I came across a very interesting article on brain research and presenting material to students. The article, by Curtis Chandler, suggests 3 brain based strategies to help increase student learning. I liked that each strategy was clearly presented and suggestions made to implement the strategy.
The first strategy or principal has to do with timing. The author states that timing is everything. Apparently we learn best either at the beginning or the end but not well in between. He also claims that it is best to present the correct information at first rather than having students brainstorm ideas so they remember it properly.
The second strategy or principal is to make it relevant. We have to be able to verbalize both the what the concept is and why its important. In other words, students have to have a reason to learn it. We need to provide real life connections so they know why they are learning it. Math cannot be taught in a vacuum.
The third strategy simply deals with when to teach topics. If they are interrelated, can the topics be taught at separate times. If not, can they be taught in such a way as to help students learn to differentiate between the topics. Otherwise, they can confuse the topics and have trouble doing both topics.
I have two books I've been trying to read but haven't finished them on teaching math and the brain. The first is How the Brain Learns Mathematics by David A. Sousa and the other is Learning to Love Math: Teaching Strategies That Change Student Attitudes and Get Results by Judy Willis. Honestly, I keep misplacing the books and my time tends to be more limited than I like. So I've decided or rather made a resolution to work on reading a few pages a day and synthesizing one or two main ideas until I finish both books. Yeah!
By the way, both books have some wonderful ideas and materials. Check them out.