Week 7 (Due July 26)

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Digital version of tonight’s handout – From Chalkboards to Tablets: The emergence of the K-12 digital learner.


No recorded lecture for this week:)

Please continue to work on your Unit Plan and Podcast/Flipped project. Post both on blogs when finalized (add new pages).

See you at the center for our last class on July 26th.


  • Watch the video with Howard Gardner on Digital Youth via @edutopia and respond to at least 2 of the questions below the video.
  • Explore the resources at BrainRules.net and add a comment to this post about how you can apply a few of these rules in your future classrooms.
  • Read and comment on at least one of your classmate’s blogs.

1. What are specific ethical issues you see kids struggling when they use digital media?
Answer here >>> http://padlet.com/wall/foxmyrlthz

2. How is our sense of identity changing in the digital world? How can adults learn from kids and guide them at the same time?

Answer here >>> http://padlet.com/wall/nzmz3n8811

3. How does teaching and learning change in a world where information is at your fingertips?

Answer here >>> http://padlet.com/wall/4rs30vdbik

What do we know about the brain and how does what we know (or think we know) drive how we teach. John Medina and his book Brain Rules breaks the latest brain research into 12 principles/rules. His book is a great read and it is supported by a companion DVD. Much of the video content on the DVD is shared on his website @BrainRules.net. On this site you can access information/activities to support all 12 principles/rules by selection the icon at the top of the media window.

Check out this news report that does a great job of summarizing the book.


17 thoughts on “Week 7 (Due July 26)

  1. After reading the 12 Brain Rules a few rules stood out to me:
    Exercise- All students and teachers need some sort of exercise throughout the day aside from regular PE or recess. I have incorporated brain breaks in my class where the students pick out of a jar a 30 second activity such as jumping jacks, running in place, etc. This gets the students up and moving and ready to start an activity. I have also incorporated modified yoga poses and breathing exercises to help students focus.
    Senses- Igniting students senses can be a fun activity to explore. Particularly I did an exercise with their five senses, students reached in the bag and could touch or smell the bag and had to give me words to describe what was in the bag without seeing the item. Also taking a lot of on-site field trips are a great way to explore senses.
    Exploration- Students learn by doing. Students need to explore on their own and through guided lessons. Students need to problem solve and think for themselves without the answers in front of them to ignite other possible outcomes and responses.

  2. I was surprised when Dr. John Medina said that emotional stability in the home was the key to success. I never realized it was THAT important. As a teacher, I cannot control what happens in the child’s home, but I can create a safe environment in my classroom by being a good leader and not expecting all children to act the same. Brain Gym exercises are very helpful to reduce stress, and an increasing number of schools are using Brain Gym. Hookups are a great way to “chill” out of control emotions.

    It seems our brains need rest to process new information, so frequent brain breaks, recess, P.E. and other movement activities are helpful at school. I can certainly encourage my students to get enough sleep as well. Exercise boosts cognition, Medina says. Maybe that’s why I never really liked the desk jobs I’ve had! Get kids up and moving for best integration of new learning. In fact, I think I’ll go for a walk outside….

  3. I agree with Rhonda & Lindsay regarding the incorporation of brain breaks frequently throughout the day. It is extremely important for both children and adults to move regularly and not remain sedentary for an extended portion of the day. I thought Dr. Medina’s interview was fascinating to watch. He was extremely knowledgeable and confident with the information he was sharing with the public. His upbringing was unique and I thought his mother did a great job engaging him in his interests at a young age. I think his notion of completely overhauling a classroom or workplace is too far out of everyone’s comfort zone for the time being. Providing opportunities or avenues for experiencing some of the physical elements he suggests is more realistic.
    In terms of incorporating his ideology in my own classroom…brain breaks are part of our normal routine. Using physical gestures and music is also a great way to engage students in learning while incorporating movement. Sharing activities where students are discussing and involved in hands on learning.

