[MUSIC, Title: "The Essence of How We Learn"] [Katina] I know it all really well, except for when I take the test. I freeze up when I take tests. I think I have test anxiety. [Beth] We've all had students like Katina, good kids who end up doing much worse than they should given the efforts they're putting in. Hi, I'm Beth Rogowsky, a professor of education and researcher at Bloomsburg University with over a decade of K12 middle-school teaching experience. Along with Terry Sejnowski and Barb Oakley, I'm teaching this online course to help you and your students or your children learn better. Over to you, Terry. [Terry] Hi, I'm Terry Sejnowski, Director of the Computational Neurobiology Laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. My lab has worked for decades trying to build an understanding of learning from the perspective of how brains do it. [Barb] Whoa! Let me jump in here. What Terry is too modest to tell you, is that he's one of the world's leading neuroscientists, and among other achievements, he's the head of one of the world's largest conference in artificial intelligence. As for Beth, along with her years of teaching experience for diverse urban and rural groups of students and teaching future teachers as a professor of pedagogy, she's done a three year neuroscience postdoc at Rutgers University Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience. She's one who knows her stuff teaching wise. And me, I'm Barbara Oakley. I've gone from a math hating linguist, trained at the Defense Language Institute, to become a professor of engineering at Oakland University in Michigan. Together, Terry and I created "Learning How to Learn," one of the world's most popular massive open online courses. But in this Uncommon Sense Teaching course, we're going to go in a very different direction, teaming up with Beth Rogowsky, to help bring you the best, most relevant and most practically useful ideas from neuroscience and cognitive psychology about how to teach effectively. [Beth] Wait, hold on a second. I just want to say one more thing about Terry. Terry is one of only 12 living human beings to be inducted into all three national academies. His papers have been cited over a 150,000 times. Plus, he's a super nice guy. But back to teaching and learning. Those of us who've taught for decades realize that students can give up on their studies— not because they don't have a "growth mindset," but because they honestly don't understand how to learn. That's where Barb, Terry and I come in. We'll give you tips and tricks related to the many ways your students' brains grapple with information. Neuroscience and cognitive psychology give us insights about how to structure our content and activities while balancing the tight rope of teaching live in front of our students. Although this course is geared for K12 teachers, you'll find that whether you're a parent or a caretaker, a coach, or a professor, we'll have simple and practical ideas to take your already good instruction, to a higher level. You'll gain insights about how to address the big differences between how students learn in today's wonderfully diverse, but oftentimes challenging classrooms. Best yet, everything we do in this course is geared toward helping you help your students learn better. You'll gain dozens of tips and tricks to help your students do better, not only in your class, but in all their classes. Teaching these students early on about how to learn effectively is one of the most powerful gifts you could possibly give. Now back to Katina and her poor test results. How can we help her? And students like her improve their ability to be successful learners in their seemingly weakest areas? [MUSIC, Title: "The Brain's Building Blocks"] [Terry] To understand what's going on, let's take a step back and look at the fundamental building block of our brain: the biological cell called a neuron. The main parts of a neuron are simple. Neurons have "legs," which are called "dendrites." The legs have lots of "toes" on them. Technically, these toes are called "dendritic spines," but don't be put off by the jargon, because all of these parts can be visualized. Neurons also have an "arm," called an "axon" that reaches out to other neurons with many little tiny "fingers" called "synaptic boutons." Each person's brain has about 100 billion neurons. This is an astronomical number, the same as the number of stars in our Milky Way. You truly have a celestial brain. There are about a million, billion synapses connecting these neurons, and you can fit a billion synapses into a single grain of rice. Whenever your students learn something new, they're making new connections between their neurons that store their long-term memories. That's where all of their ideas, their concepts, and the mental techniques that they've learned are all stored. Making links like this is called Hebbian learning. [Barb] Sometimes we abbreviate the neurons as dots, and the connections between them as lines. A shaded circle around a set of dots and links represents a newly learned concept or idea. Thicker lines between the dots mean that the connections between the neurons have grown stronger. When students are actively focusing on their learning, they are beginning the process of making connections between neurons. [Beth] But here's the challenge, even though they're studying, some students like our dear Katina, are not forming links in long-term memory. They're doing something very different. In the next video, we'll dive deeper to see what's going on. Then we can see more clearly how to fix things. [Barb] In the meantime, head on over to the discussion forum and introduce yourself. Where and who do you teach? Do you have some teaching tips to share? [Beth] I'm Beth Rogowsky. [Barb] I'm Barb Oakley. [Terry] I'm Terry Sejnowski. [All] Learn it, link it, let's do it! [Katina] Ok. It burns. It burns. It burns. Ok. [Beth] You need to be louder. [Katina slams table.] Nice. [Squeal.] [Katina] I freeze up when I take tests. [Smiles furtively.] [Beth] Good, but hold it at the end.