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FULBRIGHT

DISTINGUISHED AWARDS IN TEACHING PROGRAM

BRAINY WAYS TO TEACH KIDS THROUGH STORIES

University of Maryland, College Park, USA Prof. Maria Laura Fuertes. ARGENTINA 2010

Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program Maria Laura Fuertes

Acknowledgements
I am grateful to the Fulbright Commission, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the US Department of State and the Academy of Educational Development for developing and organizing the Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program and giving me the unique opportunity to be part of this enriching experience. Many people have contributed to my experience, of which this Capstone Project is just one outcome. At the University of Maryland, I am thankful to Dr. James Greenberg and Mrs. Letitia Williams, for their constant support and encouragement; my mentors Dr. Lea Ann Christenson and Dr. Paula Beckmann who have lovingly guided and helped editing my work; Dr. Nathan Fox, who spent time sharing his expertise in the area of brain research with me. I would like to show gratitude to Sean Layne and Michelle L. Carney, Program Coordinator of Changing Education Through the Arts from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts who have allowed me to participate in an unforgettable workshop. I want to mention my DAT colleagues with whom I have discussed and shaped the development of the project. This growing experience would not have been the same without them. I owe my deepest gratitude to my mother, to Constanza de la Vega and to
Brainy Ways to Teach Kids Through Stories

Lucrecia Prat Gay de Teisaire. Their exemplar professionalism and love for teaching have always guided me in my career. I am grateful to Asociacion Educar for all I have learned from them about Neuropsychoeducation and especially to Mirta Polla Rossi, who has lovingly introduced me to this new field and guided me ever since. Also, to my students, who are my main sources of inspiration, and to my school principals for allowing me to take some time away from my daily duties to be part of this experience and work on this project. I would like to thank my family and friends who have virtually accompanied me throughout.

Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program Maria Laura Fuertes

Table of Contents
Introduction 3

Learning is About the Brain Learning is About Survival Learning Requires Activation Prior Knowledge Attention is Key to Learning Learning is About Emotions The Environment Affects Learning Learning is About Memory Learning is About Rehearsal Learning is About Social Interaction Learning is About Creativity Tools of the Mind What are Executive Functions? Stories as an Effective Teaching Tool Tiny Toy Tales Making Connections Story Kit Sample: Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock Script and Teachers Intervention Analysis of characteristics Story Preview Story Experience Playing with the Story Teacher Training Proposal Conclusions and Future Challenges References

5 7 7 8 9 10 11 15 17 18 19 19 21 22 27 35 35 40 41 42 43 46 48 49
Brainy Ways to Teach Kids Through Stories

Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program Maria Laura Fuertes

Brainy Ways to Teach Kids Through Stories

Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program Maria Laura Fuertes

Brainy Ways to Teach Kids Through Stories


Teachers are a bit like gardeners when it comes to learning. Just like gardeners, teachers can sow seeds in a learners mind, and can nourish and sustain good ideas and important facts, and weed out misunderstandings and mistakes. (Blakemore & Frith, 2005)

This analogy illustrates how I usually think of my job as an EFL teacher in Kindergarten and Primary School in Argentina: That of a gardener, planting a little seed in each of my students. Whether the seed grows into a little plant or a leafy tree (or does not grow at all) will probably depend on future experiences and continued exposure. Education is to the brain what gardening is to a landscape. Every time an individual learns something new, something in the brain has changed (Blakemore & Frith, 2005). Learning about how the brain works has opened up a path to rethink teaching tools and strategies in the classroom. This is a path that can enlighten the work of those educators who decide to follow it. I decided to take this path some years ago when I was first introduced to this topic at some seminars and then decided to start studying Neuropsychoeducation: Sciences and Neurosciences for the general public, in
Brainy Ways to Teach Kids Through Stories

clear and simple language, for the understanding and improvement of our behavior with Asociacion Educar (www.asociacioneducar.com) This field is currently being defined by some experts as Mind, Brain and Education Science. The more teachers know about how the brain works, the better we will be able to design instruction to match how the brain learns best. Neuroscientists claim we are at an early age in our understanding of the brain. Indeed, some scientists and some teachers consider it is too soon to think about the connection between research and the classroom (Bruer, 2002). Yet there are some concepts about how the brain works that confirm what experienced educators have

Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program Maria Laura Fuertes

known and used in their classrooms. Research adds further understanding of why some strategies work and which ones should always be present: Although current brain science technologies offer exciting opportunities to educators, they complement rather than replace traditional methods of educational enquiry (Goswami, 2004). Brain scans cannot, do not and will not give rise to lesson plans. But they certainly inform. So, there is a growing need to bridge the gap between these two worlds: neuroscience and education. In fact, The study of learning unites education and neuroscience (Goswami, 2004). A report presented in 2007 by Pickering and HowardJones reflects the high level of enthusiasm of some teachers in the UK and other locations around the world to relate neuroscience and education. The article also emphasizes the importance of communication and reciprocal interaction between professionals in these fields to enrich classroom practice with scientific understanding of the brain and mind. The new interdisciplinary field that has emerged: Mind, Brain and Education (MBE) aims at bringing the latest research methods to bear on education and including the wisdom of teachers in research paradigms. The MBE Society has been formed and a Journal has been launched. Given this new trend in education, my project puts together some concepts of the brain and mind with knowledge on education and expertise as an EFL teacher in order to come up with a proposal to be used in the classroom. The purpose of this project is to describe why teaching through stories is an effective EFL instruction tool for how to implement a story kit that embodies its main concepts.
Brainy Ways to Teach Kids Through Stories

young learners, within the context of Mind, Brain and Education Science

The focus is on translating theoretical knowledge to daily classroom practice and an attempt to make some connections between these two. I have focused on using stories since they are a major resource to teach EFL to children. Analyzing the use of stories through the lens of Neuropsychoeducation or MBE Science could strengthen the argument about the power of stories as a tool to teach.

Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program Maria Laura Fuertes

Learning is About the Brain

Complex interactions take place every second in our brain. The first step in understanding how teachers can use knowledge of brain development to promote learning is to have a fundamental understanding of basic brain concepts. A brain cell is called a neuron (Figure 1). Each neuron consists of a cell body, an axon and dendrites. We are born with a certain number of neurons (probably around 100 billion). The number of neurons does not change with development. However, what does change is the connections and communication between them. This neuronal communication is what learning is about. Each neuron has the capacity to connect with others through synapse. A synapse is the junction of the axon terminal of one neuron and a dendrite on the cell body of a second neuron (Wolfe, 2001). Neurons do not touch. Information from one neuron flows in the form of electric signals passing down the axon to another neuron. Axons are covered by an insulating fatty tissue called myelin that makes transmission of messages faster. Yet, information cannot be carried to this other neuron in an electrical state; it travels across the synaptic gap attached to a chemical neurotransmitter that allows this process of communication between neurons to take place. As neurons make connections, the brain grows dendrites and complex neural networks are created. Their connections will grow stronger each time these neurons fire together. If the brain accesses a neural network often, the webs are strengthened as well as extended and the axons become heavily myelinated. Learning has been defined by Donald Hebb as Neurons that fire together, wire together: When an axon of cell A is near enough to excite cell B and repeatedly or persistently takes part in firing it, some growth process or metabolic change takes place in one or both cells such that A's efficiency, as one of the cells firing B, is increased (Wolfe, 2001).
Brainy Ways to Teach Kids Through Stories

Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program Maria Laura Fuertes

Figure 1. The Neuron

Building strong webs is what learning is all about. If what is being learnt is not meaningful or useful enough to be used again, the network that supports such learning will become weak and useless. Networks that are regularly used are maintained, strengthened and hard-wired into the brain, whereas others are pruned. The saying If you dont use it, you lose it is generally related to these processes. The brain also has a unique characteristic that supports learning: neural plasticity. The concept of plasticity refers to the brains capacity to change due to experience. Experience drives physical changes in the brain. Dendrites (and neural networks) increase in size and number in response to learned skills, experience and information (Willis, 2006). According to Greenough and his colleagues, the development of the brain relies on two different types of plasticity: experience-expectant and experience-dependant synaptogenesis (formation of synapses). The former describes the processes that are common to all the members of a species, those expected processes such as early sensory system development of vision or speech. The latter applies to individual members and it is involved in the storage of information that is unique to each individual. New synaptic connections are generated in response to the occurrence of a to-be-remembered event, of which timing and character vary from one
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Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program Maria Laura Fuertes

individual to another (Greenough et al., 1987). From this perspective, learning a foreign language appears to be an experience-dependant process. As Goswami (2004) suggests, learning comprises changes in connectivity, either via changes in the potentiation at the synapse or via strengthening or pruning of connections. Successful teaching thus directly affects brain function, by changing the connectivity. It is not the same to teach one way or another. It is our role as teachers to make of the teaching/learning process the most effective for our children.