  4. I thought the video was great! I learned absolutely nothing new though. It is really news that exercise and emotional stability at home are important? Maybe it’s my fitness background and non-emotionaly stable upbringing that have given me this knowledge. The brain is so fascinating. The amount of new information available about how it works is straight out of science fiction. If I had my choice I would also get rid of the current workplace and classroom. I saw another video for a treadmill workstation even before this TIME magazine segment from 2009.


    These probably wouldn’t work in a classroom, but a daily stretch and breathing exercise would be achievable. Throughout my master program I’ve heard that education is broken and we behind countries like China, and Switzerland. Well if you look at their education system, exercise is as important as math and science. Below is a video of Chinese student daily exercise they do before school.

    If we just used the knowledge that’s been readily available, we might be able to catch up someday.

  5. I like this assignment because it gives me the chance to rant about one of my favorite beliefs: that you can eliminate over 90% of discipline, learning, and obesity issues in school age children by putting them to bed by 8:00 pm! This is based on pure observation of children in my k-1 classes over nine years. Children who would consistently tell me that they watched such and such t.v. show that I knew was on at 9 or 10 pm were always the children who couldn’t focus, couldn’t behave themselves, and were often overweight. I know that when I’m really tired but I can’t go to sleep because I’m at school or have work to do, I tend to eat more. It is the body’s way of trying to get energy when what the body really needs is sleep. The children who don’t get enough sleep are often sluggish on the playground as well as with their academic work. It is really sad to see five and six year olds struggling just to sit up in circle time; let alone trying to grasp early reading and number concepts. These children are too tired to attend to their academic work but have just enough energy to poke their neighbors! As a teacher, I have thought about having parents sign a “sleep pledge” at back-to-school night saying that they promise to put their children to bed in time to give them the 10-12 hours that grade-schoolers need! I think this would rub a lot of parents the wrong way, but I pledge that if you give me a well-rested and healthily-fed child, I can teach them anything!

  6. I actually read John Medina’s, “Brain Rules for Baby” book so I was excited to see this assignment. I really enjoyed his book and I can only imagine that “Brain Rules” would be just as intriguing. I think that it would be fairly easy to incorporate nearly all of Medina’s brain rules into your classroom. Mental breaks are awesome. It’s amazing how refreshed you feel when you take a mental break and then come back to approach a problem. I like to think that I’ll have set mental breaks throughout the day but that I’ll also allow my students to take a mental break when they feel that they need it. This would have to be something that I model to students at the beginning of the school year. We want our students to succeed and if they are able to recognize that they can benefit from a mental break, then take it! While you can’t control the emotional stability at home, you can create an emotionally stable classroom! The same goes with getting enough sleep at night. I could always send home information and facts from studies that illustrate the importance of sleep so that parents will try to get their children to bed earlier.

  7. I agree with mrhoopersblog. I enjoyed the video, but I didn’t discover anything new. I agree with all of Medina’s ideas. I have seen many examples of teachers that follow these “brain rules”.

    Exercise and sleep: We know that exercise and sleep are important. In the monthly newsletter at my daughters’ school, the principal frequently adds a reminder about giving our children at least 10 hours of sleep each night. Also, as mentioned above, exercise and brain breaks are very helpful in the classroom.

    Short and long term memory: Another example of brain rules in the classroom addresses the repeat to remember rule for short and long term memory. Teachers can use software such as Reflex Math to boost math fluency. In this program, students memorize math fact families. Then they play games with the same fact family over and over. Students should use this program daily for 10-20 minutes per day to improve fluency. I think this is a great example of repeating to remember.

    Attention, exploration, and sensory integration: Throughout my graduate studies, the two things that stood out most to me were differentiation and hands on learning. Lesson plans should include activities that are interesting, address multiple intelligences, and offer differentiation for various learning types and abilities.

    Some things are out of a teacher’s control. The best we can do is provide a safe, stable learning environment for our students.

