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Teaching EFL with the Brain in mind


Published on

Presented at Ventesol 2006 by
Bertha Leiva, Universidad Simon Bolivar, Caracas

Published in: Technology, Education

Teaching EFL with the Brain in mind

  1. 1. Teaching EFL with the Brain in Mind Bertha Leiva USB
  2. 2. Priming <ul><li>Some info. on brain’s structure </li></ul><ul><li>Major Neuroscience findings </li></ul><ul><li>Brain-based learning </li></ul><ul><li>Learning and Memory </li></ul><ul><li>Implications </li></ul>
  3. 3. As teachers what do we know about the brain?
  4. 4. What do we know about brain lobes?
  5. 5. Neuroscience Magnetic Resonance Imaging MRI Electroencephalogram EEG-MEG Lab animals Pet scans
  7. 7. Neuroscience findings The brain has a triad structure The brain is not a computer The brain changes with use, throughout our lifetime survival emotions thinking
  8. 8. Meaning Patterns Connections Humans’ search for meaning is innate The search for meaning comes through patterning Emotions are critical to patterning, and drive our attention, meaning and memory Meaning is more important than just information Meaning is generated from within, not externally
  9. 9. More key brain research findings EMOTION Is the gatekeeper to learning
  10. 10. INTELLIGENCE is a function of EXPERIENCE
  11. 11. <ul><li>what is meaningful </li></ul><ul><li>from the </li></ul><ul><li>LEARNER’S perspective . </li></ul>The brain stores most effectively
  12. 12. <ul><li>it develops better </li></ul><ul><li>in concert with other brains. </li></ul>The brain is social
  13. 13. <ul><li>is enhanced by challenge </li></ul>Complex learning and inhibited by stress
  14. 14. Limitations of the Brain <ul><li>Memories are malleable. </li></ul><ul><li>It rarely gets it right </li></ul><ul><li>the first time. </li></ul><ul><li>Too much, too fast, </li></ul><ul><li>won´t last </li></ul><ul><li>Difficulty of altering </li></ul><ul><li>representations </li></ul><ul><li>formed in early life </li></ul>
  15. 15. Brain-Based learning <ul><li>how current research in neuroscience suggests our brain learns naturally . </li></ul><ul><li>what we know about the actual structure and function of the human brain at different stages of development. </li></ul><ul><li>biologically driven framework for teaching and learning that helps explain recurring learning behaviors. </li></ul><ul><li>meta-concept that includes an eclectic mix of techniques: teachers connect learning to students’ real life experiences </li></ul>
  16. 16. Brain-Based learning <ul><li>encompasses such educational concepts as:   </li></ul><ul><li>learning styles </li></ul><ul><li>multiple intelligences </li></ul><ul><li>emotional intelligence </li></ul><ul><li>cooperative learning </li></ul><ul><li>problem-based learning </li></ul><ul><li>experiential learning </li></ul><ul><li>movement education </li></ul>
  17. 17. STOP AGAIN In the next 2 minutes STAND UP Walk around the room Share your expectations about this session with a new colleague
  18. 18. Learning and memory: two sides of a coin to neuroscientists Learning occurs when a cell requires less input from another cell the next time it is activated The cell has learned to respond differently A cell is stimulated repeatedly so it excites a nearby cell. The more stimulation, the more likely long-term memory is created. Learning is achieved through the alteration of synaptic efficacy
  19. 19. Learning and Memory <ul><li>Use complex memory strategies involving changes of location, intensity of emotion, movement, rest, art, performances, writing, sketching, etc., to engage multiple memory pathways and strengthen memory connections . </li></ul>Information is stored in multiple areas of the brain and is retrieved through multiple memory and neural pathways so:
  20. 20. Learning and Memory <ul><li>Avoid losing the existing synaptic connections. </li></ul><ul><li>Repeat the learning or knowledge through various methods long term memory. </li></ul><ul><li>Organize info. graphically: the brain is designed to learn and develop patterns of thinking which can be replicated quickly. </li></ul><ul><li>Be aware that all learning is mind-body: movement, foods, attention cycles, and chemicals modulate learning and affect memory.  </li></ul>
  21. 21. Now, what do we do with all this info.?
