Brain-Compatible Teaching Workshops

“Teaching That Sticks: How to Teach so Students Actually Learn”

For years, the “cram today, forget tomorrow” model of instruction and assessment has dominated the typical American classroom.  How can we replace this outdated model with one that promotes long-term retention?  Easy!  By focusing on how the brain actually forms long-term memories, teachers can become much more successful at helping their students retain what they learn.  In this workshop, you will learn about the crucial role of prior knowledge for learning new content knowledge; you will explore how increased relevance and emotion correlates with and leads to increased retention; you will learn about the challenges of limited working memory space and how lesson design needs to change to increase processing; and you will learn effective (and fun!) strategies for helping your students retain much more than they’ve ever been able to do before.  In no time, they will be getting top marks, not only on your classroom tests, but on standardized tests, as well!

Length: Full-day, Two-day, or Three-day versions are available (the more time available, the better—there’s lots to cover here!).
Audience: Teachers, all grade levels and content areas.

 

“Brain-Compatible Classroom Management: Managing Mood, Energy, and Attention to Maximize Learning”

Teaching the content and skills in your curriculum is only part of what it takes to be a great teacher.  And no matter how good you are at teaching your curriculum, you will struggle if you don’t know how to manage your students’ moods, energy levels, and attentional focus from minute to minute throughout the day.  In this workshop, Willy will explain (and model) the three types of attention and how they interact in the classroom.  You’ll learn how to create a positive environment for learning; how to raise or lower student energy levels to match your goals; and how to get your students’ attention when you need it, how to “give it away” to get students started on a task, and how to get it back again when you need students to focus on you again.  Improve your skills at managing the crucial elements of mood, energy, and attention, and you’ll reap the benefits of smoother transitions, less lost instructional time, more time on task, and ultimately, greater achievement.

Length: Full-day or Two-day versions available.
Audience: Teachers, all grade levels and content areas.

 

“Teaching in the Age of Distraction: Managing the Flow of Attention”

Today’s world is one of increasing distraction, and that goes for the school environment, as well.  As we add new technologies to the classroom, the chances of distracted learners only goes up.  Teachers must be acutely aware of the challenges the school environment places on attention and working memory—and build in management and instructional strategies to manage the flow of attention so learning is maximized.  In this session, Willy will share with you the relevant research on attention and working memory limitations and share with you a number of practical strategies gleaned from his teaching experience and from his experiences doing classroom coaching in a number of schools.  You will walk away with specific strategies to put into practice immediately!

Length: Full-day.
Audience: Teachers, all grade levels and content areas.

 

“The Rock ‘N’ Roll Classroom: Using Music to Manage Mood, Energy, and Focus”

Hans Christian Anderson wrote, “Where words fail, music speaks.”  We do so much talking in our classrooms; of course, we talk a lot when teaching content, but we also talk to students constantly about other issues: trying to cajole them to get to work (or get back to work), trying to settle them down, trying to motivate them or talk them into a better mood, etc.  But many teachers don’t realize that there’s one simple, powerful tool at their disposal that can do much of this work for us: music!  In this session, Willy will walk you through some of the varied classroom management uses of music covered in his book The Rock ‘N’ Roll Classroom (co-authored with Rich Allen).  Come prepared to pick up a few musical management tricks and have a great time!

Length: Half-day
Audience: Teachers, all grade levels and content areas.

 

“Tune In To Learning: Using Music to Manage Mood and Increase Learning”

Are you ready to rock and roll?  In this fun, interactive full-day version of the workshop above, Willy explores ways you can use music to manage your students’ mood and learning states (calming them down, getting them excited, making them feel good) and increase their learning (using music as a mnemonic device).  In addition, you will learn how to use music for special purposes such as class beginnings and endings, transitions, and breaks.  Willy shares specific artists and titles and offers tips on getting started right away.

Length: Full-day.
Audience: Teachers, all grade levels and content areas.

 

“Teaching the Teen Brain: Strategies for Effective Instruction”

Are you looking for ways to energize your junior high or high school classroom—ways that are fun and make learning virtually effortless?  In this fast-paced, informative session, Willy shares how a few basic principles, consistently applied, can achieve all this—and more!  You will explore four major areas to which teachers must attend when working with teens: social learning (relationships), relevant learning (connections), affective learning (emotions), and responsible learning (developing maturity).

Length: Half-day or Full-day.
Audience: Middle and/or high school teachers, all content areas.

