Journal on implementing brain-compatible learning strategies

23 Jul

Journal on implementing brain-compatible learning strategies

Week 1

Brain-based Concept:   Safe and enriched environment, Routine and Rituals, Celebrations,  Reticular Activating System – Positive Keywords

Specific Activity used:

1. All the seats are arranged in rows in our school. I would like to set up an environment which is suitable for team work, so my P.1 students were taught to arrange their tables into groups.

2.  Students’ work, pictures and posters were posted around the classroom.

3. Whenever I asked a question, I would allow students to talk to their partners first before I pick anyone to answer.

4. Encourage students to think of ways to cheer one another up when their classmates answer correctly/ have done something great in learning.

5. I used positive keywords in my teaching and focused on positive behavior of students

Results/How it worked:

Ÿ1. Couldn’t imagine my P.1 students could set up the tables in such a short period of time. I was surprised! They loved to sit in groups as it facilitated the think-pair-share activities we always had in class.

2. Students found it safe to share ideas with their peers first before sharing in front of the class. Students were engaged more in the class activities as there was no time for them to daydream.

3. I have created a strong rapport with and among students. They were introduced the voice levels in class. They knew that when they were presenting,they should use at least voice level no.3. With the peer  support and the understanding of the appropriate voice level they should use, for those who were shy and had soft voice  now dare to speak up!

4. Using positive keywords actually reduced my own stress. I literally felt more positive and happy and my students had less behavioral problems as well.

5. An environment of mutual respect was established. Although there would still be arguments among students, conflicts were resolved quickly.

What to Improve:

1.  Students’ work posted should have updated more frequently

2. I should even ask my students for decorating the classroom so to increase their sense of belonging.

3. Sometimes when I was angry or stressed, I forgot to use positive keywords. I should have allowed myself to calm down a bit before speaking to my kids.


Week 2

Brain-based Concept:   States

Specific Activity used:

1. In between the long lesson (1 hr and 30 mins) for P.6 students and when my P.1 students got really tired after a few lessons, I would lead the class to do some breathing and stretching exercises. Besides, I  taught my students to do an exercise for empowering the brain (識腦健腦運動-腦基礎教育學會 on YouTube:

Results/How it worked:

My students enjoyed doing the exercise, especially the P.1 students. Their attention span was relatively shorter than my P.6 students, but their attention span became longer afterwards. Some really hyper students in my P.1 class concentrated more in the lesson and had less behavioral problems. As my P.6 students, at first some of them were reluctant to stand up and did the exercise since they were too self-conscious and were afraid to lose face in front of their peers. After my positive framing, all of them were willing to participate. Their concentration level and activation of thinking increased.

What to Improve: 

Some of the P.1 students got too excited after the exercise, it is obvious that cooling exercise e.g. resting on the table for thirty seconds while playing some slow and soft music, is also needed so to cool them down and allow them to get ready for the learning activities afterwards.

Week 3

Brain-based Concept:  Movement (Total Physical Response)

Specific Activity used:

1. To familiarize students’ letter-sound recognition, they were taught the ‘action alphabet’. All the actions use their body parts. Students will read the letter sounds and do the actions simultaneously.

2. Encourage students to invent actions for action verbs they have learnt

3. Have students designed dance and gestures for the newly learnt phrases or vocabulary

4. For revision, have students throw a doll around their groups and recall one thing they have learnt in the previous lessons

Results/How it worked:

Ÿ 1. Actions and movement helped recalling new information. Students could recall what they have learnt easily in a long-term basis. Many parents told me that their kids were able tell them explicitly what they learnt during lessons and they even enjoyed showing the little dance and gesture to them at home.

Ÿ 2. My students loved this activity and they became more aware of what they have learnt.

What to Improve: 

Try to implement TPR more in the senior level.

                                                                (My pink Spongebob doll XD)

Week 4

Brain-based Concept:  Engaging Questioning Techniques

Specific Activity used:

1.   ‘100% questioning technique’ would be implemented in each teaching session. All students have to respond physically to the questions e.g. nodding heads, raising heads, raising fingers

2. Ÿ ‘Sequentially questioning technique’ was also used to allow more students to give feedback or comments.

