Brain Friendly Strategies – a compilation from two favorite books

Brain Friendly Strategies from The Brain-Compatible Classroom by Laura Erlauer

Foster Emotional Wellness

  • Reduce stress
  • Teach stress management techniques
  • Create a sense of community
  • Have clear expectations
  • Make personal connections with students

Address Body and Movement

  • Water, temperature control, lighting, fresh air
  • Create opportunities for movement
  • Encourage good nutrition

Relevant Content and Student Choice

  • Discuss applicability of lessons
  • Authentic learning opportunities
  • Plan lessons around multiple intelligences and learning styles
  • Provide differentiated options
  • Allow choice of seating and small groups or partners occasionally

Time Management

  • Shift activities in lesson every 20 minutes or less
  • Call on students randomly
  • Use review through application frequently
  • Incorporate time for reflection
  • Integrate subjects
  • Teach new information in the first 10 min of class
  • Use last 10 min to tie new material to previous


  • Puzzles, brainteasers
  • Problem of the Day
  • Always follow a “yes or no” question with “why”
  • Don’t give students all the information. All them to contemplate information and draw conclusions
  • Ask leading questions
  • Use music. Baroque for calming, Make up songs to remember things


  • Authentic – product based, models, presentations
  • Use informal and formal
  • Match assessments to the instruction
  • Infuse assessment into daily practices
  • Informal assessment should always be worth something, but not a lot of points
  • Feedback should be prompt, specific and from different sources


  • Pair and Share
  • Cooperative Learning (train students in roles)
  • Foster team work, not competition

Key points in effective learning from Make It Stick by Brown, Roediger, III and McDaniel

 What doesn’t work:

  • Rereading text
  • Massed practice or cramming
  • Highlighting text

What does work:

  • Retrieval practice such as flash cards, self quizzing or testing because we are very bad judges of what we really know until testing “calibrates our judgments”
  • Space out practice
  • Interleave the practice of two or more subjects
  • Trying to solve a problem before being taught the solution
  • Learning in forms not consistent with your dominant style
  • Learning the underlying principles or “rules” that differentiate types of problems. This skill is better acquired through interleaved and varied practice.
  • Learning requires a foundation of prior knowledge.
  • This process gives new material meaning when you express it in your own words and connect it with what you already know.
  • Put new knowledge into a larger context
  • Learn to extract key ideas from new material and organize them into a mental model – concept maps

About Frankie

A Navy vet, an educator (retired but still working), and a mom of three girls, and two grandsons. Married to the love of my life. Dirt and words. That sums up what gets my attention. Read on and find out why.
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