Using John Medina’s bestselling Brain Rules in the classroom

Brain Rules CoverEvery teacher would benefit from reading Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School.  John Medina’s book explains relevant neuroscience and offers ideas for applying the principles to real life.

Brain Rules would make a be a good choice for a professional development book club.  Medina does an excellent job of explaining each of the Brain Rules, but experienced teachers can definitely expand on his ideas for applications to the classroom.  You will be brimming with ideas after you read Brain Rules—why not get professional development credit for the brainstorm?

Reading Brain Rules inspired some changes (and gave me excellent justification) for some of my teaching techniques:

  • Refer sleepy kids (and their parents) to research that explains why sleep is an essential part of the learning process.
  • Encourage students to be active at recess—no walking or sitting around!  To function at its best, the brain needs the body to move.
  • Employ Medina’s attention technique: every ten minutes, tell a story or do something to re-engage the audience.
  • Provide as many visual aids as possible, because vision trumps all other senses.

One of my favorite sections covered stress.  Medina’s mother was a teacher, and he remembers her frustration when a child with troublesome home circumstances struggled more and more.  Medina’s mother realized that the child faced so much stress that nothing the school did made much difference.  A stressed brain can’t learn.  I know teachers wish that administrators and politicians understood this.

John Medina’s Twelve Brain Rules:

SURVIVAL: The human brain evolved, too.

EXERCISE: Exercise boosts brain power.

SLEEP: Sleep well, think well.

STRESS: Stressed brains don’t learn the same way.

WIRING: Every brain is wired differently.

ATTENTION: We don’t pay attention to boring things.

MEMORY: Repeat to remember.

SENSORY INTEGRATION: Stimulate more of the senses.

VISION: Vision trumps all other senses.

MUSIC: Study or listen to boost cognition.

GENDER: Male and female brains are different.

EXPLORATION: We are powerful and natural explorers.

Medina created a Brain Rules website with many resources.  It has illustrations, charts and video for each brain rule.  Teachers of young children and new parents will enjoy Brain Rules for Baby.  This book has its own section on the site.

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Posted in Book Reviews,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Aug 25, 2014


Post a sign that tells others where to find your class (FREE and ready to use)

boystaringTeachers, here are FREE printable signs that tell others where to find your class.  You will save others a lot of inconvenience and grief if you display these signs whenever your class leaves the room.

When your class leaves the room, others don’t always know where to find you.  This can become a problem for a parent dropping off a lunch, a student who arrives late to school, or a messenger.

Some teachers make cute signs for their doors; mine are more functional.  You can print them in color and have a bona fide cute sign.  Or you can do what I did: print them in black and white—on colored paper.  (I use green for Miss Green.)  That will catch the eye and look pretty decent.  Laminate each sheet of paper, cut out each sign, and there you go!  My version like this lasted for three years.

At our school, we have windows on each door to the classroom.  The windows are framed in metal, and magnets stick to this. We keep all the signs clipped together on the inside of our door.  When we leave the classroom, it’s one student’s job to choose the correct sign and display it on the outside of our door.  This is a coveted job, so the child does it well, lest he or she lose the privilege.

I have uploaded the signs in two formats.  The pdf is ready to use.  I also give you the PowerPoint, so you can make modifications to fit your situation.  To use the file, just click.  Once in the file, click again to enable editing.  Then you can customize the signs to fit your needs.

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Posted in Classroom Management,Classroom setup,First Year Teachers,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Aug 18, 2014


Secret sponsor programs let families help needy kids

raisinghandsDoes your school have a secret sponsor program?  If not, consider talking with the principal and parent organization president about starting one.  A secret sponsor program lets more affluent families anonymously sponsor students.

I got the idea from a program at my younger brother and sister’s school, Schwarzkopf Elementary in Tampa, Florida—home of the Schwarzkopf Bears.  It was a public school.  Yes, it really was named after General Norman Schwarzkopf, who lived nearby.  Every year, he bought ice cream for all his Bears.

The program was called Secret Bear.  At the beginning of the school year, the school sent home fliers about the Secret Bear program.  The school had figured a cost for a year’s worth of field trip admission, a Schwarzkopf tee shirt, and other extras that no one wants to see a student miss.  Many families sponsored multiple Bears. The parents and children never knew who was their Secret Bear.

A secret sponsor program such as this does not need to be cost-prohibitive.  For example, the contribution toward a school tee shirt only needs to cover the cost, not the purchase price at school retail.  The cost of a field trip can be covered partly by Secret Bear and partly by spreading it among all the students who will attend.

Click here for my post remembering General Schwarzkopf and his work for children.  In addition to supporting his school, General Schwarzkopf founded Camp Boggy Creek with actor Paul Newman.  The camp serves children with chronic or life-threatening illnesses.

I hope that your school enjoys setting up a Secret Sponsor program.

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Posted in Tips for Parents,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Aug 11, 2014