9 years ago

I love the brain. If you stop to think about it, isn't it just the most amazing piece of engineering there is?

Every year our school participates in the Dana Foundation's Brain Awareness Week (generally around March). During this time we help our students understand a little more about the brain – with the idea that knowledge really is power – and when you gain some awareness of how your brain basically functions, you can take the first steps toward changing or modifying undesirable behaviors and increasing desirable behaviors.

Our students have brains that function a little differently – the social parts may not activate as readily or the neurons may not communicate as efficiently with each other to send the right messages in social situations. The prefrontal cortex, the newest part of our brain and that which is typically the slowest to develop in neurotypical people anyway, may be having more difficulty than what's typical, resulting in challenges related to inhibition, initiation, working memory, planning and organizing, self-monitoring, emotional regulation and shifting (skills we refer to as the executive functions). Without the development of this part of the brain, or the scaffolding of adults, our reptilian brains may be gaining more power over us than we'd like.

Now because I'm not particularly good at science, I've needed to devote much time and effort, the dummy's way, into understanding the way the neurons communicate or miscommunicate in the brains of my students that may be causing them to react in a way that is not typically how a child may react. Years ago I was introduced by my mentor to this website – Eric Chudler's Neuroscience for Kids. This website provides information in a way that's easy for me to understand and for me to translate to my students. Included are lesson plans, activity sheets, etc. The website has been up for many years now, and Dr. Chudler also sends out a frequent newsletter updating his readers of news related to the brain and events related to brain science.


I used this website for the first few years of teaching – it was spectacular. Since then, interest in the brain sciences has boomed, leading to a host of websites and resources related to the brain. However, I still haven't found one as comprehensive as this for teaching about the brain to students.

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