The Brain and How It
Learning and Retention
• Virtually unlimited space for memory
• The brain improves with use
• The brain’s physical and chemical changes
• Learning and retention occurs in different
Implications for Students with
• Difficulty with focus
– Emphasize the “why” of learning the
– The process of preserving learning in
Retention is influenced by….
• Degree of student focus
• Length and type of rehearsal
• Critical attributes that may have been
• Student’s learning style
• Learning challenges
• Prior learning
Today’s students are different.
Have Schools Changed?
Possible Causes of Learning
• Genetic links
• Tobacco, alcohol, & drug use
• Problems during pregnancy or delivery
• Environmental toxins
• Environmental stress
Most Effective Forms of Instruction
• Combination of direct instruction and
teaching learning strategies to students
• Student control of task difficulty
– Scaffolded curriculum
• Small groups
• Structured questioning
Helping Students Become Strategic
• What is Learning?
– Active process of acquiring & retaining
knowledge for application in future
– Students bring their varied background
and previous learning strategies
– Teachers can facilitate learning by
teaching students various strategies.
• Often overwhelmed, disorganized, &
• Difficulty in following directions
• Trouble with visual or auditory perception of
• Problems performing school tasks
• History of academic problems
• Do not see the connection between what
they do, the effort they make, and the
likelihood of academic success.
• May be simple…
– Taking notes
– Making a chart or outline
– Asking questions
– Asking ourselves questions
– Using resource books or the Internet
– Re-reading what we don’t understand
– Asking someone to check our work
– Developing a mnemonic device
• Or complex.
– Planning, writing, & revising an essay
– Identifying sources of information
– Stating main ideas & supporting our
– Distinguishing fact from opinion
– Keeping track of our progress
– Being aware of our thought processes
Strategies to Consider
• Capitalize on the student’s strengths
• Provide high structure & clear expectations
• Use short sentences and simple vocabulary
• Provide opportunities for success in a
supportive atmosphere to build self-esteem
• Allow flexibility in classroom procedures
• Make use of self-correcting materials that
provide immediate feedback without
• Use computers for drill & practice and for
teaching word processing.
• Provide positive reinforcement of
appropriate social skills.
• Recognize that these students can greatly
benefit from the gift of time to grow and
Strategies for Involvement and
• Get their attention
• Make it relevant
• Model, model, model
• Use teams
• Set goals
• Find out what they already know
• Use visuals
• Go for the big picture
• Think and talk aloud
• Suggest mnemonic devices
• Use a variety of practice formats
• Explain the value of note-taking
• Use closure strategies regularly
Teaching Students to Use Learning
• Select the strategy, then….
– Determine prior knowledge and generate
interest in learning the strategy.
– Describe the strategy
– Model the strategy
– Practice the strategy
– Provide feedback
– Promote application to other tasks
• Use their names when addressing them.
• Have conversations with EVERY student.
• Have student work occasionally assessed by
• Avoid making assumptions about student
• Point out the positive aspects of your
• Shake hands with students, especially when you
• Allow students to explore different learning
• Display student work
• Give each student a responsibility in the
• Avoid criticizing student’s questions.
• Provide multiple opportunities for students to be
successful in your classroom (especially when
• Help students turn failure into a positive
• Celebrate your students’ achievements
• Allow students to make decisions about
some aspects of class work.
• Try to get to know about the student’s life
outside of school (without prying).
• Provide opportunities to work in productive
• Spend extra time with struggling students.
• Ask students about their other activities.
• Encourage students to take
• Allow students to suffer the consequences of
their behavior and avoid being
Working with Special Needs
Students in Groups
• Assign students to heterogeneous groups
– Divide the class into three sections – high,
middle, low. Assign one student from
each section to a group.
– Switch as necessary so students can
benefit from each other.
– Give the group assignment & stress the
importance of working together.
• Use the retelling strategy in each group
– Read and retell
– Ask “what if..?” questions
– Write student responses on the board
• Other options
– Gather info from multiple sources
– Give struggling students material written
at an easier level.
– Follow-up activities
Gifted Students with Learning
• Use technology
• Have them take responsibility for their own
– Self-assessment techniques
– Expose them to new and interesting
methods of inquiry
– Assist them in locating information
– Expose them to a broad range of topics
– Provide experiential learning
• Other considerations
– Gear curriculum to their strengths
– Divide big tasks into small tasks
– Give genuine praise where appropriate
– Use peer tutoring to compensate for areas
– Provide cooperative learning activities