Learning Is About Survival What is the brains main concern? The brain has evolved to better protect the well-being of its own owner and species to survive. Since survival is its main concern, information that is essential for survival will be worthwhile learning. Then, protection, imminent satisfaction and pleasure become part of its repertoire worthwhile of effort and attention. The brain selectively focuses attention on that information it recognizes with survival or interest value. Many times, the brain is compared to a sieve, because most of the information is discarded and filtered, and only that that is relevant stays in.
Brainy Ways to Teach Kids Through Stories

Learning Requires Activating Prior Knowledge

To predict the likelihood that effort and attention will result in successful outcomes, the brain uses knowledge from previous experiences. The brain is a pattern seeking organ, and as such, it is most attuned to information that it recognizes as patterns or categories it has already formed (Willis, 2007, 2008). As a result, activating prior knowledge is important: The brain assigns meaning to incoming stimuli depending on whether it can match an existing pattern or activate an existing neural network.

Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program Maria Laura Fuertes

When information matches and adds to an existing network, there is a better chance of storing it. The links that can be made between new information and existing knowledge are useful to make the incoming stimulus meaningful and for learning to take place. Otherwise, mismatch might lead to rejection, misinterpretation or ignorance of the incoming stimuli. Now, both of the main processes involved in the learning/teaching scenario that Willis considers have become clear. These are neuroplasticity and patterning. Neuroplasticity is the possibility of changing, revising, extending neural networks. Patterning refers to the meaningful organization, coding and categorization of the information in the brain.

Attention Is Key to Learning

Attention is selective. Our brains use it to constantly survey our internal and external environments to determine what is important and what is not. The Reticular Activating System (RAS) in the brainstem is involved in this process of selecting relevant stimuli. Among its functions, this system is a filter for the thousands of stimuli that bombard the sensory receptors every second, allowing focus only on what is important and relevant for survival. It selectively alerts the brain to changes in the environment that may indicate danger or signal opportunities. Reticular means netlike, which makes this system something like a chemical net that opens and closes to let information coming in through our senses flow in or be kept out of the brain. All sensorimotor information flows through our brainstem (Sylwester, 1995).
Brainy Ways to Teach Kids Through Stories

Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program Maria Laura Fuertes

Learning Is About Emotions

The message from neuroscience is clear: No longer can we think of learning as separate from emotion Immordino-Yang and Faeth (Sousa, 2010)

Attention is closely linked to emotions. Why is this so? Emotions provide a quick, general assessment of the situation that draws on powerful internal needs and values. Sylwester (1995) defines this relationship by saying that emotion drives attention and attention drives learning and memory. Also, Immordino and Faeth (2010) have compared the role of emotion to a rudder that guides a ship: Though its influence might not be visible, it provides a force that stabilizes the direction of a learners decisions and behaviors. Most incoming sensory information is sent first to the thalamus, which then relays it to the sensory and frontal lobes for detailed analysis and response. But, when emotionally charged information comes in, the thalamus takes it on a more rapid
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pathway to the amygdala in the limbic system. Based on the limited information that it has received, the amygdala uses primitive, general categorizations to activate an immediate response. The amygdala is loaded with peptides, which are neurotransmitters that modulate emotional states and energy and it is highly connected to most brain areas. There are far more neural fibers that project from this emotional center to the rational cortical centers than the reverse. So, this makes the amygdala the main regulator of emotions in charge of interpreting and evaluating the emotional value and relevance of the incoming sensory data here and now. Goswami (2004) clearly explains that assessing the value of information being received is an important function of the emotional brain. At this point, the information can be sent to the pre frontal cortex -if it is

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considered pleasurable- or it can be diverted away from it by blocking its entry -if it is considered stressful. This is a reaction, not a decision made. How does this happen? It is related to the metabolic activity in the amygdala. When it senses fear, threat or anxiety, the amygdala becomes strongly activated and it takes up the available oxygen and glucose in the brain, and thus, puts the brain into survival mode and blocks the path to the prefrontal cortex. As Goswami (2004) suggests, When the amygdala is strongly activated, it interrupts action and thought, and triggers rapidly bodily responses critical for survival. This is an automatic interruption mechanism. On the other hand, when it senses comfort, joy and challenge, the amygdala is stimulated but with lower metabolic activity -which enables and facilitates the neuronal transportation of information. Whether positive or negative, the imprint left in the amygdala is strong and this is relevant in subsequent experiences. This is very much related to Stephen Krashens affective filter hypothesis in his theory of Second Language Acquisition, where he described that successful learning was reduced when the learners experienced stress or anxiety.

The Environment Affects Learning


Brainy Ways to Teach Kids Through Stories

One longstanding debate about how development takes place is that presented by the question of nature vs. nurture. How genetic and environmental influences work together has always brought about continuous questioning. It is currently believed that both are dynamically related to shape each individual. If brain development depends on both genetic programs and environmental experiences, it is not surprising that there has been growing interest in what this environment should be like to foster effective learning. This is clearly related to the previous explanation of the role of the limbic system. Efficient learning, as Goswami (2004) explains, does not take place when the learner is experiencing fear or stress. A positive, non-threatening environment is

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fundamental for learning to occur. Hart (1983) describes this as the phenomenon of downshifting, whereby the individual detects threat and the fast acting brain resources take over, not allowing for the higher thinking part of the brain to work. Two major ideas were presented at the beginning of the paper concerning the value of an incoming stimuli: first its survival value and then its emotional or interest value. This last one is related to the brains desire to seek pleasurable states within a positive environment, in which the neurotransmitter dopamine is a key element. Dopamine is one of many neurotransmitters that carry information across synapses between connecting neurons. The brains dopamine system is involved in risk-taking behavior and reward. Dopamine is released in greater amounts in response to positive experiences and acknowledgement of achievement. The greatest benefit of this system is that it increases the efficiency of the synapses controlling attention, decisions and executive functions. Another neurotransmitter is released when pleasure or reward is merely expected: acetylcholine. The added benefit is that this neurotransmitter directly stimulates the hippocampus, the modulating center for consolidating new learning to related stored memory (Willis, 2007).

Memory is essential to survival: Without the ability to learn, store and recall how to respond to physical needs and changes in the environment, the individual is at risk. According to Ratey (2001), memory is stable as it enables the individual to learn from experience and it has to be flexible enough to adapt to the changing environments. He describes it as the centripetal force that pulls together learning, understanding and consciousness. In the past, it was thought that one memory was held by one neuron and that each section of the brain performed a single operation in isolation. This is not the case. Now, neuroscientists know that there is not one single center for memory and that it is hard to separate the memory from the act of retrieving it.

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Learning Is About Memory

Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program Maria Laura Fuertes

Learning is about turning sensory input into memory. Bits and pieces are stored in different networks of neurons in the brain. Each time an individual encounters an object, for instance, it puts together the pieces to recognize it. If the individual can see, touch, or even hear, smell or taste the object, more sensory pathways are activated in the recognition and or retrieval process. The hippocampus, a structure next to the amygdala, appears to be the master regulator. It is here that the incoming sensory data is linked to previous knowledge, classified and stored accordingly in appropriate memory networks elsewhere in our brain. The hippocampus is important in the processes of making new relations and of transforming short term memory to long term memory. Many scientists agree that memory is a multifaceted, complex process that involve the activation of various neural networks in different areas of the brain (Wolfe, 2001). In fact, memory is not a single function but a collection of mental abilities that depend on different systems within the brain. Figure 2 illustrates the Three Box Model of Three Interacting Memory Systems provides a simple description of the memory system.

