Article: We have learning on the brain

We have learning on the brain

Students wearing their brain hats

Everyone learns differently, and seventh-graders in Churchville-Chili Middle School Career and Technical Education/Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) classes are exploring their own brains to find out why. They are studying the concepts of mindset and learning style to better understand and optimize their own individual methods of learning. In the process, the students had some fun creating “brain hats” to visualize the physical areas and functions of the brain. Later in the school year, they will again put on their custom-made thinking caps in science class, to go into further depth about the human brain and how it functions in the body. 

The class was the brainchild of FACS teacher Nancy Amory. Amory recently attended a CTE/New York State Association of Family and Consumer Sciences conference in Albany, N.Y. There, the brain hat concept was shared through a professional development seminar by Health Science Educator Linda Romano. Amory turn-keyed part of that lesson to involve her fellow FACS teachers, Deanna VanEenwyk and Amanda Lydon, as well as colleagues from the middle school science department, teachers Chris Davis, Paula Hickey and Karen Stefl. The cross-subject collaboration is resulting in a much richer and more immersive learning experience for their students.

The FACS lesson gives students a better understanding of fixed and growth-oriented mindsets, changeable ways of thinking that determine our outlook on life. They consider a number of situations to determine whether a visual, auditory, tactile or mixed learning style is best for them. Students then learn how different areas of the brain, like the cerebellum and frontal lobe, control every aspect of who we are. 

“It’s tough to be a teenager,” said Amory. “You are constantly judging yourself on how smart you are, or how you often don’t succeed at things right away. It’s empowering for kids to know that they all have different strengths, and can find different ways to learn. We teach them to turn negative thoughts into positive action with the word ‘yet.’ ‘I can’t do it — yet.’ ‘I’m not good at this — yet.’ All of this information will be useful to students as they progress through their academic careers, as well as in their own personal lives.”

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