Saturday, September 19, 2015

Whole Brain Teaching: Activating the Parts of the Brain

Now let's take a second and talk about brain science!  The brain is the most complex organ in the human body. Scientists have spent countless hours studying how the brain works.  Not everything is known, but we do have a good idea of the importance of activating multiple parts of the brain when learning. In a book titled Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning published by ASCD, Willis explains that the more connections a student can make when learning, the more dendrites that are formed. These dendrites act as pathways to information and allow the student to more easily store and access the information in the future. Rather than simply attempting to memorize information, the brain is able to cross reference material and store it in in a meaningful way. The more regions of the brain that are stimulated, the more connections that are made in order for students to pull up learned material.

Parts of the Brain

I introduce neurons and parts of the brain at the beginning of the year.  To introduce neurons, you can use your hand and arm! Your arm signifies the axon.  The palm demonstrates the cell body, and the fingers represent the dendrites! When students are learning new information, new dendrites form and can connect with other dendrites to make meaning of the information.

Introducing the parts of the brain is a highlight for students in my class. Students feel so smart because they have learned something about neuroscience! I have posted a video below to show how you can introduce the parts of the brain. The video is of 1st grade students, but you can do it with any grade level and just adjust to their needs!  After learning the parts of the brain, I have my students create a poster diagram of the brain and then brainstorm in groups how Whole Brain Teaching activates each part!  Good luck, and let me know how it goes for you!

Deb Wiegel's First Grade Class

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