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"Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day..." - 4 new articles

  1. Wow, This Is A “Must-Read” Article On The Brain & Learning!
  2. “Democracy Kids” Looks Very Accessible
  3. The Best Travel Photographs Of The Year
  4. This Week’s “Links I Should Have Posted About, But Didn’t”
  5. More Recent Articles
  6. Search Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day...
  7. Prior Mailing Archive

Wow, This Is A “Must-Read” Article On The Brain & Learning!

A group of “heavyweights” from the world of medical schools have collaborated on an article examining research on the brain and learning, and how it can be incorporated effectively in training medical students. And what they recommend clearly has implications for those of us teaching anywhere, and compliments what I do in the classroom around motivation, the brain, and learning. Instead of linking to a ton of different posts I’ve written about those topics, though, since the publisher has made the first chapter of my new book available online for free, I’d encourage you to check it out. That chapter has all my lesson plans on how I implement these ideas in the classroom (and, who knows, you might even ending up wanting to buy the book :) ).

The article is titled What can medical education learn from the neurobiology of learning? Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to locate the entire article online for free, but, for some reason, they have made what I consider the most important sections available. You can read the section on Implications for Medical Teaching and Curricular Development and the part on Where Do We Go From Here?

The article reviews research (that we also study in my class) about how learning physically changes the brain by growing and strengthening synapses between neurons and helping grow neurons themselves.

To give you a taste of what else they have to say, though, I’m going to publish an excerpts from an article in Science Daily about the paper. The article is titled Brain Scientists Offer Medical Educators Tips on the Neurobiology of Learning. This section very succinctly describes the major recommendations of the authors. Next to several of the recommendations I have links to posts describing specific ways they can be applied in the classroom. Each one of their recommendations can provide fodder for a lengthy post:

The most effective delivery of the best possible care requires identifying and assigning levels of importance to the biological components of learning. Here are 10 key aspects of learning based on decades of research by many scientists that the article’s authors believe can be incorporated into effective teaching.

Repetition: Medical curricula often employ compressed coverage over limited time frames of a great amount of material. Learning theory and the neurobiology of learning and memory suggest that going deeper is more likely to result in better retention and depth of understanding. With repetition, many components of the neural processes become more efficient, requiring less energy and leaving higher-order pathways available for additional cognitive processing. However, repetitions must be appropriately spaced.

Reward and reinforcement: Reward is a key component of learning at all stages of life. “The brain’s intrinsic reward system — self-congratulations with the realization of success — plays a major role in reinforcement of learned behaviors,” Friedlander said. “An important factor is the realization that accomplishing an immediate goal and a successful step toward a future goal can be equally rewarding.” (See My Best Posts On “Motivating” Students)

In the case of medical students, there are considerable rewards ahead of them in addition to the more immediate rewards of the satisfaction of understanding medicine. The students who derive joy from learning as they proceed through their medical education may have a greater chance of using the brain’s capacity to provide reward signals on an ongoing basis, facilitating their learning process.

Visualization: Visualization and mental rehearsal are real biological processes with associated patterned activation of neural circuitry in sensory, motor, executive, and decision-making pathways in the brain. Internally generated activity in the brain from thoughts, visualization, memories, and emotions should be able to contribute to the learning process. (See My Best Posts On Helping Students “Visualize Success”)

Active engagement: There is considerable neurobiological evidence that functional changes in neural circuitry that are associated with learning occur best when the learner is actively engaged.. Learners’ having multiple opportunities to assume the role of teacher also invoke neural motivation and reward pathways — and another major biological component of the learning process: stress. (See The Best Sites For Cooperative Learning Ideas)

Stress: Although the consequences of stress are generally considered undesirable, there is evidence that the molecular signals associated with stress can enhance synaptic activity involved in the formation of memory. However, particularly high levels of stress can have opposite effects. The small, interactive teaching format may be judiciously employed to moderately engage the stress system. (see How We Can Help Our Students Deal With Stress)

Fatigue: Patterns of neuronal activity during sleep reinforce the day’s events. Research suggests that it is important to have appropriate downtime between intense problem-solving sessions. Downtime permits consolidation away from the formal teaching process. (see The Best Resources For Helping Teens Learn About The Importance Of Sleep)

Multitasking: Multitasking is a distraction from learning, unless all of the tasks are relevant to the material being taught. The challenge is to integrate information from multiple sources, such as a lecture and a hand-held device.

Individual learning styles: Neural responses of different individuals vary, which is the rationale for embracing multiple learning styles to provide opportunities for all learners to be most effectively reached.

Active involvement: Doing is learning. And success at doing and learning builds confidence.

Revisiting information and concepts using multimedia: Addressing the same information using different sensory processes, such as seeing and hearing, enhances the learning process, potentially bringing more neural hardware to bear to process and store information.

