Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Brain Rules by John Medina (Rules 1-4)

I've had this book on my to-read list for a while and when Barnes and Noble offered it on the Nook for $2.99, I purchased it.  Medina is a developmental molecular biologist and explains in plain English how our brain works.  I've summarized each rule here and included a little about impact for teachers/schools.  The post was too long, so I divvied it up into three posts.

1.      Exercise
a.      Exercise can elevate cognitive performance compared to those who are sedentary.
b.      Adolescents who are fit give more cognitive resources to a task and do so for a longer period of time.  (All the more reason to NOT cut P.E. classes!)
c.      Exercise twice a week decreases risk of Alzheimer’s by 60%
2.      Survival
a.      Fighting, feeding, fleeing and reproductive behavior
b.      Over time, we have had to adapt.
c.      “If a teacher can’t hold a student’s interest, knowledge will not be richly encoded in the brain’s database.” (40)
3.      Wiring
a.      When people learn, the wiring in the brain changes. 
b.      The brain is a muscle.  The more you work it, the larger and more complex it will become. (47)
c.      “Students of the same age show a great deal of intellectual variability.” (54)
d.      Smaller schools create better learning environments.
4.      Attention
a.      Our previous experience predicts what we should pay attention to now.  We match patterns/similarities to what we think we’ve seen before. (64)
b.      “Different environments create different expectations.” (58)
c.      Events that create emotion are better remembered than neutral events. (62)
d.      Memory is enhanced by creating associations between concepts.  Help students make connections.
e.      Vocabulary instruction alert:  “Words presented in a logically organized, hierarchical structure are much better remembered than words placed randomly-typically 40% better.” (66)
f.       The brain can’t multitask.  Interruptions lead to errors or make it longer to complete a task.
g.      Our attention span is about ten minutes, so follow the 10-2 rule.  For every ten minutes of lecture, allow two minutes of processing time.

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