Monthly Archives: January 2016

The Glossary of Education Reform for Journalists, Parents, and Community Members

Created by the Great Schools Partnership, the GLOSSARY OF EDUCATION REFORM is a comprehensive online resource that describes widely used school-improvement terms, concepts, and strategies for journalists, parents, and community members. | Learn more »



Brain-based learning refers to teaching methods, lesson designs, and school programs that are based on the latest scientific research about how the brain learns, including such factors as cognitive development—how students learn differently as they age, grow, and mature socially, emotionally, and cognitively.

Brain-based learning is motivated by the general belief that learning can be accelerated and improved if educators base how and what they teach on the science of learning, rather than on past educational practices, established conventions, or assumptions about the learning process. For example, it was commonly believed that intelligence is a fixed characteristic that remains largely unchanged throughout a person’s life. However, recent discoveries in cognitive science have revealed that the human brain physically changes when it learns, and that after practicing certain skills it becomes increasingly easier to continue learning and improving those skills. This finding—that learning effectively improves brain functioning, resiliency, and working intelligence—has potentially far-reaching implications for how schools can design their academic programs and how teachers could structure educational experiences in the classroom.

Related terms such as brain-based education or brain-based teaching, like brain-based learning, refer to instructional techniques that are grounded in the neuroscience of learning—i.e., scientific findings are used to inform educational strategies and programs. Other related terms, such as educational neuroscience or mind, brain, and education sciencerefer to the general field of academic and scientific study, not to the brain-based practices employed in schools.


A great deal of the scientific research and academic dialogue related to brain-based learning has been focused on neuroplasticity—the concept that neural connections in the brain change, remap, and reorganize themselves when people learn new concepts, have new experiences, or practice certain skills over time. Scientists have also determined, for example, that the brain can perform several activities at once; that the same information can be stored in multiple areas of the brain; that learning functions can be affected by diet, exercise, stress, and other conditions; that meaning is more important than information when the brain is learning something new; and that certain emotional states can facilitate or impede learning—among many other findings.

Given the breadth and diversity of related scientific findings, brain-based learning may take a wide variety of forms from school to school or teacher to teacher. For example, teachers may design lessons or classroom environments to reflect conditions that facilitate learning—e.g., they may play calming music to decrease stress, reduce the amount of time they spend lecturing, engage students in regular physical activity, or create comfortable reading and study areas, with couches and beanbag chairs, as an alternative to traditional desks and chairs. They may also encourage students to eat more healthy foods or exercise more—two physical factors that have been shown to affect brain health.

The principles of brain-based learning are also being introduced into teacher-preparation programs, and an increasing number of colleges and universities are offering courses and degrees in the field. For example, Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education now offers a Mind, Brain, and Education master’s-degree program.


Because educational neuroscience is still a relatively young field, the methods and technologies of cognitive science are still being developed and tested. That said, people are often predisposed to view scientific findings as incontrovertible “facts” rather than complex and evolving theories, so it’s possible that some educators may view scientific findings as being more “solid” than they actually are, or they may misinterpret scientific evidence and act upon findings in ways that would not be recommended by the research. In addition, “neuroscientific myths”—widespread misinterpretations of scientific evidence—can potentially give rise to educational practices of dubious value.

Another point of potential debate is how educators should balance the findings of neuroscience with the practicalities of teaching. For example, some neuroscientists might argue that teachers shouldn’t lecture for longer than ten minutes, but it is probably more practical to interpret that recommendation as a guideline, not a strict instructional prescription. Other findings might support the use of treadmills in classrooms—because the brain is more stimulated during physical activity—but such options may be impractical, unworkable, inadvisable, or financially infeasible in many school settings.
The Glossary of Education Reform by Great Schools Partnership is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Recommended APA Citation Format: Hidden curriculum (2014, August 26). In S. Abbott (Ed.), The glossary of education reform. Retrieved from


Your Teenager’s Development Brain

Pre-teen boy reading

did you knowQuestion mark symbol

Scientists once thought that brain development stopped after the first few years of life. Now we know that it keeps going well into adulthood.

As children become teenagers, their brains grow and change. These changes affect their thinking and behaviour. When you understand how, you can better help your child build a healthy teenage brain.

Teenage brain development: the basics

Children’s brains have a massive growth spurt when they’re very young. By the time they’re six, their brains are already about 90-95% of adult size. But the brain still needs a lot of remodelling before it can function as an adult brain.

