How the Brain Learns, Third Edition

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    • 00:00


    • 00:05

      CHARLES HAGY: Professionals like Dr. Sousaare becoming more and more essential to education.And that we as educators need to get to know the brain betterthan we ever have in the past.And we need to know how our kids are learningand how today's world is changing that brain.You know, how kids from the 1960s-- when I grew up--

    • 00:27

      CHARLES HAGY [continued]: are actually very different from the waykids are learning today.

    • 00:31

      AMY TAYLOR: We have to prepare kidsfor their futures, not our past.And it means education really needs to look at not onlythe linear, sequential things that we teach in learning,but also the creative and empathetic things.If they're engaged in what they'redoing, if it's meaningful to them,there's an emotional connection, kids will be engaged.

    • 00:52

      AMY TAYLOR [continued]: But if it's rote, if somebody's telling them somethingand they're not doing it, they're not getting it.

    • 01:06

      DAVID SOUSA: For thousands of years,humans have been trying to determinehow the human brain accomplishes its amazing feats.How fast does it grow?What impact does the environment have on its growth?How does it learn language?And how does it learn to read?Just how the brain learns has been of particular interestto teachers for centuries.

    • 01:27

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: Now in the 21st century, there is new hopethat our understanding of this remarkable process,called teaching and learning, will improve dramatically.A major source of that understandingcomes from the sophisticated medical instrumentsthat allows scientists to peer inside the living and learningbrain.The more we learn about the brain, the more remarkable

    • 01:48

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: it seems.Most of us have heard about these imaging technologies,and some of you may have even experienced a brain scan.As we examine the clues that this research is yieldingabout learning, we recognize its importanceto the teaching profession.Every day teachers enter their classroomswith lesson plans, experience, and a hope

    • 02:09

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: that what they're about to presentwill be understood, remembered, and useful to their students.The extent that this hope is realizeddepends largely on the knowledge base of these teachers usein designing those plans, and perhaps more important,on the instructional techniques they select during the lessons.

    • 02:30

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: Teachers try to change the human brain every day.The more they know about how it learns, the more successfulthey can be.Educators in recent years have become much more awarethat neural science is finding outa lot about how the human brain works.And that some of these discoverieshave implications for what happensin schools and classrooms.

    • 02:51

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: There's a growing interest among educatorsin the biology of learning and in how much an individual'senvironment can affect the growthand development of the brain.Some teacher training institutionsare incorporating brain research into their courses.Staff development programs are devoting more timeto this area.And more books about the brain are available.

    • 03:13

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: Brain compatible teaching units are sprouting up.And the journals of most major educational organizationshave devoted special issues to this topic.These are all good signs.I believe this focus on recent brain researchcan improve the quality of our profession's performanceand its success in helping others learn.

    • 03:34

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: I explain some of the major findings of brain researchin my book, How the Brain Learns, nowin its third edition.In that book I also suggest activities and strategiesthat educators can use to apply this research to their schooland classroom practice.In this presentation, we're goingto discuss a few of those strategies

    • 03:56

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: and their practical applications.Some of the discussion will be shownin professional development workshops that I recently gave.Others will show teachers from elementary, middle, and highschools actually applying this strategy in their classrooms.

    • 04:17

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: We often hear the terms brain compatible teaching or teachingto the brain used to describe this new area of pedagogy.And that could lead one to ask, well,haven't we always talked to the brain?Well, I certainly hope so, but to what brain?The brain of the 21st century or the brainof the 1970s or 1980s?Teachers and parents, too, often say, kids are different today.

    • 04:41

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: Well, of course they're different.They're growing up in a society thatis very different from just a few years ago.If we are to be successful as teachers, and as parents,we need to recognize those differencesand decide how our teaching and parenting should changeto meet the needs of this new brain.The exercise that you're going to see in the next segment

    • 05:04

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: is one way to help identify how today's environment affectsthe developing brain.I don't pretend that this is the exhaustive list.It's just some of the most important ones.Certainly, one of the ones-- I amsure you came up with-- family units not as stable.But it's a question though the degree to which the kid feelsstability and protection.

    • 05:27

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: And if they don't feel that-- that'ssuch a critical part of who we are-- thenthey come to school looking for that.And so school becomes not just a place to learn,but it's a place to feel secure.Next is that their surrounded by media with few controls.By the way, by that I mean few adult controls.37% of preadolescents-- preadolescents,

    • 05:48

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: of course, the number goes up dramatically whenyou throw in the adolescents-- have television or computeror both in the bedroom under their control.Preadolescent means just that.The brain is still developing its understandingof the world around it.It's still developing its moral compass.It's still trying to find out what's acceptable,

    • 06:10

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: what's not acceptable, what's acceptable to onekind of environment, not acceptable another.They did a survey of kids who are not coming to school.They say things like, I went to school just to pass the day,because my parents made me.I didn't learn anything there.I learned things when I came home.These are kids who know where to go for information.

    • 06:30

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: To them, school's not fulfilling,because they feel like they're being held back,rather than moving ahead.So it's a mistake to say that kids have a shorter attentionspan.What is more accurate to say is that there are more things outthere are competing for their attention.But once it gets it, it can stay with it as long as they want.So they may have trouble giving you 10 minutes in class

    • 06:51

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: because you're talking about the quadratic equation.But they'll go home and spend three hourson their stamp collection or playing video gamesor fixing their car or whatever else it is that really capturestheir imagination.But there are other things too-- health things involved.One, of course, is not enough outdoor exercise.Kids are spending too much-- they'regetting wonderful finger exercise.

