As promised in my previous post (10 Brain Training Tips To Teach and Learn), here are some of the resources that inform my understanding of the brain: books, conferences, and websites.
There are a multitude of books about the brain. For educators, the best of these are books that demystify the language of neuroscience while providing information applicable to the teaching/learning process.
Among the more prolific or well-known authors of this type include Jeb Schenck, Robert Sylwester, Barbara Givens, Robert Marzano, Marilee Sprenger, and Eric Jensen.
I have found books by Sprenger and Jensen to be immensely helpful. Both write about the brain in understandable terms, provide practical suggestions, discuss sensible ideas, and include innumerable references to supportive research. Three of my most referenced books by these two are:
- Sprenger How To Teach So Students Remember
- Sprenger Learning & Memory: The Brain in Action
- Jensen Teaching with the Brain in Mind, Revised 2nd Edition
A highly stimulating and informative experience is the 3‑day Learning & the Brain conference, which takes place three times a year. In the fall and spring it is held in Cambridge, MA, and in the winter it takes place in California. Each conference has an overarching theme, which is then broken down into six strands. In the past these strands have focused on pre‑K through college; the April 2008 conference ushered in addition of an adult brain strand.
The L&B conference runs the gamut from renowned neuroscientists sharing their research to practitioners translating that research into practical application. There are pre- and post-conference workshops, and plenty of opportunity to meet and talk with all presenters, as well as conference attendees. I have attended three times in four years, anticipate attending both Cambridge conferences this coming school year, and hope one day to attend the California conference just for the fun of it!
Websites provide information in a variety of modalities. Many of these sites can be used with students, who enjoy learning about their brains, and hence, about themselves.
Movement and Exercise
- npr Exercise Helps Students in the Classroom
- The Franklin Institute: The Human Brain Exercise
- Brain Science Podcast #33: Exercise and the Brain interview with John Ratey, author of Spark: the Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain
The Secret Life of the Brain: The Adult Brain video of Emotions in the brain
Neuroscience for Kids Autonomic Nervous System
LeDoux Lab, New York University Emotion, Memory, and the Brain
OshKosh Area School District: Learning is Heavily Influenced by Brain Chemistry
I hope you find these resources useful. The next article in the series will cover some Helpful Facts Teachers Should Know About Their Own Brains…so stay tuned.
Laurie 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.