I was delighted to have the opportunity to speak at two recent events on the subject of neuroplasticity in the young brain and to share practical strategies that will help children flourish in their formative years.
First up was the Early Literacy Spring Symposium, co-sponsored by the Georgia Department of Education and Georgia Reading Association, which took place March 10 at Middle Georgia State College in Macon, Ga. My topic was: “Wiring the Brain to Read: Practical Strategies for Increasing Reading Comprehension.”
Speaking to about 150 educators, I provided insights about the brain’s plasticity and the amazing ways in which young children make connections that help them develop their early literacy skills. I also shared exciting strategies that teachers can use to help students comprehend what they are reading. Those in attendance at the symposium included teachers, principals, curriculum directors and teacher educators, all of whom had gathered to learn about early literacy topics and to discuss such key issues at ‘as’ the implementation of the Common Core Standards.
The very next week, I traveled to Los Angeles for the ASCD 69th Annual Conference & Exhibit Show, which took place March 15-17. I spoke on the topic of “Flourishing in the First Five Years: Plasticity, Nutrition, and Movement," once again affirming the amazing plasticity of the young child's brain and using that concept to stress the importance of early childhood education programs.
Speaking to a full room of school administrators, superintendents, principals, early childhood curriculum developers, and ASCD executive personnel, I drew on principles and examples from my latest books, Flourishing in the First Five Years: Connecting Implications from Mind, Brain, and Education Research to the Development of Young Children (Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2013) and Five Big Ideas for Effective Teaching: Connecting Mind, Brain, and Education Research to Classroom Practice (Teachers College Press, 2013), both coauthored with Marcus Conyers.
Scanning the audience, I was happy to see Cecelia Beagle, a graduate of our brain-based teaching program and a fellow Floridian. Cecelia flew across the country to attend the conference and provided attendees with a strong endorsement of the program, which stresses the importance of such principles of neuroplasticity, lifelong learning and practical optimism.
After catching up with Cecelia over lunch (featuring brain- and heart-healthy menu selections, of course!), I had the opportunity to speak one-on-one with ASCD attendees at the Teacher College Press booth. There, I met up with TCP editor Jean Ward, signed copies of Five Big Ideas, and provided concrete advice on how to implement practical strategies for effective teaching in the classroom.
All in all, it was a very productive and fulfilling way to spend two consecutive weeks in March. My travels now take me to Philadelphia for the 2014 AERA Annual Meeting, which has the theme :"The Power of Education Research for Innovation in Practice and Policy." As the Program Chair for the "Learning Environment" Special Interest Group (SIG), I will be in meetings with other university faculty from around the world to plan upcoming sessions for AERA. For those who are attending the AERA meeting, I look forward to seeing you there.