    • 07:12

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: They're just not getting what we call gross motor skillexercise.Now, why is that important?Gross motor skills save lives.It's gross motor skills that allowyou to jump out of the way of a moving car.It's gross motor skills that allow you to defend yourselfif you're under attack.It's gross motor stills that allow you to run awayfrom something that you need to run from.Gross motor skills are important for survival.

    • 07:35

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: Now, I did a conference with physical education directorsa couple years ago.And they're telling me today kids' gross motor skills areawful.So it becomes critical to get kids outdoors.Second thing is immune system.The human body is born with an incredibly strongimmune system.But it has to be provoked.

    • 07:55

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: Every kid's a bag of germs.And when two kids interact, they exchange their germs.And as a result, stimulate each other's immune systems.Next is a search for stimulation.And the brain has always been a novelty seeker.But the environment of these kidsare growing up in it has so much multimedia

    • 08:17

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: in it that the demand for novelty becomes more powerful.Now, what does that mean for us?It makes our job tougher.Because how do you define novelty in the classroom?They may not know the content you're going to present.But boy, do they have the process down.About 99% correct they're going to be about how you're

    • 08:37

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: going to present it, where you going to be when you do it.They might not know what particular slide or overheadyou're going to show.But they know at some point that'll come out.That's the expected.Novelty is the unexpected.When those kids cross the threshold,they have a high reliability expectation

    • 08:60

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: of what you're going to do.Once you violate that, that's novelty.And I had a guy say to me one time,you mean my class has to be a circus?No, it doesn't have to be a circus.It should be an enjoyable place wheredifferent things happen every day.Would you like to go to someplacewhere the same thing is happeningevery single day over and over and over and over

    • 09:20

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: and over and over again?Of course, he said, no.So well, then, why should kids want to come back to your placeif it's the same thing over and over and over again.Diet and nutrition, our kids' diet and nutrition todayis terrible, by and large.And as a result of that, there's some thingsin their diets and nutrition that

    • 09:40

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: are affecting their ability to learn and concentrate.Now, there are a number of them out therewe're looking at and worried about.But three of them now have consistentlybecome a cause for concern that I can publicly talk about them.I'm not going to talk about some of the others,because I don't want you to get alarmedwithout being sufficient research.But there are some others.But these are the three now that we're really worried about.The first one is caffeine.

    • 10:01

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: So what the problem is that kids are getting too much caffeine.And as a result, they're getting caffeine overdose.And what are the characteristics of that?Irritability, hyperactivity-- we'vehad kids diagnosed with ADHD who reallyjust had caffeine overdoses-- insomnia, stress.

    • 10:22

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: And then we come to the next one, aspartame.It's being consumed by growing brains in enormous quantities.Plus, lot of the diet foods they eat--those kids have become now weightconscious-- all have aspartame.Children's vitamins have aspartame in themto make them taste sweet.So it's a problem of overdose.

    • 10:43

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: And they're developing food allergies.And the third one, same situation, food preservatives--processed foods contain preservatives.What's happening is kids aren't getting enough fresh foods.It's possible for a kid to go through a whole daythese days of getting a processed breakfast, processedsnack, processed lunch, processed afternoonsnack, processed dinner.Families take something out of the freezer.

    • 11:04

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: Out of anything that's in a box or comes outof a vending machine is processed.They're being ingested by kids in enormous quantitiesbecause the over-scheduled family doesn'tsit down and cook a meal from scratch anymoreor does so very rarely.And so the being overload with these things.

    • 11:21

      AMY TAYLOR: Children used to come to schooland ready to listen.They're no longer auditory learners.They went through a phase where they were visualand they had to see things.Now the kids are kinesthetic.I don't know whether that comes offbecause they've been trained on the computers,because people aren't talking to them anymore,but they need all of it.They need to see it, hear it, do it-- mostly do it.

    • 11:42

      KATHLEEN DEVINE: And I think making a connectionwith their world is a perfect wayto deepen their understanding of many things.But connecting music with literatureseems to just be a symbiotic thing for them.One certainly enhances and enriches the other.So with Romeo and Juliet, we try to incorporate their music

    • 12:07

      KATHLEEN DEVINE [continued]: into those timeless themes of the play.And by having them choose their own musicand looking to see how it matches Shakespeare's themes.That really helps them, I think, understandthe play much better.It helps their reading skills immeasurably.And I think it helps them when they don't even

    • 12:29

      KATHLEEN DEVINE [continued]: realize it is doing that.

    • 12:35

      DAVID SOUSA: One thing research has confirmedis that the brain does not learn well when it is under stressor feels threatened.That's because threats force the brain's frontal lobes, that'sthe part most involved in learning,to deal with the source of the threat and stress ratherthan the lesson objective.

    • 12:55

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: Threats to students are continuouslypresent in the classroom.The teachers capacity to humiliate, embarrass, reject,and punish all constitute perceived threats.Many students see grading as a punitiverather than as a rewarding process.Students perceive threats in varying degrees.

