Brain Connection

“There is nothing new in this approach”

When people say “good teachers have been doing this for years,” you may be very young or have a short memory. Only 40 years ago, good teaching was defined by all-lecture, content-laden classes, clean desks, quiet students (in their seats), with little movement. Yes, it’s true that some teachers have been using brain-compatible strategies for centuries, but most have been moving towards a more brain-friendly approach.

Keep in mind that if you don’t know why you do what you do, it’s less purposeful and less professional. It’s probably your collected, refined wisdom. Nothing wrong with that, but some of the “collected, refined wisdom” has led to some bad teaching, too.
But to be purposeful about your work; ah... that is another matter. Are there recent discoveries from the world of brain-mind science that can be applied to the classroom? You bet! Here’s a list highlighting a few specific areas of research that have important implications for learning, memory, schools and trainings.

The growing brain: the human brain can and does grow new cells
The social brain: how interactions and social status impacts stress levels
The hormonal brain: hormones can and do impact cognition
The moving brain: how movement influences learning
The spatial brain: how space and relational learning & recall works
The attentional brain: prefrontal cortex, what really drives attention and ADD
The emotional brain: impact of threats on hormones, memory, cells and genes
The patient brain: the role of time in the learning process
The computational brain: the role of feedback in forming neural networks
The artful brain: the role of arts and music
The hungry brain: what to eat: the role of nutrition in learning and memory
The memorable brain: how our memories are encoded and retrieved

As you can tell, these discoveries come from many areas. Critics who worry over where the research comes from are missing the point. Educators need to and ought to combine the findings of the brain/mind field with other fields to diversify and strengthen the applications. Neuroscience is not the only source for research; it’s an important part of a larger puzzle. When you synthesize it with other fields like sociology, chemistry, anthropology, future studies, anthropology, therapy and others, you can get some powerful applications.

Cognitive science, psychology, neurobiology, and neuroscience are all studying the same thing! They are interested in the brain/mind and how it works. The brain is what you have, the mind is using it. Different fields do research at different levels. Basic neuroscience research is usually done at the molecular, genetic or cellular level. At this level, we hear of neurogenesis and the growth of stem cells. That’s contrasted with applied cognitive sciences, which may feature animal studies, or clinical studies that show the real world behaviors we are equally interested in.

The point is, we now know enough about the brain to justify specific strategies, that only a few years ago, were just good ideas without scientific basis. Here’s an example. We have irrefutable evidence that embedding intense emotions (like a celebration or drama) into an activity may stimulate the release of adrenaline, which may encode the memory of the learning much stronger.
-From Eric Jensen's website at

Brain Based Learning Introduction Itinerary

I. Double Doodling.doc – Movement to Energize, Motivate, Engage, Clear the Mind, Focus

II. Nothing New In This Approach
a. What we’ll be covering: No prescribed way (would undo nature of what we’re doing) Brain Body Facts.doc
b. Attention to Engagement and Motivation through Color, Movement (cross laterals), Tweaking
Techniques, Environments for learning, Relaxation (Right State of Mind), Emotions, and Long
Term Memory. Environmental Influences on

III. Long Term Memory -2 page.doc – Specifically Emotions and Learning

IV. Color Handout Color Responses.pdf

V. Lazy 8’s

VI. Foldable: Zip Tie Strips (Discussion of Organizing Information) 11-MiniStepIGAMI.JPG

VII. Brain Handout: Go over each of the parts and cut into Foldable. Brain Bookable.pdf

VIII. Arm Activation.doc

IX. Memory Techniques Bookable, specifically Europe and Rhymes MnemonicDevices.pdf

X. Placemats: Learning Styles/Multiple Intelligences, 2-D Graphic Organizers, Learning Pyramid,
Supplies, Relaxation Techniques, Test Taking Strategies. Segue from Note-Making Placemat to
Note Making Page. Homework Placemat Side Homework Placemat Side

XI. / SQ3R

XII. Cross Laterals: Ear/Nose, Hand to Shoulder, Arm Hug, Cross Crawl

XIII. Foldable: Mini-Books 13-ChapIGAMI.JPG

XIV. Handouts: Highlight Eric Jensen’s Books, specifically Energizers -- Where to get the books by Jensen, Sousa, & Dennison

XV. Questions, Comments, Evaluation, and Wrap-Up

Relaxation (State of Mind)
Long Term Memory
Movement (Punctuate with movement)