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Practice worksheets are essential resources in the classroom and comprise one of the three components of the education cycle:

Instruction – A teacher’s responsibility to convey information to students
Practice – The combined responsibility of students and teachers to put knowledge from instruction into practice
Assessment – A student’s responsibility to demonstrate what they’ve learned; a teacher’s responsibility to glean the effectiveness of instruction and practice

Teaching is a choreographed dance that interleaves these three components, creating “knowledge” in their students.

While some students may groan as their teachers give them assignments, it’s important to understand the role of practice in the larger context of the education cycle. Whole class instruction, small groups or “learning centers,” hands-on activities, project-based learning– all these modes of instruction work when the knowledge or skills stick with the student. As Teachers, we all know that one of the most effective and efficient tools for encoding learning into the memory of your students is through the use of worksheets. Getting students to think about and apply a concept helps to move the concept along the path to long-term memory, aka “knowledge.”

Benefits for Teachers and Students

Teachers are the experts, passing knowledge on to students and ensuring that their classes have gained an adequate understanding of said knowledge. By employing strategies, such as “Brain-Friendly Teaching,” Teachers ensure their students’ long-term success.

Worksheets, writing prompts, exit tickets, and other forms of supplementation reinforce the lessons in the curriculum by assisting students as they make their mental maps and encode their new skills into their brains. And by their very nature, worksheets and other supplementals provide ongoing formative assessment data to gauge student progress on an individual basis.

Students don’t all learn the same way nor have they had the same life experiences before arriving in your classroom. Contextualizing the lesson and differentiating it in a variety of formats is one of the secrets to brain-friendly teaching. And now that good tools for making digital materials are available, it’s easier than ever to adapt curriculum resources and supplementals to fit the learning needs of your students.

It’s not enough for students to simply memorize formulas or bullet points in anticipation of an exam. To truly succeed in learning, students must be exposed to a variety of contexts and ways to exercise recently-acquired knowledge. The savvy Teacher will employ brain-friendly strategies to encode learning deep into the memory banks of their students.

Brain-Friendly Teaching Strategies

To learn more about brain-friendly strategies for embedding learning deep into your student’s memory, read about the work of Marilee Sprenger, aka “The Brain Lady.” For the past 15 years, Marilee Sprenger has been engaged in raising student achievement using brain-based teaching strategies, differentiation, and memory research. She uses seven steps to help students move new information from sensory to long-term memory:

  • Reach: Grab students’ attention by introducing the topic in a way that’s meaningful to them.
  • Reflect: Allow students to make connections between new information and prior learning through such activities as writing or responding to a question.
  • Recode: Have students put ideas they have encountered in their own words.
  • Reinforce: Provide positive reinforcement to students when recoding is accurate, or give informational feedback to help rid them of misconceptions.
  • Rehearse: Engage students in related activities that demand higher levels of thinking and incorporate multiple memory systems.
  • Review: Offer brain-compatible review activities such as practice tests, games, drawing, writing.
  • Retrieve: Ask students to retrieve newly-formed memories and apply them in different ways.

Read more about Marilee Sprenger’s approach here.

Remember that the TeacherMade app can be a powerful resource in your tool kit when employing brain-friendly teaching techniques. The app supports so many different activity types and, most importantly, students prefer it over Google Slides, Docs, Forms, or paper handouts.

 

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