For my professional growth plan this year I have been investigating texts on neuroscience findings and their implications for education. One book I read was John Medina’s excellent Brain Rules. I think some of the points were more salient to my subject area (English language and literature) than others, and so I have attempted to suggest possible changes to my practice to promote a more ‘brain friendly’ environment in the class using only four of these rules. (Some of the others are more institutional in nature and out of my hands!)
In short, I have made two important immediate modifications to my planning for teaching and learning:
1) Repetition and Connections (rules 5 and 6). Our units of inquiry can be problematic, as we can fall into the trap of trying to give too much information to the students at once. To correct this, I have created ‘bridging units’ that are short, formative one or two week courses that run between larger units and revise / introduce topics that come both before and after. Also, I try to revisit concepts, language terms and texts from earlier in the year as much as possible.
2) Attention and Sensory Integration (rules 4 and 9). People don’t learn effectively if they are not interested in the topic. I have started trying to emotionally engage students to regain attention, every 10 minutes or so, with a funny anecdote that relates to the topic of study. (It is nice to have people listen to your ‘lame’ jokes and stories sometimes, so this is working out well for me!) Also, I have started trying to employ more video clips and sound/music to teach literary concepts. (Flocabulary is a great site for this!)
I will keep thinking about more ways to create a more ‘brain friendly’ English classroom! My summary is embedded below.