A Journey Through Technology

Week 8: What is brain-based learning and how can it inform problem based learning and differentation?

on March 11, 2016

Brain-based learning is a learning theory based on the function of the brain and its structure. (On Purpose Associates, 2011) “Brain-based education emphasizes how the brain learns naturally and is based on what we currently know about the actual structure and function of the human brain at varying developmental stages.” (Wilson, 2013) By using our knowledge of how the brain works at different stages in a child’s life, we can learn the best ways to help our students be successful in the classroom.

Last week we looked at problem-based learning (PBL), which uses a real-world problem to help students learn about different topics within a subject area. One thing that is appealing about PBL is that students become more engaged in a problem when it has more meaning to them. Learning more about how to engage students is one factor of brain-based learning, and according to Jensen (2005, p.36), students are more likely to be focused and attentive if the learning is relevant and meaningful.

Another aspect of brain-based learning is understanding the effects of poverty on how a student learns. “Understand that children raised in poverty are more likely to display

  • “Acting-out” behaviors.
  • Impatience and impulsivity.
  • Gaps in politeness and social graces.
  • A more limited range of behavioral responses.
  • Inappropriate emotional responses.
  • Less empathy for others’ misfortunes.” (Jensen, 2009, p.19)

Differentiation is one way for teachers to help students affected by poverty become better learners and improve their performance in school by adjusting instruction to fit the specific needs of those students. “Most low-SES kids’ brains have adapted to survive their circumstances, not to get As in school.” (Jensen, 2009, p.57) Part of the differentiation process is to use assessments to guide instruction. Teachers can use assessments to determine the level of skill building that underperforming students may need. (Jensen, 2009, p.39)

Brain-based learning seems to fit well with both problem-based learning and differentiation because it focuses on how students learn instead of what they are learning. I plan on learning more about brain-based learning and how I can use it in my classroom, in addition to problem-based learning and differentiation, to provide an even better learning environment for all of my students.

References

On Purpose Associates (2011, April 14). Brain-based Learning. Retrieved March 10, 2016, from http://www.funderstanding.com/theory/brain-based-learning/brain-based-learning/

Jensen, Eric. Teaching with the Brain in Mind (2nd Edition). Alexandria, VA, USA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development (ASCD), 2005. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 7 March 2016. Retreived from: http://egandb.uas.alaska.edu:2081/lib/uasoutheast/reader.action?ppg=6&docID=10089220&tm=1428258945648

Jensen, Eric. Teaching with Poverty in Mind : What Being Poor Does to Kids’ Brains and What Schools Can Do About It. Alexandria, VA, USA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development (ASCD), 2009. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 7 March 2016. Retrieved from: http://egandb.uas.alaska.edu:2081/lib/uasoutheast/reader.action?ppg=28&docID=10375878&tm=1428259489468

Wilson, L. O. (2013). Brainbased Education – An Overview – The Second Principle. Retrieved March 10, 2016, from http://thesecondprinciple.com/optimal-learning/brainbased-education-an-overview/

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3 responses to “Week 8: What is brain-based learning and how can it inform problem based learning and differentation?

  1. gkkapatak01 says:

    I appreciate that you said, “by using our knowledge of how the brain works at different stages in a child’s life, we can learn the best ways to help our students be successful in the classroom.” Sometimes I feel like I am overloading my k-1 class. I’m so used to intermediate grade levels that I forget my current students need the time to reflect and understand what they learned. I just started giving them recess after their first morning class. They are enjoying it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. tessiesim says:

    Sarah, I like your statement about how education needs to focus on how students learn instead of what they are learning. Nowadays I feel like we put so much emphasis on the Common Core and testing that we can hardly consider how students best learn and how we can differentiate for them. I found the information about poverty and how it affects the brain interesting also, as it’s hard to not take behaviors personally when students lack politeness and have limited behavioral responses. It’s a good reminder that we need to devote time to teaching social skills and collaborative work skills.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think the quote, “Most low-SES kids’ brains have adapted to survive their circumstances, not to get As in school,” says a lot. It explains a chunk of my students in a nutshell. They treat home and school in much the same way. It’s about survival. Reading this was a real aha moment for me.

    Like

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