The researchers recommend that medical students be taught the underlying neurobiological principles that shape their learning experiences. “By appealing not only to students’ capacity to derive pleasure from learning about medicine but also to their intellectual capacity for understanding the rationale for the educational process selected … real motivation can be engendered. … They become more effective communicators and enhance their patients’ success at learning the information they need for managing their own health and treatments as well.”


“Democracy Kids” Looks Very Accessible

“Democracy Kids” is a nice series of interactives designed to teach young people about how the United States government operates. It provides audio support for the text, which makes it particularly accessible to English Language Learners. It’s sponsored by several respected civic organizations, including the National Conference of State Legislatures.

I’m adding it to The Best Websites For Learning About Civic Participation & Citizenship.


The Best Travel Photographs Of The Year

The Travel Photographer of the Year has been recognizing the best photographs from around the world for the past few years. Unfortunately, like most of the photo contest awards, they don’t display the winner very accessibly on their own website.

However, newspaper sites do a much better job displaying the winners in slideshows, so I’ve been able to collect links to some of them.

I’m also adding a link to this “The Best..” list to The Best Sites For Learning About The World’s Different Cultures.

Here are The Best Travel Photographs Of The Year:

The BBC has an audio slideshow displaying the 2010 winners.

Travel Photographer of the Year 2010 competition: winners’ gallery comes from The Telegraph.

The Guardian has a similar collection of this past year’s winners.

The Telegraph has a slideshow of International Travel Photographer of the Year 2009 competition winners.

The Guardian has a Travel photographer of the year – past winners from the first four years of the competition (2002-2006).

If you found this post useful, you might want to look at the 670 other “The Best…” lists and consider subscribing to this blog for free.


This Week’s “Links I Should Have Posted About, But Didn’t”

I have a huge backlog of resources that I’ve been planning to post about in this blog but, just because of time constraints, have not gotten around to doing. Instead of letting that backlog grow bigger, I regularly grab a few and list them here with a minimal description. It forces me to look through these older links, and help me organize them for my own use. I hope others will find them helpful, too. These are resources that I didn’t include in my “Best Tweets” feature because I had planned to post about them, or because I didn’t even get around to sending a tweet sharing them.

Here are This Week’s “Links I Should Have Posted About, But Didn’t”:

Living With AIDS is a Wall Street Journal interactive. I’m adding it to The Best Web Resources For Learning About HIV & AIDS.

Archive Gallery: Personal Computers is a slideshow from Popular Science. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Learning About The History Of Technology.

Amphibious vehicle made from a lawnmower and boat is a video from CBS News. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Learning About “Cool” Cars (& Designing Your Own!).

The income made by, and the taxes paid by, the rich, in one graph is a chart from Ezra Klein at The Washington Post. I’m adding it to The Best Resources About Wealth & Income Inequality.

Here are two new additions to The Best Resources For Learning About The “Achievement Gap”:

Why the Black-White Gap Was Closing When It Was is by James Gee and appeared in The Huffington Post.

The Black-White Achievement Gap: When Progress Stopped is a report from The Educational Testing Service.

Buddha’s birthday celebrations is a series of photos from The Sacramento Bee. I’m adding it to The Best Websites To Learn About Various Religions (& English).

Is Poverty the Key Factor in Student Outcomes? is an article and video from The Texas Tribune. I’m adding it to The Best Places To Learn What Impact A Teacher & Outside Factors Have On Student Achievement.

The Cube Project Squeezes Bachelor Pad Into Charmingly Tiny Box is a video and short article from TIME Magazine. I’m adding it to The Best Images Of Weird, Cool & Neat-Looking Buildings (& Ways To Design Your Own).

The Power of Connection is a wiki containing materials from Barbara Hoskins Sakamoto. I’m adding it to The Best Ways ESL/EFL/ELL Teachers Can Develop Personal Learning Networks.

The Ten Greatest Lateral Thinking Puzzles is from Paul Sloane. I’m adding it to What Do You Do When You Have A Few Minutes Left In Class? — Part Two.

Freedom Riders inspire new generation of Arab protest leaders is from CNN. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The “Freedom Riders.”

Here are some other regular features I post in this blog:

“The Best…” series (which are now 675 in number)

Best Tweets of The Month

The most popular posts on this blog each month

My monthly choices for the best posts on this blog each month

Each month I do an “Interview Of The Month” with a leader in education

Periodically, I post “A Look Back” highlighting older posts that I think are particularly useful

The ESL/EFL/ELL Blog Carnival

Resources that share various “most popular” lists useful to teachers

Interviews with ESL/EFL teachers in “hot spots” around the world.

Articles I’ve written for other publications.


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