posted May 13, 2007

Brain and Learning Institute Runs June 25-29

 A popular conference hosted by Hope College for educators once again reached its registration cap months before its late-June run.

The seventh annual "Midwest Brain and Learning Institute" will convene at the Haworth Inn and Conference Center at Hope on Monday-Friday, June 25-29. Co-sponsored by Hope and the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District, the institute had reached its 125-participant limit by March 9.

The institute is intended for educators who work with students of all age levels, including pre-school teachers, K-12 educators and college professors. The event is organized particularly with educators from West Michigan in mind but regularly draws attendees from throughout the state and beyond.

This year's institute will focus on "Diverse Brains, Diverse Learners." Monday will focus on system change in education, Tuesday on neuroscience research, Wednesday on creating optimal learners and Thursday on implications for classroom practice, with Friday providing more guidance on "Taking the Institute Home."

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. The size cap itself is in keeping with the organizers' goal of enabling all of the participants to be actively engaged.

Eric Jensen, a consultant, published author and former teacher, on Monday will provide an update on recent neuroscience findings and their implications for how educators must view the schools and the learning process in more depth with "Seven Revolutionary Discoveries from Brain Research." Jensen, co-owner of Jensen Learning Corporation, has taught at every level of schooling, including three universities, and has extensive experience in staff development. His publications include 25 books, including "Teaching with the Brain in Mind" (2005) and "Enriching the Brain: How to Maximize Every Learner's Potential" (2006).

Dr. Edward (Ned) Hallowell will present Tuesday's session, focusing on the good news about ADD, and the exceptionalities and special gifts that children with ADD possess, with "Unwrapping the Gifts of the Mind." He is a child and adult psychiatrist and founder of The Hallowell Center for Cognitive and Emotional Health, located in Sudbury, Mass., and taught at Harvard Medical School from 1983 to 2004. He is considered one of the foremost experts on ADD, and co-author, with Dr. John Ratey, of the books "Driven to Distraction," "Answers to Distraction" and "Delivered from Distraction."

Willy Wood on Wednesday will discuss "Helping Diverse Learners Succeed." Wood is president of Open Mind Technologies Inc., an educational consulting firm. He taught high school- and university-level English classes for 14 years, and then served as the communication arts consultant for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) for five years before becoming a full-time educational consultant and presenter in 2000.

On Thursday, Dr. Harvey Silver will present at the institute for a second year. He and his colleagues have spent many years integrating neuroscience findings with multiple-intelligences theory and learning styles models into "Making Students as Important as Standards." Silver has been a teacher and administrator at the elementary, secondary and graduate levels, and has served as a consultant and trainer for numerous state departments of education, schools and districts, and corporations and other organizations. His numerous books for educators include "Learning Styles and Strategies," "Teaching Styles and Strategies," and "So Each May Learn: Integrating Learning Styles and Multiple Intelligences."

The institute will conclude Friday morning with a session led by the institute's staff to help the participants determine ways that they can integrate the program's information into their own practice as educators.