    • 13:16

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: But the presence of any threat in a significant degreeimpedes learning.One's ability to think and to learnwill function fully only when one feels secure.Teachers can make their classrooms betterlearning environments by avoiding threats, evensubtle intimidation, and by establishingdemocratic climates in which students are treated fairly

    • 13:39

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: and are free to express their opinions during discussions.In the following scene, notice how the teachers directionsand responses to students create the environmentconducive to learning.

    • 13:54

      KATE: I have no idea.

    • 13:57

      RON REAM: Don't have any idea?

    • 13:58

      KATE: No.

    • 13:60

      RON REAM: That's honest, isn't it, Kate?

    • 14:01

      KATE: I don't--

    • 14:02

      RON REAM: You're being honest, aren't you?

    • 14:04

      KATE: Yeah.

    • 14:04

      RON REAM: You're allowed to phone a friend right now.

    • 14:09

      KATE: Um, I pick Baron.

    • 14:12

      RON REAM: Well, first of all, let me ask.Roy, you're the best at this I've ever seen.You really are.You really are.How long is this?

    • 14:22

      ROY: Looks like about 4 feet, Coach.

    • 14:25

      RON REAM: He does it again.It's amazing.This guy is amazing.That is exactly right.It is 4 feet.Last week, if you recall, Sam, we had Roy come up.And I didn't think he could do this.I did not think he could do this.He came up.And I said, Roy, draw on the board with your pen a yard.

    • 14:50

      RON REAM [continued]: And he was off maybe off that far.So I'm going to believe him when he says 4 feet.Matter of fact, it is 4 feet.Baron, excellent job.Now listen, let's given Baron a round of applause.That was a good job.That's two chapters ago.Nice job!That's a good carry over.That's carry over value.That's a real life problem.This will be the last of the home work

    • 15:10

      RON REAM [continued]: that you'll have tonight and will be on the test Friday.If I have time, I want to show you one more thing.By the way, this work will be on there.Remember, you are allowed to use your notes, your book,your calculator, your internet, any other device

    • 15:33

      RON REAM [continued]: other than each other for the test.OK, so I hope you're taking good notesas Baron was doing that excellent job of demonstratingthat problem.

    • 15:41


    • 15:44

      SAM: Well, it's not on here.But I'm confused.

    • 15:46

      JANE HIGGINBOTHAM: Well, let me try to explain and help you.What are you confused about?

    • 15:50

      SAM: When I was playing my game last night.

    • 15:52


    • 15:53

      SAM: I heard this really weird sound.

    • 15:55

      LUCAS: Yeah--

    • 15:56

      JANE HIGGINBOTHAM: You heard a weird sound--

    • 15:57

      LUCAS: A weird sound.It was like--

    • 15:59

      JANE HIGGINBOTHAM: Let's let--

    • 15:60

      LUCAS: It was like an [INAUDIBLE].

    • 16:01

      JANE HIGGINBOTHAM: Let's let Sam tell us about it.Sam.

    • 16:03

      SAM: It was like something odd.

    • 16:07

      JANE HIGGINBOTHAM: It was a sound.

    • 16:08

      LUCAS: It started--

    • 16:09

      JANE HIGGINBOTHAM: Lucas, let's let Sam tell us.Tell us, Sam.You're right.

    • 16:14

      SAM: It was like an alien kind of voice.

    • 16:18

      JANE HIGGINBOTHAM: It was an alien sort of sound.

    • 16:21

      SAM: Yeah, but when I got, I was really happy today.

    • 16:23

      JANE HIGGINBOTHAM: In science, we'retalking about sound and how sound travels.And we just might be able to figure out the answer to that.We'll work on that.We'll work on that.What are the important facts to make that person famous.Why, Sam, would you want to writea book about Jackie Robinson.

    • 16:43

      SAM: Maybe because-- maybe because the knew each otherand they were friends.

    • 16:52

      JANE HIGGINBOTHAM: Oh, it could be.Maybe they were friends.And they knew each other.Do you think that would be-- Mark,why do you think-- Boomer Esiason-- whydid they choose to write the book about Boomer?

    • 17:04

      MARK: Because he-- because he-- because he'sa really good fan of football, I think.

    • 17:11

      JANE HIGGINBOTHAM: He's a football fan.Is he a football player also?

    • 17:14

      MARK: Yes.

    • 17:19

      JANE HIGGINBOTHAM: Good, now thatwas so good the way you sounded that out.And I didn't even have to tell you.Perfect.

    • 17:26

      ROY: "He ate lots and lots of frogs from the lake."

    • 17:33

      JANE HIGGINBOTHAM: So who do you think Jake is?Which character?

    • 17:36

      ROY: The snake.

    • 17:36

      JANE HIGGINBOTHAM: How did you know that?

    • 17:38

      SPEAKER 1: Ran around and tried to escape.But there was no exit.The puppy looked back at Charles and Becky with wide eyes.

    • 17:45

      JANE HIGGINBOTHAM: Can you just see that?

    • 17:46

      SPEAKER 1: Can you just see yeah.

    • 17:47

      JANE HIGGINBOTHAM: Does that make a picture in your mind?

    • 17:48

      SPEAKER 1: Yeah, he's like, what are we doing in here?

