Earlier this month I had the opportunity to attend the Learning and the Brain Conference #LB40 focused on using brain science to boost memory, thinking and learning. Unlike many academic conferences which have academics presenting to other academics, this one placed experts in the field of learning in front of educators, administrators, counselors and others educational professionals. The goal of the conference was to provide educators from across the country with information and tools to help them enhance what they are already doing in their classrooms with the latest in brain science.
The following are three key messages that I heard repeatedly throughout the conference.
- Focus with no distractions (i.e. single tasking). Students today consider themselves expert multi-taskers but the science shows that learning is best accomplished in distraction free environments. According the Sandra Chapman, Director of the Center for Brain Health, “The brain is intricately wired to do one thing at a time.”
- Exercise is good for the brain. The brain needs down time help form new neural pathways and exercise provides that break. Also, a recent study shows how regular aerobic exercise helps boost the size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain that helps with verbal memory and learning.
- Sleep is crucial to learning. While we sleep, our brain consolidates memories from the day and insufficient sleep disrupts formation of long-term memories. New studies show that sleep also prepares the brain to learn and a lack of sleep impacts one’s ability to learn new material.
Check out the following selection of speaker write ups:
- Making it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning and Memory, Henry Roediger author of Make it Stick
- How the Body Knows its Mind, Sian Beilock author of How the Body Knows its Mind and Choke
- How the Brain Best Learns and Remembers, Sandra Chapman, Director of the Center for Brain Health
- Sleeping, Learning and Lasting Memory, Matthew Walker