Wednesday, July 18, 2018

BrainSMART In Bhutan

The leaders and citizens of the country of Bhutan, located in the Himalayas, are a thoughtful and intentional people and have shown it by making happiness a priority for every citizen.

As strong advocates for well-being, we are delighted to see that educators there are using our article, “Strategies for Strengthening the Brain’s Executive Functions,” which describes how to guide students on how to further develop the awareness and directive capacities of the mind.

An apparent national interest in continuously improving student thinking, alongside a focus on happiness, should be a formula for continued success and well-being.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Research Project Touts Optimism and Learning

One aspect of the BrainSMART Model that impressed Chuck Balogh was its emphasis on the power of positive thinking to increase academic success. As he described in the BrainSMART publication, Effective Teaching, Successful Students, the then-sixth-grade teacher not only put those techniques to work in his classroom, but he also he designed an action research project around optimism and self-reflection.

Balogh, who earned his M.S. degree with a major in Brain-Based Teaching, did his research with 300 students in the Peoria, Arizona, public school district over almost two full school years. The students in his science and social studies classes came from different economic situations and different backgrounds.

A central goal of his research was to increase the positive thinking abilities of learners through self-reflection. Balogh modeled positive thinking and taught his students the power of optimism. He also encouraged them to write daily in “Happy Books,” a technique he adapted based on BrainSMART research that involves writing about emotions, events, and people in students’ lives that make them feel happy and optimistic.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Using Positivity to Reach a “Tough Audience”

High school students can be a “tough audience,” especially for a physical education teacher, but Marlene Mendes described in the BrainSMART publication, Effective Teaching, Effective Students, how she learned a variety of strategies through the brain-based graduate degree program to create a positive learning state and to encourage students to approach new challenges with an optimistic outlook.

Ms. Mendes, who has more than 30 years of teaching experience, teaches secondary students in San Luis Opispo, California. At the time of her interview, she observed that her studies to earn her master’s degree have underscored the importance of the teacher and students maintaining a positive outlook on teaching and learning.

“I had a student who had a very negative attitude,” she reported. “I talked to her about it and asked her to name three positive things, trying to get her to focus on being positive.” As a result of that conversation, the student turned her attitude around. She started dressing out and participating. She became a lot more involved and a lot less negative.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Engaging Students With Brain-Based Learning

Direct instruction on how the brain learns best is an effective strategy, as borne out by Kim Poore’s experience in teaching a class of K-5 students with behavioral and emotional disorders in South Carolina’s Lancaster County Public School District.

Ms. Poore, who earned her M.S. with a major in Brain-Based Teaching, was enrolled in the Ed.S. program, at the time of her interview with the BrainSMART publication, Effective Teaching, Successful Students. This coincided with her teaching in a Title I school with a diverse population.

“I was able to take what I learned in just one lesson and use it in my class the next day,” said Ms. Poore in the interview. She pointed to several strategies from the BrainSMART book, 60 Strategies for Increasing Student Learning, that had immediate practical use in the classroom.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Motivating Middle School Minds

Impassioned educator Christina Issac has never shied away from a challenge—like focusing her talents on tumultuous ’tweens in middle school.

Issac’s experience as a middle school teacher includes teaching sixth-graders at Washington Middle School in Cairo, Georgia. In an interview with the BrainSMART publication, Effective Teaching, Successful Students, she explained that BrainSMART retention strategies transformed her classroom, including inclusion students in special education.

Her students were allowed to look up during tests, to activate the visual part of the brain that is connected to memory. Practical Optimism and the EFFORT strategy helped get her adolescent students in a receptive mindset for learning.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

BrainSMART in Japan

 Future Education Tokyo features several of our ideas and strategies as a part of a comprehensive and systematic plan to assist Japan as they seek to provide their young with a foundation for learning and skills so they can create their future. An article on the Tokyo website contextualizes the use of our BrainSMART strategies to help guide students to become metacognitive as a key aspect of active learning.

Active learning and metacognition are featured in Japan’s new course of study to be implemented from 2020 forward. The writer indicates that people may have heard about metacognition in business seminars and employee training. However, connecting to insights from our articles, “The Boss of My Brain” and “Building A Metacognitive Classroom,” it becomes clear that educators and parents can assist students to learn how to use metacognition too. On a personal note, having recently returned from a trip to Japan where Marcus Conyers and I had opportunity to engage with many lovely and forward-thinking Japanese people, we are greatly pleased for our strategies to be seen as an aspect of the Japanese vision for education.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

University College Cork Applies a BrainSMART Strategy to Help Students Have a Successful First Year

Dr. Eithne Hunt, registered Occupational Therapist and lecturer in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at University College Cork, Ireland, includes one of Marcus Conyers’ and my strategies in an article for first-year students.

I found this article a good read and imagine that it could be of great interest for students when they first leave home and go off to college. In this piece, Dr. Hunt references our BrainSMART strategy “Explain It to Your Brain” as a way to assist students to become more metacognitive. Metacognition has been called the #1 key for success across professional contexts.

She summarizes our strategy as follows: “Students who use self-explanation tell themselves what they are thinking and doing when learning, a strategy closely related to metacognition, which is a characteristic of successful student learning and of professional success across careers.”