Brainy Teacher’s Weekly Transmitter #45 – Sept 26th 2016

Brain Hacks

What is Your Sleep Chronotype? Take the 45-Second Quiz

A chronotype--also known as circadian rhythm or biological clock--is determined by the PER3 gene, according to Dr. Michael Bruer, author of The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype--and the Best Time to Eat Lunch, Ask for a Raise, Have Sex, Write a Novel, Take Your Meds, and More. A person's chronotype determines when they can most successfully rest or perform activities.

According to Bruer, we all fall into one of four main chronotypes, which he categorizes as types of animals:

LION — "Real lions are morning hunters at the top of the food chain. This name fits morning-oriented driven optimists with a medium sleep drive." - 10% of the population.

BEAR — "Real bears are go-with-the-flow ramblers, good sleepers, and anytime hunters. This name fits fun-loving, outgoing people who prefer a solar-based schedule and have a high sleep drive." 15-20% of the population.

WOLF — "Real wolves are nocturnal hunters. This name fits night-oriented creative extroverts with a medium sleep drive." 15-20% of the population.

Dolphins — These are cautious, neurotic, "demonstrate exceptional emotional attention" (listening and being present), are highly intelligent with obsessive-compulsive tendencies, and don't sleep well. They are most alert late at night. -10% of the population. 

When I took the short quiz on Bruer's web site, the results suggested that I'm a "dolphin"--which seems to characterize my sleep habits correctly. ​What animal are you?

Is Social Proof Undermining Your Classroom Management?

If you ask students to behave better than that crazy group from first period, you may actually be cueing misbehavior, based on the principle of social proof--the tendency of people to think and behave like those around them. According to Dr. Robert Cialdini, author of Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade (2016) our behavior is influenced by other people, even when we aren't aware this process is occurring. In addition, social proof is enhanced by testimonials, social share numbers, and reviews, according Convince and Convert, a marketing blog. 

​In one of his experiments, described in "Six Methods of Influence," Cialdini ran an experiment in Arizona hotels to try and encourage guests to reuse towels. His team tested four different signs:

  • ​#1 encouraged visitors to reuse their towels to protect the environment. Result: 38% reused their towels.
  • #2 said that the hotel would donate laundry savings to an environmental cause. Result: 36% reused their towels.
  • #3 explained that the hotel had already given a donation and asked: “Will you please join us?” Result: 46% reused their towels.
  • #4 said that the majority of guests who stayed in that specific room reused their towels at least once during their stay. Result: 48% reused their towels. 

​Does social proof apply to classroom management? There's no reasons to suspect that it doesn't.

The next time that you're about to warn a class not to act like everybody else, think about what you're really cueing students to do. "As educators, we are better served to point out and discuss the positive behaviors of the majority of our students. . ." writes Bryan Harris, director of PD for the Casa Grande Elementary School District in Arizona. Use class meetings and open forums to stress the fact that the majority of students are following the rules and conducting themselves appropriately. Save the speeches, reprimands, and lectures for private conversations with those few students who are not exhibiting the expected behavior." 

Teaching Strategies

Sarah Tantillo's 2-Step Paraphrasing Strategy

Paraphrasing is critical to deeper comprehension, writes Sarah Tantillo in a recent blog post. But she warns that paraphrasing--unlike summarizing--involves using your own vocabulary. Here is the paraphrasing strategy that she also discusses in The Literacy Cookbook

  1. Circle the words/phrases you can't or don't want to change that are important to the meaning of the passage. "Wrap the words you want to keep in protective bubble wrap."
  2. Underline words/phrases you can change.

Example: ​

  • "People [in Chicago] work [in] many places."
  • Final: "Citizens in Chicago are employed in numerous locations."

(Source: Middleweb)

Ideas for Combined-Level Classrooms

AP Central reports on several suggestions for working with a multi-level AP language classroom:

  1. Have one group facing forward and the other facing the side so that "each group has its own presentation board (or wall), and the teacher can monitor the activities of both groups."
  2. Assign a quiet activity for group 1 while group 2 does a speaking activity.
  3. Or have students study the same lesson with slightly different content. This allows all the students to participate in the activities together. 