  23. 23. Teaching strategies <ul><li>Connections are best made when presenting material in an integrated interdisciplinary way (manipulatives, field trips, guest speakers, real-life projects) </li></ul><ul><li>A relaxed, nonthreatening environment that removes students' fear of failure while maintaining a highly challenging environment is considered best for brain-based learning. </li></ul>
  24. 24. Class strategies <ul><li>Start most activities with questions that will guide your next actions: priming </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid threats and confrontations </li></ul><ul><li>Have students learn about the brain </li></ul><ul><li>Have: </li></ul><ul><li>High structure multiple rituals , </li></ul><ul><li>Journaling and reflection time </li></ul><ul><li>Celebrations, cheers, many positives </li></ul><ul><li>Frequent accountability meetings </li></ul><ul><li>Arts: music, performance, visuals </li></ul><ul><li>High interest content </li></ul><ul><li>Movement , activity, purposeful games </li></ul><ul><li>Constant feedback and support </li></ul><ul><li>Flexibility in seating and positioning </li></ul><ul><li>Repetition and visual prompts </li></ul>?
  25. 25. Ideally in the classroom there should be … <ul><li>Rich, stimulating environments : bulletin boards and display areas. </li></ul><ul><li>Places for group learning : tables and desks grouped together. </li></ul><ul><li>Indoor and outdoor spaces : to move about and oxygenate. </li></ul><ul><li>Classroom displays changed regularly : students </li></ul><ul><li>create stage sets where they can act out scenes from their readings or demonstrate a science principle or act out a dialogue between historical figures. </li></ul><ul><li>Active and passive places : quiet areas for reflection and retreat from others to use intrapersonal intelligence . </li></ul><ul><li>Enrichment: The brain can grow new connections at ANY AGE. Challenging, complex experiences with appropriate feedback are best. Cognitive skills develop better with music and motor skills. </li></ul><ul><li>Personal space : a desk or locker area to allow learners to express their unique identity. </li></ul>
  26. 26. Implement diverse and alternative assessment <ul><li>Promote PORTFOLIOS for reflective improvement and self-assessment. These help teachers and students observe demonstrated growth over time. </li></ul><ul><li>Assess students’ progress through PEER assignments, demonstrations, writing and art as well as pre and post surveys and tests. </li></ul><ul><li>Have both verbal and written student SELF-assessments to evaluate academic growth, and interdisciplinary and cross-curricular projects to provide for REALISTIC assessment tools. </li></ul><ul><li>Keep appropriate content mastery through regular TESTING programs that promote multiple answers. </li></ul><ul><li>In essence, expose students to MULTIPLE assessment methods. </li></ul>
  27. 27. It thrives on water, proteins, challenge and a threat-free environment <ul><li>Remember that : </li></ul><ul><li>Neural growth happens because of the process , not the solution to a problem. </li></ul><ul><li>Authentic learning situations increase the brain's ability to make connections and retain new information. </li></ul><ul><li>Feedback is best when it comes from reality , rather than from an authority figure. </li></ul><ul><li>Lasting learning occurs when students have a personally meaningful challenge. </li></ul>Use it or lose it
  28. 28. References <ul><li>Costa, A. (2001). Developing Minds: A Resource Book for Teaching Thinking. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development ASCD. </li></ul><ul><li>Jensen, E. (1998) .Teaching with the Brain in Mind. Alexandria, VA: ASCD. </li></ul><ul><li>Jensen, E. (2000). 6-Day Workshop Folder: How the Brain Learns, CA </li></ul><ul><li>Jensen, E. (1997). Brain Facts. Workshop booklet. </li></ul><ul><li>Kasuga, L., Gutiérrez, C. and Muñoz, J. (1999). Aprendizaje Acelerado. Mexico: Editorial Tomo. </li></ul><ul><li>Perkins, D., Costa, A, and B. Kallick (2000). Activating and Engaging Habits of Mind. Alexandria, VA: ASCD. </li></ul>
  29. 29. Questions & comments [email_address]
  30. 30. STOP In the next 2 minutes STAND UP, shake your body, move your neck around AND LEAVE THE ROOM THANKS FOR COMING!!!