Week 12

What is brain-based learning and how can it inform problem based learning and differentiation? 

“Brain-based learning stresses the importance of patterning, that is, the fact that the brain does not easily learn things that are not logical or have no meaning”(Caine & Caine, 1995, p.44).  If we understand how the brain works, we can better assist in student learning. Factors that have shown to influence learning are: engagement, repetition, input quantity, coherence, timing, error correction, and emotional states. (Jensen, 2005, p.34) Using rewards can; “induce pleasure, increase the frequency of goal-seeking behaviors, maintain learned behaviors, increase social behaviors, reinforce existing learning, and increase the success rate of new learning” (104). Weiss even supports the fact that attention, emotions, motivation, and context and patterns play key roles in learning. “…Educators …are relying on brain-based learning theory to take advantage of the growing body of evidence that neurologists are un-covering about how humans learn” (Weiss, 2000 p.28).

“Genes begin the process: behavioral geneticists commonly claim that DNA accounts for 30– 50 percent of our behaviors (Saudino, 2005), an estimate that leaves 50– 70 percent explained by environment” (Jensen, 2009, p.13). Jensen goes on to tell us that Genes can be turned off or become strengthened according to stress and nutrition. This is where that home environment plays a large part in student’s learning in the classroom. Even though they are in the classroom, it doesn’t mean they don’t have other major stresses in their lives that keep them from focusing. Living in poverty can cause a lot of stress which sets a student headed in the wrong direction from the start. School breakfast and lunch programs are a step in the right direction, but we also need to make sure that the students feel safe in the school environment. Sometimes it is the only place they do feel safe.

Then there is experience-based brain changes; video games enhancing attention skills, intensive language training enhance auditory skills, training for the deaf can enhance visual capacity, learning to play music can affect sensory, motor, and higher-order thinking, learning new skills helps with processing speed. Kids brains are changing daily with experiences and exposure. We need to focus and hone the skills they need to help them to be better equipped to deal with their worlds whether stressful or not. Knowing that there are so many different factors in all of our student’s lives, we need to be able to differentiate for all of them so that they are able to receive the instruction that best suits their needs.

Caine, R. N., & Caine, G. (1995, April). Reinventing Schools Through Brain-Based Learning.

Retrieved from http://kimberlysheppard.wiki.westga.edu/file/view/Reinventing%20schools%20through%20brain-based%20learning..pdf

Jensen, E. (2009). Teaching with Poverty in Mind : What Being Poor Does to Kids’ Brains and

What Schools Can Do About It. Retrieved from: http://egandb.uas.alaska.edu:2081/lib/uasoutheast/reader.action?ppg=28&docID=10375878&tm=1428259489468

Jensen, E. (2005). Teaching with the Brain in Mind (2nd Edition). Retreived

from: http://egandb.uas.alaska.edu:2081/lib/uasoutheast/reader.action?ppg=6&docID=10089220&tm=1428258945648

Weiss, R. P. (2000, July). Brain-Based Learning: The Wave of the Brain. ASTD Magazines.

28-31. Retrieved from http://pequotlakes.k12.mn.us/userfiles/file/aep04_2_6-1.pdf



6 thoughts on “Week 12

  1. “We need to focus and hone the skills they need to help them to be better equipped to deal with their worlds whether stressful or not.” This quote stood out to me when I read your post this week. I completely agree. With that I think we also need to remember that we need to focus and hone the skills they need whether we are comfortable with those or not, like different aspects of teaching that aren’t necessarily are primary field, we can’t just skip and continue or leave out the technology piece because it takes a little more work. I feel like kid’s brains work so much different than even when we were in elementary/secondary and they are changing everyday and we need to be able to meet those needs. I enjoyed reading your blog this week.


    • I totally agree. Even in PE, the kids are so diverse. You would think they would all enjoy badmiton, but there are some who just don’t care for it. I felt so inadequate to attempt to teach basketball (but the kids just love it). For the past two years I was spoiled, I got someone from outside of the school to teach it for me. I even joined the local basketball league to learn the game, rules, and skills required to play the game. This is my forth year teaching and my first year teaching basketball, but I am having a blast with it. It’s that initial attempt that we have to get over. Students are just like that, we have to help them to feel comfortable getting into something new.


  2. I thought that Jensen’s comments on how environment affects brain development were fascinating. I’ve been learning bits and pieces about brain research over the years but have not read much that deals with home environment. Another fascinating (and disturbing) topic is how drugs affect brain development. When I see states like Alaska beginning to legalize various forms of drugs, I absolutely cringe. When these drugs get into the hands of our younger kids, the degree to which they interrupt brain development is frightening. Even though these things are outside of our control, we can still help our kids build successful habits. As you said in your post, we need to focus and hone the skills they need to help them to be better equipped to deal with their worlds.


    • I too am in total agreement. We can’t control everything, and I’m not sure that we would want to. But giving the kids the tools to make the best choices for themselves can be such a gift. Brain research is very fascinating, and necessary for us to look more into.


  3. This year in our school we have a program that gives kids free breakfast and lunch. I think this helps students out a lot especially if they don’t have food at home. They can’t think when they are hungry and this is a good program to start. I agree though we need to make sure that they feel safe at school as well. We don’t know what goes on in their lives and we can make school a safe place that they want to be.


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