Category Archives: Application

Teaching to the brain…



I have recently participated in several workshops at ASCD Teaching for Excellence 2014 that touched on Brain Based teaching and learning.  While not the focus of the session topics, the strategies that were provided were enough to make me want to learn more about power behind this theory.

While my goal is to spend a significant amount more time on this topic in future blogging and go into depth on specific strategies, especially in gender biased learning and ways to overcome it through brain teaching and learning, my goal today in this post is to begin to collect some of the strategies that speak to the heart of brain based teaching.

Eric Jensen, an expert in the field of Brian based defined the theory in his book, Brain Based Learning: The New Paradigm of Teaching in three words, “engagement, strategies and principles.”  He continues by saying, “Brain-based education is the engagement of strategies based on principles derived from an understanding of the brain.” (Jensen 2008).

To support such change in ones practice below is the beginning of my collection of brain based learning from websites, to publications, to videos that offer an insight into the very heart of the subject.



This is one video from Eric Jenson that explains the foundations of Brian-based learning;

I have also started a channel on Youtube that has a collection of videos on brain-based learning.  You can find the channel here


Below are just a few websites that offer an overview on brain based learning.



Even though I have no formal training in brain based learning, I have found that some of the suggestions and strategies I naturally carry out in my teaching or my suggestions for teachers as “best practice”  and capitalize on the teachable moment!  I do believe that as educators when we follow our intuition, much of the theory that abounds is almost second nature in classroom practice.  But it can be reassuring to know that the experts support the practice through research. 🙂


Because of Irene and Twitter

So what does one do, when one is in the middle of a hurricane?  Goes on twitter of course!  And when you have hours to spend on twitter because the cable is going in and out, you can get lost in the world of resources that are shared by educators who have embraced web 2.0!

I was very reluctant to twitter at first, but slowly, I am getting into the idea, if for nothing else the volume of information out there and the endless ideas that are being shared.  Some of which are, in my opinion awesome, cool, and just to good not to consider for your classrooms;

Faux Facebook Worksheet

So I kinda thought this was one of those things that could be helpful as a pre-assessment activity.  Soooo many of our students know Facebook better then basic multiplication and division that this template is such a easy way to get them engaged because they basically create a Facebook page and can do it without the internet.

What I like about this resource from @tcbird1  is the fact that it is self explanatory for most kids.  It provides a lot of places for pre-assessment for students.  What I caution is the idea of making this the main assignment.  As a PBL minded educator this is not a project and it is definitely not a problem – but it could be used in conjunction with other activities very nicely.

Story Board Work Station – Math

I think that this resource is great.  It is clearly geared towards lower grades but I could see my middle schoolers using this.  What I like so much about it is the cross content aspect  – as it specifically asks students to apply concepts they have learned in Literacy to complete a math problem.  The resource, which comes from @plnauge is such a great place to start if you are looking to set up a math center quickly but with one that really creates a simple problem.

(#) Hash tags

When I finally dove into the Twittersphere, I noticed these (#) tags at the end of tweets.  At first I ignored it but slowly I started to click on them and now I can’t live without them when I am on twitter.  The hash tags collect all the tweets that have the tag and put them into a thread so you can read them all together.  Makes it very easy to focus on one thing in the very big twitter world.  Some must follows in education are #edchat, #edadmin (if you want to know what is on the mind of school administration), #sschat, #scichat, #mathchat, #engchat, #PBL,  #midleved (for us middle level people) and #nwp (The National Writing Project.

Technology Tibits

One to of the other great things about Twitter is the fact that some many people who tweet also have blogs and some of the blogs are an amazing amount of resources at your finger tips.  Once such must is Technology Tibits.  David Kapuler @dkapuler is a great site for all things web and tech.  Applications abound and quick reviews of what they do make it easy to pick and choose what works for you.  The site also lets you subscribe for a quick and easy email of the latest and coolest programs out there.


Because of Irene, I have learned the power behind twitter and have built my PLN, ten fold to connect me with amazing educators worldwide who are ready and willing to help, support, and guide in the education world.  If your not on twitter – you should be!!!

Creately via Twitter!

I tend to receive a far amount of tweets from a few key educators and educational institutions that have saved me the time scouring the web looking for the next great tech gadget, program, app, etc!  It has been pretty cool seeing what is out there all thanks to retweets. You go twitter!!!

One such interesting program that I have just discovered is Creately which allows you to create all kinds of charts with pretty cool graphics, text boxes, linking, etc.  It is similar to the app on the Ipad called Popplet (which I am not a huge fan of because I see it as far more limited unless you spend the money to have the upgraded version.    But then you still don’t have as many options as this).

In the short time I was playing around with it, I came up with a quick chart about the first social studies unit we do in Grade 7 –

My first Creately!!!!!

Now, in my opinion the benefits of this program are endless in the classroom.  Students in groups can make one big presentation and you can easily save them (unlike Popplet) and there seems to be many more graphics and options unlike Popplet.  As a teacher this is a quick and easy way to engage students and incorporate the technology aspect we are always searching for (and work in that Common Core too!!!)

It also seems to be very easy to work with, and I do believe upper elementary students can easily move through the program.  Of course, if you upgrade you have even more options.  Additionally you can use it online and offline.  However, it still does not have the one thing that I have been searching for (unless I missed it) which is the app/software/interent program which allows you to move between computers, tablets and the internet. 😦