Brain-Based Strategies in Teaching

1. Involving Students in Real-life or Authentic Problem Solving

Sometimes students ask us when and where they need this and that that they are learning in school. This question implies that students hardly see the relevance and the practical application of what they’re taught in school maybe because sometimes, if not most of the time, what we give are hypothetical studies that have convergent and neat answers or hypothetical cases that are far removed from real life. Here is an example of real-life or authentic problem-solving. Students in a fifth-grade class were challenged by their teacher to determine whether public opinion in their city matched that of the country in public poll regarding the selection of a presidential candidate. The students researched how polls are conducted, studied data collection, and learned how to form questions. After conducting a mini poll at the school, they tabulated their results, compared them to the national results, and discussed the reasons for the differences. (adapted from Wolfe, 2001)

2. Using Projects to Increase Meaning and Motivation

Projects may not necessarily be based on problems but the example in item number I may be made a project. Another example of a project is a project-based multi-media like this one: The class will work together on a presentation of World 11 memories and produce an extremely poignant recording of a song from the era and display collages of photographs and other memorabilia. (Michel Simkins, 2002)

3. Simulations and Roleplays as Meaning Makers

Not all curriculum topics can be addressed through authentic problem solving and projects. At times these activities are not feasible, so simulations which are not real events, are our resort. Examples of simulations are: a sari-sari store to give elementary students experience in making budget, stay within budget, counting change for bills.

4. Classroom Strategies Using Visual Processing

“A picture is worth ten thousand words.” This being the case we make it a point to have visual aids. Visuals are powerful aids in retention as well as in understanding. To help students organize their thinking, teachers use graphics. Below are examples of graphics given by Robert J. Marzano et al in their book, Classroom Instruction that Works

5. Songs, jingles, and raps

Content can be more easily Darned when they give it a tune or make it into rhyme through their personally composed songs, jingles, and raps. Adding movement to the music or rhyme provides an extra sensory input to the brain and probably enhances the learning. Spelling a word is also easier if you sing it to a familiar tune. The “ABC” song is an example of a piggyback song, a song in which new words or concepts are set to a familiar melody. Here’s an example: Teach Grade 1 pupils to end a sentence with a period with this song sang to the tune of Row, Row, Your Boat.

Stop, stop, stop the words
With a little dot
Use a period at the end
So they’ll know to stop. (Wolfe, 2001)

6. Mnemonic Strategies

These mnemonic strategies assist students in recalling important information. Examples are: We remember the number of days each month with the help of the rhyme, “30 days has September…” or we count the peaks and valleys of our knuckles.

7. Writing Strategies

Make students write their own word problems and make them ask their classmates to solve them. Or by the use of incomplete statements, ask the students to write down what they are learning or what they are confused about. Examples are: I think calculators…; Factoring is easy if….; I am hard up in…

In Social Studies, you make them write dialogues, speeches, letter, newspaper euologies. If then President Marcos and then President Corazon Aquino would engage in dialogue, what would they say? If then Pres. Macapagal would come back to life and write a letter to President Gloria M. Arroyo, what would be the content of his letter?

8. Active review

Instead of the teacher conducting the review, students are given their turn. Review days are planned and organized to give enough time for students to prepare for the holding of a review. This technique strengthens synapses.

9. Hands-on-activities

Concrete experience is one of the best ways to make long-lasting neural connections. Aristotle said: “What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing.”