Friday, January 31, 2014

P21 Blog Praises Powerful Message from ‘Five Big Ideas’

Our book, Five Big Ideas for Effective Teaching: Connecting Mind, Brain, and Education Research to Classroom Practice, received praise in the Book of the Month Review at the P21 blog. In his review, P21 blog's editor-in-chief Jim Bellanca was impressed by the book's powerful message that "any child, any adult can get better, smarter every day."

Here's an excerpt from the review: "When it comes to the research based practices that have the biggest impact on students, this book serves as a powerful primer. Novices will be able to weed out other time of practices, many obsolete, which don’t have research support; experienced teachers will be able to review their own instructional repertoire, clean out the closet, as it were, and add new insights to their instructional wardrobes. Principals and professional developers will want this book in their reference libraries and parents will find it a solid source for helping their own children learn more effectively." 

You can order the Five Big Ideas at

Monday, January 27, 2014

Introduce a Child to the World of Reading

There are few things better in life than becoming engrossed in a good book. Books are the gateways to new worlds, new experiences, new places, and new people that we otherwise might not have encountered.

What a joy to introduce a child to those types of literary experiences! Whether as parents, teachers, caregivers, or early childhood educators, we are the child’s conduit to magical places—both real and imagined—that are conveyed through the endless combination of 26 letters that young pre-readers are trying to master.

Even before they are able to decipher the symbols on a page, children can be introduced to books by the adults who read aloud to them. Reading aloud to young children is widely recognized as an important way of building an early and lifelong love of books, with research clearly showing that adults who read aloud to children form a connection and pave a path toward literacy.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Edutopia Blog—Training the Brain to Listen: A Practical Strategy for Student Learning and Classroom Management

Teachers and parents alike can benefit from helping children and youth train their brains to listen and focus more effectively. Discover a powerful, practical strategy that teachers enjoy using. See our blog on Edutopia!

Training the Brain to Listen: A Practical Strategy for Student Learning and Classroom Management

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

P21 Blog Explores Ways to Support Student Learning with Educational Neuroscience

I was recently asked to be a contributor to the P21 Blog to discuss the latest mind, brain, and education research and how it bolsters the belief that all students have the potential to master the “4Cs”: communication, collaboration, critical thinking/problem solving, and creativity/innovation. Hopefully, the P21 blog will be one of many avenues to support teachers, administrators, and other community leaders who seek to make a positive difference in the schooling of children and youth.

My thanks to Jim Bellanca, who invited me to contribute to the blog along with educators David Sousa, Carol Tomlinson, and Wendy Ostroff. All of us are writing about different aspects of the theme, “Connecting the 21st Century Dots: From Policy to Practice,” as part of an examination of the practical application of brain and mind research and deeper learning.

As I write in my P21 blog entry: “The transformational power of neuroplasticity lies in how we think about students’ potential to learn and whether students believe they can get smarter if they commit to the hard work required to advance academically. Within this context, teachers, administrators, students and other community members alike can come to accept (same as was) that virtually all students have the capacity to learn when provided the supportive environment and experiences to do so.”

Read the blog entry in its entirety by clicking here.

Monday, January 20, 2014

How MLK’s Courage Can Influence Us Today

Today is the day we celebrate the legacy of the great civil rights leader Martin Luther King. Dr. King had a dream of a world in which freedom and equality would prevail in our land. Thanks to his words and actions, we as a nation were able to move closer to the ideals of fairness and justice for all people.

Dr. King’s courage enabled him to exert a lasting influence on our country’s political culture. He faced incarceration, public condemnation, and the threat of violence for a cause that ultimately cost him his life. However, he never faltered in his beliefs. He never failed to speak or to act when he knew, in so doing, that he was supporting the advancement of civil rights.

In keeping with the sentiments of this special day, I would like to discuss how we can strive to act courageously in our own daily lives. Marcus and I have identified Appropriate Courage as a key cognitive asset that is necessary for enriching our own lives and the lives of others.

Monday, January 13, 2014

A $3 Word That Is Worth Every Penny

We all know our share of “three-dollar words.” Gargantuan is just another word for big. Miniscule is the long way to say something tiny. However, in our estimation, metacognition is a three-dollar word that is worth every penny. 

The concept of metacognition is even more impressive than the word itself. Metacognition refers to “thinking about your thinking,” with the aim of improving learning. It’s a word that is at the foundation of the Thinking for Results approach that Marcus and I use in the graduate degree programs we have developed in brain-based teaching.

It is our firm belief that cognitive and metacognitive strategies can and must be explicitly taught in conjunction with core curriculum so that students can clearly see the benefit of reflecting on and regulating their thinking to improve such skills as reading comprehension and math problem solving.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Re-defining Student Potential

At BrainSMART and the Center for Innovative Education and Prevention, Marcus Conyers and I support schools and communities to eliminate the gap between mission statements celebrating the potential of all students to succeed and the deeply held expectations that contradict those sentiments.

Deeply held assumptions and expectations that some students don’t have the potential to do school well are, in fact, pervasive in our society. For example, these assumptions arise in the practice of providing instruction on thinking strategies and higher order literacy only for students identified as gifted, while focusing on basic skills training for many others.

Further, when children begin school without the reading readiness skills that their peers possess, those assumptions may lead schools away from a focus on the concentrated instruction and exposure to reading all children need to succeed and toward an often-unspoken belief that they lack the cognitive potential to read on grade level with high comprehension.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Let's Make 2014 THE Year For Positive, Practical Learning!

Welcome to my first blog in 2014!

Did you know that virtually every human brain has the potential to learn and change throughout the lifespan? In fact, researchers have now found that learning actually changes the structure and function of your brain.

So, whether you are traveling to a new place, learning new teaching strategies, reading a book, playing a new game, or stretching your mind in a new job, YOU are a learning machine.

In the past it was thought that brain development stopped in youth. At one time it was said to be the age of 12. In the few decades (with an emphasis on early childhood) there has even been confusion leading the uninformed to say that important development ceases even earlier. However, it is now known that in fact adults can even create new brain cells and make connections across the lifespan. So it is critically important to keep learning.