Transmitter, from Todd's Brain, is a weekly wrap up of research in education, brain hacks, teaching strategies, interesting statistics, Technology, social science, psychology, human interest moments, and news that impacts Teaching and learning. Because contemporary teaching encompasses many fields, so does Transmitter.

Brain Hacks

Avoid Gender-Related Communication Conflicts: Deborah Tannen's Intimacy-Power Axis of Communication

"Language is the means of getting an idea from my brain into yours without surgery."

~Mark Amidon

According to linguist Deborah Tannen, conversations are filled with maneuvers that discussants use to maintain or change power and closeness.

In Figure 1, the vertical axis represents power levels during communication and horizontal axis represents intimacy. Using this model, any conversation can be mapped.

Because of their contrasting speech communities, a problem occurs when males and females communicate, according to Tannen.

Figure 1: Tannen's Power vs. Connection grid.

There are exceptions, but men tend to perceive communication as instances where they have more or less power than their partner. In contrast, Tannen notes that "For most women, the language of conversation is primarily a language of rapport: a way of establishing connections and negotiating relationships."

Deborah Tannen: When little boys get together, they brag about how awesome they are. When little girls get together, they tell secrets.​

Tannen says this might be because when little boys get together, they brag about how awesome they are. When little girls get together, they tell secrets. These differences result in miscommunication in adulthood. The linguist gives an example:

     Female colleague: "It's cold, you should put on a coat."

     Male colleague: "You're not my mother."

Tannen says that while the female colleague in this example might perceive her intent as expressing closeness, the man--using a power lens--perceives the female colleague as making an inappropriate power move.

Tannen's work helps us better understand what is intended when women and men speak, and how their intentions are misperceived.

(Source: You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation by Deborah Tannen)

Effects of Drinking on the Teen Brain

Even moderately drinking alcohol during the teen years can stunt brain growth permanently. "Teens who drink half as much alcohol as adults can still suffer the same negative effects [...] and cause damage to their ability to remember things in the future." Teen drinking is also linked to poor school performance, violence, and depression. 


Warning! Don't Listen To This Song While Driving

Neuroscientist at Mindlab International challenged themselves to come up with the most relaxing songs on earth, testing different musical arrangements on participants while measuring their brain waves, blood pressure, and breathing rate. Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson found one song to be far more relaxing than the rest-- "'Weightless,' which resulted in a striking 65 percent reduction in participants' overall anxiety, and a 35 percent reduction in their usual physiological resting rates." 

Try it and if you like the effect, here is a 10 hour version. Warning: don't listen to this while operating heavy machinery.

(Source: Inc.)

STUDY: Overlooked Technique To Learn Video Material

Researchers at Oregon State University found that video captions enhance focus, comprehension, accuracy, engagement, and retention for college students--even if they do not have hearing loss. In fact "71% of learners without hearing difficulties use captions at least some of the time." Video transcriptions also help learners review video material. 

(Source: Oregon State University)

Teaching Strategies


Add some variety to the popular think-pair-share activity by integrating writing. Here's how this works: 

Think - After a presentation or reading, have students reflect on the ideas.

Ink -  Learners expand their thinking with the following prompts: 

  • Think of a time when. . .
  • Give an example…
  • How does ____ connect to ____.
  • Summarize. . . 
  • How would you teach _____ to____?

Pair With a partner, learners expand their thinking by sharing their thinking and writing.

Share -  Learners expand their thinking with real-life examples, a diagram, or through completion of the following prompts: 

(Source: Syracuse City Schools)

To Get Students Ready to Discuss the Readings - Use Notecards

Jacqueline S. Hodes, EdD has her students at West Chester University write their reactions to one of the assigned readings on a 5" x 8" lined index card. "They bring the card to class, reference it during discussion, and then turn it in at the end of class" for participation points. Students at the end of the semester said the requirement motivated them to do the readings. They also reported that the "portability" of the notecards was convenient. 

(Source: Faculty Focus)

Teach Learners about Fake News Sites

Melissa Zimdars, a communications professor, has created a list of False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and Satirical "News" Sources. I'd also recommend Patheos' list of untrustworthy links. 

Zimdar offers other pro tips: 

  • Avoid websites that end in “lo.” These sites package accurate information with false or misleading “facts” (sometimes for the purposes of satire or comedy).
  • Watch out for websites that end in “” as they are often fake versions of real news sources.
  • If reputable sites aren't also reporting that Nazi Vampires live in The White House, then don't trust the story. 
  • View with suspicion those articles that do not include the name of the authors. 


