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(It's easier to read and prettier. Honest.)
Hope you had a good week. The brain blast below identifies 3 ways to get a whole class discussion off track after it's derailed. 
The Parts of Speech Song
An instructor at Palm Beach State College, Marilyn Tredemann, teaches students by activating multiple brain pathways. One example is having her learners memorize parts of speech by singing it to the tune of "Doe a Deer."

Noun, a person, place or thing
Pronoun, takes the place of a noun
Verb tells where the action is
Adverb how I done it when I did!
Adjective tells how great I am!
Preposition shows relationships
Conjunction joins a boy and girl!
Interjection says, “Gee whiz!”

(Hat tip to Janet Zadina) 

You can also find more grammar songs on Pinterest or ask students to make up their own grammar reminder music to the "Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song.
To Improve Memory, Eat This not That
1. Avoid Non-fatty foodsConsumption of fatty food reduces glucose levels in the brain.

2. Avoid fructose - Fructose alters genes in the hypothalamus and hippocampus. 

3. Do a 5-day diet - Every 6 months, eat 50% of your normal caloric intake for 5 days to boost neural regeneration.  
(Source: Healthiest Blog)

Virtual Reality Used to Suppress Pain
The University of Washington’s VR research center uses VR with burn victims. “What we found [through fMRI] was that VR reduces pain as much as a moderate dose of hydromorphone,” says a researcher. “Pain requires conscious attention. Virtual reality uses up a lot of attentional resources [so] the brain has less attention available to process incoming pain signals.”  (Source: Motherboard)
‘Hope is a function of struggle."
-Brené Brown 
"Pose, Pause, Bounce, Pounce"

Here is a technique for questioning designed to maximize student engagement and reflection. It's credited to Pam Fearnley:

• Give the context of your approach to the class. 
• Insist on hands down before the question is delivered.
• Provide a question or a series of questions, while ensuring that kids remain quiet and reflective.

• Ask the class to hold the thought. "Think. Think again." Maintain reflection for as long as possible.

• Insist that the answer to the question comes from student A directly and fast after you call on her.
• Don't speak and nip any comments in the bud.
• If needed, ask peers to support student A.
• If student A does manage to answer, then...

• Immediately ask another student or sub-group their opinion of student A's answer. Repeat.

The key: don't allow the process to be rushed. 

(Source: Ross Morrison McGill for The Guardian)
How to Flip a Class - A Visual
The University of Texas created an excellent How to Flip a Class guide for its instructors that features steps, videos, and this handy visual:
(Sources: The University of Washington. The image is from The University of Texas)
Exam Wrappers
When the test is over, there is still more to learn. Exam wrappers, or post-test surveys, elicit students' critical appraisal of their exam performance in order to sharpen their skills for the next quiz.

Have students answer the following questions in writing when you pass back their test: 

1. Which part of the exam was easiest for you? Why?
2. Which part of the exam was most difficult? Why?
3. Circle all the activities that you completed prior to exam:

    a. Read all texts assigned. 
    b. Reviewed all lecture notes.
    c. Made study sheets from reading and lecture notes.
    d. Created note cards.
    e. Predicted possible questions.
    f. Studied with classmates.

4. How many hours did you spend preparing for the exam?
5. How many separate occasions did you study for the exam? For how many minutes or hours?
6. How could you study for the next exam more effectively?
(Source: Ambrose, S. A., Bridges, M. W., DiPietro, M., Lovett, M. C. & Noman, M. K. (2010). How learning works: seven research-based principles for smart teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Also modified from Duquesne's Center for Teaching Excellence)
Studies: How to Take Effective Notes
What's better for remembering? Taking notes in Microsoft Word or taking notes using handwriting? 

Answer: handwriting.* 

What works better for reading comprehension: linear note taking or mind mapping

Answer: mind mapping.**

Highlighting a text helps students perform better on what types of tests?

Answer: multiple choice tests*** (as opposed to short answer)
*The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking
**How to Improve Reading Comprehension with Mind Maps
***Improving Students’ Learning With Effective Learning Techniques: Promising Directions From Cognitive and Educational Psychology
Fate whispers to the warrior, “You cannot withstand the storm,’”

And the warrior whispers back, “I am the storm.”

