3 Keys to Brain-friendly Teaching

At a recent Professional Learning Saturday, our Teaching Excellence coaches facilitated a session on making your lessons brain-friendly so that students retain more of the great content from your classes every day.  Based on research and best practices, Teaching Excellence drilled it down to 3 key characteristics of brain-friendly teaching.

Visual – Our brains like to look at stuff!  For the major points of your lesson, take a few minutes to find or make a graphic that represents the idea well.  It might be something you just insert into your power point or maybe a poster you make that stays up throughout the unit.  With the latter, your students will also be able to look at it over and over again, which makes it repetitive, our next characteristic.

Infographics and wordles are also great resources for visuals to use in class. 

Repetitive – It makes sense that when we do something repeatedly, we learn it more deeply and it can almost become second nature to do it.  In the classroom, though, the idea of doing something over and over again can seem mind-numbing.  Try a call-and-response for a concept, equation or definition that you can do in a fun way repeatedly.  Or make up a chant for a key point and have the kids learn it and say it throughout the lesson or unit.  Coming up with a fun movement or hand motion that corresponds to a key point is another way to have them do something repeatedly in a non-boring way while they’re practicing a skill.

Relevant – This one is the kicker.  If students don’t see the relevance of what they’re doing; if they don’t care about it, then they’re less likely to retain it.  Often we relate our content to college or a major exam they’ll need it for, but for many students, this doesn’t really resonate with them.  We can try and relate it to pop culture or things they like, but even this can be hit and miss.  One sure-fire way for them to consistently feel your class is relevant and be invested in it is for them to be invested in you.  And the only way to do that is to build relationships with them.  Don’t stop relating your content to upcoming exams, college, their lives, and whatever else you can connect it to, but also remember that we need to be relevant for them if we have any hope fo them caring about our content.  Click here for ideas on how to build those relationships and with them, investment in your class.

Check out our recent post on Student Engagement for more ways to ramp up the learning in your classroom!

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