Monday, September 24, 2012


You know I’m a sucker for anything about the brain.  If the word “brain” is in the title of a book or magazine article, I’m all over it.  Why?  The brain is where learning takes place.  The more we know about the brain, the more effective we can be as educators.  (I’m smiling because the more I read about the brain the more I realize a lot of this is common sense.)  However, brain research validates best practices that good teachers have always employed.

So, this week when I was working out I noticed the latest READER’S DIGEST on the shelf.  Ah!  Another article about the brain – “Build a Better Brain.”  You might want to read it yourself, but I’ll give you a synopsis just in case.
The Importance of Short Term Memory
Initial research seems to indicate that memory training can actually boost IQ.  Eric Kandel of Columbia University shared, “If you really work on memory by, for instance, memorizing poetry…”  I shouldn’t take this out of context, but it makes sense that finger plays, songs, chants, and nursery rhymes are the essence of this in pre-K and kindergarten.

Pay Attention, Get Smart
Attention is another brain element that you can train.  Hocus, pocus, everybody focus!

Aerobic Exercise
Exercise for the body and exercise for the brain.  You learn on your feet, not on your seat.  Do I sound like a broken record?

Now we’re getting down to the point of this blog.  I called it napper snappers because many of you have administrators who have banned rest time.  Researchers have found “that a midday nap may not merely restore brain power but also raise it.”  Children need a quiet time every day.  You don’t have to put out cots or mats, but 10-15 minutes with the lights off and peaceful music would be like a breath of fresh air for those little brains that are working so hard. 

Let the brain idle because brain rest supports creativity.

A Second Language
“The workout the prefrontal cortex gets in bilingualism carries over to other functions…”  That is really good news for children who have different languages in their home and school! 

I’ll skip the “Caffeine” and “Foods and Spices” because that doesn’t really relate to the classroom.

Six Ways to Get Smarter Instantly
  1. Take Tae Kwon Do or dance.  (Love to dance even though I’m not good at it.)
  2. Download the TED App  (Technology, Entertainment, Design – I have no idea about this, but I plan to check it out.)
  3. Build a memory palace.  (Technique for remembering.)
  4. Write by hand.  (Swiping across the screen will never replace picking up a pencil.)
  5. Delay gratification.  (More about this when I focus on the executive function in November.)
  6. Write reviews online.  (How this relates to the brain I have no idea???)
If I’ve sparked some interest, check out the October issue of READER’S DIGEST and learn more.