"The good news is that students can get better and better provided that we design instruction to improve their skills-and we can do so right from the start, in kindergarten and first grade."

(Joyce B., Weil M., & Calhoun E. (2009) Models of teaching and learning, Pearson, 13)

Description of Approach

Some of the tenets of this approach are that information is stored in multiple areas of the brain therefore can be retrieved in multiple ways, meaning is more than just information, each brain is organized differently, and there are two types of memory rote and spatial. Brain-based learning has hatched a new discipline now entitled by some as educational neuroscience, or by others as mind, brain, and education science (Sousa, 2011). This type of learning is a comprehensive approach to instruction using research from neuroscience. Brain-based education shows how the brain's natural course of learning and function is designed. It is important for teachers to connect learning to students' real lives and emotional experiences. This also utilizes newer educational proponents such as:

  • experiential learning,

  • multiple intelligences,

  • cooperative learning,

  • problem-based learning,

  • movement education.

Some of the key researchers in this approach include: Leslie Hart; Marian Diamond, U. C., Berkeley; Howard Gardner, Harvard University; Renate and Geoffrey Caine; Thomas Armstrong; Candace Pert, Eric Jensen; David Sousa.

Information Resources

  • http://www. brainsmart.com

  • http://www.brainconnection.positscience.com

  • http://www.designshore.com

  • http://www.eduscapes.com

  • http://www. funderstanding.com

  • http://www.4unsp.edu/eduacation/lwilson

  • Caine, G., Nummela-Caine, R., & Crowell, S. (1999) Mindshifts: A Brain-Based Process for Restructuring Schools and Renewing Education, 2nd edition. Tucson, AZ: Zephyr Press.

  • Caine, G., Nummela-Caine, (1997) Education on the edge of possibility. Alexandria, VA: ASCD--Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

  • D'Arcangelo, M. (2000). How does the brain develop? A conversation with Steven Peterson. Educational Leadership, 58(3), 68-71.

  • Jensen, E. (1998) Teaching with the Brain in Mind. Alexandria, VA: ASCD--Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

  • Jensen, E. (2000) Brain-Based Learning. San Diego: Brain Store Incorporated.

  • Jensen, E. & Johnson, G. (1994) The Learning Brain. San Diego: Brain Store Incorporated.

  • Sousa, D. (2006, 2011) How the brain learns. Thousand Oaks, CA. Corwin Press.

Strategies and Ideas for Implementation

(Eric Jensen's Quick 6)

  • 1. The saying “too much, too fast,” means we won’t integrate and recall the information if you teach is quickly. Instead, chunk down the learning into small chunks; allow processing and settling time with partners or as reflective journal time.
  • 2. Because every brain is different—genes + experience, plus the interplay between the two, recall the importance of honoring uniqueness, respecting differences. That means use huge variety to maximize learning. Use visual, with illustrations, and podcasts and DVDs. Then use movement with drama, hands on and energizers. Also use plenty of call-response with partner dialogs.
  • 3. Most subjects can be learned under moderate stress; think of it as “healthy concern.” To ramp that up, use constant accountability. After every learning chunk, have kids create a quiz question, stand up, quiz their neighbor or create a short quiz of 10 questions. Use teams, peer pressure and deadlines to add concern. Remember the material better with an emotion embedded with it. After the quiz, celebrate the progress.
  • 4. Thinking about thinking builds learning skills as active processing time. Add the process of journaling, discussion and learning logs valuable for better learning. Give students starter sentences such as “What I was curious (or stressed over) about today was”… Or, “What I learned today was… and, the way I learned it best was when I.” Until patterns emerge, learning is often random and messy, following no clear path over time, the patterns become more obvious. Pattern making is more complex in second languages like math and music.
  • 5. Remember the value in non-learning or “settling” time, to consolidate the content. Take breaks, recess, lunch, relax time, walks, for passive processing. Even a quick energizer that’s fun and playful can be a good break.
  • 6. Our brain can memorize, but our best learning is the trial & error learning; it’s a key to complex learning–there’s value in games done well, so use games, computers, competition, building, initiatives, etc. Games like hopscotch, relays, or just let kids quiz each other. Brains rarely get it right the first time—learning complexity is built over time Using checklists, peer teaching, computers, asking Qs, are all examples of using trial and error.

Strategies and Ideas for Implementation

My experience in working with this approach has been beneficial. I had the pleasure of attending a workshop presented by Eric Jensen. I learned several quick strategies to help keep students alert and in the most effective learning mode. Some of the strategies were quick exercises in between phases of the lesson, drinking water during class, and repetition of key phrases in a fun way. Leaders that would like to implement this approach should be open minded and willing to get the kids up and moving and create a system of how to settle down when brain-based activities are completed.

Group Analysis

  • The brain-based approach to curriculum development has been the saving-grace so to speak for many students who are underserved by the traditional model of education. Students who exhibit behavior problems in the traditional classroom often do so because their needs are not being met and cannot access the content being taught because of the mode of delivery. When we take into account Gardner's multiple intelligences and allow learners to access the content in ways that best suit them, students become more invested and engaged in the learning process. I see it in action everyday and truly believe that no matter what curriculum approach a school or district implements, brain-based learning needs to be included so that every student has the opportunity to maximize their learning experience. ~Rebecca~
  • This approach to curriculum is one in which individual can access meaningful learning. Especially for younger children, the "chunk" is the way to teach. Often, students gain so much information, but their brains need a moment to process the information that is needed to actually learn the material. This means "breaks" in instruction. (For Kindergarteners, it's every 7 minutes). This could be done with a song, a cheer, or a stretch. When there is no break-time, the student quickly becomes disengaged and isn't processing any of the information being taught. -Vanessa