Learning & Brain: Keynote A – RAD Strategies

Greenleaf; housekeeping (bookstore closing 20 min after session, thanks to AOF)

YouTube Video: Men’s Brains / Women’s Brains (not based on brain science!)

Increase student engagement, Motivation, & Memory using RAD Strategies

Dr. Judy Willis, MD, Ed.M. Neurologist, Middle School teacher


Brief Bio: two kids, neurologist who
If it says, “proven by brain research!” stop – don’t buy. Nothing is proven in brain research.

ASCD.org: check it out, download three chapters from any of their books!
Articles by Dr. Judy Willis

The goal is to turn on the brain’s attention. Hearing, speaking, thinking about and seeing words… ALL light up different parts of the brain. We want to release the proper neurotransmiters, get info through the right filters.

RAD stands for… Reticular Activating System / Amygdala / Dopamine

All information enters the brain through the senses. All sensory input must pass through the RAS (reticular Activating System) filter to enter the higher brain. RAS directs attention. It determines where input goes: reactive or reflective brain. all information comes through the brainstem and the medulla. There about 4 billion of bits of information every second, – visual, olfactory, somatic, auditory, gustatory – seeking entry to the brain, but the RAS resolves that to about 2,00 bits/second. Still too much, but it’s a survival strategy. How to get what you teach past the Recticular Activating System?

Survival First- reactive, determine fight/flight/freeze. Once survival needs are met and stress is down, the RAS conducts information into the reflective brain. Then it will start seeking sources of pleasure.

Kids pay attention to lots, but not to what teachers and parents tell them, because they see other sources of pleasure and danger that parents and teachers don’t get. Avoid divided attention between notes and focus. Stop talking and let them take notes. Answer questions during note-taking stops. Initial note-taking should not be for detail, but for key ideas. After instruction, students need time to add detail to notes, as an aide to mentally manipulating new information.

Wake up the brain with novelty and change in positive. (Google: “Frame games”) A relaxed, alert RAS needs positive changes in the environment with novelty, music, posters, costumes, humor, and color. Make advertising posters for what’s coming in your class. Coming attractions like at the movie theater.

“By nature, man loves change.” Alert the RAS by consciously changing position in the room. Color: use different highlighters on the whiteboard to signal changes in pattern. Make kids use pencil and pen to improve the quality of their interactions with first drafts/sketch, pattern. Use different kinds and colors of paper for different activities.

Use visuals like money to talk about presidents and presidents day. Use money to teach math. (Don’t do math first thing in the morning if math is a high-level stress for them!)

Optical Illusions to stimulate multiple sides of brain. Ask compelling questions. Unfinished sentences leaving off last word or two when it’s obvious.

Ask questions that stimulate uncertainty, “why is it good to have forest fires?”

Personalize for the RAS.

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Amygdala – Is the emotional filter and conductor. If it’s relaxed, it sends information to the hippocampus and the cerebellum. IF it’s stressed, it blocks info and uses the stress-centers to respond: flight/flight/freeze.

Highest stresses: fear of being wrong

Strategies: practice, participation, personal, multisensory

Andrew Watt, CAIS Commission on Professional Development.

  • Thank you to everyone for coming, Diane and Rose hard work, all our presenters.
  • In your packet, the calendar of upcoming CAIS events
  • October 2, The Fire and the Rose
  • Introduce Dave Gray, Founder and President of XPLANE
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