Posts tagged ‘brain based learning’

Action Based Learning

“Student engagement is the product of motivation and active learning. It is a product rather than a sum because it will not occur if either element is missing.” By Elizabeth F. Barkley

Action Based Learning (ABL) is a pedagogy of brain-based learning theory which focuses on the structure and workings of the brain in regards to learning. Check out all the reasons why kinesthetic classrooms are important in the below graphic created by the amazing Kim Cooke.

kinesthetic Classrooms .png

ABL is not just a “Physical Education”thing but something you can add into all classrooms and in all grade levels. Here are three quick ways you can start adding kinesthetics into your classroom today:

  1. Transitions: During transitions, for example from math to reading, have students do something active for one minute such as jump on one foot. Here are some more brain break ideas here!
  2. Furniture: Add some different seating options such as yoga balls, wobble stools or allowing them to stand and work.
  3. Hands-On: Allowing students to show what they know with hands-on activities such as role playing, plays/skits,  building models or experiments.

Want to learn more about ABL? Action Based Learning & Kinesthetic Classroom Training is coming to Charlotte, NC on Nov 4th and 5th. Click here for more information!

More Information on ABL:

Article: Building Better. Brains through Movement and Moving and Shaking in the Classroom

Pinterest Board: Action Based Learning Lab Ideas

Books: Energizing Brain Breaks and The Kinesthetic Classroom: Teaching and Learning Through Movement

My previous blog posts on Brain Based Learning!


Why I Don’t Believe in Giving Homework Anymore

“I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework.” Lily Tomlin

I used to give homework because it was what I was told I needed to do when I first started teaching. I didn’t question it because I always had homework growing up and I didn’t think anything of it. Lately I have been reading more and more about the negatives of homework and listening to friends battle stories with their kids over homework. When I think about it, I remember my battles with my parents over homework. I hated it, especially because 90% of the time I didn’t know how to do it, which only caused more frustration.

The more I learn about neuroscience and learning, the more I don’t believe in homework. We must challenge the status quo; just because homework has always been given, doesn’t mean that it is the right thing to do. Here is why I promote not giving homework:

  1. Research from Duke University (by H Cooper) shows no correlation between homework and student achievement.
  2. Play time is important to cognitive abilities that leads to student achievement. We need to give them time to play, structured and unstructured. (See previous post on Need for Play)
  3. Homework builds character, perseverance, grit etc….this is a MYTH- there is no correlation.
  4. What is the purpose? Most of the time the homework given is just busy work with a lot of rote memory which is a waste of time. Homework for homework sake is unhealthy.
  5. Students hate homework and the ones that want to learn after school do it on their own based on what they are passionate about. Also negative emotions lead to high levels of stress impairing memory which affects learning.
  6. How do you know the student is doing the homework? I often ‘caught’ parents doing the students homework for multiple reasons (didn’t have time, they didn’t understand, trying to improve their childs grade etc) and what is this solving for all parties involved…nothing, yet we can do something about it by not giving homework.

I understand there are some barriers such as the ones below but I also provide some solutions. I challenge you to really think about why you give homework or if you are a parent, why do you want homework?

Barrier 1: Schools or districts that require homework. (CMS teachers – it is not required by the district. Last year the board changed it to ‘can/may’ give homework from ‘must’ give homework. A step in the right direction!)

  • Solutions:
    • Have them read a book of their choice for 20 minutes as the only homework
    • Have student led conferences once a week, where the student discusses with their parents what they learned during the week.
    • Have students work on a ‘genius hour’ style project where they chose something they want to work on. (This will also help parents not do it for them because the student had choice and they will want to do it).
    • If you have to give math homework, make it three problems which a child can prove he/she knows the “how” and “why”. There is no reason to give 30 of the same kinds of math problems.
    • Choice boards where students pick what homework task they want to do out of a few choices. Ex: Do a weekly choice board and they pick one task a night from a choice of six tasks. Mix it up with math/reading skills.

Barrier 2: Pressure from parents who want homework given.

  • Solutions
    • Inform parents of the research and explain how learning can and will happen naturally at home by letting them be curious. (I have seen some teachers write a letter in the beginning of the year which helps set the stage)
    • Have a list of resources/sites for parents that want to work with their student at home explaining it is optional and not required.
    • Use any of the above solutions from required by school/district barrier

Here is further reading for you and/or articles you can use to inform your principal, parents etc:

Rethinking Homework

The end of homework? Why some schools are banning homework

The Great Homework Debate: Too Much, Too Little or Busy Work? 

Forget Homework

The Homework Myth by Alfie Kohn (Disclaimer: I have not read this but it is on my reading list. I also suggest following him on twitter: Alfie Kohn)

If you have resources to share, please do in the comments.

Problem, Brain, Challenged Based Learning…Oh My! Distinguishing Between the Methods

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” by Albert Einstein


Fill in the blank and you have heard about some type of ‘based learning’. With all these different terms and methods it is hard to distinguish one from the other.  Many overlap and this post will be my attempt to help distinguish between them all and provide resources if you want to learn more.

Problem Based Learning: (PBL) is student centered instruction where the student learns the content through solving different problems. If you want to get started  or learn more about Problem based learning here is a good site and PBL book

Project Based Learning: (PBL) is where students create a product based on an essential content question being posed. If you want to get started  or learn more about Project based learning here is a good site and PBL book

Challenge Based Learning: (CBL) is Apple’s approach at looking at a big idea and having the students explore and find a real world solution using technology. If you want to get started  or learn more about Challenge based learning here is a good site and CBL book.

Brain Based Learning: (BBL) is taking what we know about the brain, about development and about learning and combining those factors in intelligent ways to connect and excite students’ desire to learn. If you want to get started  or learn more about Brain based learning here is a good site and BBL book.

Passion Based Learning: is allowing students to study what they are passionate about. If you want to get started or learn more about Passion based learning here is a good site and  book.

Game Based Learning: (GBL) is when students learn through playing games. If you want to get started or learn more about Game based learning here is a good site, blog and  book.

Resource Based Learning: (RBL) is an instruction which gives importance to the role of resources in the teaching and learning process. If you want to get started or learn more about Resource based learning here is a good site and RBL book.

Experience Based Learning: (EBL) is learning through experience through critical and reflective thinking. If you want to get started or learn more about Experience based learning here is a good site and article.

Discovery Based Learning: (DBL) is having students learn through discovery. If you want to get started  or learn more about  Discovery based learning here is a good article and DBL book.

Inquiry Based Learning: (IBL) is learning through explanation and discovery. If you want to get started or learn more about Inquiry based learning here are two good sites by Northeastern Illinois University and Concepts to Classroom along with this IBL book.

Technology Based Learning: (TBL) is the infusion of technology and the curriculum. There is a Technology Based Learning book but TBL should be incorporated in all learning styles.

No matter what, as educators, we must engage all learners and equip them with the skills for the 21st century. I suggest student centered learning which is doing what is best based on the student. Yes, that could mean 8 different lesson plans but isn’t that why we are in education, to do what’s best for them!

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