    • 17:51

      JANE HIGGINBOTHAM: Absolutely.Now, you are a good reader.Good readers do exactly what you're doing.If you could improve, how would you improve your reading?What would you do?

    • 18:01

      SPEAKER 2: If he hadn't gone to the party for Rosaline whohas never met Juliet, he has to bless the road.

    • 18:05

      SPEAKER 3: So he's blessing the road?

    • 18:06

      SPEAKER 2: Yes.

    • 18:07

      SPEAKER 3: OK.So this is-- what theme does that tell us?

    • 18:10

      SPEAKER 2: That they're in love.

    • 18:11

      SPEAKER 3: I know, but what is that?

    • 18:13

      SPEAKER 4: What?

    • 18:14

      SPEAKER 2: Fate!

    • 18:14

      SPEAKER 3: Is that-- fate!Yes, good girl.It's a group.This is a group effort, all right,because our end product is going to be-- we'regoing to have to vote on one classsong for Romeo and Juliet, OK.So each group will come up with one song for the entire play.Keep in mind though that some of you are thinking here,

    • 18:36

      SPEAKER 3 [continued]: when we need to be thinking out here.And I know Sunil hasn't had time to explorehis musical choices either.So tomorrow, I was going to start a debateon Romeo and Juliet, but instead Ithink I will give you half the classperiod to explore some more musical options.So tonight, now that you know what we're looking for,

    • 18:58

      SPEAKER 3 [continued]: why don't you think about it more tonight.And remember your iPods tomorrow.OK, bring them with you.

    • 19:09

      DAVID SOUSA: Ever notice how we rememberthe best and worst things that happen to us.Mediocre or average experiences tend to fade.Can you remember, for example, whatyou had for dinner just two weeks ago today?Probably not, unless, of course, there was a special occasionor you've got serious indigestion from it.Emotions affect learning and retention.

    • 19:32

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: Thus, teachers can use emotions to help their students learnand remember the lesson objectives.One of the most effective emotional strategies is humor.Here's why.This is all about what?Emotions.Wow, yes, emotions.Now, you know, we've known for yearsthat emotions had something to do with learning.

    • 19:54

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: But it's only recently that science,neuroscience particularly, has reallybeen able to look inside the brainand see the degree to which emotions can either accelerateor retard learning.Works both ways.Or even alter learning, so that our perceptions of what we're

    • 20:14

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: learning become very different.Talk about emotion, the normal human brain loves to laugh.Why?Because it gives it a shot of endorphins,gives it a boost, a feeling of euphoria.And we like to do things that make us feel good.

    • 20:35

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: And also when we laugh with others,we tend to bond with them, don't we?So I'm going to start out with this session talkingabout the power of humor in learning.Let me give you just very simple physiologicaland psychological reasons why humor is important classroom.First of all, physiological, when we laugh,

    • 20:55

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: we get more oxygen in the blood.Oxygen is one of the two fuels of our cells, oxygen and sugar.And so when you have more oxygen in your blood,especially a day like this when you may not be mentally tired,but you're probably physically tired.Then oxygen helps you to overcome that.The second physiological reason is

    • 21:17

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: when you laugh you get a pump of what we call endorphins.We'll talk more about endorphins in a few minutes.But these are nature's natural opiates.The chemical structure is related to opium.And we have opiate receptors in the brain.That's why opium is such a powerful drug in humans,because we have opiate receptors.They're very similar to endorphins.

    • 21:38

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: And so we get a feeling of euphoria.We get a feeling that we'd like to be where we are.Those are physiological.Now let's go to psychological.I already mentioned one.When people laugh together, they bond.Now what's happening?And I suspect in independent schoolsas much as-- maybe not as much, but certainly more sothan the past years-- are student bodyis becoming much more diverse-- diverse cultures,

    • 22:02

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: diverse languages.And when kids are very diverse, they'resuspicious of each other.And so you have to find ways to bring them together.And laughter, like music, is a universal language.And when kids laugh together, theyfeel more comfortable with each other.Another psychological reason, what does laughterto do to the emotional climate of the classroom?

    • 22:25

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: And we're going to see how important emotional climate is?What does it do?Lifts it.And is it important to have a positive emotional climatein the classroom?I think so.If you don't, I'm going to prove it to you.Or if you're not sure, I hope to prove it to youbefore we're done here and we talk about classroom climate.When people are laughing while learning,

    • 22:45

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: the retention goes up from 15% to 50%.That's the range.Anywhere from 15% to 50% increasein retention of learning that occursthat has humor attached to it.By the way, very important, I'm talkingabout humor, not sarcasm.

    • 23:06

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: There's no place for sarcasm in any school in my opinion, ever.And when you use sarcasm against--and it's almost always against, someone'sthe butt of a joke in sarcasm.Then it can hurt.Now, they may not want to show you that hurt,because it's not cool to do so.But there is a cut there.And that cut, we may have to pay for later on.

    • 23:28

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: There's no need for-- there's so much good humor out there.There's no need for sarcasm.You an be sarcastic about things.You can be sarcastic politics or sarcastic about the incometax or something, but not about people's, especiallyabout people in your classroom or people you work with.So what I do is I collect things that kids do,because kids are funny.