  8. I always hate when we try to segregate the emotional from the intellectual. Of course emotional stability in the home is the number one factor to successful intellectual development! Of course we don’t pay attention to boring things or things we don’t care about! Of course health increases happiness, which increases smarts! I loved watching the news report about this and browsing the brain rules website. I think I’m actually going to saunter on over to the library later today and check the book out! I’m actually taking care of a friend’s dog right now and he’s been whimpering for the last hour because I haven’t taken him on a walk yet as I’ve been doing homework. I guess dogs need exercise too! As far as what I’d do as a future teacher, I think I’d really push to work with students’ parents and the school administration to encourage more exercise (more recess and PE at school and less TV and computer at home). In the classroom itself, I’d go out of my way to make the material interesting and meaningful, using a variety of methods and to engage all the senses. Any suggestions about smell since it’s apparently more important than I thought?

  9. I can definitely use the sensory integration rule in my classroom. Sense memory is very powerful, and when kids have multiple connections to something (a hand gesture, a rhyme, a poster, etc) it is much more likely that they’ll retain the information and be able to synthesize it and use it in different contexts and situations.

    Many of these “rules” sound great on paper, but anyone who teaches in a school with a state- or county-mandated curriculum knows that sometimes it’s very hard to put them into practice. Yes, kids tend to tune out boring material, but if you’re preparing your students for a standardized test, you don’t always have the luxury of making it interesting. Sometimes we have to let go of our desire to be creative and think outside the box and remember that there’s a time and place for all kinds of interesting teaching methods and styles.

  10. I think it’s easy to see a connection between ‘exercise,’ as defined by Medina and his treadmill, and general kinesthetic activity. Just the fact that a teacher has kids move around a classroom – to respond to different questions posted on the walls of the classroom, for instance, allows for movement and blood flow and a change in position and scenery. I have seen other workplaces that allow for treadmills or elliptical trainers in an office. I’d personally need to have a very secure holder for my laptop on the top of that type of equipment, or I’d be forever worried that I’d knock it over! In general, even having kids do hand movements or arm movements with a memory song will help kids to repeat and remember. Interesting report.

  11. I have been using Brain Gym since my preschool teaching days. We had a teacher take a course and teach the rest of us. I always tried to mix my “up” activities and “down” activities with my preschoolers. In both my student teaching placements, if the students had been sedentary for long periods of time I would incorporate stretch breaks. After SOLs we let the kids go out and run around for an extra recess. Getting up and moving around seemed to help the kids re-focus. Also, each day in 6th grade I would give the students a “brain puzzle” to solve as morining work that was fun and woke up the kids’ brains without them even knowing it. I know I function better with enough sleep so that was a no-brainer. 🙂 If only we could incorporate a nap into the school day!! Also, differentiating instruction will address the senses as information is presented for auditory, visual, kinesthetic, and cognitive learners. Always, always, always hands-on is better in my opinion, so exploration should be incorporated in the classroom as much as possible.

  12. Brain Rule #7 – Sleep well, think well. This of course makes sense, but yet students of many ages think that if only we stay up, our effort will pay off. You need to retain the information through rest. I would encourage the students to take the time of bedtime seriously. (Not only to listen to their parents, but to perform better).
    Brain Rule # 5 – Repeat to remember. This can be incorporated into the classroom through a process of think, say, do learning, where students are not expected to listen to 15 minutes of lecture and immediately perform. Think, say, do is broken into small increments where after they hear a new piece or instruction, they turn and teach their neighbor with thought. It is a small effort to place in the new information into their memory.
    Brain Rule #8 – Stressed brains don’t learn the same way as nonstressed brains. In this rule it states 1) Have a psychological response to the stressor, 2) You’d avoid the stressor if you could, 3) You don’t feel in control of the stressor. These remind me of students in the classroom. We want to have a happy, healthy environment for them. If we notice that a student is experiencing long term stress within the classroom, I would want to help figure out how to remove that stress. For example when a person experiences anxiety and they learn what the trigger is they can try to avoid or control the issue. If we find out that sitting next to a group of students is causing not only frustration, but stress, as teachers we should be aware of that (instead of thinking/saying learn to deal with it).

