Back To CourseEducational Psychology: Tutoring Solution
9 chapters | 335 lessons
Dr. Rachel Tustin has a PhD in Education focusing on Educational Technology, a Masters in English, and a BS in Marine Science. She has taught in K-12 for more than 15 years, and higher education for ten years.
So your brain is the cornerstone of the central nervous system, and the reality is that not much else can happen without it. Your cerebrum, which makes up the bulk of your brain, is divided into regions called lobes. Each lobe has specific jobs to do every time your senses engage in a new experience.
For example, if you are sitting in five o'clock traffic your frontal lobe will help you reason out the quickest route to your destination. As you are driving, your parietal lobe processes the messages on the highway signs, so you know which exit has your favorite restaurant. This lobe is also responsible for the processes involved in handwriting. The occipital lobe handles everything your eyes can see. Memories, both the visual and auditory components, are stored within the temporal lobe of your brain. When you learn new tasks, the odds are that most of the lobes of the brain are involved somehow.
The comprehensive nature of all the brain lobes working together helps lead to brain-based teaching. What exactly is brain-based teaching? It is a holistic teaching method, inspired by neuroscience research, that focuses on letting the brain learn naturally. This means that instead of traditional learning, where students listen to a teacher, take notes, and memorize those notes, learning reaches out to multiple learning styles, like visual, logical, and interpersonal. Brain-based teaching and learning helps the brain learn and grow efficiently.
It seems ironic, but the reality is the process that happens in the brain when we learn is very simple. You are born with most of the neurons your brain will ever have in its lifetime. These neurons can migrate to different areas of your brain, and once they are there, they can start to grow fibers called dendrites. Every time your brain learns something new, it grows new dendrites from your original neurons, or out of dendrites that your brain has already created.
Dendrites can connect to each other, as new learning attaches onto the prior knowledge. These points of connection are called synapses. When you practice a skill, such as playing the piano, your dendrites actually grow thicker and the synapses stronger. This allows you to retrieve information more quickly. Brain-based learning uses a comprehensive approach so students can connect to prior knowledge and so that dendrites and synapses can grow.
The environment is key in brain-based learning, and in the digital age, that extends to the virtual environment as well. The amygdala, located at the center of the brain, governs emotions, which can facilitate or inhibit the learning process. Therefore, building an emotional climate within the classroom is a key component of brain-based learning strategies.
We live in an age where the students we teach are perhaps more digitally connected than ourselves. Myspace, Facebook, and Instagram alone provide students opportunities to digitally connect outside of the classroom. Students need opportunities to build both face to face and digital relationships within the context of the classroom as well. The first step is establishing a virtual presence for your classroom.
In its simplest form, this could mean setting up a classroom website that students can access both inside and outside of school. On the website, you can post information relevant to students and parents, such as homework assignments, or a calendar with important school dates and deadlines. Your website can also be more sophisticated, with pages for each unit of study where you can post assignments, study guides, or links to digital resources for your students.
A more interactive option for creating a digital presence for your class is to establish a classroom blog. This can be done using a number of free online resources. Using this strategy, you can actually have a digital dialogue with your students about classroom content and assignments. Students can have conversations online about everything from specific course content to a team project they may be working on. You can even link your blog to your classroom website for your students.
Depending on the age of your students, and the resources they have available, texting or emailing is another option for creating a digital classroom presence to develop relationships with your students. Typically your school will provide you with an email address, but you can also create a Gmail address or use services such as Google Voice to be able to send and receive texts from your students.
The goal of whichever option you choose is to develop a rapport with your students so that they feel comfortable communicating with you inside and outside the classroom. These strategies should be used alongside face-to-face communication with your students in order to engage the brain.
The goal of brain-based learning is to engage as many different areas of the brain as possible. In the digital age, this does not mean abandoning face-to-face strategies. Rather, it means finding productive ways to blend different modes of interaction. Using Gardner's Multiple Intelligences is a good way to think about how you approach creating variety for your students in a digital age.
For example, on your classroom website you might create a 'playlist' of resources for your students. Some could be digital videos on the content while others might be readings from different texts or websites.
The content presented as videos will appeal to your visual-spatial learners, while text-based information appeals to those who are more linguistic in their learning style. When you have students who are musical in their learning style, try finding songs or music videos that teach key vocabulary and add those to your playlist.
For your students who are more bodily-kinesthetic, which is a key component of learning and growing dendrites, offer more hands-on options such as labs or learning games for your students to experience.
Interpersonal learning is learning through interactions with others. This could include face-to-face conversations in the small group or whole class discussions. Another option is having students create team blogs for a project, or just having conversations via email about the course content.
Logical-mathematical learning is based on problem-solving and pattern recognition. This can be achieved through in-class or virtual simulations related to the course content.
Whatever the learning style profile of your students, you want to incorporate digital tools to offer the widest variety of learning experiences you can for your students. This will allow students to be engaged in actively processing content on a variety of different levels, therefore engaging several areas of the brain in the learning process.
Teachers have long known that turning content into games is a ideal way to engage students in their content. This is because games appeal to the amygdala, the area of the brain that controls emotions, by creating excitement in the learning process. Additionally, games allow for repetition of content, which is important if content is to be eventually filed away in long-term memory in the temporal lobe of your brain.
There are innumerable websites that allow teachers to create a wide variety of games for students. Games can be created by the teacher or the student, or in some cases websites may have a list of pre-made games in a variety of content areas. Some can be conducted as a whole class, while others can be available on demand to students on a computer, tablet, or smart phone. These games allow students to engage on the foundational content at any time, which in turn thickens those dendrites teachers are desperately trying to build.
Many websites offer digital learning games that can be embedded into your classroom website, or emailed to students, so that they can easily locate the games when they are not sitting in your classroom.
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Back To CourseEducational Psychology: Tutoring Solution
9 chapters | 335 lessons
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