Figure 2. Three Box Model. From www.aboutmind.com

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Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program Maria Laura Fuertes

Sensory memory refers to the incoming sensory information through the sensory receptors and holding it for a fraction of a second until a decision is made as to what to do about it, whether it is important enough to attend to. Each sense provides an individual with a part of the world sound, sight, taste, smell, touch and so then memories can be recalled from any number of cues and the same memory can be retrieved by more than one type cue.

Short-term memory refers to the ability to hold information in your minds eye. It retains information for seconds if it is not repeated. The capacity for storage and processing of short term memory is limited.

Working memory is a more recent extension of the concept of short-term memory. It allows individuals to integrate perceptual information and consciously manipulate it. It is part of the executive functions of the Pre Frontal Cortex.

Long-term memory consists of information stored for an indefinite period. The capacity for storage is considered to be extremely large. It is created when short term memory is strengthened through meaningful association with existing patters and prior knowledge. What individuals record, use and recall is a mixture of different types of memory, drawing on different systems. The following chart
Brainy Ways to Teach Kids Through Stories

shows one way of dividing long term memory:

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Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program Maria Laura Fuertes

Figure 3. Long Term Memory. From www.aboutmind.com

The first distinction is between explicit (declarative) and implicit (nondeclarative) memory. Explicit memory encodes factual information and it is directly accessible to our conscious awareness. It is flexible, rapidly retrieved and occasionally unreliable. Implicit memory, on the other hand, is responsible for the skills, the processes. Once learnt, it does not have to be consciously retrieved. Implicit memory is inflexible, slow but extremely reliable. Most of everyday learning and functioning results from turning explicit memories to implicit ones. (Ratey, 2001) There are two types of explicit memory: Episodic and Semantic memory. Episodic memory is related to the capacity to place facts and events in time and place, when and where the information was acquired. Semantic memory is the retention of facts, events, objects, words, symbols and meanings, the impersonal basis of ones repertoire of knowledge. These facts are normally independent of
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a particular time or place. How are these formed? Each new explicit memory goes through four sequential processes: encoding, consolidation, storage and retrieval. Implicit memory involves: procedural memory, conditioned reflex, emotional conditioning and priming effect. Procedural memory refers to knowing how to do something. Practice is fundamental. It is the basis for our mental and physical skills. Also, implicit memory is where many of our conditioned reflexes and conditioned emotional responses are stored. Conditioned reflex is the process of acquiring the kind of information that the brain sends to the body for an automatic response. The information and response are generally the same every time this form of memory is triggered. Emotional conditioning is the memory system that links perceptual information to an emotional response. Finally, priming effect is related to increased sensitivity to a stimulus due to prior experiences. Priming is the non-declarative memory function that improves the brains ability to detect, identify, or respond to a stimulus that it has processed recently.

Learning Is About Rehearsal Practice doesnt make perfect it makes permanent Madeline Hunter (Willis, 2007)

Recall one of the major ideas about learning and memory identified previously that Neurons that fire together, wire together. This happens when the networks are first created. To strengthen this wiring and make it more efficient and even more accessible, a memory circuit needs to be repeatedly stimulated or activated. Practice has a main role in the learning process. It is through practice, rehearsal, repetition that

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Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program Maria Laura Fuertes

information can become part of our working memory and then held as long term memory. Finally, and ideally, the process might become automatic.

When a student participates in a certain activity, a certain number of neurons are activated.

When the action is repeated, these same neurons respond again.

The more times the action is repeated or recalled, more dendrites sprout to make connections.

The brain becomes more efficient in its ability to retrieve that memory.

Figure 4. Practice strengthens connections.

A report published by Nature (Draganski, Gaser, Bush, & Schuierer, 2004), explains how the brain appears to change with practice. In the study, a group of subjects trained to juggle over a period of three months showed increased grey matter in specific brain areas. After some time without practicing, the subjects were scanned again and a decrease in these connections was evident. The structural change evinced shows the importance of rehearsal and practice as part of the learning process. It is also an example of the process of pruning and the saying If you dont use it, you lose it described before in the paper. When the brain perceives the same information repeatedly through different senses, this makes the encoding of this information more efficient. Next time, it will be easier to recall this information. Because each of the senses has a separate storage area in the brain, multisensory input results in duplicated storage and can be retrieved by a variety of stimuli. So then, one same memory can be retrieved by more than one type cue.
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Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program Maria Laura Fuertes

Another important aspect of practice is the type of involvement necessary in such practice for meaningful learning to occur. Children, just as adults, learn by doing, playing, becoming active participants in the rehearsal process. A simple and interesting example is presented by Willis (2007) in which she asks who learns more about a route, the driver or the passenger. The driver uses the information of the route, whereas the passenger sits passively without learning much about the road because in the end, the information is not that useful for him. Who should be the active driver in the learning process?

Learning Is About Social Interaction

Humans are social beings and the brain a social organ that develops and prospers when interacting with others. Throughout life, an individuals brain changes and is shaped in response to its engagement with others. Therefore, learning is deeply influenced by the social relationships within which an individual is immersed. As humans, individuals can imitate others, understand them and learn how to interact with each other. Vygotsky highlights the importance of social interaction and considers social
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context to have a profound influence on how and what we think. Children learn mental processes and construct meaning through sharing, interacting with others (Bodrova & Leong). Also, Faeth and Immordino-Yang (2010) consider the importance of building academic knowledge which involves integrating emotion and cognition in social context. Some aspects of social behavior are learnt and some others are determined by genes, here again comes in the nature and nurture debate. Social behavior is dynamically shaped; the design of teaching/learning process cannot disregard this aspect.

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Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program Maria Laura Fuertes

Learning Is About Creativity Howard-Jones explains that There is no single part of our brain responsible for our creativity. Creative thinking is a complex thought process that calls upon many different cognitive functions and involves many different regions distributed around the brain. Some studies have shown that when compared to conventional thinking tasks, those involving creative thinking appear to engage more complex neural networks. Abilities such as working memory and sustained attention are those associated with creativity. Moreover, it is noted that activities associated with creative thinking produce differentiated patterns of activity across multiple regions in our brains. In the book Mind, Brain and Education: Neuroscience Implications for the Classroom, Hardiman (2010) presents a chapter on the Creative Artistic Brain where she discusses the need to make our classroom places where creativity, innovation, critical thinking and problem-solving take place. She argues that despite the rapidly changing society, education has changed little in response to this reality. Probably, in order to survive this new world a knowledge-based and information-driven era, our brains need to develop creative thinking abilities and be trained in using them. In 2008,
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the Dana Foundation Arts and Cognition Consortium released a series of articles that found a tight correlation between exposure to the Arts and improved skills in cognition and attention. Artistic expression and interpretation correlate with brain processing associated with creativity, long term memory, concept construction, and the neural networks that are used when the brain processes information using the highest form of cognition. Scholars definitions of creativity are varied. Robinson (2001), for example, defines it as imaginative processes that produce outcomes that are original and have value. This involves doing something, going beyond imaginative thought, being original and coming up with something valuable. A common denominator of the definitions of creativity is that it can and should be taught and promoted. Yet, it is still considered

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outside the cognitive box and therefore, outside the curriculum. Sawyer (2006), in his article Educating for Innovation clearly concludes that one of the key missions of schools is to educate for creativity.

Tools of the Mind Tools of the Mind (ToM) is an evidence-based curriculum developed by educational psychologists Elena Bedrova and Deborah Leong based on the theories of the Russian psychologists Lev Vygotsky and Alexander Luria. One of the main premises considered is that social and cognitive development is intimately integrated. The curriculum has two main goals that are viewed as inseparable: (1) to enable teachers to provide young children with the mental tools necessary for learning; and, (2) the development of specific academic skills such as symbolic thought, literacy, and an understanding of math. These mental tools essential for learning are executive functions (EF). In ToM, specific training and techniques for supporting the development of EFs are integrated into almost all classroom activities. Indeed, play is viewed as the leading activity for developing these skills.
Brainy Ways to Teach Kids Through Stories

What Are Executive Functions (EFs)? In an interview with Krista Tippett in her program called Learning, Doing and Being: A New Science of Education, Adele Diamond defines EFs as what you need when your initial tendencies would take you in the wrong directions, when things change or are new (and you have to adapt). Then, she moves on to explain three core abilities -inhibitory control, working memory and cognitive flexibility- which are summarized in the following chart:

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Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program Maria Laura Fuertes

INHIBITORY CONTROL It is the ability to ignore distraction and stay focused and to resist making one response and instead make another that is most appropiate or needed. It makes selective, focused and sustained attention possible.

