About the Course
New findings from the neuro- and cognitive sciences have the potential to inform classroom instruction and influence educational practices for children at all developmental levels. Translating this research to practice, however, is often challenging for educational practitioners. This course will offer practical application of research by linking it with the Brain-Targeted Teaching® Model (BTT)—a pedagogical framework for using research in the neuro- and cognitive sciences as well as research-based effective instruction to guide teachers in planning, implementing, and assessing a sound program of instruction for all learners.
the course will examine research from the brain sciences that can inform
educational practice and be able to implement research findings using the
instructional framework, The Brain-Targeted Teaching® Model. This model
presents six stages, or “brain targets” of the teaching and learning process.
The components include (1) establishing the emotional climate for learning, (2)
creating the physical learning environment, (3) designing the learning
experience, (4) teaching for the mastery of content, skills, and concepts, (5)
teaching for the extension and application of knowledge, and (6) evaluating
learning. A central theme of the model is the integration of the arts to foster
retention of new information, conceptual development, and higher-order thinking
and creative problem-solving.
- Describe themes in brain research that can inform
educational practice consistent with the Brain-Targeted Teaching® Model.
- Describe how emotional and physical learning
environments affect learning.
- Identify themes in brain research
that educators can apply as they design instruction; teach for mastery of
content, skills, and processes; design activities to apply and extend
knowledge; and evaluate learning.
Sessions 1 & 2: Course overview; Introduction to the science of learning and the
Brain-Targeted Teaching® Model; ABCs of brain anatomy; BTT Learning Unit
Sessions 3 & 4:
The Emotional Climate for Learning
- The professional development content will begin with an overview of the
major themes in the new study of the science of learning. A variety of
“neuro-myths” will be described (e.g. brain development is complete by age 3).
The Brain-Targeted Teaching® Model will be introduced, and the six brain
targets will be briefly described.
- Basic information about brain anatomy and cognitive functions will be
presented as foundational knowledge.
- This session will focus on strategies to create a positive emotional
climate in classrooms–an environment in which students feel connected to school
and motivated to learn. Through presentations, video, and simulation
activities, participants will learn techniques as well as underlying research
that support promoting an emotional connection to content to increase
motivation for learning. Examples include classroom routines and rituals,
specific praise techniques, ways to disengage and redirect aberrant behaviors,
and strategies that engage students emotionally in content.
Sessions 5 & 6: The Physical Learning Environment; The Learning Unit Design
Session 7 & 8: The Learning Unit Design; Teaching for Mastery of Content, Skills, and
- Content will include how environmental factors influence attention learning
consistent with the tenets of BT-2. Participants will brainstorm ways to use
novelty and environmental factors such as lighting, sound, scent, and movement
to promote student attending behaviors.
- Participants will identify ways they can change classrooms to align with
creating a stimulating environment that supports students’ attending behaviors
and engagement in learning.
- Participants will review underlying research associated with the
cognitive processes of patterning and “big picture thinking” and will be able
to articulate how concept mapping improves understanding and retention of
- Participants will design concept maps and graphic organizers to be used
as the foundation for planning learning units to promote global understanding
of key lesson topics and objectives. They will use Common Core State Standards
to design learning units that include all components of BTT, including
activities to reinforce content through arts and technology integration.
Sessions 9 & 10: Teaching for Mastery of Content, Skills, and Concepts; Teaching for the
Application of Knowledge in Creative Problem-Solving Activities
- Participants will engage in an in-depth examination of the research and
best practices associated with BT-4-- Teaching for Mastery. A wide array of
research findings related to memory will be presented, and practical implications
for the classroom will be described. The important role of arts integration in
reinforcing memory for content will be outlined, as will the possibility of
“transfer” from arts to non-arts domains. Technology innovations will also be
discussed as a way to reinforce classroom objectives.
- Participants will complete the BTT planning guide to describe and
implement BT-4 activities. Participants will reflect on how the activities
enhanced instructional practice.
Sessions 11 & 12: Teaching for the Application of Knowledge in Creative Problem-Solving
Activities; Evaluation Learning
- Participants will be presented with research and best practices
associated with BT-5--Teaching for the Application of Knowledge. The
presentation will include research on executive function and the cognitive
processes of creative and divergent thinking. Through simulated activities,
participants will explore ways that creativity is important for the kind of
real-world problem solving that is important for preparing students to be
college and career ready.
- Participants will be able to design and use instructional strategies
that promote rigor and deep understand of content through the application and
extension of knowledge in real-world learning activities. They will extend
students’ mastery of content by designing activities delivered in the BTT
learning unit that require higher-order thinking, divergent thinking skills,
and problem-solving in authentic learning tasks.
Sessions 13 & 14: Evaluating Learning; The BTT Learning Unit
- Participants will be able to use effective and appropriate techniques
for evaluating students’ learning throughout each BTT learning unit. Evaluation
is considered not only as a means of measuring student progress, but also as a
tool for increasing learning.
- Research will describe how feedback, active retrieval of information,
and spacing of learning events influence both learning and retention of
information. Through demonstrations and simulated activities, participants will
explore the use of multiple probes to evaluate learning including performance
assessment, student portfolios and reflective journals. They will be able to
use assessment data to modify learning activities.
Session 15: Presentation of Learning Units
- Demonstration of BTT Learning Units: During this session, expert
teachers who have designed learning units will demonstrate their field-tested
BTT learning units. These expert teachers will present the process of learning
unit design and assist participants in designing their own units. Techniques
for arts integration will be demonstrated.
- Individuals and/or collaborative teams will have developed and
field-tested BTT learning units, including instructional activities and
- Each participant will be expected to turn in a learning unit and a
PowerPoint presentation describing the unit, the implementation process, and
- Participants will have the option of providing feedback to other participants.
Participants have the option of publishing their units on the BTT website.