This brain remodelling happens intensively during adolescence, continuing into your child’s mid-20s.

Some brain changes happen before puberty, and some continue long after. Brain change depends on age, experience and hormonal changes in puberty.

So even though all teenagers’ brains develop in roughly the same way at the same time, there are differences among individual teenagers. For example, if your child started puberty early, this might mean that some of your child’s brain changes started early too.

Inside the teenage brain

Adolescence is a time of significant growth and development inside the teenage brain.

The main change is that unused connections in the thinking and processing part of your child’s brain (called the grey matter) are ‘pruned’ away. At the same time, other connections are strengthened. This is the brain’s way of becoming more efficient, based on the ‘use it or lose it’ principle.

This pruning process begins in the back of the brain. The front part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, is remodelled last. The prefrontal cortex is the decision-making part of the brain, responsible for your child’s ability to plan and think about the consequences of actions, solve problems and control impulses. Changes in this part continue into early adulthood.

Because the prefrontal cortex is still developing, teenagers might rely on a part of the brain called the amygdala to make decisions and solve problems more than adults do. The amygdala is associated with emotions, impulses, aggression and instinctive behaviour.

The back-to-front development of the brain explains why your child’s thinking and behaviour sometimes seem quite mature, and illogical, impulsive or emotional at other times. Teenagers are working with brains that are still under construction.

Building a healthy teenage brain

The combination of your child’s unique brain and environment influences the way your child acts, thinks and feels. For example, your child’s preferred activities and skills might become ‘hard-wired’ in the brain.

How teenagers spend their time is crucial to brain development. So it’s worth thinking about the range of activities and experiences your child is into – music, sports, study, languages, video games. How are these shaping the sort of brain your child takes into adulthood?

You are an important part of your child’s environment. You mean a lot to your child. How you guide and influence him will be important in helping your child to build a healthy brain.

You can do this by:

  • encouraging positive behaviour
  • promoting good thinking skills
  • helping your child get lots of sleep.

Encouraging positive behaviour
While your child’s brain is developing, your child might:

  • take more risks or choose high-risk activities
  • express more and stronger emotions
  • make impulsive decisions.

Here are some tips for encouraging good behaviour and strengthening positive brain connections:

  • Let your child take some healthy risks. New and different experiences help your child develop an independent identity, explore grown-up behaviours, and move towards independence.
  • Help your child find new creative and expressive outlets for her feelings. She might be expressing and trying to control new emotions. Many teenagers find that sport or music, writing and other artforms – either as a participant or a spectator – are good outlets.
  • Talk through decisions step by step with your child. Ask about possible courses of action your child might choose, and talk through potential consequences. Encourage your child to weigh up the positive consequences or rewards against the negative ones.
  • Use family routines to give your child’s life some structure. These might be based around school and family timetables.
  • Provide boundaries, and opportunities for negotiating those boundaries. Young people need guidance and limit-setting from their parents and other adults.
  • Offer frequent praise and positive rewards for desired behaviours. This reinforces pathways in your child’s brain.
  • Be a positive role model. Your behaviour will show your child the behaviour you expect.
  • Stay connected with your child. You’ll probably want to keep an eye on your child’s activities and friends. Being open and approachable can help you with this.
  • Talk to your child about his developing brain. Understanding this important period of growth might help teenagers process their feelings. It might also make taking care of their brains more interesting.
Teenagers are often passionate about their interests, especially ones that give them opportunities to socialise. You can help your child develop skills and confidence by supporting her interests, activities and hobbies.

Promoting thinking skills
Brain growth and development during these years mean that your child will start to:

  • think more logically
  • think about things more abstractly – things are no longer so black or white
  • pick up more on other people’s emotional cues
  • solve more complex problems in a logical way, and see problems from different perspectives
  • get a better perspective on the future.

You can support the development of your child’s thinking with the following strategies:

  • Encourage empathy. Talk about feelings – yours, your child’s and other people’s. Highlight the fact that other people have different perspectives and circumstances. Reinforce that many people can be affected by one action.
  • Emphasise the immediate and long-term consequences of actions. The part of the brain responsible for future thinking (the prefrontal cortex) is still developing. If you talk about how your child’s actions influence both the present and the future, you can help the healthy development of your child’s prefrontal cortex.
  • Try to match your language level to the level of your child’s understanding. For important information, you can check understanding by asking children to tell you in their own words what they’ve just heard.
  • Prompt your child to develop decision-making and problem-solving skills. Try role-modelling and suggesting a process that involves defining the problem, listing the options, and considering the outcome that leads to the best solution for all involved.