WORKING MEMORY It is the ability to hold information in your mind's eye and mentally work with or manipulate that information. It allows for understanding anything that unfolds over time (relating present to future or past) remembering plans and considering alternatives. It is an important characteristic of creativity. Being creative involves holding ideas in mind, disassembling them and putting them together in new ways.

COGNITIVE FLEXIBILITY It is the ability to adjust to changed demands or priorities.

It involves being able to switch one's perspective and think "outside the box".

Wait, think and have more thoughtful reactions.

It is key for problem-solving and important in the creative process as well.

In an article from Science (Diamond, Barnett, Thomas, & Munro, 2007) the results of a study of ToM are presented. In the study, the outcomes in different groups of students some being instructed using ToM and others using a conventional
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Balanced Literacy (BL) program were compared. The study was carried out with children with poor EFs and moved them to a more optimal state. Both models covered the same academic content in the classes, but only those using the ToM model received more explicit instruction on EFs. Some EF promoting activities include dramatic play, self-regulatory private speech, play planning, a version of freeze game and aids to facilitate memory and attention. After one year of instruction and perceiving the progress in this latter group, some of teachers decided to halt the experience and turn towards ToM instruction as well. As part of the study, students were assessed on their EFs using Dots Tasks and Flanker Tasks as well as other academic measures by the NIEER (National Institute

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for Early Education Research). The study has promising conclusions. Children in ToM classrooms showed increased gains in cognitive, language and social development. The essential nature of play in the first years of instruction is highly emphasized as well as how much dramatic play aids the development of EFs. Also, exercising EFs on a daily basis appears to enhance their development and the possibility to transfer these to new activities. The main weakness of the study is the lack of measures of EFs before and after as well as academic measures in the BL groups.

Stories as an Effective Teaching Tool Stories engage, illustrate, inspire, educate Stories have always been a unique tool for me to teach English as a Foreign Language to young children. I consider it is very important that children are exposed to authentic oral language input first, just as they have acquired their first language. Stories are engaging and meaningful for children, they are the perfect meaningful context in which language can be taught as a whole and not as isolated items of vocabulary. By using stories, children develop at an early age both vocabulary and comprehension skills that will be useful for later
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development of literacy in the foreign language. Little by little, and in the course of interactions with the story and other activities, children start developing their oral expression. It is well known that language development occurs with actual use. Children learn and create their knowledge of the foreign language by interacting with it, manipulating it and by engaging in meaningful use. Stories are such a powerful tool to teach a foreign language. If learning a language is an interactive process, children need many opportunities to interact in a meaningful context and play with language while developing vocabulary and structures. This is very important in the early exposure to the foreign language and stories provide these opportunities.

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Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program Maria Laura Fuertes

Using storybooks successfully in the classroom needs careful planning. Sharing a story, either by reading a book or through storytelling, is just the first step in the process of the type of interaction and experience with the foreign language I create in the classroom. The activities that follow this first encounter with the story line are the ones to build on and ensure understanding, engagement and ownership of the story and the language used. Stories help children in the development of their receptive language in an entertaining, meaningful context that naturally invites them to repeat many of the predictable words and phrases as they gradually take ownership of and add to their receptive and productive language. Finally, it is highly relevant consider the importance of the selection of the stories. A good story for the first years of EFL instruction should contain a conflict that is solved, predictable, repetitive patterns that reinforce vocabulary and structures, relevant themes for young learners, amicable characters and nice pictures.

Tiny Toy Tales a simple effective literacy strategy for involving students in storytelling
Brainy Ways to Teach Kids Through Stories

Sean Layne (2005) This is the way artist Sean Layne describes his Tiny Toy Tales in his seminar Tiny Toy Tales: Make, Take and Tell. This seminar is part of CETA, Changing Education Through the Arts Professional Learning Opportunities for Teachers, an education program organized by the education department of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The program has grown over the last few years and includes several schools as partners throughout school districts in the Washington DC metropolitan area. One of the recent achievements of the program has been to reestablish a clear definition for Arts Integration, which is transmitted to teachers throughout the training

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programs. In an article published by the Kennedy Center, Sean Layne and Lynne B. Silverstein explain this definition, which has some interesting points to highlight:

Figure 5. Kennedy Center's CETA definition of Arts Integration

First, a stand-alone activity cannot be considered Arts Integration, since an approach permeates a teachers practice. Second, Arts Integration empowers children with their own learning. The teachers role becomes that of a guide and facilitator but children are the ones who experience, elaborate and reflect on the subject matter, thus building a deeper understanding. This can be achieved by making sense of which may involve a variety of modalities. It is part of the teachers responsibility to make this a creative process in which students imagine, examine and experiment to solve a proposed challenge. Finally, this integration considers the importance of developing interdisciplinary connections through which students evolve in their understanding of both art and the subject matter being taught.
Brainy Ways to Teach Kids Through Stories

what they have learned and the ability to make this learning visible through an art form,

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The main elements in Tiny Toy Tales are:

CONTAINER

INVOLVEMENT

TINY TOY TALES


PARALINGUISTIC ELEMENTS

PROPS

CONTAINER. Everything the teacher needs to tell the story is inside a container. This container might take different forms depending on the story. Sean Layne describes the container as a magic holder of small objects that appear as the story is told. I agree with the magical side of this element. It is a novel way of magically create a magical environment -in which learning will certainly occur.
Brainy Ways to Teach Kids Through Stories

introducing a story; it generates curiosity to know what is inside and it helps to

PROPS. Different objects are used to tell the story. These are the Tiny Toys that the teacher keeps in the container and are key elements needed for each Tale to be told.

PARALINGUISTIC ELEMENTS. In the telling of the story, paralinguistic elements are used such as facial expressions, gestures and prosody. These elements not only amuse the students, help deepen the understanding of the story and aid

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characterization but also become a main source of retention and future retrieval of the tale (alongside the props).

INVOLVEMENT. Tiny Toy Tales are unique in that they encourage students to take part, without losing the pace of the narration. This can take the form of some repetition, movement, chant, onomatopoeic words, laughing all opportunities that the teacher should create to foster active involvement. In a site about Whole Child Education the month of October was about

Teaching through the Arts. The ideas in the newsletter, the blog and the Podcast, coincided with the ideas presented in this paper. What is more, some of the blog posts were about the connection between creativity and the brain with guest blogger Judy Willis, the expert on learning-centered brain research used as a resource for other parts of the paper. Some of the main ideas presented in the site further developed ideas presented in this project. One of the main tenets of the Whole Child Education is that of ENGAGEMENT. This is one of the main tenets of the teaching and learning process.
Brainy Ways to Teach Kids Through Stories

Yet sometimes this is the road less travelled.

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EMOTION AND LEARNING ARE CONNECTED

STUDENTS' ACTIVE ROLE

ARTS INTEGRATION

DIRECT CHALLENGING EXPERIENCES

PROGRESS PROMOTED OUTSIDE THE COGNITIVE BOX

PERSONAL RELEVANCE AND DEEPER UNDERSTANDING

Figure 6 Arts Integration. Main Ideas.

When integrating the arts, Students are engaged, take an active role, experience things directly and express themselves in creative multiple ways. Students are challenged to take what they learn and build a deeper understanding to be able to do something with it. Childrens academic progress is promoted outside the cognitive box, and thus considering emotional, social and cognitive changes as one same whole process. Emotion and learning are connected with a profound effect on whether and how children learn. Personal relevance and pleasure are placed as key factors to engage students in their learning process. Unique opportunities are generated for creativity and higher-process thinking.
Brainy Ways to Teach Kids Through Stories

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Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program Maria Laura Fuertes

Making Connections This part of the paper brings together the concepts already explained. Connections between the theoretical background on MBE presented and characteristics of stories as an effective tool are discussed; thus getting a better understanding of how to use the knowledge of the brain to promote meaningful learning. As a result of reading and analysis, this following phrase was built up to describe stories as an instructional tool within the context of Mind, Brain and Education Science. This phrase is not merely a list of characteristics; one idea builds and adds on the following one: Stories are a meaningful context where emotions are let in building a unique learning environment that promotes opportunities for involvement and social interaction
Brainy Ways to Teach Kids Through Stories

thus fostering creativity.

