Presentations and Workshops
I am available to provide presentations and workshops for individual schools, school districts, administrator, teacher, and specialization organizations. Times can range from short keynotes to 1-3 day workshops.
My specialization is the offering practical application of interventions and strategies correlated to the firmly supported and current neuroscience research. The brain processes in relation to each specific topic develop participant understanding of the neuroscience well enough to extend the application of their current strategies and to explain brain processing to others. Understanding how one’s successful strategies correspond to the brain’s most effective and responsive processing increases their applicability. The result is working smarter, not harder!
The majority of the time is dedicated to practical applications derived from the research that are school and classroom ready without further preparation time. The workshops are participatory, model the strategies, and provide participants opportunities to apply the information to specific units of instruction, school, or administrative goals. These are practical – no prep interventions that are literally classroom ready and result in positive change immediately.
There is no need to “learn” an overall system. Each topic can be self-contained to bring neuroscience research into classroom success ranging from how the brain best attends to, remembers, conceptualizes, and develops the executive functions to use knowledge most successfully for decision making, transfer, and innovation.
The topics below can be adapted to range from 60-90 minute stand-alone keynote or breakout presentations. The time is adapted by variations in the amount of neuroscience background, time allotted for partner or small group discussion/application, and number of sample strategies described.
Various combinations of topics comprise 1-3 day highly interactive workshops that can be customized to address the particular needs and interests of specific audiences. Parent and community presentations are also available for most of these topics.
Contact: Judy Willis, M.D., M.Ed. at email@example.com
Link to Presentations Page for my scheduled workshops
Topics as Stand Alone or Incorporated into Workshops
Sustaining Students’ Attentive Focus and Memory Construction in the Digital Age
Multimedia access has changed the way students attend to their environment. The digital age presents a new set of challenges, but neuroscience has revealed the stimuli and circumstances that grab and sustain the brain’s attention. Expanding on strategies you already use and adding ones that are neuro-logical for the brain’s processing, you’ll work smarter not harder, as you hook and hold students attention and motivated participation.
Experience the power of the “alien” that controls what information gets into your brain, and the brains of learners, that are not under voluntary control. You will literally experience your own attention filter and the limits of your control over which sensory input is selected to pass into your higher brain. Then you’ll learn what it takes to make the “cut” and how to use strategies to be sure learners’ brains want to know what you have to teach.
Understanding the Brain’s Responses to Emotion and the Strategies
That Promote the Motivation and Growth Mindset
When stress is high the brain’s emotional filter (the amygdala deep in the limbic system) becomes hyperactive. The brain has an “emotional switching station” that determines whether information flows up to the highest thinking prefrontal cortex to become memory or down to the lower “reactive” brain, where memory is not constructed.
In addition, if high stress blocks flow through this filter, the higher, reflective brain is cut off from sending behavior and emotional regulating directions to the lower brain. When this occurs, due to stress, such as frustration (sustained confusion, previous failures) or boredom (inadequate challenge or no perceived relevance) behavioral output is limited to the involuntary reactions controlled by the lower brain.
Neuroimaging research reveals factors that increase or decrease the flow through this switching station. Strategies will be described to increase students’ ability to remain in control of their stress level and for teachers apply to planning and instruction to prevent the boredom and frustration that put the brain in the stress state.
Motivating Active Learning and Perseverance through Challenge by Harnessing the Power of the Video Game Model
Most of the brain (over 80%) in humans carries the same response systems as other mammals when in a state of stress, perceived threat, sustained confusion, or unmet needs. In the state of high or sustained stress, the human brain, like that of other mammals, is designed to process input and output quickly and automatically in this lower brain.
When processing is routed to the lower, involuntary brain in animals, the result is fight, flight, or freeze behaviors. When students are in the stress state, from boredom, frustration, or failure to find relevance in information being taught, equivalent reactive behaviors are “act out” or “zone out”.
Neuro-logical planning and interventions can insure that students’ brains propel learning through the brain’s emotional filters to reach the highest 20% of the brain, the prefrontal cortex. Here information processing promotes reflective behavior outputs and new input can be constructed into long-term memory.
Strategies derived from the video game model and the related dopamine-reward system are described and linked with ways to plan and teach that assure information flow through the emotional filter to and from the prefrontal cortex. The application of the video game model to teaching results in the same high levels of motivation and perseverance, as does video game playing by game enthusiasts, but without the video game!
Memories that Stick
Neuroimaging reveals much about how the brain constructs memory. The encoding of short-term memory requires actual physical links between new information and prior knowledge memory circuits.
Patterning is key to successful construction of short-term memory. Helping students activate existing patterns of prior knowledge enables their brains to link the new with the old (encoding). Strategies for building patterning skills and for activating prior knowledge are described and experienced as participants build their toolkits to promote students’ successful memory construction.
Maximizing Long-term, Conceptual Memory
Constructing and preserving new memory requires a series of neural processing activities once new information is linked with prior knowledge. The development of durable and fast retrieval neural networks of long-term memory takes place through the processes of neuroplasticity.
The neuron to neuron connections built by the neuroplasticity process activate when new learning is practiced and used. This mental manipulation transforms short-term memory into long-term memory.
Topics include educational implications of neuroplasticity and patterning along with neuro-logical strategies for the most effective mental manipulation for construction of neural networks of long-term conceptual memory. Additionally, there are interventions to preserve these memories for efficient retrieval for transfer to new applications, to solve new problems, and guide creative innovation.
Participation and Mistakes are Keys to Learning and Intelligence
The brain changes and knowledge is constructed through making predictions followed by feedback about the accuracy of those predictions. But, making incorrect predictions (responses to questions) in front of peers is one of the greatest fears of students.
Classroom strategies can be applied to lower student resistance to active participation and even risk making mistakes. Through increased participation the brain is more successful in the construction of accurate, strong, efficiently retrieved memories, because, only the person who thinks, learns.
The Executive Functions: The Essence of the Common Core Standards and UsingBrain Research to Help Students Develop Their Highest Cognitive Potentials for 21st Century Success
The last part of the human brain to “mature” is the prefrontal cortex, the control center of executive functions such as judgment, critical analysis, prioritizing, deduction, induction, imagination, communication, reflective (versus reactive) emotional control, and goal development, planning, and perseverance. These executive functions are needed now and will be even more critical for the best job opportunities and creative problem solving in the 21st century as globalization and technology continue to change the skillsets needed by the students who will lead us in the coming decades.
The fastest rate of change and development of the brain’s executive function networks takes place during the school years. Participants discover or rediscover classroom ready strategies correlated with the current neuroscience research to promote the development of the executive function networks.
Participants can expect to leave with classroom ready strategies correlated with the current neuroscience research to promote the development of the executive functions and goal-directed behaviors during the school years while this highest cognitive control system undergoes its most profound changes. These strategies will provide opportunities to cultivate the innovative and creative minds that will allow all learners reach their highest potentials now and prepare them for the 21st century they will inherit.
Contact: Judy Willis, M.D., M.Ed. at firstname.lastname@example.org