Friday, August 09, 2019

Using brain-friendly learning strategy to teach biomimicry

Zaretta Hammond's book, Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain, provides many ways for educators to help students move from independence to dependence when it comes to learning. Other reports I've read this summer also emphasize the need for students to build a significant knowledge base in order to learn effectively. As I think of this brain-friendly learning, I am thinking about how I'll teach students to take new learning seriously and apply the brain-friendly questions above to the new learning we engage in.

For example, sometime early in the year students will be introduced to and/or review the concept of biomimicry. As students review that concept, I will apply Hammond's ignite, chunk, chew, and review steps (see chart below) for effective learning:

  • Introduce the new learning by saying to students, "We're going to learn about a topic that might be new to many of you. We're also going to practice learning this information as well as we can."
  • Pose the essential question:
  • Watch a short video. Students are invited to take word/picture notes while watching the video.

Now that you've watched the short video and thought about our essential question, What is biomimicry?
  • Students offer words, a definition is arrived at: Biomimicry is the practice of imitating life. We use biomimicry to solve problems. 
  • Consolidate: I'll ask students to spend a few minutes writing and illustrate the definition in their own words. Students may quietly talk as they spend about 10 minutes on this consolidation activity. 
  • I will introduce students to the chart at the top of the page. 
  • I will ask students to talk to each other and add their ideas to an enlarged copy of the effective learning diagram above, ideas that answer the questions below:
    • When we watched the video, what was the perspective (point of view) of the people explaining biomimicry?
    • How does biomimicry relate to your own life--when have your experienced this, noticed this, learned about this, used this?
    • How does biomimicry connect to what you already know? What other subjects, study, information or learning does this connect to?
    • What greater systems of learning and living does biomimicry fit into? 
Students will do a gallery walk and look at the sketch/word notes that students added to their enlarged diagrams. Then we'll watch one more short video about the topic:
Consolidate again: I'll tell students that there are many ways to help this new learning move from the small, limited short term memory to the long lasting long term memory in their brains including the ways listed on the chart below. I'll ask them to take what we've learned today and use one of the choices on the chart to help solidify that learning.