Stories are a meaningful context

The brain selectively focuses attention on information that it recognizes of interest value. A story might not help an individual survive (though sometimes it might!) but it certainly has this other component of being something interesting and meaningful to children. As regards foreign language development, stories provide a context in which language is authentically presented and practiced not as discrete vocabulary items thus developing comprehension skills, basis for literacy development.

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All teachers want students to pay attention, to select as relevant what is brought to class for them to learn. But sometimes students have no choice: If their brain does not find the activity a relevant or challenging stimulus, it keeps searching for more productive input. Although some students may make an effort to focus their attention, this is not always the case, especially when teaching young children. This is more of an automatic mechanism or reaction in the brain. So, this becomes a challenge every day we go into class. In general, with stories and young children, this reaction is a positive one: Stories grab childrens attention. The choice of the appropriate story is a key element to make it a meaningful tool in the EFL class. Teachers should choose stories that are relevant to students as well as age appropriate and a good match for their level of comprehension. Indeed, it must be a story that the teacher loves. Other characteristics that are important to consider when choosing a story to teach EFL to children include repetitive actions and structures, appealing characters and visual images, and a storyline that is meaningful (something happens!) and simple (not complex). Finally, stories can be easily adapted to cater the needs of specific classes. Teachers should not hesitate to expand the story by including
Brainy Ways to Teach Kids Through Stories

more characters, events or dialogues or omit unnecessary ones. In short, the choice of the story alongside potential adaptations is very important to make it one with interest value for the kids. Stories are a meaningful context where emotions are let in One can no longer deny the role emotions play on learning. Learners emotions not only guide their attention and learning but also become implicitly attached to the experience. It has been suggested that when the amygdala senses pleasure and positive emotions, it conduces information through the limbic system to the pre frontal cortex, home for cognitive and executive functions. This is again a reaction, not

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something that the brain consciously decides. So, joy is the type of emotion that is necessary for learning to occur; even more in the first years of instruction of EFL when we want children to attach a positive imprint to learning a foreign language. Bringing positive emotions into the classroom makes a difference in students learning. When an activity is associated with a positive emotional experience, students become engaged and their brains learn to seek out those activities. Whenever this joyful activity is repeated, the same emotion is triggered. This is what happens with stories: Children love them and never get tired of sharing them! If teachers plan to include something humorous, a little laughter adds a lot to this positive environment. This can come from some characters funny action or voices used to represent them and distinguish one another. Learners experiences with the foreign language should have this joyful imprint. Stories are a powerful way to store experiences in the brain. When a story is engaging, relevant and appropriate, this is likely to occur. Children can feel identified with the characters, with their actions or with their feelings: This experience is very different to giving children isolated activities or worksheets. Teachers priority should be to make of the learning experiences joyful ones.
Brainy Ways to Teach Kids Through Stories

Stories are meaningful contexts where emotions are let in building a unique learning environment

Brains are flexible, they change according to experiences. Nature and nurture dynamically shape the individual. Learning experiences in a positive non-threatening environment are more effectively recorded and recalled since these allow for the higher thinking part of the brain, the pre frontal cortex, to work. If learning a foreign language appears to be an experience-dependant process, the new synaptic connections are generated in response to the experiences the individual has with it.

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It is not the same to do it one way or another, to create a positive classroom environment, to generate different engaging activities or not to do it. Stories provide multiple ways in which teachers can make of the learning experience a positive one. When using stories in the class as a tool to teach language, students are concentrated on the story itself, something that is considered a pleasurable activity, rather than the specific language items being taught. This certainly keeps their anxiety low and positive emotions high. Humor has already been mentioned. Also, childrens brain is curious and will attend to changes in the environment. Stories are great in sparkling curiosity. The story itself will provide these opportunities. Yet, if teachers plan it purposefully, the effect might be different by making these instances more explicit. For example, teachers should decide on the use of pauses, prosody, or other paralinguistic elements or even some parts of the book to cover, or other parts where students can make guesses. All these elements make students attention span something not to worry so much about. Including some kind of novelty is highly recommended. The brain will pay attention if something new, different or unexpected is brought into the classroom. Some stories have this characteristic, which makes them really engaging. Props used in telling
Brainy Ways to Teach Kids Through Stories

a story provide a unique opportunity to exploit novelty and bringing unexpected items into the class setting. Non-specific props can be useful to train symbolic representation: Childrens ability to imagine that objects can be many things.

Stories are meaningful contexts where emotions are let in; building a unique learning environment that promotes opportunities for involvement

The brain is a pattern seeking organ, most attuned to information that it recognizes as patterns or categories it has already formed. Meaning is assigned to the incoming stimuli depending on whether it can match an existing pattern or activate an existing neural network. When information matches and adds to an existing network,

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there is a better chance of paying attention to it and getting involved. The links that can be made between new information and existing knowledge are useful to make the incoming stimulus meaningful and for learning to take place. Otherwise, mismatch might lead to rejection, misinterpretation or ignorance of the incoming stimuli.

The structure of stories is a pattern children are acquainted with: There are characters, a problem, and a solution. Children can easily recognize this structure in which they are being exposed to the foreign language. Other familiar patterns will also be activated depending on the story and how the teacher decides to present it, whether it is by reading it or through storytelling. The visual images of the characters, their voices and actions, the place where it takes place, all these make sense to children because they can relate it to previous knowledge, something that they already know, something they have already stored. Whatever is new will be added to those already existing patterns. This is why, when the story is too hard, not appropriate, not related to students interest or previous knowledge, the likelihood that they attend and learn is lower. The story format allows for authentic predictions on the story, the characters,
Brainy Ways to Teach Kids Through Stories

the problem or different solutions. As the story unfolds, these predictions are checked and confirmed. Teachers should plan when and how to make these predictions explicit to make sure this adds to their meaningful experience.

Practice has a main role in the learning process. It is through practice, rehearsal, repetition that information can become part of our working memory and then held as long term memory. Finally, and ideally, the process might become automatic. Learning consists of reinforcing the connections between neurons.

Children learn by doing, playing, becoming active participants in the process. Working with a story as a tool to teach language involves using different activities after

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reading the story that little by little might lead children to build confidence on the language used, experience the story and make it their own. When students are provided with activities to practice the story, to practice using the language of the story, they stimulate and strengthen the circuits that support such learning experiences. First, they need to make an effort to remember the phrases in the story. Little by little, with the support of activities and the teacher as mediator, phrases from the story become more and more familiar. Here repetition with variation becomes an important aspect to take into account. Teachers should use different ways to practice the story, its characters or events by using sequencing games, flashcards, memory games, charades, freeze, preparing puppets, or masks. These activities should ideally take different forms, considering various learning styles. Because each of the senses has a separate storage area in the brain, multisensory input results in duplicated storage and can be retrieved by a variety of stimuli. When a new memory, in this case new language, is linked to a sensation, a movement or an emotion, it travels into the memory storage along more than one pathway, leading to greater memory retention and recall. In this way, students can feel comfortable practicing in their preferred style as well as challenged to use some other styles. So, the teacher might provide an activity
Brainy Ways to Teach Kids Through Stories

that involves movement, another involving flashcards or visual input and finally one that focuses on sounds or oral expression. These activities give students some sense and need to practice the story and the language involved in it. Then, students can easily recall the phrases. Finally, they can use this language more creatively or apply it in other situations. All in all, it is throughout this process that students become owners of the story and their understanding of meaning of the foreign language grows. Another important consequence of providing several times to practice and rehearse any new language form, is allowing the neural network to fire correctly more than once. The student, therefore, becomes more confident and motivated to keep on practicing and learning.

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Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program Maria Laura Fuertes

Stories are meaningful contexts where emotions are let in, building a unique learning environment that promotes opportunities for involvement and social interaction

Social and cognitive development are intimately related. Throughout life, an individuals brain changes and is shaped in response to its experiences and engagement with others. Therefore, learning is deeply influenced by the social relationships within which an individual is immersed. As humans, individuals can imitate others, understand them and learn how to interact with each other. Building academic knowledge involves integrating emotion and cognition in social context. If social behavior is dynamically shaped; the design of teaching/learning process cannot disregard this aspect.

