As a part of our social skills curriculum, teachers collaborate with students to create an individualized Learner Profile. This is a process which allows students to identify their strengths and challenges, learning styles and learning strategies. We have developed many lessons, activities and projects that allow for our students to get a better understanding of how they learn best. One of our most basic lessons was to simply teach our kids about their brain and how it works.
As an extension to our learning, Tessa Solomon-Lane, a Ph.D. student from Georgia State University Neuroscience Institute, came to visit our students and provide hands-on experience with the human brain. Our students blew me away not only with the facts that that they could recall, but in the ways that they could apply their knowledge in this setting. The ability to understand and follow instructions as well as learn, and apply skills and knowledge are all very important. It is important to recognize that those with learning differences may experience difficulty in one or more of these areas, often as a result of a “misunderstanding” in language and communication. Furthermore, without adequate support and assistance these difficulties can potentially lead to stress or withdrawal. At the Cloverleaf School, I see the support that is given by teachers and staff. We see it and our students feel it- Feel it in the confidence that they are building and feel it within their success in and out of the classroom.
During the visit, our students were able to successfully communicate with our visitor and make connections to what they had learned about their brain.We got the chance to see models of different kinds of animal brains. Tessa pointed out the different areas of the brain that each animal used most.
After looking and talking about the brains of animals, we played a game. This game allowed us to think about the brain of a fish, swim in a school, use our cerebellum to balance and use our occipital lobe to see. A funny quote from Bryson: ” I am using my cerebellum and even my brainstem right now!” So true, Bryson!
Students were able to see the brain of a sheep and touch the human brain! We had so much fun during this visit. Thank you, Georgia State University Neuroscience Institute and to Tessa, for bringing this learning experience to our school!