Bond While Setting Goals
By: Alyssa Fraser
As our children embark on a new school year, many parents think about the hopes and aspirations we have for our children for the upcoming school year, as well as their distant ...more
Quality over Quantity
Engage Your Brain in Better Learning
By: Alyssa Fraser
Last month I had the opportunity to attend The Learning and the Brain Conference. The conference is host to many neuroscientists who are actively discovering new information about how the brain learns and performs optimally. The information gained from this conference is fascinating.
Our brains are constantly changing. Whether they change for better or worse, is in our hands. As we move through life, our brains gain and lose neurons, as well as strengthen and weaken neural connections, based on how we use them. To grossly simplify brain function, we will focus on the health of the frontal lobe of the brain and how it relates to learning. Brain research tells us that the brain and frontal lobe, in particular, undergo more changes during adolescence than any other time in life except for the first two months of life (Chapman, 2013). With this knowledge, we must ask, what can our children do now to ensure that their brains are optimally developing?
Of course brain development is partially based on genetics and physical maturity, but a large portion of frontal lobe development can be actively changed by an individual’s interaction with learning. Most simply put, for best learning results avoid distraction and information overload.
In the case of knowledge, research shows that more is not always better. In order to form deep understanding of a concept, to really “know” information our brains need to make connections and actively engage with the information. I often hear students say that they learn new information for a test and then forget the information after the test has been taken (or in some cases before). This is because they are trying to memorize the information, rather than learn it.
In her book Make Your Brain Smarter, Sandra Bond Chapman says, “Your brain builds deeper connections across ideas when you can take a step back and rest; letting your brain have downtime leads to greater insights.” Greater insight and building better connections are what lead to actual learning. When we pile on tons of knowledge, or pack our children’s days full with learning new concepts all day at school followed up with additional tutoring after school, we fill their brains with facts, but the information is not usually truly learned. That is, they have difficulty applying the knowledge and retrieving the information after a period of time has passed. They keep piling information in, but without taking a break and taking the time to connect the new learning to previous information, they do not build the neural networks to actually allow the information to “stick.” Chapman goes on to say, “Cognitive brain health depends not on how much information a person takes in but rather how deep the person is reinterpreting and creating new meaning from information.” Thus, quality over quantity. Chapman’s research finds that when the focus of learning is placed on “strategic, abstract thinking, it becomes easier to remember the details.”
As we help our children learn and study for exams, emphasis should be placed on the overall ideas rather than the details. Research indicates that recall of the details will be greater when there is first a better understanding of the overall concept. One way to help our children with this is to ask for the overarching theme or concept that they are learning. Then lead them in a discussion about what connections they can make with this learning and what they already know. Ask them what they think about what they are learning or how it could be applicable to daily life. These points of discussion may not directly appear on an exam, but by engaging in this type of thinking, they will be better able to reason and solidify their learning of the material. Question what details lead them to this line of reasoning. By actively engaging with the information in this way, they will have better recall of facts on exams as well.
As we know, information does not only come from school. In fact, I believe that the majority of information overload experienced by our students today comes from their interaction with technology. Next month, my newsletter will take a look at adolescent technology use and multi-tasking and the effects on brain health and learning.
Information about the counseling department
What does a School Counselor do?
• Helps create a safe school environment where children can learn.
• Promotes positive attitudes among students toward self, family, peers and community.
• Assists students in learning how school performance relates to future opportunities, options and choices.
• Supports students by teaching skills for achieving success.
• Provides counseling with students individually and in groups.
• Works with students to ensure optimal attendance and minimal tardiness.
• Coordinates referrals to outside agencies.
• Helps design interventions to enhance student success in all areas of life.
• Helps students learn about anger management, conflict resolution and mediation skills.
• Helps parents, teachers, and administrators learn how to meet the needs of all students.
A School Counselor is not a doctor or a psychologist. School Counselors meet with you, the student, to help you sort through problems that might be happening in your day-to-day life. Let's face it; we are all faced with problems in our lives! Sometimes there are problems that need even more attention than a school counselor can offer. School Counselors work with other people in the field of psychology to assist students and parents in working through some difficult personal or family concerns.
How do I see the Counselor?
Ask your teacher for a pass, ask the counselor to send you a pass, request by the counselor, principal or assistant principal request, parent request, teacher request and friend request. Please contact Mrs. Dee Charbonnet to schedule an appointment.
When can I see the Counselor?
Mrs. Fraser is on campus from 7:45-2:45 pm.
Where is the Counselor's office?
Our office is in the back of the Administration Building.
How and why do parents contact the school counselor?
Concerns over student achievement, family health problems, new school registration and orientation, test interpretation, discussing special needs of their student, discussion of potential crisis, family difficulties or concerns, scheduling, 504 plans, student success team meetings, and parent Education.
Am I in trouble if I see the School Counselor?
When you receive a slip with your Counselor's name on it, it does not mean you have been called in because you are in trouble or "bad". In fact, a counselor is an adult who acts as your advocate! An advocate is someone who wants to listen to what you have to say and help you come up with reasonable solutions to making your situation better. It does not mean that your counselor can solve the problem for you; it does mean that you have a safe place that you can go to when you are not sure what to do.