When reading stories or telling them as a tool to teach, there is authentic social interaction between the teacher and students, and interaction between students should be promoted as well. In storytelling or reading aloud, students can take part and become active participants through echoing phrases, movements and predicting. While
Brainy Ways to Teach Kids Through Stories

sharing the story, instances of interaction among students could be planned for the predictions by using Think-Pair-Share technique. Then, when practicing or playing with the story itself, students are in constant interaction, learning how to take turns, to listen to others and to share.

Stories are a meaningful context where emotions are let in building a unique learning environment that promotes opportunities for involvement and for social interaction thus fostering creativity.

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Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program Maria Laura Fuertes

When compared to traditional tasks, those involving creative thinking appear to engage more complex neural networks. Abilities such as working memory and sustained attention are associated with creativity. Artistic expression also shows concept construction and innovation.

If teachers think about a creative production as a final product, this challenging activity makes the practice worthwhile. Practice and rehearsal have an added meaning: Only through these, students will be able to make the story their own and move onto their more creative production. The language knowledge acquired is paired with imagination, to come up with something original, meaningful and valuable. Bringing into the classroom more time to do something with what is being learnt not only encourages children to become more actively engaged, but also helps them build deeper understanding and gives them a sense of achievement.

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Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program Maria Laura Fuertes

STORY KIT: Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock by Eric A. Kimmel


STORYLINE
INTRODUCTION This is a story about Anansi the SPIDER. One day, Anansi was walking, walking, walking through the forest. ANANSI. Aha! Whats this? How Interesting! Isnt this a strange moss-covered rock? KPOM! KPOM! Anansi fell down. An hour later, she woke up. Her head was spinning, spinning, spinning. Anansi looked at the rock. She started thinking, thinking, thinking about the rock. ANANSI. How Interesting! Isnt this a strange moss-covered rock? KPOM! KPOM! Anansi fell down again. An hour later, she woke up. Her head was spinning, spinning, spinning. Anansi looked at the rock. She started thinking, thinking, thinking about the rock. ANANSI. This is a magic rock!! I have an idea!! EVENT #1 Anansi was walking, walking, walking. She came to the RED house. ANANSI. LION lives here!! He has ONE delicious YAM. I like YAMS! Yummy, yummy Hi! Its very hot today! Lets go for a walk! LION. That sounds great! So, the LION and Anansi went walking, walking, walking. ANANSI. LION, do you see what I see? LION. Oh, Yes! Isnt this a strange moss-covered rock? KPOM! KPOM! LION fell down. And Anansi rushed, rushed, rushed and took ONE YAM to HIS . Take out of the bag the RED house. Ask Ss Who lives here? Open one side of the door. Ss predict. . T makes reference to the food. Look! What has he got? . Make gesture, rub your tummy . Thumbs up! . Always use the same movement for waking. . Surprised look. . Make falling down funny . Pause after that . Make gesture for rushing. . Place ONE YAM in Anansis house. . Say hi to Anansi with Ss . Always use the same movement for the spider walking. Ss mime . Surprised look . Make falling down funny . Pause after that . Always use the same movement for waking up and the head spinning. Ss mime. . Make a gesture for thinking. Ss mime . Surprised look. . Ss echo . Make falling down funny . Pause after that . Always use the same movement for waking up and the head spinning. Ss mime. . Asks Ss How does Anansi feel? SAD? Say the phrase in sad mood. ANGRY? HAPPY? JOYFUL? Ss echo.

TEACHERS INTERVENTION

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Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program Maria Laura Fuertes

house. An hour later, LION woke up. His head was spinning, spinning, spinning. He went to his house but there were no more YAMS. He was so saaaaaad. But Anansi was very happy. She couldnt wait to play the trick again. EVENT #2 Anansi was walking, walking, walking. She came to the BLUE house. ANANSI. ELEPHANT lives here!! He has TWO delicious BANANAS. I like BANANAS! Hi! Its very hot today! Lets go for a walk! ELEPHANT. That sounds great! So, the ELEPHANT and Anansi went walking, walking, walking. ANANSI. ELEPHANT, do you see what I see? ELEPHANT. Oh, Yes! Isnt this a strange moss-covered rock? KPOM! KPOM! ELEPHANT fell down. And Anansi rushed, rushed, rushed and took TWO BANANAS. An hour later, ELEPHANT woke up. His head was spinning, spinning, spinning. He went to his house but there were no more BANANAS. He was so saaaaaad. But Anansi was very happy. She couldnt wait to play the trick again. EVENT #3 Anansi was walking, walking, walking. She came to the YELLOW house. ANANSI. The RHINO lives here!! He has THREE delicious WATERMELONS. I like WATERMELONS! Hi! Its very hot today! Lets go for a walk! RHINO. That sounds great! So, the RHINO and Anansi went walking, walking, walking.

. Always use the same movement for waking up and the head spinning. Ss mime. . Make a sad face. Ss mime. . Make a happy face, Ss mine.

. Take out of the bag the BLUE house. Ask Ss Who lives here? Open one side of the door. Ss predict. . T makes reference to the food. Look! What has he got? . Make gesture, rub your tummy . Thumbs up! . Always use the same movement for waking. . Surprised look. . Make falling down funny . Pause after that . Make gesture for rushing. . Place the TWO BANANAS in Anansis house. . Always use the same movement for waking up and the head spinning. Ss mime. . Make a sad face. Ss mime. . Make a happy face, Ss mine.

. Take out of the bag the YELLOW house. Ask Ss Who lives here? Open one side of the door. Ss predict. . T makes reference to the food. Look! What has he got? . Make gesture, rub your tummy . Thumbs up! . Always use the same movement for waking.

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ANANSI. RHINO, do you see what I see? RHINO. Oh, Yes! Isnt this a strange moss-covered rock? KPOM! KPOM! RHINO fell down. And Anansi rushed, rushed, rushed and took the THREE WATERMELONS. An hour later, RHINO woke up. His head was spinning, spinning, spinning. He went to his house but there were no more WATERMELONS. He was so saaaaaad. But Anansi was very happy. She couldnt wait to play the trick again. EVENT #4 Anansi was walking, walking, walking. She came to the GREEN house. ANANSI. HIPPO lives here!! He has FOUR delicious PINEAPPLES. I like PINEAPPLES! Hi! Its very hot today! Lets go for a walk! HIPPO. That sounds great! So, the HIPPO and Anansi went walking, walking, walking. ANANSI. HIPPO, do you see what I see? HIPPO. Oh, Yes! Isnt this a strange moss-covered rock? KPOM! KPOM! HIPPO fell down. And Anansi rushed, rushed, rushed and took the FOUR PINEAPPLES. An hour later, HIPPO woke up. His head was spinning, spinning, spinning. He went to his house but there were no more PINEAPPLES. He was so saaaaaad. But Anansi was very happy. She couldnt wait to play the trick again.

. Surprised look.

. Make falling down funny . Pause after that . Make gesture for rushing. . Place the THREE WATERMELONS in Anansis house. . Always use the same movement for waking up and the head spinning. Ss mime. . Make a sad face. Ss mime. . Make a happy face. Ss mine.

. Take out of the bag the GREEN house. Ask Ss Who lives here? Open one side of the door. Ss predict. . T makes reference to the food. Look! What has he got? . Make gesture, rub your tummy . Thumbs up! . Always use the same movement for waking. . Surprised look. . Make falling down funny . Pause after that . Make gesture for rushing. . Place the THREE WATERMELONS in Anansis house. . Always use the same movement for waking up and the head spinning. Ss mime. . Make a sad face. Ss mime. . Make a happy face, Ss mine.

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Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program Maria Laura Fuertes

EVENT #5 Anansi was walking, walking, walking. She came to the PURPLE house. ANANSI. The ZEBRA lives here!! She has FIVE delicious TOMATOES. I like TOMATOES! Hi! Its very hot today! Lets go for a walk! ZEBRA. That sounds great! So, the ZEBRA and Anansi went walking, walking, walking. ANANSI. ZEBRA, do you see what I see? ZEBRA. Oh, Yes! Isnt this a strange moss-covered rock? KPOM! KPOM! ZEBRA fell down. And Anansi rushed, rushed, rushed and took the FIVE TOMATOES. An hour later, ZEBRA woke up. Her head was spinning, spinning, spinning. She went to his house but there were no more TOMATOES. She was so saaaaaad. But Anansi was very happy. She couldnt wait to play the trick again. EVENT #6 . Take out of the bag the PURPLE house. Ask Ss Who lives here? Open one side of the door. Ss predict. . Make reference to the food. Look! What has she got? . Make gesture, rub your tummy . Thumbs up! . Always use the same movement for waking.