    • 23:50

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: I collect answers to open ended questions on test.And when the kids have to give an open ended answer,they can be very creative, can't they?This is a sixth grader.They just had a lesson several days lessonon famous composers, famous classical composers.And the question the teacher asked

    • 24:11

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: them was write about your favorite composers.So let's see what this sixth grader wrote.He wrote, "Bach was the most famous composer in the worldand so was Handel.Handel was half German, half Italian.He was very large.

    • 24:33

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: Beethoven wrote music even though he was deaf.He was so death he wrote loud music.And he died in 1827 and is still dead."Here are some examples of teachers using humorduring a lesson.

    • 24:50

      JANE HIGGINBOTHAM: What are we saying?Look at the board.What are we saying?I pointed over here.And you were saying the chart.You were looking at the board, the smart board.Let's look at our-- let's look over here.There we go.Oh, dear.

    • 25:11

      JANE HIGGINBOTHAM [continued]: Well, it's had a tiring day.Are we ready?You think it's not going to be that loud.Do you think-- how about the pitch?What do you think the pitch is going to be?Remember, we're talking about frequency of vibrations.So what do you-- oh, it's not time yet, just a minute.What do you think?

    • 25:31

      SPEAKER 5: Oh, I know!

    • 25:32

      JANE HIGGINBOTHAM: Scientists can't wait though.I know.But scientists have to wait sometimes.

    • 25:36

      SPEAKER 3: Ooh, look what I did.Oh, no, I didn't do it.I didn't unfreeze the board.Here we go.The soundtrack must what?It must mirror what?

    • 25:53

      SPEAKER 6: What's going on in the scene.

    • 25:55

      SPEAKER 3: Not what's going on in the theme--

    • 25:56

      SPEAKER 7: What the dominant theme of each act it.

    • 25:59

      SPEAKER 3: What the dominant theme of each act is, right?All right, that's what we're going to do.

    • 26:05

      RON REAM: He let me make a fool out of myself.OK, now, that brought me to here.I couldn't sleep all night.I couldn't sleep all night about this.Roy, this bothered me.I'm telling you it bothered me.I got to thinking.I said, hmm.

    • 26:24

      SPEAKER 3: Let's look at the lyrics to this song.First of all, you all know how I sing.OK, so I don't think I will embarrass myself to much.OK, but here we go.How does it go? (SINGING) What do you build me up,build me up, buttercup baby, just to let me down.(SPEAKING) Now do you think that's

    • 26:47

      SPEAKER 3 [continued]: an appropriate background for Romeo and Juliet?

    • 26:51

      DAVID SOUSA: The brain is genetically programmedto do essentially two things.The most important thing is to keep its owner alive, survival.The brain stem mainly responsible for that.The second most important thing isto meet a member of the opposite sex in an emotional connection

    • 27:14

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: with the thought of procreating the species.So sex, survival, are very important.Those take precedence.Everything else is gravy.So when you look at this, it tells usthat not all incoming informationis equally processed by the brain.Somethings move immediately to the front of the line.

    • 27:35

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: So no matter what pearls of wisdomare falling from my lips, if you begin to smell somethingburning, smell smoke, what's your brain going to say to you?The heck with Sousa, get your butt out of herebecause you may be in danger.So survival things always come first.

    • 27:58

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: Then emotional things, if you walk in this room and I said,come on now, folks. hurry up, for crying out loud.I've got to get out.I got to catch a plane in about an hour.Let's get busy here, and had a very domineeringand a very negative affect, what'syou're brain going to say?You know what, I come here voluntarily.Am I going to want to take this kind of abuse from this guy.

    • 28:19

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: So you don't care what my message is.You just don't like the messenger.What's the message here?That kids aren't going to care unless theyfeel physically safe and emotionally secure.The emotional security that kids should be getting at home,they're not getting as much of that,because they don't spend as much time with their parents

    • 28:40

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: and caregivers as they used to.Those times you sat around the family table exchanginglove for another and catching up on each otherand checking up on the kids, all that time now is gone,or lot of it's gone.What's happening is kids emotional needs are notbeing met at home.So we have to recognize, independent or public,

    • 29:03

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: that we have to ask ourselves whatare we doing to meet kids' emotional needs.Now these kids will run the whole gamut.Some kids will come to you with their emotional needs firmlyestablished at home.They feel good about themselves, have a strong positive selfimage, fine.But what are we doing for the ones who haven't?When we talk about emotions in the classroom,we have to look at it in two different perspectives.

    • 29:26

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: What is the emotional climate in whichI am learning this thing, this stuff?The second component is what are waysin which we can link emotions to the actual contentthat we're learning?Now, when you have a positive learning environmentin a classroom-- again, I told youit was going to be about biology-- the chemicals that

    • 29:47

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: are flowing through our blood streams are called endorphins.Endorphins are the body's natural opiates.Molecular structure is almost similar to opium.Not only will you might remember the situationyou're in because you want to remember what happenedaround you, but you will also remember the learning.Now, what happens when we talk about a negative learning

    • 30:09

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: environment, negative learning climate.Now, I don't think too many teachers intentionallygo out to create a negative learning environment.I don't think any teacher gets up and says,boy, am I going to make my class hell today.But it can happen, can't it.Sometimes it happens very inadvertently.The endorphins go.

    • 30:31

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: And now what gets pumped into the bloodstream?

    • 30:33

      SPEAKER 8: Cortisol.