Getting lots of sleep
During the teenage years, your child’s sleep patterns will change. This is because the brain produces melatonin at a different time of the day. This makes your child feel tired and ready for bed later in the evening. It can keep your child awake into the night and make it difficult to get up the next morning.

Sleep is essential to healthy brain development. Try the following tips:

  • Ensure your child has a comfortable, quiet sleep environment.
  • Encourage ‘winding down’ before bed – away from TVs, mobiles and computers.
  • Reinforce a regular sleeping routine. Your child should aim to go to bed and wake up at regular times each day.
  • Encourage your child to get an adequate amount of sleep each night. While the ideal amount of sleep varies from person to person, the average amount of sleep that teenagers need is around nine hours.

Risk-taking behaviour

The teenage brain is built to seek out new experiences, risks and sensations – it’s all part of refining those brain connections.

Also, teenagers don’t always have a lot of self-control or good judgment and are more prone to risk-taking behaviour. This is because the self-monitoring, problem-solving and decision-making part of the brain – the prefrontal cortex – develops last. Hormones are also thought to contribute to impulsive and risky behaviour in teens.

Teenagers need to take risks to grow and develop. You can support your child in choosing healthy risks – such as sports and travel – instead of negative ones like smoking and stealing. All risk-taking involves the possibility of failure. Your child will need your support to get over any setbacks.

Stress and the teenage brain

With so many changes happening to your child’s brain, it’s especially important that your child is protected and nurtured.

The incidence of poor mental health increases during the teenage years. It’s thought this could be related to the fact that the developing brain is more vulnerable to stress factors than the adult brain.

Teenage stresses can include drugs, alcohol and high-risk behaviour, as well as things like starting a new school, peer pressure, or major life events like moving house or the death of a loved one.

But don’t wrap your child in cotton wool! Too much parental attention might alienate your child.

Staying connected and involved in your child’s life can help you to learn more about how your child is coping with stress. It can also help you keep an open relationship with your child and ensure that your child sees you as someone to talk to – even about embarrassing or uncomfortable topics.

It’s thought that children are more likely to be open to parental guidance and monitoring during their teenage years if they’ve grown up in a supportive and nurturing home environment.

Every teenage child is unique, and teenagers respond to stress in different and unique ways. You know your child best, so it’s OK to trust your instinct on how to support your child if he’s going through a stressful time. It’s also OK to ask for help from friends, family members or professionals such as your GP.

Getting help

Every child experiences changes at a different rate. If you’re concerned about your child’s rate of development or you have concerns about your child’s changing body, thinking or behaviour, you could start by talking to a school counsellor or your GP. If you’re really worried, you could look for a counsellor or psychologist. You don’t need a referral, but you might prefer to have your GP recommend someone.

STLMOMS share great apps!

STL Moms- Educational apps and websites for children

ST. LOUIS, MO (STLMoms)- There’s an app for everything these days, including apps to teach our children.

Pediatrician Dr. Kathleen Berchelmann of the St. Louis Children’s Hospital shared with us her top children’s educational apps for 2016:
1. Khan Academy: Khan Academy now collaborates with the U.S. Department of Education and myriad public and private educational institutions to provide ‘a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere’. Cost: Free; Ads: None

2. Awarded Google`S ‘Best of the best’ in 2013, Your progress is displayed in a graph form after every lesson. Cost: Free; Ads: None

3.EdX: EdX provides college and high school courses from leading universities online for free.Cost: Free, extra fees apply for official transcripts and college credit; Ads: None

4.IXL (website and app): IXL has been massively updated in the past year to incorporate more subjects and allow kids to skip through content if they get enough questions right. Your child can do a few sets of problems per day for free, or you can subscribe for $9.99 per month or $79 per year for a family membership. Cost: Free limited use or $9.99/month; Ads: None offers a comprehensive keyboarding/touch typing course that is appropriate for children from Kindergarten through college. . Cost: Free; Ads: May be removed for $15

6.Scratch and Scratch Jr.: Scratch is a free online tool and app designed by MIT to help kids learn programming. Cost: Free; Ads: None

7.BiblioNasium: Now used in many schools, this website will convince even the most reluctant reader to love reading. Cost: Free; Ads: Digital books are recommended and sold on site

8.Dragon Box: Better than anyone else, Dragon Box has succeeded in making math into a very fun game. Cost: $4.99-$7.99 in the App Store

9.Hooda Math: is a free online game site with more than 700 math and logic games. Cost: Free; Ads: Present throughout site but not offensive

10.Quizlet AND Brainscape: These two separate companies provide a similar free service: create-your-own flashcards and quizzes and then practice your content online.

