Brain-Based Learning

Brain-Based Learning: The New Paradigm of Teaching, by Eric Jensen

Discover a learning approach tuned to the brain’s natural way of learning. These strategies help reduce discipline problems, overcome learning difficulties, and increase graduation rates.

Action Strategies

Action Strategies for Deepening Comprehension: Role Plays, Text Structure Tableaux, Talking Statues and Other Enrichment Techniques that Engage Students with Text, by Jeffrey D. Wilhelm

Before reading, hand out lines of a poem and have students try to build an idea of what the poem will be about…invite two students to play good angel/bad angel for a book character…have students perform a vocabulary statue depicting the meaning of terms such as global warming or deforestation. This book has many motivating ideas like this that energize students before, during, and after reading. These strategies can be done individually, or through pair work or groups. Great for deepening reading strategies such as activating prior knowledge, inferring, visualizing, making connections, and more.

Brain Rules

Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School, by John Medina

Multitasking is the great buzz word in business today, but as developmental molecular biologist Medina tells readers in a chapter on attention, the brain can really only focus on one thing at a time. This alone is the best argument for not talking on your cellphone while driving. Medina (The Genetic Inferno) presents readers with a basket containing an even dozen good principles on how the brain works and how we can use them to our benefit at home and work. The author says our visual sense trumps all other senses, so pump up those PowerPoint presentations with graphics. The author says that we don’t sleep to give our brain a rest—studies show our neurons firing furiously away while the rest of the body is catching a few z’s. While our brain indeed loses cells as we age, it compensates so that we continue to be able to learn well into our golden years. Many of these findings and minutiae will be familiar to science buffs, but the author employs an appealing style, with suggestions on how to apply his principles, which should engage all readers.

How the Brain Learns

How the Brain Learns, by David A. Sousa
This powerful bestseller on brain research and education provides practical information that teachers can use in classroom activities and lessons, including basic brain facts that can help students learn, insights on how the brain processes information, and tips on maximizing retention using “down time.”

Lost in a Book

Lost in a Book: The Psychology of Reading for Pleasure, by Victor Nell

People read either to dull consciousness or to heighten it, according to psychologist Victor Nell. “Type A” readers rush to a book as an island of tranquility amid a sea of personal anxiety, fear and guilt. In contrast, “Type B” readers yoke their imaginations to the author’s, enriching their inner lives by reenacting daily experiences. This provocative theory seems to imply that an abyss separates escapist trash from serious literature, yet Nell, who teaches at the University of South Africa (where he conducted the behavioral research underpinning this study) derides such notions as elitist prejudice. Instead, he maps different levels in readers’ change of consciousness, from absorption all the way to entrancement. While some sections of his report are for specialists, bookworms will enjoy his discussions of mass reading tastes, how readers choose material, the spellbinding powers of narrative, and the ways reading resembles dreaming, hypnosis and fantasy.