. Surprised look. . Make falling down funny . Pause after that . Make gesture for rushing. . Place the TOMATOES in Anansis house. . Always use the same movement for waking up and the head spinning. Ss mime. . Make a sad face. Ss mime. . Make a happy face. Ss mine.

Anansi was walking, walking, walking. She came to the ORANGE house. ANANSI. GIRAFFE lives here!! She has SIX delicious ORANGES. I like ORANGES! Hi! Its very hot today! Lets go for a walk! GIRAFFE. That sounds great! So, the GIRAFFE and Anansi went walking, walking, walking. ANANSI. GIRAFFE, do you see what I see? GIRAFFE. Oh, Yes! Isnt this a strange moss-covered rock? KPOM! KPOM! GIRAFFE fell down. And Anansi rushed, rushed, rushed and took her SIX ORANGES.

. Ask Ss Who lives here? Open one side of the door. Ss predict. . T makes reference to the food. Look! What has he got? . Make gesture, rub your tummy . Thumbs up! . Always use the same movement for waking. . Surprised look. . Make falling down funny . Pause after that

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. Take out of the bag the ORANGE house.

Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program Maria Laura Fuertes

An hour later, GIRAFFE woke up. Her head was spinning, spinning, spinning. She went to her house but there were no more ORANGES. She was so saaaaaad. But Anansi was very happy. She couldnt wait to play the trick again. ENDING Anansi NEVER realized that one animal was ALWAYS looking at her. Anansi was walking, walking, walking. She saw the DEER. ANANSI. DEER!! He has SEVEN delicious COCONUTS. I like COCONUTS! Hi! Its very hot today! Lets go for a walk! DEER. That sounds great! So, the DEER and Anansi went walking, walking, walking. ANANSI. DEER, do you see what I see? DEER. NO! I dont see anything. ANANSI. DEER! Look here! Do you see what I see? DEER. NO! I dont see anything. ANANSI. DEER! LOOK RIGHT HERE! Do you see what I see? You dont want to say it! DEER. I see a rock! A moss-covered rock! ANANSI. No! You dont have to say that! DEER. What do I have to say? ANANSI. Isnt this a strange moss-covered rock? KPOM! KPOM! Anasi fell down. And DEER rushed, rushed, rushed to call the animals. LION took his JAMS. ELEPHANT took his BANANAS. RHINO took his WATERMELONS. HIPPO took his PINNEAPPLES. ZEBRA took her TOMATOES. GIRAFFE took her ORANGES DEER took her COCONUTS. They were soooo happy! An hour later, Anansi woke up. Her head was spinning, spinning, spinning.

. Make gesture for rushing. . Place the ORANGES in Anansis house. . Always use the same movement for waking up and the head spinning. Ss mime. . Make a sad face. Ss mime. . Make a happy face, Ss mime.

. Ask ss to find the DEER hidden behind the trees in the forest.

. T makes reference to the food. Look! What has he got? . Make gesture, rub your tummy. . Thumbs up! . Always use the same movement for walking.

. Each time louder, Anansi is getting angry! . Even louder!

. Make falling down funny . Pause after that . Make gesture for rushing. . All the animals bring their food back home.

. Make happy faces. Ss mime. . Always use the same movement for waking up and the head spinning. Ss mime.

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She went home and her house was empty: no more JAMS, no more BANANAS, no more WATERMELONS, no more PINNEAPPLES, no more TOMATOES, no more ORGANGES and no more COCONUTS.

This is a guide for teachers to understand the reasons why this story can be an effective tool to teach EFL to young children, considering notions of Mind Brain and Education Science that have already been discussed.

Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock provides a meaningful context In using this story, children are exposed to the language as a whole and not as isolated items. The teacher can decide which could be the language focus that she might choose to practice later on, always depending on the level taught. Possible ideas could include: animals, numbers, food items, expressing likes. This story is easy to adapt to different teaching situations and make it more relevant for a specific class. Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock provides a meaningful context where emotions are let in All teachers will probably love Anansi, and students will love it too! Students will become emotionally engaged and they will seek out to repeat such pleasurable experiences by retelling or reading the story again and again. Also, the characters act and feel just like people so emotions and imagination very easily become attached to this story experience. The main focus is the story itself, not the language being used, this keeps students anxiety low and allows them to learn the language without being consciously aware of it. Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock provides a meaningful context where emotions are let in, building a unique learning environment
Brainy Ways to Teach Kids Through Stories

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Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program Maria Laura Fuertes

Several characteristics of the story, as well as possible activities to do with it make it suitable for building the positive, non-threatening environment where learning is likely to occur. The story preview is important in building this type of environment that will help to make students get involved in the story and the extension activities. It should capture students attention, get them motivated, and make them feel curious This experience will not have some survival value, so it should have some interest value for them! Story Preview o The special bag is one of the containers from where the story will unfold. In order to make it even a more special container, it can be accompanied by this chant to foster curiosity. Students might think: Whats inside the bag today? Chant: Oh bag, oh bag! Shake, shake, shake. Oh bag, oh bag!
Brainy Ways to Teach Kids Through Stories

What shall I take?

o Teachers should be thoughtful about what to put inside to capture students attention. It should cause an effect! This time, the dough is inside the bag. This is probably something novel for students and it is an example of a nonspecific prop: Dough can become anything!! It models the use of symbolic representation to let students imagine what it could become.

o Teachers should pass the dough around so that students can touch the rock. They can guess what it is. Encourage predictions: What can this be in

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our story? This is important to appeal the different senses as well as to help students start becoming more involved and active participants. Its not about just telling, but experiencing the story. Later on, as the story unfolds, this element will become even more memorable with its magic effect!

o Then, sing the chant again. This time, students in turns will take out the main character of the story: the spider, her house (the net), some plants and the sun to build the scenery of the forest on a sunny and hot day. This helps set up the background for the story experience.

Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock provides a meaningful context where emotions are let in, building a unique learning environment that promotes opportunities for involvement and social interaction When the incoming stimulus is a story, it is certainly a meaningful one that matches some patters, some background knowledge that children already have. The structure of stories
Brainy Ways to Teach Kids Through Stories

is something that children are acquainted with. In this case, the storyline is simple but it has a conflict, something happens. It is not just a mere description. This story even has a moral that can be dealt with depending on the level taught and the age of the children. Moreover, the story is built up of repetitive structures and events, which make it ideal to teach the foreign language in the first years of instruction. This is also important to avoid rejection or ignorance of the incoming stimulus. If it is too hard, students just do not attend. Story Experience As regards the presentation of the story, the options include reading the story, storytelling or a combination of both. For this story kit, the choice has been to start with

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storytelling. Teachers interventions have been described alongside the story. Reading might come later on as part of the follow up activities, depending on the literacy level of the students and the objectives of the class. Children learn by doing and becoming active participants in the learning process, thus the story experience should encourage opportunities for involvement and social interaction. A story experience is not about mere listeners but active participants. This is explained in detail before, which highlights the importance of previous planning for intervention, but some considerations for storytelling include: o The use of different voices for each character and onomatopoeic phrases can be useful as auditory stimulation as well as characterization. Children can even help in working out different voices. o The use the same gestures throughout (walking, spinning). Students will be also matching some movement to the language used. o Interacting with children and asking them to echo some parts, mime the movements, make simple predictions wherever it is proposed in the
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script. Make sure these predictions are checked. o Taking the houses one at a time as the story unfolds. One of the greatest things about this story is the magic rock. Children will find this engaging and fun. Children will be waiting for the moment in the story when the animals fall. Playing with the Story All the activities after the storytelling experience should lead students to get more involved with the story, the characters, the actions and the language used. All the activities should aim at helping children recall and rehearse the phrases and events of the story. In this way, the story experience becomes more personal and memorable. Here, depending on the

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literacy level of the students and the objectives, different activities could be done. In all these activities students are interacting with their peers or with the teacher in one way or another, not just working by themselves. One sequence could be: 1) Sequencing. Houses mixed up! Put the houses in the order of the story. Then, put the characters next to the correct houses and the food items a well. 2) Matching. Memory game: animal food item (even houses could be added) 3) Freeze and Mime Game. Show cards with the main actions of the story: walk, spin, fall down, etc. Students look at one card while the music is on, and when it stops, the card is no longer visible and students have to mime the action they remember from the card shown. 4) Dramatization. Students decorate their own headbands and dramatize the story. Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock provides a meaningful context where emotions are let
Brainy Ways to Teach Kids Through Stories

in, building a unique learning environment that promotes opportunities for involvement and social interaction, thus fostering creativity. Students are encouraged to use the format of the story but to introduce creative changes. This will depend on the age and level of the students, as well as the characteristics of the learning environment. It can be done as pair work or group work or even whole class work. These creative changes might include: o Changing the characters, the setting, the food items, and even the magic element or the effect that it causes.

