The Brain and How It Learns

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					The Brain and How It
        BUED 424
      Special Learners
      Learning and Retention
• Synapses
• Virtually unlimited space for memory
• The brain improves with use
• The brain’s physical and chemical changes
  with learning
• Learning and retention occurs in different
    Implications for Students with
        Learning Challenges
• Difficulty with focus
  – Emphasize the “why” of learning the
• Retention
  – The process of preserving learning in
    long-term memory
   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
•   Gender
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.
         Learning Difficulties
• 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.
         Learning Strategies
• 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
               More stategies
•   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
        Building Self-Esteem
• Use their names when addressing them.
• Have conversations with EVERY student.
• Have student work occasionally assessed by
  other audiences
• Avoid making assumptions about student
• Point out the positive aspects of your
  students’ work.
• Shake hands with students, especially when you
  greet them.
• 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
  giving tests).
               Still more…
• Help students turn failure into a positive
  learning experience.
• 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
              And lastly….
• 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
    of weakness
  – Provide cooperative learning activities

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