The percentage of middle-schoolers who can't distinguish between an ad labeled "sponsored content" and real news on the Internet: 82%.

(Source: Wall Street Journal)

The percentage of teachers at low poverty schools who receive discretionary funds: 61%.

The percentage at high-poverty schools: 46%.

(Source: EdSurge)

​The amount of time that feelings of shame and disgust last on average: 30 minutes.

​The amount of time that (ruminating) sadness lasts on average: 5 days.

(Source: Verduyn & Lavrijsen, 2014)

The percentage of U.S. military helmets, ID tags, bullet-proof vests and canteens created by prison labor: 100%.

(Source: Global Research) 

The percentage of jobs in the U.S. that are at risk of automation: 47%.

(Source: U. of Oxford and CitiBank)

Tech Watch

Better PowerPoint

Want to make your PowerPoint more interactive? Office Mix allows you to post PowerPoint presentations in the cloud and integrate audio, video, and quizzes. As long as you have Office 2013 or higher, Office Mix is free. 

(Source: Hat tip to EduTechChicks)


Free on iOS and Android, the Breathe2Relax app teaches you "diaphragmatic breathing." I'm feeling more relaxed already.


STUDY: Retrieval Practice More Resilient To Stress Than Rereading

A November study by Tufts University shows that taking practice tests effectively prevents knowledge loss due to stress better than re-reading material. In fact, it "results in such strong memory representations that even under high levels of stress, subjects are still able to access their memories," says researcher Ayanna Thomas.

(Source: Science Daily)

STUDY: iPhone Users Less Honest than Android Phone Owners

iPhone users have lower levels of honesty and humility than Android users, according to a new study. 

(Source: Shaw Heather, Ellis David A., Kendrick Libby-Rae, Ziegler Fenja, and Wiseman Richard. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. November 2016, ahead of print. doi:10.1089/cyber.2016.0324.)

STUDY: Only One Thing Sobers Up Drunk People

Coffee, exercise, and cold showers don't help drunk individuals sober up. Only one thing works: time.  

(Source: Michigan State University. “Basic Alcohol Information.” East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University, 2003.)


"Happiness is seeing your students pretending to be the teacher."

- Simply Kinder

Brain Feed 

Cross Country Team Runs with Shelter Dogs

Here's a feel good story. The Notre Dame de Namur University men’s and women’s cross country teams have been going to the shelter every other Sunday in September and October to take dogs on a run. Says Head Coach Joey Nunes, “In one hour we can do an afternoon’s worth of work for the shelter and I wanted the team to see the power of numbers."

“The best feeling is when you start walking the dog out of the shelter and you can see how excited they are,” Junior Tristan Alvarado said. 

(Source: Notre Dame de Namur University)

College Students IQs and Test Scores Improving

Dr. Melanie Cooper, argues that the popular perception that college students are lazy, unprepared, disinterested in learning, is incorrect. IQ and test scores are actually on the rise. 

(Source: Reference: Cooper, M. L. (2012). Cherry picking: Why we must not let negativity dominance affect our interactions with students. Journal of Chemical Education, 89, 423–424.  / Hat Tip Faculty Focus)

How Hungry is the Brain?

Our 86 billion neurons need 500 calories a day to function, which is 25 percent of what our entire body requires.

(Source: NYT Review of Books)

New Secretary Of Education Nominee Is Long-Time Advocate Of Online Schools Despite Their Poor Performance

Betsy DeVos, the Secretary of Education nominee, is a long-time supporter of virtual public schools despite their "dismal" standardized test performance. DeVos's husband is a big investor in K12, a large network of online schools.

(Source: The 74

How to Order a Big Mac for Half the Price

  1. Order a custom McDouble.
  2. Request no mustard or ketchup.
  3. Add shredded lettuce and special sauce.

This DIY version will taste like a Big Mac (without the middle piece of bread, however) and save you $2.00. Extra-lunch for you!

(Source: Thrillist)

Weekly Marcus Aurelius

"Dost thou not see how many qualities thou art immediately able to exhibit, in which there is no excuse of natural incapacity and unfitness, and yet thou still remainest voluntarily below the mark?"

-Marcus Aurelius

Lightning Round


What's the worst part of ancient history teachers? They tend to babylon

(Source: Unknown)

Abby Jo Hamale wrote to her college TA when she was high on hydrocodone after wisdom teeth surgery: 

The link below, as well as some that appear previously in this post, are affiliate links.

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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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