10 Brain Tips To Teach and Learn

The amyg­dala deals with our emo­tions, helps process our mem­o­ries, and gets total­ly absorbed in man­ag­ing our response to fear and stress. Com­bined, these are big­gies, so the hip­pocam­pus and hypo­thal­a­mus chime in with some assis­tance. The hip­pocam­pus han­dles fac­tu­al infor­ma­tion, while the hypo­thal­a­mus mon­i­tors how your body is doing inter­nal­ly and directs the pitu­itary gland to release hor­mones on the basis of func­tions such as body tem­per­a­ture, appetite, and sex­u­al functioning.

8. Nov­el­ty is anoth­er big hook. As infor­ma­tion pre­sen­ta­tion blends between teach­ers or stays the same by one teacher, it becomes dif­fi­cult to see pat­terns and stu­dents may tune out the “same­ness”. But change it up a bit, intro­duce some­thing rad­i­cal­ly dif­fer­ent or in a rad­i­cal­ly dif­fer­ent man­ner, and all of a sud­den it is like a quick-pick-me-up in the mid­dle of a les­son, a “brain snack”. Stu­dents refo­cus their atten­tion, and it can even enliv­en your pre­sen­ta­tion and wake you up!

One way to incor­po­rate nov­el­ty is to add some 9. Move­ment to reen­er­gize the body and brain cells. Move­ment can shake the sil­lies out or wake up slug­gish bod­ies and brains; it can be an anti­dote to the time of day or the climate.

Move­ment is also a close rel­a­tive of 10. Exer­cise, and it has been shown that exer­cise is espe­cial­ly help­ful in keep­ing our adult brains healthy, so remem­ber to par­tic­i­pate in that move­ment with your stu­dents (and they will prob­a­bly con­sid­er your par­tic­i­pa­tion a bit novel!).

Nov­el­ty and move­ment can also effec­tive­ly be used to assist kids with sharp­en­ing con­trol of their exec­u­tive func­tion, which is man­aged by the frontal lobes in the neo­cor­tex. Exec­u­tive func­tion is how we con­trol our atten­tion, cre­ate plans, and car­ry out those plans. Too often in school, kids are required to “sit still” and “qui­et down”, yet these are the very basics of being a kid! Con­sid­er har­ness­ing that nat­ur­al kid ener­gy to help stu­dents man­age their own func­tion­ing. Indeed, in a recent Newsweek arti­cle, Wray Her­bert notes that an exec­u­tive func­tion cur­ricu­lum has emerged to help stu­dents man­age “effort­ful con­trol and cog­ni­tive focus but also work­ing mem­o­ry and men­tal flex­i­bil­i­ty” the abil­i­ty to adjust to change, to think out­side the box. My next post will share some of the many resources I have found to be par­tic­u­lar­ly use­ful, includ­ing the Learn­ing & the Brain con­fer­ence, which is a “must attend” if you can swing it!

Laurie BartelsLau­rie Bar­tels writes the Neu­rons Fir­ing blog to cre­ate for her­self the “the grad­u­ate course” I’d love to take if it exist­ed as a pro­gram”. She is the K‑8 Com­put­er Coor­di­na­tor and Tech­nol­o­gy Train­ing Coor­di­na­tor at Rye Coun­try Day School in Rye, New York. She is also the orga­niz­er of Dig­i­tal Wave annu­al sum­mer pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment, and a fre­quent attendee of Learn­ing & The Brain conferences.


  1. Gabrielle on July 3, 2008 at 5:24

    Some very good points there, par­tic­ual­ly no. 6.

  2. Garrett on July 7, 2008 at 11:41

    Great arti­cle. Thanks for the inspi­ra­tion. I can cer­tain­ly enhance my work with your suggestions…

    Keep it up


  3. Patti Cole on July 15, 2008 at 12:22

    Hi Lau­rie

    Great to read your essay.……I incor­po­rate these ideas into my Eng­lish Lit and Writ­ing Class­es. Got­ta love my job!!! Thanks for your essay. Patti

  4. Deborah on July 17, 2008 at 2:55

    These have been demon­strat­ed to pos­i­tive­ly effect stu­dent change in the class­room. In a co-teach­ing sit­u­a­tion, the tag team approach would keep the stu­dents on their toes and enable the teach­ers to manuev­er from one top­ic to the next with­out much lag time.

English About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.

English About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

Top Articles on Brain Health and Neuroplasticity

Top 10 Brain Teasers and Illusions


Subscribe to our e-newsletter

* indicates required

Got the book?