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Learning Capacity (3)

Is Educational Neuroscience for Real? Dr Martha Burns explains

What is educational neuroscience? Is it a specialist area of knowledge or just a general title for intellectual sounding conversation? Can it help teachers get better learning outcomes for their students?

Maybe it's just "the latest thing" which will fade away in a year or two, just as many educational ideas that initially sound good, turn out not to be very useful.

Dr Martha Burns, Director of Neuroscience Education at Scientific Learning corporation answered these questions, and more, in a discussion on The Learning Capacity Podcast.


Dr Burns explains that educational neuroscience is a new branch of neuroscience.

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The New Science of Learning. Teachers Build Brains with Neuroscience

Teachers do much more than just teach - they build student brains. 

This is the message from Dr Martha Burns, professor of communication sciences and disorders at Northwestern University, in a podcast episode on The Learning Capacity Podcast.

Dr Burns discusses the new science of learning, and how it involves educational neuroscience and understanding individual differences in children. 


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Students’ Achievement: Encouragement, Maths Tables & Learning Capacity

“The single biggest thing that a parent can give their child is the encouragement to do better, and not give them limiting beliefs about their ability or what they could achieve”.

This is an opinion expressed by David Stanley, former math teacher and now Director of Learning Ecosystems Growth at Learn Fast Australia, in a wide ranging two part interview on the Learning Capacity Podcast.

 In the first part David discussed rote learning of maths tables, how this can improve a student’s learning capacity, the role of parents in helping students set goals, and the educational power of celebrating success.


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Memorising Maths Tables: old rote learning, or valuable neuroscience?

Recently, educator Colin Klupiec recorded our conversation where he teased out my understanding of how memorising maths tables can help students build learning capacity and the importance of the role played by parents. It is recorded in two parts on the Learning Capacity Podcast with the key points summarised below.

We discussed some findings from the neuroscientists around brain plasticity - the cognitive neuroscience and how it relates to what some people may think is a bit old-fashioned – rote learning, or learning by repetition.


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Teachers Change Students’ Brains – How Amazing, says Dr Martha Burns

"You change brains," Dr Burns, adjunct professor at Northwestern University, Chicago told a conference of 400 teachers in Louisiana, USA this week.

Dr Burns was the guest speaker at day two of the Summer Institute, a four-day professional development conference for educators.

She focused on the science of learning and brain research, a topic she knows well. She has authored more than 100 journal articles on the neuroscience of language and communication.

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Fast ForWord & Reading Assistant are Intelligent Tutoring Systems

Intelligent tutoring systems are getting a lot more attention as computer technology and internet speeds improve, and resources for public education are being squeezed by government budgets around the world.

So much so that an international conference on intelligent tutoring systems is now held every two years.  The most recent was in Hawaii in 2014.

The key features of an intelligent tutoring system are:

  1. The system simulates a human tutor’s behaviour and guidance
  2. It provides immediate feedback tailored to each student individually
  3. Students are able to access the tutor any time anywhere
  4. It is able to help students learn by adapting the difficulty of tasks to the student’s understand at that time

At a recent neuroscience conference in Tuscan, USA, Dr Martha Burns spoke about how the learning technology programs from Scientific Learning Corporation - Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant - are good examples of intelligent tutoring systems.

Dr Martha Burns is a neuroscientist, author of over 100 journal articles and multiple books, and a leading expert on how children learn. 

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8 Steps to Help Students Struggling on LearnFast Maths Skills Booster

The two largest challenges parents may have helping their child with maths homework are:

  1. Dealing with their own memories of doing maths at school - or not.
  2. A sense of urgency: wanting the child to be better, too quickly.

The parent has an essential role in their child’s learning as the parent’s attitude towards numeracy often rubs off on the student. If the parent did not enjoy or is not interested in numeracy, we often find the child has a similar disinterest. It would be beneficial if parents would focus on thinking about how they communicate maths with their child and changing to a positive conversation around numeracy.

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Handwriting May Boost Learning by Activating Working Memory & Reading

Children today are doing much less handwriting than children did 20, 30 or 40 years ago. Before computers became commonplace, handwriting was much more important for everyone. Back then schools put considerable time and attention on making sure students developed their handwriting. 

I recall entering cursive handwriting competitions when I was a young child (I went to primary school in the 1950s), and the sense of pride for the kids who were judged the neatest writers.

Now, typing on computers and tablets is replacing the act of writing by hand for many students (and adults).



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A Very Happy Mother Explains how Fast ForWord Helped her Children

Therese is the mother of three boys who go to Narooma Public School, on the NSW South Coast.

She recently spoke with LearnFast about how Fast ForWord helped her youngest son learn better and made his attitude to school much more positive. The results were so good she now has her middle son on the program.

Her youngest (Matt, Year 3) did Fast Fast ForWord in Terms 1 & 2 (2014), and his brother (Joe, Year 4) is doing the program in Terms 3 & 4 (2014).

Why was Matt selected to do Fast ForWord?

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