Hidden before our very eyes, clues to understanding the human brain and learning have been overlooked for centuries. Michaelangelo's painting above is an example. As many as 10,000 visitors a day miss the human brain he painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Adam, God (with Eve in his left arm), and the human brain, it's all there, larger than life! Children similarly show us the hidden clues to understanding the unique ways their brain's learn. Come along on this voyage into the mind of a child as we employ strategies to optimize their learning based on recent developments in brain research.

Friday, August 20, 2010

1. A CHILD STRUGGLING TO LEARN IN AN ALIEN WORLD. . . 2. YOUR BRAIN ON MUSIC 3. WORLD SCIENCE FESTIVAL: NOTES AND NEURONS 4. HOW TO BUILD A BIGGER BRAIN (UCLA study)

1. Imagine, you're in a nightmare on a planet where no one understands you, where people speak words you recognize, but don't make sense, a tossed verbal salad. Now imagine a teacher coming into view with a funny hat in her hands and a question no one has ever asked. Her name: Aditi Shankardass.


2. Your Brain On Music with Bobbie McFerrin. My classroom felt like this. Mr. McFerrin uses music the way we can use brain compatible techniques to maximize learning. Observe the clip then play it back and participate. See him as a teacher, feel your response as a student. Then we'll talk about how to make this happen in the classroom. Clip 3 illuminates how this connects to brain research.



3. Look inside Bobbi's brain as he describes how his brain composes music and how he communicates the composition on the fly.

"I like to start someplace that's unfamiliar to me and see where it goes."




4. HOW TO BUILD A BIGGER BRAIN. May, 2009. People hire personal trainers to build better bodies, but how do we go about building a better brain? Published in the journal NeuroImage, researchers report that specific regions in the brains of long-term meditators were larger than in a similar control group of people who did not meditate. Click here for the article:  http://newsroom.ucla.edu/portal/ucla/how-to-build-a-bigger-brain-91273.aspx

Shown above, the right orbito-frontal cortex, is one of the brain areas that researchers reveal are enlarged due to meditation.  While it takes years accomplish this, there are everyday strategies we can employ to optimize learning.  Scroll down this blog for examples of what you can do.
5. Neurotypical, Daniel Tammet is not. Nor are most of the students collected in classrooms across the planet. Each individual child is in the possession of a brain with a breath taking combination of attributes. Failing to incorporate these unique cerebral attributes in their Individual Educational Plan, IEP is tantamount to failing the child's chances of reaching their astronomical potential.




Thursday, August 19, 2010

1. FROM AUTISM . . . TO NEUROTYPICAL . . . TO SAVANT . . . 2. THE PATTERN SEEKING HUMAN BRAIN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3. THE FUNDAMENTAL IMPORTANCE OF PLAY IN THE . . . . . . DEVELOPMENT OF THE HUMAN BRAIN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 YOUR BRAIN ONCE MADE 700 SYNAPSES PER SECOND . . 5. JILL BOLTE TAYLOR'S STROKE OF INSIGHT.

6. Scientists, educators and parents now have a window into the human brain and learning that they've never had. When children run into trouble in school they are often left to solve their own difficulties. Forty percent drop out before graduating. Like a surgeon operating on her own brain, there must be a better way. Consider what is done at Futures High School in Montebello California where learners are seen as painters, creating for us the vision of how they best learn. Here is an example of a girl, Temple Grandin, who was about to be kicked out of her intermediate school but was saved by a very intuitive science teacher. Her story is on DVD but here is what she's up to now. For full screen, click top right corner.


Temple Grandin, though the eyes of her autism, is able to see the intricate details that will help educators accelerate learning for every student they touch. Grandin's childhood and formative experiences are superbly portrayed in a exceptional feature film you can rent: TEMPLE GRANDIN. I recommend it highly as a "MUST SEE" for every parent and educator.


7. THE HUMAN BRAIN IS INCONTROVERTIBLY DESIGNED TO SEE PATTERNS
In this video clip Dr. Michael Shirmer of Cal Tech and founder of the Skeptic Society discusses our very human, pattern-seeking brain and how we ferret out truth from fiction and propaganda in a universe of frequently dubious information.





8. Even if you're Summa Cum Laude, if you haven't used your hands in play as a child, you're not as likely to be a good a problem solver and you won't be hired at JPL, Boeing, and Cal Tech if there's another equally qualified person who has. Next, Psychiatrist Dr. Stuart Brown discusses the importance of play for optimal brain development.





9. SEVEN HUNDRED SYNAPSES are made each and every second during our first 5 years of life.
Dr. Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D., Founding Director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University and chair of the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, presenting April 27, 2009. Skip the first 8 min and 50 seconds of this clip to the data about early brain development.



10.  Dr. Jack Shonkoff, Brain Research and Early Learning, Part 2
At 15:00 Dr. Shonkoff explains why human interaction is essential in the learning process. You can't just put a child in front of a recording, TV, or computer screen.

11. Dr. Shonkoff, Part 3


12. Jill Bolte Taylor's stroke of insight. At 2 min and 22 seconds into the clip, neuroscientist, Jill brings to us a human brain with the spinal cord still attached while illustrating that: "our right cerebral hemisphere functions like a parallel processor, while our left cerebral hemisphere functions like a serial processor."
She studied her own stroke as it happened and after taking 8 years to recover, she shares her story."How many brain scientists have been able to study the brain from the inside out? I've gotten as much out of this experience of losing my left mind as I have in my entire academic career." As a neuroscientist and a sister with a schizophrenic brother she asks: "Why is it that I can take my dreams, connect them to my reality, and make my dreams come true? What is it about my brother's brain and his schizophrenia, that he cannot connect his dreams to a common and shared reality?

The human brain is a pattern engine, constant in a quest to connect the dots even when they may not be obviously connected. For example, Jill became a neuroscientist to understand her schizophrenic brother while Greg Mortenson, near death, staggered into Korphe, a village in Afganistan after a climbing attempt on K2 in memory is his sister Christa who died of a massive seizure before visiting her "Field of Dreams."

Jill the neurologist and Greg, the school building humanitarian, were launched by the intricacies of their siblings brains into wildly divergent careers while wondering about their own remarkable human brain.

Here is Jill Bolte Taylor, a Harvard-trained and published neuroanatomist.