Two students in conversation

Category Archives: L&B Blog

Two students in conversation

Think, Pair, Share: Does It Help? If Yes, Why?

On some days, I find myself drawn to esoteric research studies. A few months ago, for example, I wrote about the effect of earworms on sleep. (Yes, scholars really do research earworms.) Today, I’ve found as straightforwardly practical a study

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Young girl looking intently into a museum display case

Cultural Field Trips: Do They Really Enhance SEL?

Here at Learning and the Brain, we like research-informed teaching suggestions. At the same time, we remember Prof. Dan Willingham’s timeless motto: “one study is just one study, folks.” That is: one study might show a particular conclusion – but

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4 students sitting at a table discussing something visible on a laptop

Should We Teach Math and English the Same Way?

Because we teachers are a busy lot, we sometimes want simplicity and clarity: “I’m honestly too busy to sort through all the options and variables; just tell me what to do.“ In fact, when I went to my first Learning and

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Young rowan tree seedling grow from old stump in a sunlit forest.

When Prior Knowledge Bites Back: The Dangers of Knowing Too Much

In this blog, we typically highlight the benefits of prior knowledge. For example: if a student knows a lot about baseball, she’ll be much more successful in understanding a reading passage about baseball. That same student could struggle mightily with

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portrait of father teaching daughter how to read by using simple words and letters on a flash card at home

Practical Advice for Students: How to Make Good Flashcards

Flashcards feel to me like a research sweet-spot. In the first place: for the most part, students believe that they help — and are even willing to make them! In the second place: flashcards should help. After all, flashcards promote

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A neuron made up of walls of binary code: 0s and 1s.

ChatGPT and Beyond: The Best Online Resources for Evaluating Research Claims

If we’re going to make “research-based” claims about education — and we are! — then we better have the research goods. So, how can we at Learning and the Brain — and you as teachers and administrators — find and

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Two baby goats, one brown and white, theo other black and white, frolicking in a field.

“Seductive Details” meet “Retrieval Practice”: A Match Made in Cognitive Heaven

Here’s a common problem: your job today is to teach a boring topic. (You don’t think it’s boring, but your students always complain…) What’s a teacher to do? One plausible strategy: You might enliven this topic in some entertaining way. You’ve

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Hispanic student wearing a blue shirt raising his hand to ask a question in class

Starting Class with “Prequestions”: Benefits, Problems, Solutions

We’ve known for many years now that retrieval practice works. That is: after we have introduced students to a topic, we might REVIEW it with them the next day. However, they’ll remember it better if we ask them to try to

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A graphic of two heads facing each other in conversation: one with a lightbulb inside, the other with a question mark.

The Trad/Prog Debate Gets Weird

Few debates rage hotter in education circles than that between educational progressives and educational traditionalists. (I’m emphasizing “educational” in these phrases, because they don’t necessarily align with political trad/prog divides. This blog doesn’t do politics.) One recent summary — relying

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Book Cover for The Hidden Lives of Learners by Graham Nuthall. The cover shows a mountain range in front of a blue and cloudy sky.

The Hidden Lives of Learners

Many times over the last several years, I’ve heard enthusiastic reviews of a seemingly-magical book called The Hidden Lives of Learners, by Graham Nuthall. Here’s the magic: Nuthall’s frankly astonishing research method. Working in New Zealand classrooms in the 1980s, he

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