-Unknown (Hat Tip to Scott Finley)
"We Got this Wednesday" - Jennifer Regruth has her students write an encouraging message that will pump them up for a great Wednesday.
The number of teachers who've purchased lesson plans from Teachers Pay Teachers:
(Source: The Atlantic

The number of violent acts an 18-year-old has seen on TV:
(Source: University of Michigan Medical Center)

How many kids are absent 15 days or more a year? 


(Source: U.S. Education Department of Education)

FEEDBACK TOOL: AnswerGarden, a response tool, forms a word cloud out of students' short answer responses to a question. The iPad app is intuitive enough for students of all ages. (Source: Class Tech Integrate)

RECOMMENDERS: Type the name of your favorite book or author and What Should I Read Next? suggests other books you might like (Hat tip to Vicki Davis).

Meanwhile, InstantWatcher recommends streaming videos on Netflix and Amazon. 

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: Joe Wickert writes cogently about how Siri, Alexa and other intelligent personal assistants will change the perception of publishing as something that occurs only in containers. A.I. can synthesize information from multiple sources (video, e-texts, audio), when you ask a question like, "How should I rewire my house."  

A.I. is already impacting the culture by synthesizing complicated data sets and writing copy. Natural Science has developed an A.I. to write stories for Forbes and Automated Insights' A.I. has written 1.5 billion stories annually for publications like the Associated Press. Readers don't even notice.

FREE SPEECH: A professor at the University of Colorado was investigated by the administration for discussing conflicting viewpoints

WORD OF THE YEAR: The American Dialect Society chose the singular "they" as word of the year, noting that the dictionary is the new battleground of the gender revolution.
WRITING TOOL: When is a pen not a pen? When it's a survival device. Check out the Hoffman Richter Stinger Tactical Pen made of impact resistant aircraft grade aluminum. It will break glass, but not your bank at $19.00. 

Launch: Using Design Thinking to Boost Creativity and Bring Out the Maker in Every Student Paperback (2016) by John Spencer and A J Juliani. 

Launch features practical strategies for using design thinking in the classroom to engage, inspire, and empower students. 
HOMEWORK SHORTCUT: Watch "How to Pass the Test When You Haven’t Read the Book." You'll learn what your students do.

SEL HOMEWORK: Mrs. Thom, a 6th grade teacher has gained media attention for her unusual homework assignment: ways to relax before a test. See the video on USAToday
Education Dive's Tara Mathewson writes that all teacher job applicants should be able to answer these questions:  

1. What are your strategies for professional growth?
2. How do you get students to be self-directed learners?
3. How do you get students to ask their own questions? 
4. How do you tie your lessons to real world situations? 

ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS: If students can completely investigate an essential question within a given class period, writes Ross Cooper, then you haven't had them work on an essential question. It is more accurate to call these an investigation of a leading question or guiding question. Cooper does recommend that teachers post a daily learning target.

TESTPREP NIGHTMARE: Rocketship charter schools have performed in the top 5 percent of districts serving low-income students in California. Meanwhile, class sizes reach 90 and children are urinating in their pants because they are not supposed to use the bathroom during class. Also, the silent time punishment ("Zone Zero") is overused. Who in the world thinks this is a good idea? 

TEST BOYCOTTERS: The New York State Education Department informed test boycotters that their lack of test scores would preclude their being considered for admission to gifted schools. Meanwhile, private school students were accepted into the gifted schools without the state test scores. 
Weekly Walt Whitman

Nature here in sight of the sea taking advantage of me to dart upon me and sting me, 

Because I have dared to open my mouth to sing at all. 
BULLET JOURNAL: The Bullet Journal is a customizable and forgiving organization system. 

This video shows how to set up a bullet journal. 

Here is more information about the practice.

And a terrific piece in The New Republic critiques the bullet journal craze--noting how pages from journals pop up on social media.



It’s hard to explain puns to kleptomaniacs because they always take things literally.


A biologist, a chemist, and a statistician are out hunting. The biologist shoots at a deer and misses 5ft to the left, the chemist takes a shot and misses 5ft to the right, and the statistician yells, ‘We got ‘im!”


Is it solipsistic in here, or is it just me?

(Source: Slate)

Enjoy your week!

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Todd's Brain Newsletter #33 is out!
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ENDNOTE: An Image I Can't Stop Looking At
Christo and Jeanne-Claude: The Floating Piers, Lake Iseo, Italy
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