Here’s how to reach every student brain

Expert gives educators tips on how to get every student brain to learn

brain-learning-neuroscienceBy now, most educators know that classroom practices such as differentiating instruction, critical thinking, and making the environment less stressful for students are critical to a 21st-century education. But…why does it work? One education and brain expert says it all comes down to chemicals and neurons.

Dr. Sarah Armstrong, the senior director for statewide K-12 professional development at the University of Virginia and a former elementary school principal and assistant superintendent of curriculum, said she became a “brain junkie” in the 1980s and never looked back.

Armstrong, author of Teaching Smarter With the Brain in Focus: Practical Ways to Apply the Latest Brain Research to Deepen Comprehension, Improve Memory, and Motivate Students to Achieve, discussed with educators how students learn at the chemical level, and why certain practices succeed when others fail.

“In lots of classrooms around the country, practice doesn’t always work, no matter how much a teacher might have planned. There are also many struggling learners out there who may seem like they just don’t fit into the ‘school’ category,” she said. “But if we look at neuroscience research, and understand how the brain learns and how, in general, it likes to learn, we can fix some of those learning gap problems.”

(Next page: Good and bad stress)

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