 

“‘Who’s Doing the Learning Here?’: Helping Students Make Sense and Meaning”

How do we guarantee that our students learn information so that they retain it and can use it later?  There are a number of factors, but one key finding from cognitive science and brain research is that the student has to do the processing (meaning-making).  Traditional schooling practices such as lecture and textbook reading, where the focus is on transmission rather than meaning-making, are therefore ineffective.  In this lively session, you will learn how to use prior knowledge, the framing of relevance, pattern-detection, and processing activities to foster intrinsic motivation, deep connections, and long-term retention.

Length: Half-day or Full-day.
Audience: Teachers, all grade levels and content areas.

 

“The Art of Giving Effective Directions: Avoiding ‘What Are We Supposed to do Now?’”

More classroom confusion is caused by poor directions than any other factor, yet how many of us ever had a college class—or even a portion of a class—on the art of giving effective directions?  In this fast-paced session, you will learn several key strategies for giving directions that you will be able to put to use right away.  Soon, your directions will be crystal clear—consistently—and you will never again have to answer that dreaded question: “What are we supposed to do now?”

Length: 90 minutes to 2 hours.
Audience: Teachers, all grade levels and content areas.

 

“Lecture that Works: Increasing Engagement and Maximizing Retention”

Most teachers know that long blocks of lecture are brain-antagonistic.  What many don’t know is what to do about it.  In this session, Willy takes you through research from cognitive science concerning attention, working memory limitations, and processing for robust encoding of new material.  This research, taken together, suggests a lecture model that allows students to engage with the topic prior to input, that limits the amount of input of new content at one time, and that allows students to process that content in a variety of ways before moving on to the next topic.  In this session, Willy will cover all the ins and outs of such a brain-friendly lecture model and offer tips for increasing student engagement with and retention of your most important content.

Length: Half-day or Full-day.
Audience: Teachers, grades 4 to 12, though it can be modified for K-3, as well.

 

“’Hook’ Your Learners: Using Emotional Hooks to Super-Charge Meaning Making”

Whether or not students learn is impacted by many factors, but one of the most crucial of these factors is how emotionally invested students are in the learning.  Unfortunately, most teachers are not trained in methods for eliciting the enthusiastic buy-in that is so important for optimal learning.  In this session, Willy will take you through a quick review of the relevant research supporting the use of emotional “hooks” and then will engage you in several example lessons so you can see how to put the research into practice in your classroom.  Spend a few minutes in this exciting session and you’ll be “hooked”!

Length: Half-day.
Grade Levels/Content Areas: Teachers, all grade levels and content areas.

 

“Smart is as Smart Does: The Myth of Talent and what it Means for our Classrooms”

The concept of innate talent and the resulting cult of genius has been with us for hundreds of years—so long that it is simply accepted as fact.  Early genetic studies seemed to support this view of inherent talents.  But more recent studies in fields as divergent as epigenetics, psychology, motivation, and sports science all point to a much more interesting conclusion: that people have much greater potential than they are typically given credit for, and that the means for developing that potential are available to us all.  In this engaging session, Willy will walk you through some of the most interesting aspects of this recent shift in thinking and what it means for classroom practice.

Length: Half-day.
Audience: Teachers, all grade levels and content areas.

 

“Movin’ and Groovin’ in the Classroom: What Brain Research Says about the Importance of Movement for Learning”

What if there were a single “magic bullet” that would (1) improve the physical health of your students, (2) reduce their stress (and yours!), (3) help them to better pay attention, (4) improve their self-discipline, (5) help them to learn at an accelerated rate, (6) prepare them for higher academic achievement when they enter school and as they progress through the grades, and (7) reduce the chances that they will experience learning disorders during their school years?  Well, that magic bullet exists—it’s called movement!  In this action-packed session, Willy, an expert on the human brain and effective teaching practices, will share with you the incredible benefits of movement and will give you tips for easily incorporating movement into your daily routine.  Wear your tennis shoes and comfortable clothing!

Length: Half-day.
Audience: Teachers, all grade levels and content areas.

 

“Seven Facts about the Young Brain and What They Mean for Your Teaching”

What is a teacher’s job?  To see that his or her students learn, of course.  And what organ do students learn with?  The brain!  Given these two indisputable facts, it would seem logical that all teacher preparation programs would make sure that teachers learned the key facts about how the human brain works.  Unfortunately, this is far from the case.  But in this entertaining and interactive session, Willy Wood, an expert on the human brain and effective teaching practices, will remedy this situation by walking you through seven of these key understandings about the young brain.  You will have a great time, and you will walk away with practical ideas about how to apply this information in your classroom right away.

Length: Full-day.
Audience: Teachers, pre-K through third grade.

 

Concrete, Relevant, and Emotional: Maximizing Initial Encoding to Boost Learning