Literacy Learning Spectrum: How Brain Studies Can Help Meet the Needs of All Learners

K-2 Early Literacy: How to use  Brain Studies in the Classroom to Meet the Needs of All

Last week recap: Understanding human development and child psychology are important topics for early childhood educators. (for all teachers) With all the new technology and ability to understand the brain on a deeper level is a huge advantage for us. With this knowledge we can understand and meet the needs of more individual students. The link I posted at the end was not working. I apologize for that and will try to relink it.

First we need to look at how the brain learns. According to Renate and Geoffrey Caine (2011),  there are 12 principles: learning is physiological, the brain is social, the search for meaning is innate, the search for meaning occurs through patterns, patterning involves the emotions, the brain works with wholes and parts simultaneously, learning involves both focused attention and peripheral perception, learning is both conscious and unconscious, there are two approaches to memory; archiving isolated facts and skills and making sense of experiences, learning is developmental, learning is inhibited by threat associated with helplessness and/or fatigue, each brain is organized uniquely.  

Discussing each of these principles is a lofty task so we will break them into four manageable parts so we can really digest and discuss how to apply this information in the classroom.

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Part I: How the brain learns
#1. The brain is physiological. What is physiological? Physiological is a part of normal functioning of the body. The brain is our command center. How the brain functions is determined by its  perceived environment and feeling of success.

This is why the environment we create in our classrooms is critical. This includes not only the physical environment but the social and emotional environment as well. Creating a “safe” environment allows the brain optimal functioning.

Safe entails a number of things but for our purpose we are going to think of these three aspects; organized and efficient,  building confidence  to take risks and make mistakes, and establishing purpose.

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#2. The brain is social. This is why project based learning is so successful. Project based, cooperative learning and game based learning are all social. They all include “hands on” approaches that require social interaction to problem solve and think critically.  This also proves play is an essential part of learning.

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#3. The search for meaning is innate. It is a built in drive to survive. We need to know that every child is searching for meaning. (They want to learn) It is our job to recognize that each individual has their own perception of meaning making. Because of this we have to create a classroom that is supportive of risk taking and mistake making.

I am currently working on a practical guide to establish these practices in the K-2 classroom. When this is complete I will post it here and it will be available in my stores.
Thank you for all your kind words and support.


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