Date: September 15th 2008

Welcome to Our New Format

September 2nd, 2008

Enter a Big Vault of Knowledge and Connections
The Brain Compatible Learning Network continues its affiliation with ASCD but now has its own independent website. ASCD is continuing its sponsorship and financial support for networks but has discontinued hosting network websites. We think you will like the new format, its resources and the greater opportunity to access archived materials which formerly disappeared into cyberspace.

You will find by exploring the website, braincompatiblelearning.org, provocative quotations, many graphics you can copy and use, interesting, related articles, many short news items to stay up-to-date, many book reviews, upcoming conferences, valuable resources, and info about us. Many of these will be useful as handouts during staff development activities.

As before, participation is open and free to all and you are encouraged to send comments, ideas, resources and articles on learning. The web offers splendid ways to share and learn. Much of the information in the world can be accessed anytime, anywhere. What a world of knowledge we live in!

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Exciting Developments

September 1st, 2008

Two new concepts are buzzing about in the learning world:

Sugata Mitra describes students learning sophisticated ideas and skills without instruction. His “Hole in the Wall” experiment documented students in slum areas of India teaching each other how to use the computer and learning English associated with its use. This occurred without prior experience and without teachers. See video. It’s sometimes referred to as “outdoctrination.” The implications need exploring and have powerful ramifications.

The MindLadderdeveloped by Mogens Jensen at the International Center for Mediated Learning assesses a student’s mental and emotional states to develop an individualized learning program according to a recent article. A “Learning Guide” identifies a student’s strengths and needs, general behaviors, “intellectual functions” (concept of time, creativity, interpretation of symbols, etc.), nonintellectual functions (social and emotional behavior, self esteem, perseverance, etc.). Other areas are noted–reading, for example–with data recorded on paper or an online form. Students take an active role in understanding themselves and helping determine actions for their learning.

Brain Doesn’t Sleep!!!

August 8th, 2008

An article, “Quiet! Sleeping Brain at Work” in Scientific American Mind (August/September, 2008) reviews evidence that our brains are hard at work during both light and deep cycles. The brain busies itself with processing the activities of the day, sorting and organizing memories and engaging in creative thinking about vexing problems. Memories become stronger, that is, better fixed in the brain while at the same time weeding out irrelevant material. The brain in reworking memories devises solutions to problems worked on during daylight hours. An excellent powerful article in a stimulating, readable magazine.

Arts Education Crucial for Thinking

August 5th, 2008

Numerous studies are declaring, after significant research, the importance of arts education. All teachers will benefit from further understanding arts in education. You may order the free Dana Press newspaper, Arts Education in the news, from the Dana Foundation at www.dana.org.

You Have a Responsibility as a Mentor

July 15th, 2008

Mentoring is crucial to the success of new teachers in your school, whether or not they have taught before. Each school is unique. Read the article: Mentoring - Your Opportunity and Responsibility

Interdisciplinary Learning

July 6th, 2008

Back in 1899, John Dewey wrote, “Relate the school to life, and all studies are of necessity correlated.”1 Over 100 years ago, Dewey was perhaps ahead of his time in understanding the value of interdisciplinary approaches. In the interconnected 21st century, though, we know that we must draw on multiple knowledge domains to find solutions for many of today’s problems. This ability to span multiple domain boundaries is highly valued in the today’s competitive workplace. Harvard Business School professor Dorothy Barton Leonard has found that people with “Tshaped skills,” that is, those who speak two or more “professional languages” and can “see the world from two or more diff erent perspectives” have the cognitive diversity needed to formulate innovative solutions to complex problems.2

Many argue that dividing the school day into separate subjects or “silos of learning” does not fit the brain’s innate attempt to construct meaning particularly for young children and those without a deep understanding of the subject already. Examples of interdisciplinary curriculum include broad themes such as environment, service learning experiences, and the Microsociety program. In each of these, students are involved in several disciplines such as reading, writing, research, speaking, science, math, and sociology.

1. Dewey, J. (1980). The School and Society. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press.

2. Leonard, D. B. (1998). The Wellsprings of Knowledge: Building and Sustaining the Sources of Innovation. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

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