    • 30:34

      DAVID SOUSA: Thank you.Cortisol.What's cortisol?

    • 30:40

      SPEAKER 8: Stress hormone.

    • 30:41

      DAVID SOUSA: The stress-- very good.Stress hormone.When you have cortisol in the bloodstream,you don't get a feeling of euphoria obviously.You get a feeling of stress.You've shifted your attention now to the stress.So you remember the situation, but the learning, forget it.Stressful classroom where the teacher is always harping,you've got to know this or else.

    • 31:03

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: Even with the best of intentions,it is totally undermining the lesson.Notice how teachers use emotional connectionsduring these lessons.

    • 31:14

      JANE HIGGINBOTHAM: Has anyone heard the words Sam, pan?Sam, it has your name in it, doesn't it?

    • 31:19

      SAM: Yes.

    • 31:20

      JANE HIGGINBOTHAM: Yes, Sam, so Ithink you're going to enjoy this.Mark, you think he's going to enjoy it?I do.Well, this is about a Sam pan.Does anybody know what a Sam pan is?

    • 31:34

      LUCAS: But she said no.

    • 31:35

      JANE HIGGINBOTHAM: Absolutely.And was this a right thing for her to do.Was it right for Rosa Parks?You thought maybe it wasn't right,but she felt maybe it was right.

    • 31:49

      LUCAS: Because she doesn't want to get off it.

    • 31:51

      JANE HIGGINBOTHAM: And was it fairfor her to have to be told?

    • 31:54

      LUCAS: No.

    • 31:55

      JANE HIGGINBOTHAM: No, no, right.So, something happened to her.Sam, what happened the Rosa Parks?She was arrested.And she went to jail.

    • 32:04

      RON REAM: Whoa, whoa, buddy, you are doing so fantastic.I want to stop here for just a moment though,please, because you hit that so well I'mnot sure Kate understands what you even did.You did a wonderful job, son.Step aside a little bit so every one can see.You see what Baron did?He used your measurements, found the area using x times

    • 32:29

      RON REAM [continued]: 600 minus 2x.He rearranged the numbers so it would fit our quadratic.He already showed Katie how to do the maximum.That's finding the vertex of this parabola.Watch what happens.Does everyone understand up to this point?Does anyone have-- so I'm going to get out of this now.I'm stepping out.And you're going to do the entire rest of it.

    • 32:49

      RON REAM [continued]: And any questions you have from on this point on,you ask Baron.He's teaching this problem.Go, buddy, go.The original perimeter, what's going to happen to the area?

    • 32:60

      ROY: You get a square.

    • 33:01

      RON REAM: That-a boy!That's going to be 25 times bigger isn't it, Roy?

    • 33:05

      ROY: Yes, it is.

    • 33:06

      RON REAM: That-a boy.Good job, Roy.You are excellent at telling me how long things are.Now I'm going to get you to work with square units, OK?Good job, bud.

    • 33:15

      SPEAKER 3: I would like you to discuss among yourselveswhich song you think would be the best song thatwould capture Shakespeare's intent for act 1.OK, Act 1.And then if the song doesn't have lyrics,it's just a-- what do they call it if it doesn't have lyrics?

    • 33:42

      SPEAKER 3 [continued]: Instrumental, thank you.If it's just an instrumental songs,why it fits the lyrics-- OK, why it fits--I'm sorry-- the theme of the play.

    • 33:51

      CHARLES HAGY: Fifth grade US history,the kids came in one day and I had a handout on their desksand read a memo that I had writtenfrom the head of the school-- at that time it was Peter Graham.In the memo, said the school was experiencingsome financial problems.And that from now on they were going

    • 34:12

      CHARLES HAGY [continued]: to have to pay a dime for each quiz or test they take.In fact, each sheet of paper.And then I informed them that they'rehaving a pop quiz on the French and Indian War,which we just studied.And I asked one of the students to stand up and collect moneyfrom the kids who wish to turn over their quizand take the quiz.

    • 34:33

      CHARLES HAGY [continued]: If kids didn't want to take the quiz,then they would simply give the quiz back to me.And they could receive a zero on it.So the first four questions were standard questionsabout the French and Indian War.And then the last question was stated that this quiz is indeednot a real activity, but you'll understand

    • 34:54

      CHARLES HAGY [continued]: what we're doing very shortly.Please write down in great detailhow you're feeling at this moment.And then I connected those emotionsto taxation without representationand how the colonists felt after the French and Indian Waras we went into the American Revolution,and how that idea of being taxed without representation

    • 35:16

      CHARLES HAGY [continued]: really caused all these events to unfold that eventuallyled to our independence.

    • 35:21

      JANE HIGGINBOTHAM: Try to develop a feeling of successin each child, whatever their area of success might be.Develop it.And have them feel successful.Because I've found that success breeds success.And if they can feel successful in an areathat they are comfortable in, they'll like the feeling.

    • 35:44

      JANE HIGGINBOTHAM [continued]: And they'll work hard to be successful in other areas.

    • 35:47

      RON REAM: It's all of our stages if you're a teacher.And it's an outlet and a place wherewe can become an educator that can reach kidsin a lot of different ways.I found humor to be one of those ways.And it's been very effective.

