Brain-Based Strategies to Reach Every Learner
Connell, J. D. (2005)
Chapter 1:
-As we learn new information, our brains undergo physiological changes
Learning is making connections
Howard Gardner-8 kind of intelligence—each has a specific location in brain. We all have different combinations
Connell asserts students will learn more when we teach to their strengths. Most teachers rely heavily on their strengths when teaching. Have to see the relationships between your own learning style and your teaching so you can always expand what you are doing.
Motivated by course evaluation forms. Inspired by Gardner’s Frames of Mind . Took an MI invenotyr and fount style was reflection, thinking, and speaking. Concluded –I am a left brained learner and a left brained teacher—Left hemisphere is stronger than the right. Designed comprehensive brain based learning plan called the “Who Am I?”
Step 1: Foundation of knowledge:
All about connections: Connect w/ students academically and emotionally (safe and important to learn)
Basic brain neurology: The Emotional Brain (1996 Joseph LeDoux)—human brain is product of evolutionary tinkering
Eric Jensen (1996) –Brain is prewired to learn what we need to learn to survive—most important function—designed to survive and adapt
Triune Brain Theory—Paul MacLean –evolutionary theory—3 brains that appeared in different stages of our evolution
1) Reptilian-oldest-500 million yrs. Ago
-cerebellum and brain stem
-body functions needed for survival
2) Mammalian—250 million yrs. Ago
-Amygdala, hippocampus, thalamus, hypothalamus –seat of our emotions/regulating
3) Neocortex outer part of cerebellum—200 million yrs.
Part of the brain that makes us human
Sense of past, present, & future
Plan, make goals

The 3 parts interact
Two Hemispheres connected by the corpus callosum
4 lobes:
2 Frontal—last area to develop-Planning, decision-making, problem solving
Temporal Lobes-language reception, auditory processing, speaking
Left & Right Parietal—represent our body in the brain. Receive incoming sensory information & allow to judge things like weight, shape, texture

“When we say that an area of the brain is highly developed, we mean that within that lobe there are an unusually high number of neural connections among its cells”
We can change our brain & our students’ brains
Brain Cells: Glial—nurture neurons
Neurons—responsible for learning: Dendrites, Cell Body, Axon
-Electrochemical info is passed between nerve cells in the form of neurotransmitters. Dendrites pass the information to cell body. Dendrites can grow more appendages. The # of messages coming from dendrites into cell body helps determine whether or not the cell will transmit the message to the axon, which is known as “firing”
Synapse—small space between nerve cells
Learning—neural networks: 1 neuron is able to make connections with 10,000 other neurons
Country Road to Highway—when we learn something new it is slow—but as we practice the neurons are activated over and over…the more practice, the stronger & more efficient
Learning changes the brain: Plasticity and Pruning—during the first 2 yrs. Brain makes connections at a fast rate—neurons that are not used are “pruned”—pruning also eliminates redundancies
Takes until about 20 yrs to wire the brain
As we age, myelin sheath grows thicker—improves transmission

Chapter 3: Our Brain and Our Environment
Experiences in life shape brain
Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs Physiological first
1) Joseph Ledoux—many neural pathways between limbic and neocortex
2) Neural info comes to limbic system before neocortex. Emotions—whether it is safe to pay attention and learn
3) People move on to self-actualization from this
Marian Diamond (1988)—Rats: enriched or impoverished environments—enriched: fuller richer dendrites and cortices 7-11% larger
Caine and Caine (1994) physical structure of brain changes as result of experience
Cites Ramey & Ramey: Longitudinal study of children—Enriched: 20 IQ points higher—this should have impact on support for programs like Head Start
Looks at 2 environmental factors:
1) Prosody—tone of voice and its impact on others—emotional side of language—preparing for fight or flight—Zull writes: “I suspect that a great deal of the art of changing the brain has to do with effective use of prosody—teach convey enthusiasm
2) Stress—fight or flight—Limbic system is pulling blood and oxygen away from neocortex—stress hormone cortisol
Discusses Goleman—cortisol high more errors, working memory issues, damages cells in hippocampus
Stress reducing strategies: Connell recommends Brain Gym, Breathing Excercises, Yoga
Step 2: Who am I—Neurologically Speaking?
Chapter 4: Left, Right, Middle Brain
-monitors sequential behavior
-auditory/verbal –Wernicke’s and Broca’s
-Words, logic, reading & writing
-Rules & deadlines
-Alerts us to novelty—tells us when someone is lying or using humor
-music, art, visual-spatial or visual-motor
-Intuitive, emotional
Chapter 5: What are MI?
“Research has demonstrated that the multiple intelligences work independently of one another”
-Intelligences have a physiological location in the brain
Teachers can construct lessons that use particular blends of intelligence
Correlating brain dominance and the Intelligences:
Left = verbal-linguistic, Logical-mathematical, Existential, Naturalistic, Intrapersonal
Right = Spatial, Musical, Bodily-Kinesthetic, naturalistic, Interpersonal
Middle—unique mix—may “tug” one direction
Chapter 6: Information Processing Theory
Our preferences for how we receive, process, & express information can be thought of as our learning style
Input-output model—computer analogy
1) Sensory input—we tend to ignore most
Proprioceptive and vestibular are discussed as sensory inputs
2) Processing sensory information: Integrating, organizing, learning and remembering
-have to constantly sort relevant from irrelevant
-Help students attend to what is relevant
3) Organize
4) Sequence the information
5) Make the information available for recall
-attention, working memory, & long term memory
Whatever we are conscious of at the moment is working memory
Can either process it by connecting it with something in LTM or forget it
Find connections, relate pieces of information
Long Term Memory:
-elaboration (make connections—between prior knowledge and new information)
-Show or create visual
-Organize the information—Big perspective and then fill in details (outlines, graphic organizers, color-coding)
-Time to reflect (to incorporate information—give brain time to search for connections)

6) Final stage is Expressive out put—physical part of how we learn—writing, speaking, art, etc.
Fine and gross motor—mind and body connections important—ability to move originates in the brain—exercise and mental health
Closing the learning loop—cycle of learning is continuous and output becomes input

Chapter 7: Learning Styles
Right Brain is “random”
Left Brain is “sequential”
3 styles: Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic

Chapter 8: The Emotional Brain
Mentions Goleman and Demasio (1994)
Emotions connected to thought—effect our ability to learn 7 make decisions

Emotional Principle #1: Emotions and Intellect are intertwined
Hippocampus susceptible to stress-cortisol again—linked with spatial behavior—stress inhibits it
Amygdala—constrantly screening sensory information—judgment
Emotional brain will take control of thinking brain—this is called “downshifting”—mechanism to assess & respond to potential danger—fight or flight again
Emotional Principle #2: the neural connections between our emotions and our intellect influence our ability to pay attention and to make decisions
Emotional system drives the decsision of whether or not we pay attention to incoming stimuli—tells us whether something is important
Emotional Principle #3: Students benefit in a classroom environment that is perceived as safe, joyful, & challenging

The 5 Dimensions of EI and connections to MI:

1) Self Awareness
2) Self Regulation
3) Motivation
4) Empathy
5) Social Skills
Connell claims these are all connected to Gardner’s Intrapersonal Intelligence
Goleman (1994): knowing yourself is most important aspect of EI

Step 3: Who am I as a Teacher?
Step 4: How can I apply Brain-based research in my classroom?
Step 5: How do I continue?

VIDEO Lecture #1

VIDEO Lecture #2