11.PBSKids: Every young child I know plays PBSKids; it’s loaded with characters they know and it`s free with no ads.

12.ABCMouse: is a preschool and Kindergarten online educational website that offers a more comprehensive curriculum

13.Bitsboard: Alligator Apps is a company that has created an entire line of early childhood learning apps,

14.Stack the States and Stack the Countries: Voted best kids app for iPad,

15.Classic games with two or more players: Chess, Checkers, Connect 4, Othello, Battleship, and all those classic logic games you played as a child are available on tablets.

16.Time to get off the computer and do some chores!

Google for teaching math workshop- Fresno, CA

Alice Keeler and Diana Herrington are offering a workshop at Fresno State in the Kremen Education Building on Thursday, February 11 (8 a.m.-1 p.m.) that covers techniques for using Google Apps, Google Classroom, and Google Docs for teaching math. This workshop focuses on techniques that can be applied in grades 4-12.

Participants will practice using Google Apps to support Common Core math instruction. Participants should have a Google Apps account and are expected to have at least a basic understanding of Google Apps. The instructors will not cover basics such as creating a Google Doc, but rather how to apply this knowledge to teaching math.

 100% of the proceeds from this workshop will go to the Lowell Scholarship fund.

 To register, visit  For more information, email Alice at 



The Mathematics and Science Teacher Initiative (MSTI) at Fresno State is launching a series of free online workshops that review the content on the CSET: Mathematics Subtests I and II. These workshops will be offered on Saturdays (Feb. 20, 27; March 5, 12, 19; April 2, 9, 16) by Dr. Stefaan Delcroix, a talented Fresno State mathematics professor with experience teaching these workshops. CSET reimbursement is also available for eligible teachers.

These new online workshops join MSTI’s free online CSET science workshops, which were launched last year and have received very positive reviews by participants from around the state. The online FLGS (CSET: Science Subtests I and II) workshops will be held on February 20 and on April 9. A review of all areas of science for CSET Subtest III will be held on February 27.

 A recording of the workshop will be made available to participants soon after the workshop for personal review.

Please visit for workshop registration information. 


New SAT rolls out in March 2016

January 2016 will be the last opportunity for high school students to take the current version of the SAT. The redesigned version, which will first be offered on 5 March 2016, strives to “provide to higher education a more comprehensive and informative picture of student readiness for college level work while sustaining, and ideally improving, the ability of the test to predict college success.” It will not require an essay (a 50-minute essay is optional), does not penalized guessing, includes sub-scores for each test, provides 4 response choices rather than 5, and reduces testing time by 45 minutes to a 3-hour timeframe.

The College Board website offers charts containing features of the current SAT (maximum composite score of 2400) and new SAT (maximum composite score of 1600). The side-by-side summaries provide a useful at-a-glance comparison of the exam versions: (Also see for a chart that includes features of the ACT.)

According to The Redesigned SAT, published by the College Board, the new assessment places a greater emphasis on assessing “meaningful, engaging, rigorous” high school coursework than the current test. In the mathematics section, the revised test requires students to “show command of a focused but powerful set of knowledge, skills, and understandings in math and apply that ability to solve problems situated in science, social studies, and career-related contexts,” as well as “demonstrate skill in analyzing data, including data represented in tables, graphs, and charts in reading, writing, and math contexts” (p. 2).

For more information, read The Redesigned SAT at or visit 

Ways to Serve God Through Serving Others in the New Year!

To serve God is to serve others and is the greatest form of charity: the pure love of Christ. Jesus Christ said:

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (John 13:34).


Looking for ways to improve 2016?  This list gives 15 ways in which we can serve God by serving others:

1.  Serve God Through Your Family

To serve God starts with serving our families. Daily we work, clean, love, support, listen to, teach, and endlessly give of ourselves to our family. We may often feel overwhelmed with all that we must do. As we lovingly give of ourselves to our family, and serve them with hearts full of love, our acts also serve God.

