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Six Trumps: The Brain Science that Makes Training Stick

April 29, 2011

Six Trumps: The Brain Science that Makes Training Stick

Kathy Hoellen, Dean of the Center for Teaching & Learning, recently attended a conference workshop titled, “The Trump Card: Engaging Students.”  The workshop was based on Sharon Bowman’s book, Six Trumps: The Brain Science That Makes Training Stick, (http://www.bowperson.com/SixTrumpsArticle(2)2010.pdf).  Classroom ideas are connected to the following brain science principles noted in the book; you’ll find some classroom examples from the workshop participants as well as leaders.

1. Movement trumps sitting. Example – Carousel brainstorming:  Write questions on poster board or chart paper around the room. Have students form small groups and move from station to station to brainstorm and write ideas at each question station.

2. Talking trumps listening. Example – Break up lecture with 1 minute discussions: Small groups or “nudge your neighbor.”

3. Images trump words. Example – Look for video and images that illustrate your point or show the content. We are currently in a pilot with NBC Learn (link in D2L). YouTube is a great resource for video, and the YTC library has other video access through Films on Demand.

4. Writing trumps reading. Example – Create notes pages which list the main points of your lecture with room for students to write additional notes. Using images on the notes to illustrate main points is a great reinforcement.

5. Shorter trumps longer. Example – Use classroom clickers to gauge student understanding or a similar activity called, “Ticket out the door.” This activity is the low-tech version of classroom clickers and uses Post-it notes to gather student comments as they exit class. Have students write down something they learned or something that resulted in confusion.

6. Different trumps same. Example – Develop hand signals to express confusion, understanding, questions, etc. Movement wakes up the brain. Consider reserving the last 5 minutes of key classes to have the students brainstorm in small groups on how they can apply what they’ve learned.

“The one who does the talking, does the learning.” We’re not sure who first stated this, but Dr. Spencer Kagan has repeated it in his research on cooperative learning. Brain Rules books by John Medina indicate that for optimal learning, we need a brain break about every 10 to 15 minutes. A brain break doesn’t mean that we do not use our brains, but that we do use our brains. By scheduling into your class regular intervals of “different,” you can avoid brain “checkout” in your students.

If you have other ideas, please post them as comments.  The York Tech employee with the most innovative idea submission will receive a copy of the book, Six Trumps: The Brain Science that Makes Training Stick.


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