    • 36:06

      DAVID SOUSA: You know, whenever and wherever I ask teachershow long they want their students to remember what theytaught, the answer is always the same-- forever.Yet we know that doesn't always happen.Why is that?Let's take a look at how we believehuman memory systems work.Those of you who've been around quite a while

    • 36:27

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: and haven't had any upgrade in your trainingabout memory systems, you learned we have two systems,a temporary one called short term and a permanent onecalled long term.Actually, we have two temporary memories.And the two temporary memories are now grouped togetheron the short term memory, the term.And one of them is called immediate memory.

    • 36:48

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: And one is called working memory.So incoming information first passesa screen called immediate memory, whichis a very quick filter to say do I want to do with this or not.And that happens in seconds.So for example, if the teacher-- remember,this morning we said getting their attention--says, you know we're going to talkabout diagramming a sentence.The kids just filter right out.

    • 37:08

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: That's it.And it goes right out.And by the way, out is out.We cannot recall what we don't possess.What happens is thought after the seventh or eighth time,the brain says, you know what, thisis the eighth time we've done this,maybe it's important enough for meto hang onto it a little longer.So what happens is it moves from immediate memory

    • 37:29

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: onto working memory.Working memory is the conscious processor.Anything you're thinking about now is in working memory.But because the brain can only focus on one thing at a time--you can still have several things on that work table,but it still can only focus on one thing at a time.Now how many things can it have on the table at one time?

    • 37:50

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: That's a function of age, the young age.Kids between the ages of 5 and 13,they're in what we call that second cognitive leap.They can hold about five things in working memory at once.We call them chunks, because remembertalking about information here, we'renot talking about emotional or survival stuff.We're talking about curriculum.

    • 38:12

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: Five to seven bits of information, a chunkis anything that the brain treats as one.So one of the things we're encouraging school districtsto do is a process called chunking.And chunking is where you look for common elementswithin the curriculum and pool them togetherand help the kids link that togetherand make it much easier to learn.

    • 38:32

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: So in chunking we try to bring all those things together.How many items can have you have in the chunk?We don't know.See, the bad news is there's only so many items, somany chunks, you can have in working memoryat the same time.The good news is there appears to be no functional limitto how many items you can put in chunk.So what's the bottom line here?Less is more.If you're a secondary school teacher

    • 38:53

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: and you try to say we've got 10 things to learn todayabout the Revolutionary War, you're in trouble.So better to have fewer things that you do more deeply.Now, what about time?Remember, it's a temporary memory, short-term memory.So things are only going to stay there for a while.What is that time?

    • 39:14

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: Remember, this depends on the kid.But there's an average range of timethat most kids in that second cognitiveleap between the ages of 5 and 13 will remember something.And that's only 5 to 10 minutes.Once again, this is not attention span.This is how long they'll process the same thingin the-- here's the key-- same way before getting tired of it

    • 39:39

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: bored of it or novelty replace it with something else.Hey, why is it a kid will have trouble giving youfive minutes of attention, but they'llgo home and spend two hours working on a computeror fixing his bike or stamp collection?Why?Why that difference?Motivation, exactly, motivation, and so motivation

    • 40:03

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: is still the key.But no kid's motivated in every subject.So what do you do?What do you do if he's not motivatedand that's not the key?Go back-- how do you make it interesting--go back to the definition.It's the way in which they can treatthe same piece of information in the-- talk

    • 40:25

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: to me-- the same way.So what do you do?Change the way.So if the first 10 minutes is directed instruction,the next 10 minutes can be what?Computer, talk to your neighbor, write it down,draw a picture, whatever you want to do,whatever is age appropriate.In other words, change the modality.

    • 40:46

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: When the learning episode is coming to a close,the brain has to decide what items in temporary memoryto mark the long-term storage and which to let fade away.It seems that the two major criteria that the brainuses to make that decision our sense and meaning.Sense refers to whether the learner can understand the item

    • 41:08

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: on the basis of experience.Does it fit into what the learnerknows about how the world works?When the student says, I don't understand,it means the student is having a problemmaking sense of the learning.Meaning, on the other hand, refersto whether the item is relevant to the learner.Why should the learner remember it?

    • 41:30

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: Meaning, of course, is a very personal thingand is greatly influenced by that person's experiences.The same item can have great meaning for one studentand none for another.Questions like why do I have to know thisor when am I ever going to use thisindicate that the student has not yetaccepted this learning is relevant.

    • 41:50

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: Now whenever temporary memory decides that an item does notmake sense or have meaning, the probability that being storedis extremely low.If either sense or meaning is present,the probability of storage increases significantly.But if both sense and meaning are presentthe likelihood of long-term storage is very high.

    • 42:14

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: Teachers do a fine job helping students with sense,but they need to work harder meaning.Let's look at how these teachers have attachedmeaning to new learning in these lessons.

    • 42:26

      RON REAM: This is also going to pop up in math in college.If you ever decide to take and get your master's degree,you'll see it on the GRE.I guarantee it.So today is going to have a great applicationfor future tests and some great applications for everyday use.

    • 42:49

      RON REAM [continued]: All right, so let's get started.

