Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Is Your Classroom Brain Friendly?

Brain-Friendly Environment

Environments are the medium in which we live. We can feel them every day, all day long. At school, only the quality of the teacher is a greater determinant of student success than the environment. -E. Jensen

Resource: Environments for Learning by Eric Jensen

Safety First:
• Adopt a zero tolerance policy towards bullying.
• Make the room inviting to students: use music, flowers, warm colors and affirming posters.
• Maintain a caring attitude that accepts diversity.
• Role model positive ways to deal with temporary setbacks.

Prime Students for Learning:
• Plant seeds of learning with pre-exposure.
• Hang up peripherals (posters, pictures, drawings, symbols) two-four weeks before you begin teaching a unit.
• Many teachers do this by having a ‘coming soon’ bulletin board.

Reduce Clutter:
• Make sure your classroom is physically neat before each learning session.
• Take care that ample classroom space is allotted for necessary storage.
• Use appropriate wall space to organize material on bulletin boards.
• At least one time per month, take an honest stock of your classroom; freshen displays and discard materials no longer in use.

• The brain responds exceptionally well to learning environments with high levels of individualized instruction, constructive feedback, small-group interaction, and high expectations.
– Regularly incorporate small-group learning activities.
– Experiment with seating and desk arrangements.
– Consider an occasional change of location to teach a concept.

Music and Learning:
• When children are talking, predictable music without words is best.
• Typically use music no more than 5 to 20% of your class period.
• Use a variety of music types.
– To calm students down, choose a slow song – slightly slower than the normal heartbeat.
– To motivate students, choose a fast beat selection (120-140 beats per minute).
– To enhance productivity, choose selections that mirror the normal heart rate (60-70 beats per minute) and are highly predictable and in a major key.

• When relaxation is required, keep temperature in the upper range of the comfort zone (70-72 degrees).
• When alertness is desired, keep temperature in the lower range of the comfort zone (68-70 degrees).

• Maintain a constant, adequate level of bright lighting (at least 2,000 lux).
• Indirect but bright natural lighting is best.
• Deviate from the norm and take students outside for occasional learning sessions. Not only will they be exposed to more sunlight and fresh air; their brains will be stimulated by the novelty of learning in a new and different environment.

• Research suggests that peppermint, basil, lemon, cinnamon, and rosemary enhance mental alertness while lavender, chamomile, orange, and rose calm nerves and encourage relaxation.
• Be sensitive to others’ complaints about bothersome smells. Unpleasant odors are known to inhibit learning.

Environments for Learning by Eric Jensen

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