One of the HOPE program standards is P2 – practice differentiated instruction. The goal of this standard is for teachers to incorporate new pedagogical approaches and methods to increase the effectiveness of their teaching and improve their student’s learning potential.
There were many examples in my Learners to Context class of ways to achieve this standard, but two concepts that we read about in author John Medina’s Brain Rules stood out the most to me. The first concept is the purpose of the brain: to help humans survive in the wild. The second concept is what Medina calls elaborative rehearsal.
In the introduction section of his book Brain Rules, Medina suggests the purpose of the brain is to help humans survive in the wild. Though we know precious little about how the brain works, our evolutionary history tells us this: The brain appears to be designed to solve problems related to surviving in an unstable outdoor environment, and to do so in nearly constant motion (Medina, 2014, p. 4). As Medina mentions in Brain Rules, a traditional classroom setting is actually opposite the best learning environment for our brains. So how does a teacher create a classroom setting that works for what the brain is actually designed for? Motion is the key. Teachers should have their students moving as much as possible. One example of this would be to set up learning stations around the classroom, where students go from station to station throughout the class time.
In the chapter on memory in Brain Rules, Medina discusses how elaborating on an event immediately and repetitively after it occurs will enhance the memory of that event. He calls this elaborative rehearsal. He also discusses how the repetitions must be spaced out over a period of time. Deliberately re-expose yourself to information more elaborately and in fixed, spaced intervals if you want the retrieval to be as vivid as possible (Medina, 2014, p. 150). Instead of overloading students with too much information all at once, Medina states that students will remember the information much better if it’s given to them slowly, over deliberately spaced cycles. For example, health teachers can teach a short lesson on nutrition once a week as part of the regular class lesson plan.
My next step is to research specific, practical ways to incorporate these two concepts into my future lesson plans.
Medina, J. (2014), Brain Rules, Seattle, WA: Pear Press