Results/How it worked:

1. I could get feedback from students easily and make sure everyone is on task.

2. Students who may daydream easily were directed back on the track.

What to Improve:

Some students may just copy others’ answer when I asked questions sequentially. Time should also be allowed for students to explain for their answers for more challenging questions.

Week 5

Brain-based Concept:  Five Effective Modes of Giving Directions

Specific Activity used:

Before doing complex class activities, I would use the five effective modes of giving directions. E.g. “Preposition Game”. Here are the steps:

1. We are going to play a game so that you can practice the propositions we have learnt.

2. I will give each of you a piece of paper like this (using the visualizer). Everyone will get a different card, keep it to yourself only.

3. What can you see in the picture? (pair-share)

4. Good. So you have to fill in the blanks on your own. If you forget how to spell some of the words, what can you do? (look for the word cards around the classroom)

5. After you fill in the card, rest on the table and wait for Miss Law’s instruction.(Allow students to fill in the cards)

6. One of your classmates has the same card as yours. You need to ask your classmate,  ‘What can you see?’ and listen. If they  get the same answer on your  card, she is your partner and  you can choose a new seat and  sit with her.

7. If they are not holding the same card as yours, say ‘thank you’ and ask another friend.

8. You will have 8 minutes to play this game, when I say ‘start’ you may start walking.

9. Now take your card and stand up.

10.Have a look at the friend you want to ask first.

11.The one with longer hair can ask first.

12. Any questions?

13. You may start now.

Results/How it worked:

1. The activity ran smoothly. My kids’ performance amazed me as I thought the instructions were quite a lot and might not be easy for the weaker ones to follow.

2.  ‘One at a time’ and providing enough time for students to fill in their cards are crucial.

What to Improve: 

Some kids only spent a minute finding their partners and have nothing to do afterwards. I should have asked them to make some notes on the prepositions they have practiced on their notebooks.




Week 6

Brain-based Concept:  Strategies for Frontal Lobe Development,  Social brain – Increase social interaction and group work , Ÿ     celebrations

Specific Activity used:

ŸInstead of just teaching the chapters in the reader/textbook, I asked students to read the chapter with their group mates.

They have to do the following(for chapters in reader):

a. Find out the genre of the text and explain why you get to your answer.

b. Summarize the content and introduce to the classmate in any form e.g. ppt presentation, drama, dialogue etc.

c. Find one vocabulary that you don’t understand and explain it to your classmate about the part of speech, meaning and how to use it in a sentence

They have to do  the following(for a unit in the textbook):

a. Decide among the group and have each student played one role in the play.

b. If there are more students in the group, they can create one or more roles in the play.

c. Based on the textbook, perform the drama in front of the class

d. Since the play have no ending, they have to think of a new ending for the play

e. Students can make their own props if necessary

I took pictures/videos with them during and after their performance and verbally praised each of the groups. I once bought some chips and candies for praising their effort. That was the only time I rewarded them with food.

Results/How it worked:

1. I used to spend too much time ‘teaching’ reader, thinking I had a lot of important things to tell my kids. However, they would easily get bored sitting for such a long time listening to my lecture.

2. Creating meaningful tasks for my kids to perform worked really well. For one thing, they were very much engaged. They put lots of effort selecting useful information. They looked up in the dictionary for vocabulary and they thought of creative ways to introduce information to their classmates. I was so totally blown away by their wonderful performance.

3. A strong rapport was formed. My kids looked forward to having these tasks again.

4.  My students were very proud of their work and they enjoyed watching their performance on YouTube

5. Even weaker students participated actively in the tasks

What to Improve: 

Ÿ1. Peer assessment task sheet should be given to their classmates to fill in as some of them may not pay attention watching others’ performance.

2. Ÿ They can also write down what they have learnt as a journal entry

3. Specific rubrics should be provided

Watch their performance here:

Gp 1:    Gp 2:

Gp 3:     Gp 4:

Students’ performance (Drama): 

Students’ performance (Reader):



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