Engaging the Brain

August 19, 2013

(1) Brainstorming and Discussion & (2) Reciprocal Teaching

Students learn 90% of what they say or discuss as they complete an activity and 90% of what they teach others.

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(3) Drawing and Artwork & (4) Writing

The strategy of drawing and artwork serves students well in the real world as they become artists, architects, and engineers. Put the visual-spatial intelligence to work by allowing students to draw what they are learning. The brain also remembers what it writes down which is why people who make lists have a better chance of remembering.


(5) Field Trips, (6) Project-based and Problem-based Instruction & (7) Work Study

The more relevant a teacher can make instruction to the world of students, the easier it is for them to understand and retain content.


(8) Graphic Organizers & (9) Visuals

Pictures on the walls, videos, SMART boards, and writing on the board all reinforce learning. Graphic organizers are effective visuals for addressing both the left and right hemispheres of the brain. Left reads the words and right takes in the pictures.

(10) Humor & (11) Games

Laughter puts students' brains in a state of optimal learning. One way to get students laughing and motivated is to play games.


(12) Manipulatives & (13) Technology

When teachers allow students to use manipulatives in math, conduct experiments and labs in science, and build models across the curriculum, understanding and retention of content occur. Technology enables students to use their hands in combination with their brains to engage them.


(14) Movement & (15) Role Play

When the body is engaged during learning, the information can be put in one of the strongest memory systems - procedural or muscle memory. Having them up and actively engaged in the content not only ensures they will pass the test but will remember the information long after.


(16) Metaphor, Analogy and Simile & (17) Mnemonic Devices

Since the brain thinks in connections, any strategy that assists students in connecting content together is meaningful to memory. Use these to connect concepts that are unfamiliar to familiar ones.


(18) Music

Over 50% of behavior problems can be reduced by creating a classroom environment with appropriate music, lighting, color, aroma, and seating. "Music soothes the savage beast!" Musical performance also appears to strongly correlate with improved academic achievement, particularly a person's ability to retain information.


(19) Storytelling & (20) Visualization

Stories have a beginning, middle, and an end, therefore, the content is connected together and this helps the brain remember. Many students have had no practice in visualization since new toys (video games and computers) provide visuals. Hence, reading is sometimes difficult for them. Good readers have to visualize the action in a story as they read. Visualization enhances learning and retention of information.


These strategies were taken from 20 Instructional Strategies That Really Work! by Marcia Tate.