Build Better Teen Brains Tip #4

Feeling It!

This is Brain Friendly tip #4 from Thomas Armstrong’s book, The Power of the Adolescent Brain. www.ASCD.org

Affective learning. The limbic system is in full throttle while the prefrontal executive functions are still developing.

“…engage a range of activities and strategies for bringing joy, zest, and laughter as well as acknowledgement of the darker emotions in the classroom…” (p.34)

Armstrong lists 6 ways that teachers can give students opportunities to engage their emotions meaningfully:

  1. Be emotionally supportive of your students
  2. Bring more emotional expression into your teaching style
  3. Integrate controversy into your lessons
  4. Inject more humor into the classroom
  5. Engage your students’ imagination
  6. Become more aware of adolescent culture

Points to Ponder and Discuss:

  • Rate these suggestions from Best to Worst
  • Which idea(s) sound the most important or meaningful to you?
  • Which idea(s) are the most doable or feasible?
  • Which suggestion(s) are unrealistic or impossible to do?
  • If you had to choose one to do immediately, which one would you do and what would you have to do prepare to get started?

Do you have your own ideas for engaging students’ emotions into your subject area? What could help you to do more of this? Materials?

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Building Better Teen Brains Tip #3

The Power of Peers!

Peer learning connections. Social peer activities engage striatum and the dopamine reward centers of the brain associated with motivation.

For teens…  “individual identity seems to be tightly bound to their identification with friends, classmates, and other peers…peer teaching, cooperative learning, exchanging ideas” (p. 66)

Armstrong lists 7 ways that teachers can give students opportunities to connect content with peer interaction:

  1. Establish small learning communities
  2. Engage students in collaborative learning projects
  3. Incorporate peer teaching
  4. Establish a peer mentoring program
  5. Let peers critique one another’s work

6.Use peer mediation as part of a school discipline plan

7.Create classwide simulations around specific academic content

Points to Ponder and Discuss:

  • Rate these suggestions from Best to Worst
  • Which idea(s) sound the most important or meaningful to you?
  • Which idea(s) are the most doable or feasible?
  • Which suggestion(s) are unrealistic or impossible to do?
  • If you had to choose one to do immediately, which one would you do and what would you have to do prepare to get started?

Do you have your own ideas for peer engaged learning in your subject area? What could help you to do more of this? Materials?

 

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Building Better Teen Brains – Tip #2

Self-Awareness Activities

This is Brain Friendly tip #2 from Thomas Armstrong’s book, The Power of the Adolescent Brain. www.ASCD.edu

Self-awareness activities activate the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex—for self-reflective processing

“…a critical time for the formation of identity…the sense of an enduring and coherent “I”…pieced together from a broad range of subjective and objective life experiences…aspirations toward a still-unclear vision of how to function within the broader community….help students explore and express their own emerging sense of self..” (p. 53 and 33)

Armstrong lists 5 ways that teachers can give students opportunities to become more self-aware:

  1. Use self-awareness assessments
  2. Have students create autobiographies
  3. Let students keep their own journals
  4. Connect content to students’ personal lives

Points to Ponder and Discuss:

  • Rate these suggestions from Best to Worst
  • Which idea(s) sound the most important or meaningful to you?
  • Which idea(s) are the most doable or feasible?
  • Which suggestion(s) are unrealistic or impossible to do?
  • If you had to choose one to do immediately, which one would you do and what would you have to do prepare to get started?

Do you have your own ideas for building self-awareness learning into your subject area? What could help you accomplish this? Materials? Resources?

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Exploring the Adolescent Brain

Thomas Armstrong (ASCD, 2016) has done an excellent job of summarizing and distilling a lot of intriguing ideas for enhancing the education of teenagers based on neuroscience evidence. Thomas has generated 8 strategies for applying this knowledge to teaching and schooling.

These ideas a worth deeper reflection and discussion. For the next month or two I will post summaries of these suggestions along with Points to Ponder and Share. So buy the book and settle in for a good read and the opportunity to reflect and test out his ideas.

As a preview:   Tip #1 is: Opportunities to choose. “Because the prefrontal cortex of the adolescent brain (the seat of decision making) is gradually maturing throughout the teen years, and adolescents frequently make sub-optimal choices during this time…they need frequent opportunities to make decisions for themselves with regards to what they learn, how they learn, how fast they learn, and other matter connected with the curriculum and school life.” p. 32.

Armstrong lists 10 ways that teachers can give students opportunities to make meaningful choices:

1. Provide homework options

2. Let students pick the books they read

3. Use student polling

4. Allow students to create their own projects

5. Set aside time for passion projects

6. Permit students to learn at their own rate

7. Involve students in decisions about school policy

8. Provide opportunities for independent study

9. Offer more electives

10. Give students more control in how their learning is assessed

Points to Ponder and Discuss:

Rate these suggestions from Best to Worst. Which idea(s) sound the most important or meaningful to you?
Which idea(s) are the most doable or feasible? Which suggestion(s) are unrealistic or impossible to do?
If you had to choose one to do immediately, which one would you do and what would you have to do prepare to get started?

Do you have your own ideas for how more often and more meaningful choices could be incorporated in your subject area? What could help you to accomplish this? Materials needed? Resources?

 

 

http://www.ascd.org/Publications/Books/Overview/The-Power-of-the-Adolescent-Brain.aspx
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Power of Adolescent Brain!

