The mind is capable of anything—because everything is in it, all the past as well as all the future. (Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness)
Can you imagine a learning environment that showcases every student’s gifts, abilities, and interests?
Visualize a place where teens love to come, where ideas brim over, and where the elderly enjoy sharing stories with youth in order to illustrate wisdom they have accumulated over the years.
Picture a gifted circle where students and experts-to-be take risks to teach each other as they learn from one another and where all feel valued. Imagine a room where every person who enters is considered unique in some way, and you will see a metaphorical crown held over each learner’s head.
This book provides dozens of student-ready strategies to build unique environments so that secondary or college students want to be there and will learn and prosper. The basis of this book is roundtable learning. Roundtable approaches differ from teacher-centered classrooms in that learners become a valued part of an interactive exchange among people of various ages, cultures, and walks of life. Each participant, including the teacher, is both teacher and student. One key curriculum question or one central problem to be solved creates the community’s core agenda, and assessment tasks double as learning tools.
THE ROUNDTABLE PROCESS
The roundtable process described in these pages sets the stage for a learning process characterized by challenge and satisfaction. William Yeats described a similar successful approach by building on students’ strengths when he stated:
“Learning is more the lighting of a fire than the filling of a pail.”
For Dewey, students’ inner “fires” were ignited through active learning, which he described as a process that involved discovery and delightful curiosity. Students activate their unique capability to learn when we help them to create.
I remember a few years ago when, after many years of teaching high school and college, I identified with Los, a character in Blake’s poem “Jerusalem.” Los said: “I must Create a System, Or be enslav’d by another Man’s (human’s). I will not Reason or Compare, My business is to Create.” Los probably speaks to
many teachers today who work tirelessly to make their classrooms reflect new understandings about how the brain works and how their students learn in brain-compatible environments.
We cannot wait for the status quo to improve. Improvement
comes through the efforts of one teacher at a time and one student at a time. This book supports and applauds those teachers who risk lighting new fires in their students. Whenever faculty build classroom communities in which students actively construct new meanings, they create renewal. Knowledge in these
roundtable circles adds value to understanding through inquiry, self-reflection, collaborative learning, problem solving, and integration of skills and ideas. Ideas formerly lost in one-method-only approaches or taught in one-time-only workshops
require follow-up. Change waits in the wings for support.
The roundtable teaching design provides an ongoing support system that can generate learning circles in which faculty help and are helped. Based on the MITA (multiple intelligences theory to achievement) model (Weber, 1995), roundtable teaching invites people to lead with their strengths and to achieve excellence. This
approach views all students as “gifted.” These gifts come alive in MITA classes.
Both faculty and students learn to stir a sense of wonder for each new topic. Quality learning follows when students draw on their past experiences, their faith, their worldview, and their unique talents, as tools for deeper understanding. Teachers who light fires will celebrate new ideas in any learning community. The converse
is also true. When teachers ignore students’ personal unique learning preferences, or insist on one approach only, they tend to hinder genuine progress.
This book has two main purposes. First, it provides practical, hands-on classroom activities and lesson plan suggestions. Lessons are brain based, in that they integrate best practices from brain-compatible learning theories such as multiple
intelligences, inquiry-based learning, problem-based approaches, reflective thinking, differentiated instruction, state standards, and authentic assessments.
Second, each chapter emphasizes lessons that will access your students’ brainpower in new ways. These lessons are related to a current learning theory through practical Five Steps to Smart strategies. Throughout the book, you will integrate practices
and theories you may have heard about or studied but have not used with your students.
In addition, this program will draw on your own best practices. The suggestions made here will offer you new ways to question possibilities, target improvements, expect quality, move resources, and reflect on growth possibilities to integrate brain-based activities into your classes.
In order to help you to integrate ideas and practices, the book outlines three umbrella approaches. You are invited to reshape and use lessons to match the needs of your own classes. In the process, you can expect to exchange some of your traditional ideas and keep others. You may lecture less or teach from fewer
practice tests in exchange for new insights and active learning approaches.
You may want to keep some of your traditional approaches as long as they act to propel your students beyond the requirements for any standardized test. What you keep or exchange may differ from class to class - but this book will give you practical tools that adjust easily to fit your lessons and developmental learning levels.
Hopefully these ready-to-roll brain-based materials will benefit your learners and leaders as they do mine at middle, secondary, university levels and beyond.
Do follow my TpT site and keep up with brain-friendly materials to enhance your class.
If you have any further questions about how to get the most from this product, please do contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be glad to help further.
All the best as you learn and lead with the brain in mind!
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Created by Ellen Weber, Brain Based Tasks for Growth Mindset