Everyone watching this has a brain and all of our brains function in similar ways when it comes to learning.
The following is a formula that any instructor can use every day to enhance the learning experience for their students….and this formula provides the research foundation for what I call the McCammon method of teaching.
So, here are 6 practical brain-based strategies that any teacher can use tomorrow to increase retention of information while giving all learners a chance to improve their communication and collaboration skills.
Brain research suggests that students should...
Receive information in short segments
This increases the student’s ability to focus on the content, and is great for addressing learners with limited attention spans
A rule of thumb here: try to present in chunks of 2 minutes or less for grades K-3, 4 minutes or less for grades 4-8, and 6 minutes or less for grade 9 to Adult Learners
Video lectures are ideal for delivering these short segments. They ensure an exact length and keep the teacher from being distracted by cognitive interruptions that happen frequently during live lecture. They also ensure that the content is consistent for all students and that the information is fully covered in every lesson. Finally, the video lectures can be extremely concise and efficient - they can be 60-80% shorter than live lectures covering the same information.
Immediately use the content after each segment
After each chunk of content is delivered, we can challenge students to discuss the information, putting it in their own words. They should be encouraged to connect it to their life experiences, discuss these connections with peers, and ask clarifying questions.
One of the best assignments we can give students after they view each chunk is to simply ask them to teach it back to us. It’s a great way to know if they learned what we wanted them to learn
Review the content multiple times throughout each lesson
Repetition solidifies the information in the brain
Students receive the content by way of these short video chunks, which they can review again at a later time, and as many times as needed. This creates a self-paced learning resource.
The students also repurpose and review the content after each video chunk when they collaborate, discuss and teach it back
Switch tasks early & often
This will constantly refocus student attention and increase engagement
Here is one way to think about doing this.
Play a 5-minute video segment
Then give the students 5 minutes to collaborate and reteach the segment
Spend 5 minutes recording a few exemplar student lessons
And take another 5 minutes to watch and discuss the student video presentations
Spending 20 minutes on this active learning experience can be much more impactful than simply lecturing on the same information for 20 minutes, while students are passive.
Develop an emotional connection with the content
A best practice here is to get students to create something showcasing their ideas, fingerprints, and voice so they own each segment.
One of the best and most efficient assignments is to again have students teach-back the content, having them create and record their version of every lesson.
A very powerful strategy for getting students to make an emotional connection to the content is to have them sit in front of a camera and be the teacher...and then afterwards watch their performance on screen. They will experience excitement and cognitive dissonance. This form of reflective practice can be an extremely emotional experience for any learner. And that emotion is tied directly to the content.
Finally...Get up and move as much as possible
Standing and moving around any classroom promotes blood flow to the brain
Movement can increase memory, creativity, attention, and achievement
Here’s a best practice: while the collaboration, discussion and teach-back assignments are going on, students can be put in groups that are required move around the classroom using whiteboards on the walls to prepare and present their lessons.
Just remember, having students of any age sit for long periods of time is not optimal for their learning.
So, if tomorrow’s lesson plan is that you are going to tell students a bunch of information and hope or expect them to remember...use these strategies instead. Students will retain more of the information and it will give them a chance to improve their communication and collaboration skills.