  13. Rule #3: Every brain is wired differently- I think this rule would be very applicable to my future classroom. This rule follows closely with the concept of differentiated learning. Students brains are wired differently and students learn differently. It is my job as a teacher to try to teach to every learning style. If my only teaching strategy is lecturing, I am not going to reach every student. I need to differentiate by a variety of teaching strategies such as cooperative group work, class discussions,and hands-on activities.
    Rule #8: Stressed brains don’t learn the same way- I think I would be very conscious about this rule in my future classroom. When I was a student, I got stressed out very easily and I did not deal well with stress. I know that stress affected me physically and mentally which had an impact on my academics. I think I will be very aware of stress in my classroom because of my personal experience with it. I don’t want to put any undue stress on my students.

  14. Rule #11 – Gender – also goes along with Rule # 3 -Wiring. As a teacher it’s important to understand that brains are different and every class, every child, is different. Differentiation in instruction is so important to make sure you are getting through to all of the kids. Differentiation also applies to Rule #9 – sensory integration. As a high school teacher, I think it’s easier to forget to incorporate all senses into instruction. After all, it doesn’t feel intuitive to have high schoolers touch/use manipulatives or even draw on a regular basis. I was mostly interested to hear how important smell is. How can that be incorporated?

  15. Well I must say that I cannot envision a treadmill in the classroom however, I do believe that movement is important to the learning process. I never really thought about sensory or movement breaks until I moved to a school for students with autism. It was then that I discovered how beneficial these breaks were. They were used to refocus, regroup, and calm down students at various times of the day. They ranged from jumping on a trampoline, to going outside, to yoga poses. If these breaks were so beneficial to these students, why were they not a part of every classroom? Up until this point, I had never seen them used at the elementary level. Wouldn’t they be beneficial to all students? Students with ADHD? Aggression? As an adult working on homework, I know how beneficial taking an exercise break or getting up and moving helps me refocus; I firmly believe that this benefits all students and because of this, I plan to incorporate it into my classroom structure.

    From day one, we have been told how beneficial hands-on learning can be; incorporating as many senses as possible, to address all learners. Incorporating hands-on learning not only increases memory recall, it provides an opportunity for students to make connects to their learning. Providing this type of learning can sometimes be challenging however, the outcome is worth it. Executing differentiated learning experiences and exercise breaks are two easy ways to improve cognition and encourage learning; these two ideals will definitely drive my instruction in the future.

  16. I’m with schofern…I cannot picture a treadmill in the classroom, but there are many ways to incorporate movement into lessons or at least movement breaks. One of the school counselors I worked with was pretty big on this concept. Give the kids a movement break after an hour or so of learning. They definitely help the kids to refocus on the material, but there were of course days where they were a little more active and it took a little longer to refocus. I think because it was a new concept that was implemented into the classrooms, that they were excited and the teachers were still getting used to trying to incorporate the movement breaks. Unfortunately teachers cannot regulate the sleep habits of their students, but reminding them frequently that they need more sleep is something that I would be sure to do. I thought it was interesting to hear his thoughts on high school classes being later in the day…I can only imagine how much more that would benefit the students and their grades. I was always a firm believer in starting school later in the day.

    Some students get so stressed out about the amount of work that needs to get done. I would try to use humor with them to defuse their overwhelming feelings towards that work. I have seen many teachers use humor and seen the instant relief on the students faces once they realize that it is not the end of the world.

  17. I appreciate the first Brain Rule. Exercise boosts brain power. I think encouraging extra curricular activities such as sports are a healthy part of a school’s culture, which I like to support. For that reason I volunteer with our cross country team. Also I recognize that our need for activity has an impact on how we should manage our classrooms. Students can only focus for a solid twenty minutes. I have 96 minute classes, that means I should be mixing it up at least four times a class! Every twenty minutes I try to mix up our activities and move on mentally at least to a new task. But a physical change of scenery, even rearranging desks or moving to have class discussion or lecture outside can make a big difference in the amount of focus that a class has. Even a little physical change like opening a window can be refreshing to mind and body alike.

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