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Educators hold in their hands the power to literally shape students' brains. New insights into how the brain functions are now allowing educators to more fully understand the mechanisms that stimulate and grow the brain and drive learning. This new understanding not only provides explanations as to why those tried and true strategies seem to work so well, but it also allows educators to capitalize on new approaches and strategies that will maximize student learning by accessing the brain's innate learning pathways. In this course, participants will take an in-depth look at 3 areas of brain-based teaching, specially selected for their positive outcomes and ease of assimilation into any classroom.

Poverty in Our Backyard is a 1 credit hour, self-paced course that examines the cumulative effects of poverty related stress 
on students and what educators can do about it.  As poverty continues to increase in our communities and more and more students in our classrooms come from low SES homes, it is important for educators to understand the effects poverty can have 
on their students and their students’ school success. Participants will first learn about stress-based factors that cause very real physiological changes in both the brains and bodies of low SES students causing them to lag behind same-age peers.  Next, participants will examine strategies, activities, and programs that provide the behavioral and cognitive supports low SES students need for success, as well as models for providing family support. Finally participants will have a chance to develop a plan for their classroom or school that implements and/or integrates changes that will positively support low SES students and families.

Grades are tools that should reflect student achievement and support student learning. In this 2 credit hour, self-paced course, participants will learn how to implement a consistent, accurate and meaningful grading system that reflects district standards and supports student learning by avoiding common pitfalls that distort outcomes.  Grading for the Benefit of the Student builds on the 15 “fixes” recommended by Ken O’Connor in his text A Repair Kit for Grading and addresses common grading errors that distort achievement, reflect low-quality/organization rather than aptitude, make incorrect calculations and reflect behavior, attendance and other extant factors.  Participants will investigate what to do with extra credit, poor attendance, late work, incomplete work, academic dishonesty, and more, in order to maintain an effective grading system that benefits students and more clearly represents academic achievement.

How do we make homework relevant and effective for all students? How do we get more students to complete homework? Should we even be assigning homework? This 2 credit hour, self-paced course will investigate these questions about homework and more. Making Homework a Win/Win! begins by investigating the theories, purposes and myths about homework, how they compare to the research and how they apply to a new culture of diverse families, students and lifestyles. Then participants will learn how to make homework an effective tool, how to differentiate assignments and how to apply alternative grading methods. Finally, participants will examine ways to increase homework completion and effectiveness by implementing student and family supports.

Educators not only teach, they mold and develop young minds. This isn’t simply a metaphor.  Research shows that brains are malleable and can be physiologically altered by a number of external factors. Educators play a much bigger role in the literal molding and development of their students’ brains than was once believed. Based on the work of veteran educator and brain expert Eric Jensen, this 2 credit hour, self-paced course delves into practical strategies to improve student comprehension and achievement by building on the latest brain-based learning research. By learning how the brain responds to such factors as movement, emotions, feedback, social interactions, and classroom environments, educators will be able to intentionally tap into the brain’s natural reward system, improve memory retention and recall, initiate motivation, and develop critical thinking skills. Jensen’s approach bridges the gap from scientific research to real life classroom applications, emphasizing what educators can do to develop new brain-based lessons and curriculum and improve student learning.

Required Text: Teaching with the Brain in Mind, 2nd ed. by Eric Jensen

This is an on-line, self-paced course based on Helping Traumatized Children Learn – A Report and Policy Agenda from the Massachusetts Advocates for Children: Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative.

Helping Traumatized Children Learn is the result of an extraordinary collaboration among educators, parents, mental health professionals, community groups, and attorneys determined to help children experiencing the traumatic effects of exposure to family violence succeed in school.

This is an on-line, self-paced course based on Helping Students Overcome Depression and Anxiety, 2nd Ed. (2008) by Kenneth W. Merrell. The course focuses on how educators, counselors, social workers, psychologists and other behavioral/emotional support personnel in the schools can help children with anxiety and depression. Participants will learn about internalizing behavioral disorders in children and adolescents, and what techniques are best for dealing with them.

 

Make your classroom a classroom of character. Learn strategies that integrate good character into all aspects of the students’ day, support the 21st Century Skills and improve students’ educational, behavioral and life-long learning success.


 

Research shows the cumulative effects of poverty can create very real and devastating changes to the human body and mind that in turn become barriers to academic success. Based on the book Teaching with Poverty in Mind by educator and brain expert Eric Jensen, Through Poverty’s Lens investigates what poverty is; its connection to the social/emotional development, stress levels, cognitive lag, and health/safety challenges seen in low SES students; how those challenges affect academic success, and; what communities, schools, and teachers can do to improve those students’ academic success and achievement.