(Source: Abrams, Sprester, & Thakur, AP Central)

Thinking Moves

Harvard's Project Zero's Ron Ritchhart studied 400 students from 4th-11th grade to track their metacognition growth when using one several strategies. "We are trying to demystify the process of thinking by making it visible," he says. These thinking categories help develop learners' understanding:

​1. Naming: being able to identify the parts and pieces of a thing

2. Inquiry: questioning should drive the process throughout

3. Looking at different perspectives and viewpoints

4. Reasoning with evidence

5. Making connections to prior knowledge across subject areas, even into personal lives

6. Uncovering complexity

7. Capturing the heart and making firm conclusions

8. Building explanations, interpretations and theories.

​(Source: Katrina Schwartz, Mindshift)


The number of modern brick schools you can build for the price of 1 new heavy bomber: 30.

(Source: Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work)

The percentage of the world's 7,000 languages that are predicted to be extinct by the end of this century: 90%.


The number of 5th graders who are already performing at the high school reading level: 1 out of 10.

(Source: John Hopkins School of Education)

The percentage of people with tattoos who regret getting one: 17%.

(Source: Kathryn Schulz)

Cumulative vocabulary of 4-year-olds in homes receiving welfare: 500 Words.

Cumulative vocabulary of age 4 children from working class families: 700 Words.

Cumulative vocabulary of age 4 children from professional families: 1100 Words. (Source: Reading First, 2008)

Tech Watch

Name Randomizer

Get Coffee might be the coolest app ever for the simplest function. Choosing one random name from a list. Use it instead of popsicle sticks if you cold call students. 

Chatbot Election Info & Analysis in Real Time

Purple, a chatbot, is letting me keep track of the election. Yesterday, I had this interaction:

Todd: "Who is doing better in North Carolina?"

Purple: "​The RealClearPolitics average currently has Trump ahead 44.5 to Clinton's 43.3 in two-way matchups." 

Remediation Tech Tools: Educreations, ShowMe, PayPosit & EdPuzzle

North Carolina Teacher of the Year, Stephanie Shaw, identifies his favorite remediation tools: “I make my own videos through Educreations and ShowMe. I also like PlayPosit and EdPuzzle because you can embed quizzes in the video, and the data is sent to you while the student watches the video.” (Source: EdTech)


STUDY: Do Freshman Really Gain 15 Pounds?

The Freshman 15 is a myth, according to an Ohio State study. The "average student gains between about 2.5 and 3.5 pounds during the first year of college."

(Source: Ohio State)

STUDY: Bonus of Being Tight-A**ed Introvert

Furnham and Chamoro-Premuzic (2004) found that "conscientious introverts who are not very open minded" tend to have higher academic scores."

(Source: PsychTronics)

STUDY: Neuroscience Study Weighs in on Phonics-Based Reading Instruction

Our brain does not sound out words, each time we read, according to a 2011 National Science Foundation funded study at Georgetown University Medical Center. The reason, says Neuroscientist and researcher Laurie Glezer is that "once we’ve learned a word, it is placed in a purely visual dictionary in the brain. Having a purely visual representation allows for the fast and efficient word recognition we see in skilled readers."

 After only seeing a word for the first time, young learners can recognize the word without sounding it out. "We no longer need the phonology at first, just the visual input to identify the word.” This is not the greatest news for phonics-based approaches to reading instruction.  

(Source: Georgetown University)

Weekly Matsuo Bacho

Awake at Night (Translated by Robert Hass)

Awake at night--

the sound of the water jar

cracking the cold.

Brain Feed

Lightning Round!


Classroom Interactions Shared on Reddit

Teacher: "Write x + 10."

Student:  "How do you spell 'x'?" 

​"My wife is a teacher. One day she had a student who got community service for some petty crimes in our city. He told her, "I got 48 hours of community service, but I think I'm going to buckle down and try to get it all done in a day."

​"During the Civil War unit, [I was] asked by an 8th grader: 'Does it hurt to be shot by a cannon?' My response: 'Not for long.'"

(Source: Reddit)

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Todd Finley

Edutopia Blogger and Asst. Editor || ECU Ed Professor || Founder of Todd's Brain at || Books: Dinkytown Braves and Rethinking Classroom Design.

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