Monday, September 19, 2011

Brain-Based Learning: Guideline Six

This week's educational theory is the sixth brain-based learning guideline according to Dr. Sousa: 

Lecture usually results in the lowest degree of retention.

I used to fall asleep in lecture classes. Head on the desk, pencil stuck to the cheek, asleep.

Perhaps one reason lecture results in the lowest degree of retention (I'm guessing the rest of the statement is "out of all types of teaching methods") is because it is boring. I struggle to retain information presented in a boring manner: someone talking, and not doing anything else.

The brain is a parallel processor which means it does more than one action: it controls tastes and smells; it works on both reading and typing. Is it that lecture just doesn't activate the brain enough? The brain could want to process more but have nothing else but to hear the words. When I would write, I would learn more - that is doing two things though. How many students don't take notes? Plenty. Lectures are difficult to sit through.

How can parents and teachers use this theory in life? I had a few ideas:


At first I was struck that parents don't "lecture" to preschool children, in the way they do not sit a child down and drill them on notes. That is true, but do we lecture preschool children concerning behavior? What would happen if parents (myself included) role-played rather than gave rules? Instead of lecturing for a ridiculous number of times, I could try asking one of my children what he or she would do if someone ____ (insert behavior) him or her. We could discuss feelings and emotions to reaffirm the rule, which of course, is important too.

I'm not pumped up about word searches, so I need to keep searching for meaningful activities with spelling words.

Older Children

This week, I will be teaching my first spelling words ever. I have never taught junior high before, but I do have a junior high language arts class and we will be doing spelling words. I remember doing crossword puzzles and word searches with my spelling words, but I don't think that necessarily helped me. I need to find other non-lecturing activities.

I thought about doing board races, as this class seems to like activity. They like being "up" and not just sitting. I don't know what to offer as a reward, though, as candy seems like an outdated prize. I also though about playing "around the world" which again allows physical movement.

I'll gladly take tips for non-lecturing spelling word activities! (And possible prizes!)

High School Children

Alas, my high school students. I will teach slave narratives and Puritan writings this week. Instead of lecturing about the facts, I will have students read about the writings. I will assign each student a certain number of sticky-notes (I am thinking five each) to write facts. The class will assemble the notes and we will review them together.

There are different age groups and how I am going to avoid lecturing to them this week. Any ideas to add?

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