2.  Give Tithes and Offerings

One of the ways we can serve God is by helping His children, our brothers and sisters, through tithing, a generous offering. Money from tithing is used to build God’s kingdom on the earth. Contributing financially to God’s work is a great way to serve God. Money from offerings is used to help the hungry, thirsty, naked, strange, sick, and afflicted (see Matt 25:34-36) both those locally and world wide.

3.  Volunteer in Your Community

There are countless ways to serve God by serving in your community. From donating blood to adopting a highway, your local community has great need of your time, efforts and resources.  You can easily become involved in your community by contacting a local group, charity, or other community program.

 4.  Home Visiting

Home visit opportunities provide a means by which an important aspect of character may be developed:  love of service above self.  Stop in to see someone in need.

5.  Donate Clothing and Other Goods

All throughout the world, there are places to donate unused clothing, shoes, dishes, blankets/quilts, toys, furniture, books, and other items. Generously giving of these items to help others is an easy way to serve God and declutter your home at the same time.

When preparing those things you are going to donate it is always appreciated if you only give those items that are clean and in working order. Donating dirty, broken, or useless items is less effective and takes precious time from volunteers and other workers as they sort and organize the items to be distributed or sold to others.

Stores that resell donated items usually offer much needed jobs to the less fortunate which is another excellent form of service.

6.  Be a Friend

One of the simplest and easiest ways to serve God and others is by befriending one another. As we take the time to serve and be friendly, we’ll not only support others but also build a network of support for ourselves. Make others feel at home, and soon you’ll feel at home. Who does not love and need friends? Let us make a new friend today!

7.  Serve God by Serving Children

So many children and teenagers need our love and we can give it!  There are many programs to become involved with helping children and you can easily become a school or community volunteer.  Jesus Christ loves all the children of the world and so too should we love and serve them.

8.  Mourn with Those that Mourn

Carefully asking appropriate questions often helps people feel your love and empathy for them and their situation. Following the whisperings of the Spirit will help guide us to know what to say or do as we care for one another.

9.  Follow Inspiration

When going through my own trials, I listened for inspiration.  I took every meeting and every phone call.  I read every book that was presented.  Each time I was obedient, I felt His inspiration!  What an incredible walk with Jesus.  Listen and move!  Follow His steps for you and be truly inspired!

10.  Share Your Talents

Each of us have been given talents from the Lord that we should develop and use to serve God and others. Examine your life and find your gifts, skills and talents.  What are you good at? How could you use your talents to help those around you?  Are you good with children? Do you enjoy time with the elderly?  Do you like to cook or bake?  Are you good with your hands? Computers? Gardening? Building? Organizing? You can help others with your skills by praying for help to develop your talents.

11.  Simple Acts of Service

Sometimes all it takes to serve God is to give a smile, hug, wave, prayer, facebook message, text or a friendly phone call to someone in need.

12.  Serve God Through Missionary Work

One of the most important and rewarding ways in which we can serve our fellowmen is by living and sharing the principles of the gospel. We need to help those whom we seek to serve to know for themselves that God not only loves them but he is ever mindful of them and their needs.

13.  Fulfill Your Callings

When we seek to serve others, we are motivated not by selfishness but by charity and giving. This is the way Jesus Christ lived His life. Faithfully serving in our callings is to faithfully serve God.

14.  Use Your Creativity: It Comes from God

We are compassionate creators of a compassionate and creative being. The Lord will bless and help us as we creatively and compassionately serve one another. The Lord will bless us with the needed strength, guidance, patience, charity, and love to serve His children.

15.  Serve God by Humbling Yourself

I believe it is impossible to truly serve God and His children if we, ourselves, are full of pride. Developing humility is a choice that takes effort but as we come to understand why we should be humble, it will become easier to become humble. As we humble ourselves before the Lord our desire to serve God will greatly increase as will our capacity to be able to give of ourselves in the service of all our brothers and sisters.

Our Heavenly Father deeply loves us- more than we can imagine- and as we follow the Savior’s command to “love one another; as I have loved you” we will be able to do so. May we find simple, yet profound ways to daily serve God as we serve each other.

By Rachel Bruner

Updated by Krista Cook on December 01, 2015.

Adapted for this page by Sandy Carl December 21, 2015.