10 Ways to Make Your Class Brain-Friendly
Nov 10, 2010 Classroom Materials 2817 Views
During the past 15-20 years, there have been many advancements in brain scan technology. These advancements are having a profound effect on the field of education in when, what, and how we teach so that learning is maximized. "Brain-friendly" techniques are applications of those new discoveries.
1. Movement: At least once every hour students should be out of their seats and moving around. Every 20 minutes would be better. Have the class practice activities like getting into and out of groups, getting out materials, etc., so the transition or activity is not disruptive to your class.
2. Safety: The brain's number one function is survival, so a safe environment is a must for learning to take place. You are also legally obligated to provide a safe environment for each of your students. This includes both physical and emotional safety. Know your district policy on bullying. Look for harassment of any kind and respond to it immediately.
3. Novelty: The brain quickly turns its attention to anything unusual, so be willing to stretch yourself into doing things your students don't expect. Stand on your desk, teach from the side of the room, include unusual photos in a presentation.
4. Priming/Pre-exposure: Have materials on your walls that you don't yet mention, but that will be talked about in the next week or next unit. This pre-exposure will facilitate future learning and retention. You are "priming the pump" for future learning.
5. Processing Time: The brain can only focus its attention on one thing at a time. It can either be taking in new information or it can be processing that information -- but it can't do both. This means that you should only present new information for a short period of time and then give some processing time. Then repeat this pattern several times during class.
6. Physical Comfort: Teachers often have little control over the temperature of classrooms. Encourage students to dress in layers. Student desks tend to be very uncomfortable. You may not be able to do anything about this, but you can help make them more comfortable by allowing them to get out of their chairs frequently.
7. Lighting: Proper lighting can have a huge impact on learning. Fluorescent lights "buzz" and flicker, which can be annoying to students and teachers. If you have windows, open them! Face the chairs away from the windows to avoid distractions from the outside. Lamps with "Reveal" type bulbs are helpful to add more natural light to your room.
8. Interest Level: Boredom kills brain cells. It's not OK to let students zone out or sleep. You must do your best to present information in a way that catches their interest and instruct in a way that continually recaptures their attention.
9. Positive Emotional States: Students bring their own "emotional world" into the classroom with them. Family and relationships issues, fears and anxiety, excitement about the weekend. In order to learn they have to be in a receptive state. For many students their default state is apathy or a general feeling of negativity. They don't know how to change these states on their own so you will have to do it for them. Music, an interesting story, setting a mood will all help.
10. Engagement: Students play a very passive role in the majority of classrooms. Engaging your students and keeping them engaged will result in enormous benefits in your classroom. Time passes quickly, everyone is involved and everyone learns!
Memory, learning, reasoning, problem-solving, etc. will all be improved when your class is "Brain-Friendly." Always keep these characteristics in mind as your plan every aspect of every teaching day. Look to teach with the way the brain learns best and you will start to see a real difference!