✔︎ What's new with the 6th edition of Dr. David Sousa's "How the Brain Learns"
The importance of the cognitive component of social-emotional learning
The importance of student engagement, especially through academic teams
Connections between Bloom’s Taxonomy and current instructional strategies, such as teaming and project/maker learning
Strategies that ALL teachers can implement to reduce stress in the classroom and improve student learning/engagement.
What happens in the brain when we are learning something new.
How to make practice PERMANENT and transfer knowledge into memory.
What we can learn from the specialized areas of the brain
How the science of reading can help us as teachers with the learning process
I’m thrilled to have the chance to speak with David Sousa again, as It was David Sousa’s How the Brain Learns book Series[ii] that is now in its 6th Edition (that includes How the Brain Learns, How the Brain Learns to Read, How the Gifted Brain Learns, and How the Special Needs Brain Learns) that I was given by an educator who put me on the path of helping others to understand how learning occurs in the brain. When reading this series, I was told from other respected colleagues that this book series is one that every educator should read, and after our first interview, was contacted from educators all over the country (and world) with how helpful this series has been for them. How the Brain Leans has helped me as a parent to understand how my own children learn (specifically with reading) and gave me more understanding and patience to help put into practice some of the secrets for accelerating literacy that we have dove into on this podcast, since this first interview with David Sousa, almost 2 years ago now.
For those new, or returning guests, welcome back! I'm Andrea Samadi, author, and educator from Toronto, Canada, now in Arizona, and like many of you listening, have been fascinated with learning and understanding the science behind high performance strategies that we can use to improve our productivity in our schools, our sports, and workplace environments. My vision is to bring the experts to you, share their books, resources, and ideas to help you to implement their proven strategies, whether you are a teacher working in the classroom or in the corporate environment.
A bit about David Sousa, he’s an international consultant in educational neuroscience, has written more than 20 books for educators and parents on ways to use brain research to improve teaching and learning. He has conducted workshops for more than 200,000 educators in hundreds of school districts on brain research and science education at the Pre-K to Grade 12 and university levels. He has presented at national conventions of educational organizations and to regional and local school districts across the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Asia.
Dr. Sousa has a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from Bridgewater (Massachusetts) State University, a master of arts degree in teaching science from Harvard University, and a doctorate from Rutgers University. His teaching experience covers all levels. He has taught high school science and has served as a K–12 director of science, a supervisor of instruction, and a district superintendent in New Jersey schools. He has been an adjunct professor of education at Seton Hall University and at Rutgers University. He has received awards from professional associations, school districts, and Bridgewater State University (Distinguished Alumni Award), as well as several honorary doctorates for his commitment and contributions to research, professional development, and science education. He has been interviewed on the NBC Today show, on National Public Radio, and other programs about his work with schools using brain research. He makes his home in south Florida.
I would highly recommend watching our first interview together and can’t wait to hear what’s new to deliver game-changing and brain-changing results for our students.
Let’s welcome back Dr. David A. Sousa!
WELCOME and INTRO Q: Welcome back, David, thank you for coming back on the podcast as a returning guest. David, I’m sure you will remember me sending you feedback after our first interview from educators around the world who were using How the Brain Learns with their students, and that you know how important this understanding of the brain is for the future of education. Thank you for your dedication to this field. I know I speak on behalf of everyone who reads your books and gains a deeper understanding of how to teach with our brain in mind as a result.
David, as research of the brain continues to evolve, these insights can change the way that we as educators that you call “brain-changers” (and even as parents) guide our students/children towards success. My intro question to you in our first interview was to help orient our listeners with your background and how you became interested in the brain and learning. Can you share where your passion for the brain and learning began, and what you’ve seen over the years working with educators around the world?
Q1: Can we begin with some of the brand-new findings that you have put into this 6th Edition of How the Brain Learns, and expand on the growth of educational neuroscience, since this is the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning podcast, andhow do you integrate the cognitive component of social and emotional learning?
Q2: It was an educator in 2014 who handed me your How the Brain Learns series, and told me the importance of understanding how important this book would be if I wanted to help guide students towards success and I have seen change in the field since then, and especially with the interviews on this podcast over the past 3 years, but what are you seeing? Are schools and teaching changing fast enough as new research emerges?
Q3: We are focused this season of the podcast on brain-health and well-being and after some of our interviews last year like Dr. Ratey,[iii] the author of the book, Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, we can clearly see how important exercise is for academic achievement. How would you suggest we prepare our students to stressful situations like taking tests, or anything they must face that might be stressful?
Q4: I think it’s fascinating when we take a trip inside our skulls and look at how the brain learns (acquiring new knowledge and skills). In Chapter 2, you have a diagram that shows how our brain takes in new information and on my last podcast episode, I wanted to show what learning looks like with neurons reaching out to other neurons and making new connections in the brain. Can you explain what happens in the brain, when we are learning something new, and what does the new research reveal is important for students to enjoy the learning process so what they are learning is retained? (Transforming the learning into creative thoughts and products).
Q5: In chapter 3, you cover memory, retention and learning. There was so much to this chapter that I found important because it baffles me that I can test my daughter on her spelling test the night before, and sometimes she recalls the words the next day, accurate enough to do well on her spelling test, but other days, the practice we did doesn’t stick. What’s involved in retaining what we learn, and what could I do to guarantee her practice will be retained? Does practice really make perfect, or what else do we need to consider?
Q6: In Chapter 4, on The Power of Transfer, you examine the factors that affect transfer. Most of us know how important prior knowledge is for learning, and you even open up all your books in this series with a “what we already know” section, but I never thought of negative transfer, or something interfering with my learning. What should we all know and understand (general guidelines) for teaching transfer?
Q7: In Chapter 5, Brain Organization and Transfer, there’s a focus on teaching to the whole brain and this chapter includes some incredible resources (videos) that explain how brain areas are specialized. I found it helpful to know what parts of the brain are involved in reading (from your How the Brain Learns to Read book), or even how the ELL brain is different in How the ELL Brain Learns. What is important for us to know about the new research and how some regions of the brain are specialized to perform certain tasks?
Q8: In chapter 6, you have a quote that hit me as a parent of a child who has struggled with reading because I know how important this skill is for her entire academic career. You quote “one you learn to read; you will be forever free” and I can see it in her eyes how much she wants to learn this skill. How has the science of reading contributed to our understanding of the struggle that students face (whether it’s reading, or with mathematics) and what is “productive struggle?”
Q9: I could keep asking you questions and know that the content of this book is thorough, with new findings included in this latest edition. Is there something that we have missed, that’s new, that you think is important for us to cover?
Thank you for your time today, to dive deeper into the 6th Edition of How the Brain Learns with these fresh insights that educators can use to guide their students towards success. For anyone who wants to access this book, I will put the link to it through Corwin Press in the show notes along with the free resources they can access immediately.[iv]