    • 42:52

      JANE HIGGINBOTHAM: So we're thinkingabout what we did yesterday with our tuning forks.What we're doing today with our rulers and tomorrowour experiment will be with nails.Be sure you write what you learned today.You could even illustrate it.It's nice to draw an illustration

    • 43:12

      JANE HIGGINBOTHAM [continued]: and label the parts that we use.That helps us remember.And then you could actually draw the vibrationsfor the longest one or the shortestor the one in the middle.See if you can construct the vibrations.

    • 43:26

      SPEAKER 3: Eventually, we're goingto choose one song for the entire play.So that would incorporate how many themes do you think?

    • 43:34

      SPEAKER 9: A lot.

    • 43:36

      SPEAKER 3: Many, but what are the dominant themesof the play?And that's going to be up to your discretion.You're going to have to decide what you believethe dominant themes of this play are.And your song should match your impression.OK, yes?

    • 43:55

      JANE HIGGINBOTHAM: I love the chunking.That makes such perfect sense.You learn a chunk of things rather than individual items.That, I think, was just very interesting to me.And seeing how these things work.They really work.

    • 44:09

      RON REAM: When I get to that chapter,I know I'm going to do one of those kindsof practical applications.As a matter of fact, if you were around in another couple monthswhen we do our final, it'll be all practical work.It'll be going out and finding how much itcost to put in the sidewalk.How much it costs the paint a building.How much sod was used in a baseballfield, those kinds of things.

    • 44:30

      RON REAM [continued]: And so that's what we're leading up to.So real life problems, to me, aregoing to just enable them to do their final better.And hopefully that'll be the carrying valueafter education's over.

    • 44:41

      CHARLES HAGY: You can't stay with the same modalityof teaching.You have to shake it up between lecture, between group workactivity, between student presentation.You have to put some music in there.You have to put some video in there.You have to have a lot of research in middle school,because they need all those skills.And somehow you have to make all that work,so that they are eager to learn the information.

    • 45:05

      DAVID SOUSA: Thanks to brain research, educational theoryand practice are becoming much more research based,similar to the medical model.The potential contributions of neuroscienceto educational practice continue to accumulate.The very fact that neuroscientists and educatorsmeet and talk to each other regularly

    • 45:26

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: is evidence that we have crossed the new frontierin our profession.There are, of course, no magic answersto make the complex processes of teaching and learningsuccessful all the time.Educators recognize that numerous variablesaffect this dynamic interaction.Many of which are frankly beyond the teachers influence

    • 45:46

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: or control.What teachers can control is their own behavior.Although a few students can learn on their own,most of them rely heavily on the instructional talentof their teachers to learn information and skills.For them, the quality of their learning

    • 46:07

      DAVID SOUSA [continued]: rarely exceeds the quality of teaching.My hope is that brain research will continueto provide teachers with new information,strategies, and insights that will increasetheir chances of success with more students.

    • 46:23

      JANE HIGGINBOTHAM: There is future in brain research.I mean we've got so far to go in that.It's going to be really blossoming I think.

    • 46:33

      AMY TAYLOR: More often with the infusion of technology,we thought we needed to change things,so we're kind of with clicking through a lotof different changes.But ultimately, what we're seeingnow is the very things that we'resuccessful for a teacher many years ago,the very things are now being supported in brain research.Having organized lesson, using small blocks of time,

    • 46:56

      AMY TAYLOR [continued]: changing activities, I don't think education has reallyunderstood why we're doing what doing.But we know now why.

    • 47:08

      CHARLES HAGY: Teaching is a kind of a self renewing profession,because it's like a ministry.I mean you obviously don't into if for the money.You go into it for a love of learning.And the best teachers learn all the time.

    • 47:20

      RON REAM: In the coaching field we use reputationas one of our major teaching tools.And I think if more teachers use repetition in classes,it would enable kids to learn better.I think a lot of times we as teachers think,I told you that, I told you that last week.

    • 47:40

      RON REAM [continued]: Why don't you remember it?Or, we went over that two chapters agoand you don't remember?It takes repetition.It takes connection.It takes connecting chapters to chapters,whether it be mathematics like I teach or any other field.

    • 47:53

      SPEAKER 3: Beginning teachers needto realize that everyone's sitting in front of them.It is an entire world.Each student is a very separate entity.And that you have to look at each childas a very special person who has needs verydifferent from the person sitting next to them.I think it's important for new teachers

    • 48:14

      SPEAKER 3 [continued]: to have a passion for their field,but a passion for children, and a passion for nurturingthose children into very self-sufficient human beings.[MUSIC PLAYING]

    • 49:03

      SPEAKER 10: To purchase additional copies of "Howthe Brain Learns" or to learn more about other productsfrom Corwin Press, please visit our website at corwinpress.comor call 800-233-9936.

How the Brain Learns, Third Edition

View Segments Segment :


Our brains have developed considerably over the decades and young minds are developing in a different environment than before. With the help of neuroscience, Dr. David A. Sousa, author of How the Brain Learns, provides instruction and strategies teachers can use to help students develop lasting cognitive skills. This new area of pedagogy is called, brain-compatible teaching.

How the Brain Learns, Third Edition

Our brains have developed considerably over the decades and young minds are developing in a different environment than before. With the help of neuroscience, Dr. David A. Sousa, author of How the Brain Learns, provides instruction and strategies teachers can use to help students develop lasting cognitive skills. This new area of pedagogy is called, brain-compatible teaching.

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