about, an interactive assessment of learning styles, practical tips to make your learning style work for you, and information on learning disorders. They also provide links to LD sites, which, I think, teachers who believe in personalized learning will find very useful.

Education World, a website all administrators and teachers should frequently visit, offers ideas to implement Gardner’s theory in the classroom.

One activity to raise students’ awareness on multiple intelligences and different learning styles can be to ask them to prepare a mind map, on multiple intelligences after reading the information in the following websites:

GARDNER’S THEORY OF MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCES: Please scroll down to see the links below in the Related Articles section.

MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCES: This article published by Northern Illinois University, Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center, offers tasks, activities and assessment for each type of learner as well as information.

Your students can watch this video called Brainworks on how the brain functions on University of Washington’s TV channel or you can try some of the activities in Neuroscience for Kids with your students.

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