Literacy Learning and the Brain: What Teachers should Know (Week Two)

Last week recap: Literacy is a complex concept. No one person learns  the same way so understanding human development and psychology is important for teachers. These concepts help us in guiding our students in the direction that works best for them.  That is precisely why I began my journey with the human brain. Last week I provided a link that had a round-up of great links featuring this topic. 

Week Two

Literacy Learning & The Brain

The study of the brain has been happening for hundreds of years. With all the technology we have today, these studies have become more telling and accurate. Scientists are finding we can and do change our brain everyday. Learning, experience, and everyday events cause  synapses to fire in our brain creating stronger connections and deeper learning.  

Why is it important for educators to know this?

In order to educate another being, one must first be aware of; typical human development (by typical, I'm referring to the average results of scientists), how the brain works and what can cause the brain to change. This information gives us a clearer picture of how individual learners learn. 

Biological: You can think of this domain as the physical body and it's genetic make-up. This domain can affect our literacy learning because it determines how the physical brain works.

Cognitive: This domain refers the meta physical workings of the brain. This is a more abstract concept that deals with perception and thought processes. This domain affects literacy learning by allowing us to  interpret  and problem solve.

Psychosocial: This domain deals with emotions, personality and expectations. This is another domain that determines how the physical brain works. This can be determined by the individuals' environmental influences.

Hence we all learn differently. No one person has the same genetic make-up or the same perspective and thoughts. While some have similar environmental factors, how we deal with them is determined by the psychosocial domain. However, we can use this information to our advantage.

How Can Educators Use This Information?

Making kids aware of how their brain works gives them the knowledge of control and power to decide how they are going to work on the things that they need to work on. I know this sounds crazy right? But it works.

Many years ago I was trained in the Lindamood-Bell LiPS® program and one of the first things you do with your student is draw a human head's profile.  Then you  draw the brain and it's different parts and talk about the different parts and what they do to help us learn.  I always felt like the kids found this part very fascinating and would even refer back to it later on in the program when they would learn something new. 

Some great examples of how to teach "Brain Literacy" were given by Dr. Judy Willis in her Article, "Building Brain Literacy in Elementary Students."

"Building Student "Brain Literacy"

A second grade class could have an "Executive Function of the Week." After introducing a new function and giving an example, you could invite students to offer their own examples. The emphasis here should not be on a formal definition, but an understanding about how they have applied and increased their capacity.
Other examples for elementary students might include: read more here"

I will leave you this week with this other really great resource: "TRANSLATING BRAIN RESEARCH INTO EFFECTIVE LANGUAGE & LITERACY INSTRUCTION" 


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