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Teaching Students About the Brain February 16, 2010

Posted by Connie Chow in Books and articles, Executive Director Musings, For parents, General.
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Judy Willis was a neurologist before becoming a middle-school teacher, and is a pioneer in bringing what we know about how we learn to how we should teach.  How to Teach Students About the Brain, from Educational Leadership, December 2009 | Volume 67 | Number 4

She’s created a “Brain Owner’s Manual” and explicitly teaches her students about how the brain works. By telling them that the brain is a muscle that can be exercised, and then teaching them specific strategies, she motivates and trains them to become better learners.

Brain-ConnectionsI also appreciate that she incorporates mind-body “strategies” that takes into account the impact of the emotional brain to learning. (We’ve also been telling our mentors that it is essential they create that safe emotional space before any of those neural connections related to learning can be made). For example, Willis tells her students that to manage test anxiety, they should train themselves to take a deep breath and imagine a happy place for better recall and performance.

Most importantly, Willis unpacks the mystery of learning, and help us all realize that being “smart” is neither purely genetic nor static.

We’re going to incorporate some of these ideas into our Junior Mentor/C.E.L.L.S. program. We encourage you to try the many ideas with the young(er) ones around you.  If you’re interested in helping us conduct some of these workshops, let us know!



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