This fine book by Thomas Armstrong is highly recommended! Thomas does a marvelous job of bringing to life educational strategies apply neuroscience to the practical problems and vital issues in the life of every teenager.

Teachers and parents will all benefit from this book’s sage counsel.

An excellent read!

Available:

http://www.ascd.org/Publications/Books/Overview/The-Power-of-the-Adolescent-Brain.aspx

MIDAS in the Netherlands

Good things are happening with the Dutch MIDAS team. The Dutch language translation of all age versions have been reviewed. Haiko Jessurun is writing the program for the MIDAS-PRO Leadership Profile. This is an extended and enriched report. We’ll be looking for sites to beta test this new product in the near future so let me know if you’re interested. It will be available in both English and Dutch.

Branton Shearer <sbranton@kent.edu>

 

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Music to Promote Learning

MI-Inspired Teaching – One Song at a Time

By Cathy Robinson in     ASCD’s Education Update, Nov. 2016, | Volume 58 | Number 11

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“Incorporating educational music into classroom instruction is certainly not new, but I somehow forgot about this simple and effective strategy….Too often, I have asked my students to sit in their seats quietly while my voice dominates instruction.  I am thrilled to have rediscovered a strategy that I can share with other teachers who find it equally effective.”

 

Read Cathy’s full brief article here:

http://www.ascd.org/publications/newsletters/education-update/nov16/vol58/num11/Stuck-on-a-Concept%C2%A2-Try-Music.aspx

 

 

 

Good stuff!

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An excellent presentation at the IMBES conference highlighted the importance of engaging Intrapersonal intelligence by having students do Self Explanations of their work. I have witnessed the value of Self Explanations during the RADAR project at St. Patrick’s Elementary. To learn more…   http://psychology.berkeley.edu/people/tania-lombrozo

Eliciting self-explanations improves understanding. Cognitive Science, Volume 18, Issue 3, Pages 439-477   M Chi, N De Leeuw, M Chiu, C Lavanche

Abstract

Learning involves the integration of new information into existing knowledge. Generating explanations to oneself (self-explaining) facilitates that integration process. Previously, self-explanation has been shown to improve the acquisition of problem-solving skills when studying worked-out examples. This study extends that finding, showing that self-explanation can also be facilitative when it is explicitly promoted, in the context of learning declarative knowledge from an expository text. Without any extensive training, 14 eighth-grade students were merely asked to self-explain after reading each line of a passage on the human circulatory system. Ten students in the control group read the same text twice, but were not prompted to self-explain. All of the students were tested for their circulatory system knowledge before and after reading the text. The prompted group had a greater gain from the pretest to the posttest. Moreover, prompted students who generated a large number of self-explanations (the high explainers) learned with greater understanding than low explainers. Understanding was assessed by answering very complex questions and inducing the function of a component when it was only implicitly stated. Understanding was further captured by a mental model analysis of the self-explanation protocols. High explainers all achieved the correct mental model of the circulatory system, whereas many of the unprompted students as well as the low explainers did not. Three processing characteristics of self-explaining are considered as reasons for the gains in deeper understanding.

 

 

MIDAS at Cretin-Dunham Hall High School

 

I was please to receive the following note from MIDAS coordinator Tommy Murray at Cretin-Dunham Hall High school.

        We have had a lot of success with promoting MI at our school with the MIDAS assessment as a resource in understand student learning better.  Talking with teachers and students there is a real awareness of the different intelligences and respecting them equally as ways of demonstrating knowledge.  The community has recognized that being smart is done through a variety of skill sets and not just traditional “school smarts”.

I appreciate your work and support with the MIDAS.

 Tommy Murray

Read more about this excellent school:  https://www.cretin-derhamhall.org/

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“Brain Friendly” Education for Teens

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Education Week, Oct. 12, 2016

Thomas Armstrong’s recent article in Education Week is worth reading. It offers good tips and suggestions for better engaging of adolescents in high school based on neuroscience research evidence.

For example, he writes, “Research indicates that while adolescents are able to reason like adults by the age of 15 or 16, they can do this only under “cold cognition” settings (e.g., where there is no emotional pull or peer influence). When they’re around their peers or in an emotionally charged situation (“hot cognition”), teens’ prefrontal-cortex functions don’t work as well, which is why a teenager will respond affirmatively to an anti-drug curriculum in the classroom, but then go out and smoke weed with his friends at night.

What is essential for kids at this time of life is to be engaged in real-life learning experiences and peer-learning connections that put them under conditions of “hot cognition,” where educators can help them along in the process of integrating their impulsiveness (positively viewed as excitement and motivation) with their reasoning abilities.

The implications for reform of secondary school are clear. Schools should provide more opportunities for students to be involved in apprenticeships, internships, service learning, community-based learning, small peer-learning groups, entrepreneur-based programs, and student-directed project-based learning. Courses need to be given in middle school and high school that teach students about how their brains work, how to use metacognition to direct their learning, and how to self-regulate their feelings under conditions of duress.”

Read it here:

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2016/10/12/neuroscience-should-inform-school-policies.html

 Order his new book, The Power of the Adolescent Brain: Strategies for Teaching Middle and High School Students

 http://www.ascd.org/Publications/Books/Overview/The-Power-of-the-Adolescent-Brain.aspx