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Feeding the Zombies

The following teaching ideas come from the "Applying Brain Research: Ten Things the Brain Hates About School" chapter by Dr. Anne Decker and Ms. Lana Kirk. Special thanks to Mrs Stefanik, our elementary principal for passing this along. 

Viewpoints: Understanding the Issues that Shape Education Today (Saunders & Freemyer, 2010)

10. Unpleasant Physical Setting
  • Unpleasant Smells
  • Poor lighting
  • Use peppermint and or lemon for building long term memory and recall.  This is while they are learning as well as when they test.  Lemons make great stress balls.
  • Use ferns and palms in the classroom to clean the air and produce oxygen.
9. Lack of Music
  • Music build and strengthens auditory, sensory, and visual neural connections.  So a silent classroom is not ideal.
  • Play marches when you need to engage your students’ brains and music from the Baroque period that uses 60 beats a minute for calming students’ brains.
8. Lack of Movement
  • Remember sitting still decreases the blood flow to the brain and it hinders learning. Move every seven minutes. 
7. Insufficient Food and Water
  • Drinking caffeinated beverages is one contributor to some students being chronically dehydrated.
  • The brain make up is only 2% of the total body weight, yet it uses 20% of the calories.
  • A dehydrated brain will not function properly.
  • The brain needs water and snacks (protein-rich) to work at its maximum capacity.
6. Lack of Creativity
  • Brains need the freedom to set goals, express thoughts and ideas, and connect learning to the world around them.
  • Brains require students to create and defend hypotheses.
  • Teachers will build this into their lessons and not just feed information.
5. Reliance on Only One Memory Category
  • Use of graphic organizers, chucking and strategies that allow students to restate or rephrase information allow for the most efficient use of memory.
  • The brain processes the shape, color, size, pattern, texture, sound, taste, and odor all at the same time.
4. Lack of Emotional Content
  • If students are anxious, depressed, or even angry, they do not receive information in an efficient way.
  • Students need time set aside in the classroom to personally reflect on the information, relate it to personal experiences, and apply it to solve a problem, use it to evaluate a scenario, or create something new with it.
  • Cooperative learning activities, models, metaphors, music, games, drama, storytelling, celebrations, and debates all increase the potential of emotional content in learning.
3. Lack of Relevancy
  • Brain friendly teachers use relationships between disciplines, facilitate connections, and assist in building meaning to personal use of the material.
2. Lack of Active Learning
  • Students are intrinsically, not extrinsically motivated.
  • Students need problem-solving and cooperative learning activities to increase student intrinsic motivation.  Students need ownership.
  • The brains first priority is to keep the body alive.  Any danger will keep all other information out.
  • Provide a safe environment.  Do not use sarcasm, pop-quizzes, or threats.
  • Provide routine.  Students need 15-20 rituals to feel secure.

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