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Brain Based Strategies

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Brain Based Strategies
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  Running head: Brain Based Strategies in the Classroom Brain-based strategies have certainly become a buzz term in contemporary education. With the advent of better technology in the field of neuroscience, education is becoming better informed regarding what teachers can do in the classroom to maximise learning. In my own context I make extensive use of chunking and reciprocal teaching. Chunking in its simplest form refers to the way the brain groups information that is similar for memory and meaning (Afflerbach et al., 2008) and can be broadly characterized into three categories, linear chunking, taxonomic and multipurpose. For the purposes of this assignment and my teaching context, I will mostly focus on taxonomic chunking as it closely relates to Bloom’s Taxonomy.  Chunking information in the classroom does not mean the implementation of a simple mnemonic exercise, but rather that information is delivered in a way that students are able to understand in smaller chunks and more importantly that they make connection with information to make it meaningful. There are various chunking strategies to be used in the classroom, namely, mixed chunking, similar chunking and characteristic chunking. Mixed chunking is what many educators naturally do in the classroom by breaking down information into manageable parts. Similar chunking as the name suggests is separating information into similar elements, for example in my context separating all the adjectives from the verbs. Characteristic chunking is identifying elements that provides strong connections to each other, this in my classroom could be looking at synonyms of words and then deciding which of the synonyms have the strongest connection to the srcinal word. My main reason for using chunking strategies in the classroom is to minimize working memory (Baddeley, 1992) and to help promote long term memory. A simple example of how chunking strategies could be used in my classroom is perhaps when students  Brain Based Strategies in the Classroom are faced with a challenging reading text. Students could be asked to read and answer the questions that accompany the text, or they could be taught how to chunk the text. In my class, when students are working with dense texts, they are taught the following steps. a) Circle unfamiliar words  b) Used context clues to help define. c) Looked up the meaning of unknown words. d) Find synonyms for these new words in the text. e) Underline important places and people and identify. f) Read aloud. g) Read multiple times. Another strategy I employ often in the classroom is reciprocal teaching Palincsar (1998), however it veers slightly from the srcinal idea and would in today’s terms be more commonly referred to as the flipped classroom (Lage et al, 2000). It must be said that running a flipped classroom does take quite a bit of work from the teacher. The material that students would normally have to work through during class time, is essentially provided to students to work through outside of class time. The challenge here for the teacher is to ensure that the material is differentiated, concise and understandable for the student to navigate. I have found that dividing the material into 3 areas has seen most success in my class. I start with  preclass  activities, this could take the form of prescribed readings (I suggest the use of  www.newsela.com) or links to TedTalks pertaining to the unit. Much like our journey here with the University of the People, I include a brief note for the students of what they should be able to understand after the readings and viewings.  Brain Based Strategies in the Classroom  In-class  activities are prepared ahead of time and include debate questions, short quizzes, collaborative projects or short two-minute presentations of the material they encountered in the  pre-class material. The idea here is not on the presenting content but having students engage with the material. One of the most engaging activities for my classes is “Your group are now the teachers”, where students are grouped and asked to teach another group of students (including the creation of quizzes and activities). These groups then rotate and when the rotation cycle has been completed, they form new groups for a  post-class  summary discussion. Chunking and forms of reciprocal teaching offer teachers and students’  opportunities to capitalize on brain-based strategies for learning. Chunking helps make better use of short-term memory and if used successfully can reduce cognitive load. Reciprocal teaching offers students choices and gets them more active (engaged) with text and potentially multifaceted experiences.  Brain Based Strategies in the Classroom References Afflerbach, P., Pearson, P. D., & Paris, S. H. (2008). Clarifying differences between reading skills and reading strategies. The Reading Teacher, 61(5), 364-373. Baddeley, A. (January 01, 1992). Working Memory: The Interface between Memory and Cognition.  Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 4, 3, 281-8. Lage, M. J., Platt, G. J., & Treglia, M. (January 01, 2000). Inverting the Classroom: A Gateway to Creating an Inclusive Learning Environment. The Journal of Economic  Education, 31, 1, 30-43 Palincsar, A. S. (1998). Social constructivist perspectives on teaching and learning. Annual R eview of Psychology, Annual 1998, 49, 345.
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