posted June 20, 2006

Brain and Learning Institute Runs June 26-30

For the sixth year Hope College welcomes educators from Ottawa, Allegan, Muskegon and Kent counties, from other districts in Michigan, and from as far away as Tennessee to hear nationally-recognized speakers discuss the latest neuroscience research which has implications for teaching and learning.

The Midwest Brain and Learning Institute will convene at the Haworth Inn and Conference Center Monday-Friday, June 26-30.

The institute, which is co-sponsored by Hope and the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District, will engage 130 participants who work with students of all age levels, including pre-school teachers, K-12 educators and college professors. Topics this year include: Monday, developing resilience in children and youth; Tuesday, examining the development of healthy brains through the use of brain scans; Wednesday, considering interventions that address long-standing achievement gaps; and, Thursday, exploring the implications of neuroscience research for classroom practice. Each day there will be a leadership team that emphasizes the importance of movement and the use of the arts in effective cognitive development at all ages--including adults.

The program's format itself has been designed in light of the research and emphasizes the guiding principle that learners must be actively involved.

The institute's settings have been varied to include whole-group presentations, question-and-answer panels, small-group learning clubs and opportunities for informal discussion.

Dr. Robert Brooks, who is an author and a member of the Harvard Medical Center faculty, will make a presentation on Monday in keeping with the day's focus on system change in education. During the past 25 years, he has presented nationally and internationally to thousands of parents, educators, mental health professionals and business people on the themes of resilience, self-esteem, motivation and family relationships. He is the author of several books on the topics, including 2004's "The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence, and Personal Strength in Your Life."

Dr. Daniel Amen, who is the medical director and CEO of Amen Clinics Inc., will focus on the neuroscience foundations of learning on Tuesday. He is a board-certified child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist and clinical research neuroscientist, and the best-selling author of "Change Your Brain, Change Your Life." An international speaker, he works with companies, organizations and individuals on the importance of brain health and the impact the brain has on every aspect of life.

On Wednesday, Dr. Ronald Ferguson, who is an economist on the faculty of Harvard University, will make a presentation on creating optimal learners. He heads Harvard's Achievement Gap Initiative, an interdisciplinary effort to mobilize researchers to help understand and narrow the achievement gap. His work for the past decade has included research and writing not only on achievement gaps but on school-based interventions as well.

Gayle Gregory, who is an educator, author and consultant, on Thursday will focus on the implications of brain research for classroom practice. She has authored or co-authored six books on instructional strategies, including most recently "Designing Brain Compatible Learning" (2006). She has had experience as an elementary, middle and secondary school teacher, and is also a former course director at York University. She consults internationally on topics ranging from differentiated instruction and brain-compatible learning, to block scheduling and presentation skills.

Friday morning, 50 participants will work with educators from Traverse City Area Public Schools who have been involved with Harvard's Project Zero program "Artful Thinking." This program creates rich connections between works of art and curricular topics to encourage "thinking routines."