Developing Patterns and Coherence

by Heather Fisher

5 Tools to Enhance a Brain-Based Classroom

#1 Understand Contamination

Our brain contaminates very easily. We must make sure we are aware of this to ensure we are not contaminating our classroom. Here are some easy tips of how to reduce stress in the classroom by avoiding contamination:

  • Have designated areas for instruction and discipline
  • Make sure you are disciplining in private away from peers and the learning environment
  • Teach students to be aware of their own stress signs so that they can take early corrective action
  • Have safe areas where students can practice their own stress release practices

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#2 Keep Your Student's Attention Through State-Changes

A guideline for attention in the classroom is to convert the learner's age into minutes. For example, a 5 year old can concentrate for approximately 5 minutes. To keep their attention the teacher must understand how to manage state changes. State-changes work best if they involve the following:


  • Movement, Thinking, Movement, Predicting, Movement, Summarizing, Movement, Discussion, Movement
  • As you can see, movement is an essential component of state-changes!
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#3 Memory Techniques

Students need to be actively involved in learning reviews in order to remember the material. Make sure that you are providing a wide variety of review techniques such as a the following:

  • Sit with a partner and check off three main points on your fingers. Your partner does the same.
  • Use the same process to state what you agreed or disagreed with in the past lesson.
  • Use mnemonics, poems, songs, or rhymes that help for remembering specific facts.

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#4 Elaboration

"Elaboration is the opportunity for the learner to tie new information to existing knowledge." The teacher's role in this process is to provide the opportunity where risks and mistakes can occur. The student's role is develop faith in him/herself so that opportunities will be taken when offered. Here are some ways you can implement elaboration in your classroom:

  • Using mind maps, flowcharts, or graphic organizers to show connection through a visual form
  • Maintaining a diary of learning and thoughts
  • Tests or quizzes to highlight what students know
  • Include extension or experimentation areas in your classroom that can be used in a formal or informal basis

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#5 Repetition

If any item is taught using only one memory pathway, it is a fragile link and may be lost easily. In order for students to store and retrieve information it must be stored in as many pathways as possible, which can be done through repetition. Here are some examples of how to tap into and strengthen memory pathways:

  • Involve emotion through fun, music, stories, humor or costumes
  • Encourage semantic memory by involving key words on charts or mind maps and using videos and transparencies
  • Strengthen procedural memory through hands-on exploration

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