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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites (Book Review)

Life has been busy! About a week befoe school started I was switched from 5th grade to a 4th/5th combo class. EKKK! So far things have been going well and I have been working my booty off to make sure that everybody's needs are met. Boy am I glad that I atteneded lots of PD this summer! It's really paid off. 

I wanted to share one of the resources I have been using to help me with my planning....

I attended an amazing local conference this summer with a focus on brain research and learning. It was so fascinating and also a bit overwhelming! So much new information for this little lady's head! 

 A presenter at the conference commented that it is a teachers job to mold young minds and facilitate learning,  yet most of us are doing this without understanding how a brain really works. Wow! That  really stuck with me!  

This realization led me to do my own research and eventually led me  to the book Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites by Marcia L. Tate.  

What I LOVE about this book is that it is really teacher friendly! Marcia outlines 20 research based strategies and EXPLAINS how and why each strategy is effective.

The book is divided into 20 manageable chapters (one chapeter for each staretgy). Each chapter is conciese but still packed with information. Tate begins each chapter by defining the staretgy. She goes on to explain the reserach and exactltly  why the startegy works. Tate also gives examples of several lesson plans using the particular staregy. She even leaves room for the teacher reader to reflect and apply the startegy in a workbook format.

The 20 strategies include: 

1) Brainstorming & Discussion 
2) Drawing and Art Work 
3) Field Trips 
4) Games
5) Graphic Organizers
6) Humor 
7) Manipulatives, Experiments and Models 
8) Metaphors & Analogies 
9) Mnemonic Devices 
10) Movement 
11) Music, Rhythm, Rhyme & Rap 
12) Project Based/Problem Based Learning 
13) Reciprocal Teaching & Cooperative Learning 
14) Role Play & Drama
15) Storytelling 
16) Technology 
17) Visualization 
18) Visuals 
19) Work Study 
20) Writing and Journals 

It is not that these are brand new, never before heard of strategies. Using these strategies is just good teaching but what this book does an excellent job doing is explaining why these strategies work based on brain research.

I love this video from Marcia Tate because it really explains the reasons she wrote the book and how it came to be.
video


This video is actually a preview of  an online course but it also has a great explanations of the brain research that backs up these strategies, as well as, clips of strategies in use in the classroom.

I really found this to be an easy and fascinating read. As I read, I kept finding myself thinking, "Oh, so that's why such and such works!" I loved the acceability of this book. Although it is researched based it does not read like a textbook.

As we begin the first weeks of school, I find myslef refering to my copy of the book. I even printed a list of the 20 startegies to keep in my plan book. Now that I have a multigrade class, I feel like having a variety of activities and teaching startegies is even more imparitive to effective teaching. So glad I found this book! : )

Have you read Worksheets  Don't Grow Dendrites?
 What were your thoughts???? 
Do you have any other resources for teachers and brain research????
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