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1 Learning becomes more meaningful when students can apply what they learn in one area to another area. The units follow a storyline and an integrated approach is used to help students make connections in their learning. Integrated thematic learning helps the brain organize thoughts, information, and experiences.
“ The enormous size and strict separation of secondary curriculum areas do little to help students find time to make relevant connections between and among subjects. Helping students to make connections between subject areas by integrating the curriculum increases meaning and retention, especially when students recognize a future use for the new learning.” (Sousa, 2006)
2 The brain is always attending to something but not necessarily to what we are teaching and, if students are not attending and are not engaged, learning will not occur. The brain attends to that which is new, unexpected, or emotional. The opening to this unit uses novelty to draw student attention to the objectives of the unit. The use of sound, visuals, and movement also encourage students to attend. See more information on the importance of novelty by going to the following links:
http://education.jhu.edu/newhorizons/Journals/spring2010/willis-2/index.html
http://www.sharpbrains.com/blog/2008/07/03/10-brain-training-tips-to-teach-and-learn/
3 Sharing the project requirements, guideline, and scoring rubric in advance helps students know what will be expected of them. This reduces stress and confusion and allows them to self-assess their progress toward goals. “Preparing, distributing, and discussing written rubrics can incorporate the brain-friendly process of patterning and goal-directed learning.” (Willis, 2010)
http://education.jhu.edu/newhorizons/Journals/Fall2010/Willis
4 The anticipation guide is used at the beginning of this lesson to activate prior knowledge about robots. This tool is often used before reading assignments but it can be just as effective at the beginning of a new unit of study. It helps students make connections to what is known and it helps teachers assess where their students are in their understanding of a new topic. The brain learns best when new information is connected to that which is familiar or known.
http://www.sharpbrains.com/blog/2008/07/03/10-brain-training-tips-to-teach-and-learn/
http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/curr140.shtml
http://education.jhu.edu/newhorizons/Journals/Winter2011/Tokuhama2
5 Many of the lessons open or close with a review activity. The brain can hold small amounts of information in working memory but it will soon be forgotten unless we do something to commit it to long-term memory. Review is an excellent way to strengthen long-term memory networks. Varying the way review is done adds interest and addresses different learning styles.
“...auditory and visual rehearsal occurring during learning increase working memory’s interactions with long term memory, raising the probability it will be stored. There is almost no long-term retention of cognitive concepts without rehearsal.” (Sousa, 2006) If information is not stored in long term memory, it cannot be recalled for future use.
6 Think-Pair-Share gives students time to think about their learning and compare their understanding with a partner. This reduces the stress students often feel when called upon for a quick answer in front of the class. When students are under stress the emotional area of the brain blocks further learning. Think-Pair-Share also helps students consolidate and rehearse their learning making it more likely to be stored in long term memory.
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