Transmitter #49

Brain Hacks

Invoke the Family - A Persuasion Tactic

​Effective teaching is due in part to effective persuasion. Here's one powerful technique: activate a person's sense of family unity. When Robert Cialdini informed parents that their kids would receive 1 extra credit point on a quiz for filling out a questionnaire, guardian participation went from less than 20% to over 97%. Furthermore, telling someone that you're giving them the same advice as you would a family member is also powerfully rhetorically. "Look, here's what I'd tell my own son."

(Source: Neuroscience Marketing)

How Many Hugs Do You Need?

Touch releases oxytocin and reduces pain. Recommended dose: 5 hugs a day.

(Source: Eric Barker, summarizing Alex Korb’s The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time.)

How To Calm An Enraged Student

Articulating feelings with words activates the prefrontal cortex and reduces emotional flooding in the amygdala. Dr. Daniel Siegel, Director of the Mindsight Institute, asserts that you can calm down raging children by getting them to say how they are feeling aloud. It is very difficult for someone to feel acute emotions for over 90 seconds after using their words.

(Source: Dr. Daniel Siegel)

Teaching Strategies

Concept Attainment Lesson

Jennifer Gonzalez, in the six minute video above, describes a well-supported strategy for helping students construct their own knowledge.

(Source: Cult of Pedagogy)

STUDY: ELLs and The Writing Workshop

How does the writing workshop impact English Language Learners? Leer & Runck's (2016) study of 3 self-contained ESL classrooms revealed that ELLs needed more structure and support than is typically discussed in Nancie Atwell's writing workshop model. Teachers who Atwell's model recommended the following extra scaffolding for ELLs:   

1. Minimize choices to reduce confusion - Teachers can "choose the genre but allow students to select a topic within the assigned genre."

2. Simplify procedures - For example, try "scaling back from four to two sections in students' writing notebooks."

3. Provide explicit help for revising - Give learners prompts to guide them through the revision process, such as, "Does your lead immediately grab the reader's attention?"

ELL teachers that were interviewed reported that the writing workshop definitely benefits their students, as it differentiates the content and promotes teaching in context. 

(Source: Leer, E. B., & Runck, B. C. (2016). Using writing workshop with english language learners. English Journal, 105(3), 107.)


The percentage of 424 sixth-grade students in Southeast Texas who committed cyber abuse against a peer they were dating: 15%.

(Source: University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston)

The number of galaxies we were able to observe in our universe before this year: 100 billion. 

The number discovered last month after using 3D imaging and new mathematical models: 2 trillion.

(Source: Space Telescope Science Institute)

The percentage of women who suffer from migraines: 20%.

(Source: Anna Altman

How many Americans report that they would not be comfortable with a Mosque being built in their neighborhood: Half.

Out of an array of 60 popular fears, the rank of "government corruption": #1. 

The percentage of people who believe that government is hiding information about extra-terrestrials: 40%.

(Source: Science Daily)

Tech Watch

Kill Your Social Media Account

Account Killer shows you how to remove your account and public profile from 25 social media services: Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, Pinterest, Hotmail, WhatsApp, etc. 

Free Ambient Sounds

Noisli is a beautiful website that lets you listen to a selection of nature sounds: rain, forests, streams, leaves, and wind. The background slowly changes color to cue slower breathing. 

Gloves that Talk Aloud for People Who Use Sign Language

Ukrainian students developed a glove with sensors that translates sign language to text, then to speech, so people who can't understand sign language can communicate. Cost: $76.

An Online Tool That Recommends Edits

Made by the same genius who brought you wordWar and Write or Die, EditMinion is an online writing interface that edits for weak verbs, cliche's, etc. Paste in your text then click the "edit" button at the bottom of the document. 


STUDY: Procrastination

In a study conducted in 2002 by Dan Ariely and Klaus Wertenbroch, students of three different classes were given the task of completing 3 essays in 3 weeks. 

-Class A submitted all 3 essays on the final day.

-Class B was allowed to submit 3 different deadlines for each essay.

-Class C was required to hand in one essay each week.

Class C was the most successful at turning in assignments, followed by "B" and "A." 

The experiment suggests that creating pressure for students to make use of their entire week had the most value. 

(Source: Laura Tucker's "How to Stop Procrastination")

"When they crunched the numbers, they discovered a surprising trend: happiness and unhappiness did not predict suicide. The variable that did, they found, was meaning -- or, more precisely, the lack of it."

- Emily Esfahani Smith, The Power of Meaning, Crafting a Life that Matters.

STUDY: Socializing Benefits Cognition

In a comparison of different types of short term social interactions, competitive interactions offered no cognitive boosts. However, interpersonal conversations where people listened and considered others' perspectives enhanced executive functioning. These results align with social-emotional learning research. 

(Source: Ybarra, et. al., 2016)

STUDY: Level Up Your Love With Appreciation

Researchers examined 40 participants who brought 30 photos of loved ones. They were "instructed to try to regulate their love feelings by using the technique of 'reappraisal' — viewing a slideshow of the images and focusing each time on a positive aspect of their beloved."​

Brainwave measurements showed that the feelings of affection improved. Conversely, disaffection intensified when participants focused on negative attributes of those in the photos. The study indicates how framing a subject can be used to modify emotions.

(Source: James Watkins, "Fall in Love--Or Out of Love."  

Brain Feed

Ultra-Condensed Book Reports

Want a to scan a quick summary of a classic text? Book-A-Minute Classics is your site. Here is their version of The Scarlet Letter:  

Evil Puritanical Society

Because you have committed adultery, you must wear an 'A'. Harlot! Harlot!

Hester Prynne...

(The Evil Puritanical Society SNUBS Hester Prynne.)

Hester Prynne...

(They call her NAMES.)

Hester Prynne...

(They won't let her play any Evil Puritanical Society GAMES.)

Reverend Dimmesdale 

I can't take it anymore! I did it!


Binaural Beats Brain Massage

Boost serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins with binaural beats and isochronic tones (pulses of sound) with Brainwave Power Music--free on Youtube. I've been listening for a few days now, and it does seem to amp me up a bit for writing tasks. Trippy.

Lightning Round


"The old adage, 'It takes a village to raise a child' is a great concept, but unfortunately, today, the village idiot has too loud a voice in the process. Let us listen to the whole village not just the loudest villagers." - Bruce Miles


Teachers should use instructional approaches that fit 21st century learners.

The link below, as well as some that appear previously in this post, are affiliate links. Thank you for your support. 

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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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