Teach the Way the Brain Learns: Curriculum Themes Build Neuron Networks

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Teach the Way the Brain Learns discusses organizing learning experiences under themes. Once the brain has stored basic concepts in the curriculum, the storing-by-association system of the brain attaches new information to those basic concepts, building new ones as students have learning experiences that involve them in integrated subject matter. Thematic teaching has been around for quite a while, stemming from John Dewey and 'learning by doing.' Teachers need to return to it in view of the effects of narrowed curricula resulting from nationwide emphasis on testing and on rating schools based on student achievement. This book provides ways for teachers to link subjects and areas of learning for various teaching situations and takes readers from simple correlation through using published thematic units now available and on to developing their own interdisciplinary themes or in team efforts with other colleagues.

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Editorial Reviews

George Craig
Laster has a depth of knowledge that allows her to see connections among science, math, social studies, and English, and then bring that alive in a meaningful way for students. She delivers "wow" moments to her students, holds them accountable for learning throughout the unit, provides meaningful and substantive feedback, and paves avenues for all learners to access the curriculum. Her book is a practical application of her life's work. It provides inspiration for anyone who reads it and delivers dramatic and immediate results in student learning. Teachers learn how to engage students in critical thinking and encourage them to look at topics from perspectives they never imagined. Student learning will have purpose and profound impact on the rest of students' lives, regardless of grade level. Madlon Laster's contributions to education are practical and unique.
Stephanie Owens
In contemporary approaches to education, content has been artificially carved into disciplines in a way that is contrary to human memory construction and actually hinders deep understanding of material. Without a thematic approach to education—the kind exemplified in Laster's work—where content is integrated to answer essential questions and students can follow interdisciplinary threads as needed, coherent narratives, which must be the basis for understanding our world, cannot be constructed.
Glenne W. White
Madlon Laster's teaching techniques are masterful. The various strategies Laster employs work through and across various subjects. As both a colleague and a parent, I have seen, first hand, the simple brilliance of her organization of material for retention of subject matter and for higher level applications of analysis and synthesis.
Roberta Szoka
It's about time someone gave us a how-to on thematic teaching. After years of research showing that theme-based teaching is the most effective method, especially for young children, teachers finally have an excellent resource. Teachers will be able to use this book again and again.
Beth Huddleston
Madlon Laster is a highly accomplished teacher of adolescents. At the very center of her expertise is the ability to evaluate the ways in which students learn most successfully. Her professional writings support teachers in ways to develop and apply this analytical skill. Laster's most recent publication offers a successful way to utilize such knowledge in the classroom through integrated units of study. Teachers will find this information valuable as a beneficial and efficient approach to classroom learning.
Joy Hayes
If taught using a uniting theme, students find more meaning in intergrated subject areas. The principles provided in this book give the student a handle to connect individual areas to.
John M. Markwood
I was thrilled to learn of Laster's upcoming book on thematic teaching. My career has centered on the education of behaviorally disordered adolescent boys. And integrated/thematic learning has proven to be the most effective approach to this group of disaffected youth. Instructional techniques that use natural interests and curiosity to present both skill development and intellectual exploration have been the most successful. Who better than Laster to present the approach. Her years of experience, her excitement about both learning and teaching, and her keen intellect all combine to promise a most useful resource.
March 2010 CHOICE
The strength of this volume is Laster's breadth of experiences and ideas in constructing, executing, and finessing integrated teaching and how to develop related curriculum. Recommended.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781607091363
  • Publisher: R&L Education
  • Publication date: 7/16/2009
  • Pages: 220
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Madlon T. Laster retired from a forty-two-year career as a teacher, mostly middle school grades. She taught overseas in Tehran, Iran and did teacher-raining in Beirut, Lebanon for five of those years.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Brain Is Wired to File by Association
You Don't Have to Go Whole Hog at the Beginning
Coordinate and Correlate: Schedule and Share
Integrating Interdisciplinary Approaches
Social Studies Can Rule the Day: Themes to Lesson Plans
Theme-based Learning Activities
Simulations: Do-It-Yourself and Ready-Made
Some Successful Examples from the Past
Developing Geography and Friends
Epilogue: Last Thoughts

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