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Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program Maria Laura Fuertes

o Designing the new props or the way the story is presented: in a mini book, a comic, a picture story, a dramatization or just a similar storytelling format. Even using some technology tool for the final product. Again, this always depends on the teaching/learning context. Finally, both the original version and the creative production should stay in the special bag in an accessible place within the classroom where students can pick it up and play with it. Teachers should remember the importance of rehearsal and provide opportunities for children to play with the stories over and over again, leading to new dialogues and ideas to further recreate the story. Materials provided in the story kit: Special Bag Dough for the moss covered rock. Spider, net, pictures of tress and sun for the scenery. Houses and character puppets. Food items cards. Memory game cards: characters and food items. (houses maybe) Headbands. Cards with actions.

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Teacher Training Proposal New findings and demonstrations should serve as inspiring models for current and future teachers. Projects, experiences, research and products should definitely help other colleagues and advanced students to initiate their own way to teaching practice transformation. This proposal offers the opportunity to rethink about the use of stories as a means to teach a foreign language to young children. Teachers are introduced to some concepts of Brian, Mind and Education some ideas that should be taken into account in the classroom environment. Also, it offers teachers the opportunity to experience this story kit proposal, rather than just read about it. It provides them with time to work in groups, to share ideas and to come up with useful proposals to use in class with different stories. Finally, it enables them to become part of a blog that provides supportive online professional development and new ideas to work taking into account the new trend in education. Such a network can foster mutual collaboration between trainer and trainees beyond the training process.

Objectives Understand basic concepts about the brain. Discuss about myths and truths about how the brain learns. Reflect on the use of stories as a tool to teach EFL to young children. Understand and reflect on the relevance of some activities in the learning process. Prepare and/or adapt a story kit. Become part of a network to foster on going collaboration.
Brainy Ways to Teach Kids Through Stories

Teachers will be able to

Calendar Plan The proposal is divided into three sessions, of 1 hour 30 each.

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Activities Proposed SESSION #1 Participants choose one story from some provided and brainstorm characteristics that would make them a suitable tool to teach EFL to young children. STORY TIME #1. Typical and simple way of introducing a story. Think-Pair-Share. What aspects do you consider relevant when choosing and telling the story? Which ones have you seen reflected? Which one would you change? STORYTIME #2. Other ways to consider when introducing a story. POSTER. In groups, teachers prepare a poster that shows the characteristics of stories discussed and possible activities to be carried out. SESSION #2 How the brain works. Key concepts of Mind, Brain and Education Science. Making connections. Elements from the previous session and MBE concepts. MIND MAP. In groups, come up with a mind map with items to consider when planning how to use a story. GROUP WORK. Using a story of their own choice, adapt it, think about possible activities taking into account the previous sessions. STORY KIT. SHARING TIME: story kits. Personal Reflection. Introduction to the network through a blog. Feedback and evaluation.
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SESSION #3

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Conclusions and Future Challenges If teachers are a bit like gardeners, every day at school is a new opportunity to sow seeds, nourish students learning or weed out misunderstandings. Every class is an experience that shapes their brain. Better understanding of the structure and function of the brain can help teachers rethink teaching tools and strategies, become more informed to transform teaching practices. The new trend of MBE cannot be disregarded and should be taken as an opportunity to promote this transformation in the classroom that is needed to cope with the demands of current students needs. The completion of the Capstone Project has been an opportunity to reflect on Mind, Brain and Education Science or Neuropsychoeducation as an emerging field and to nurture the understanding of learning. The focus on analyzing the use of stories more in depth strengthened the belief about the power of stories as a tool to teach EFL to children. Moreover, the connections formulated have become a framework to be used not only to design story kits with many other stories but also to reflect on other instructional tools and strategies. The new challenge is to multiply the effect of this nurturing project. In this regard, the development of the story kit sample is the first step to continue developing useful
Brainy Ways to Teach Kids Through Stories

instructional material to teach children. The Teacher Training Proposal provides a possibility to share this knowledge and experience at school and other institutions as well as the Teacher Training at University. Furthermore, the impact of the tools designed could be further analyzed by implementing them in classrooms where a more traditional mode of instruction has been used and evaluating the outcomes. Other possible areas of related research have also emerged from conversations about this Capstone Project. These challenges will all be fascinating and exciting to work towards.

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References Blakemore, S., & Frith, U. (2005). The Learning Brain: Lessons for education. Malden, MA: Blackwell. Blakemore, S., & Frith, U. (2005). The Learning Brain: Lessons for education: A prcis. Developmental Science, 8 (6), 459-465. Bodrova, E. & Leong, D.J. (2007). Tools of the Mind: The Vygotskian Approach to Early Childhood Education. 2nd Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education Inc. Byrnes, J.P. & Fox, N.A. (1998). The Educational Relevance of Research in Cognitive Neuroscience. Educational Psychology Review, 10, 297-342. Diamond, A. & Tippet, K. (2009) Leaning, Doing and Being: A New Science of Education. Retrieved from http://being.publicradio.org/programs/2009/learningdoing-being/video-diamond.shtml#video Diamond, A., Barnett, W.S., Thomas, J. &Munro, S. (2007). Preschool Program Improves Cognitive Control. Science, 318, 1387-1388. Draganski, B., Gaser, C., Busch, V., Schuierer, G., Bogdahn, U., &May, A. (2004). Changes in Grey Matter Induced By Training. Nature, 427, 311-312. Faeth, M. &Immordino-Yang, M. H. (2010). The Role of Emotion and Skilled Intuition in Learning. In Sousa, D. Mind, Brain and Education: Neuroscience Implications for the Classroom (pp 69-83). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree. Goswami, U. (2004). Neuroscience and Education. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 74, 1-14.
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Greenough, W.T., Black, J.E., & Wallace, C.S. (1987). Experience and Brain Development. Child Development, 58, 539-559. Hardiman, M.M. (2010) The Creative-Artistic Brain. In Sousa, D. Mind, Brain and Education: Neuroscience Implications for the Classroom (pp 227-246). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree. Hart, L. (1983). Human Brain and Human Learning. Kent, WA: Books for Educators. Hickman, P., Pollard-Durodola, S. & Vaughn, S. (2004). Storybook reading: Improving vocabulary and comprehension for English language learners. Reading Teacher, 57, 720-730. Hoffman, J., Roser, N., & Battle, J. (1993). Reading aloud in classrooms: from the modal toward a model. Reading Teacher, 46, 496-503. Kimmel, E. (1988) Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock. New York, USA: Holiday House. Layne, S. & Silverstein, L. B. Defining Arts Integration. Retrieved from http://www.kennedy-center.org/education/ceta/ Pickering, S. J. & Howard-Jones, P.A. (2007). Educators views of the role of Neuroscience in Education: Findings From a Study of UK and International perspectives. Mind, Brain and Education, 1(3), 109-113. Ratey, J. (2002). A Users Guide to the Brain: Perception, Attention and the Four Theatres of the Brain. New York: Vintage Books. Robinson, K. (2001). Out of Our Minds: Learning To Be Creative. West Sussex, United Kingdom: Wiley &Sons.

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Sawyer, R.K, (2006). Educating For Innovation. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 1(1), 4148. Sousa, D. et al. (2010). Mind, Brain and Education: Neuroscience Implications for the Classroom. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree. Sylwester, R. (1995). A Celebration of Neurons. An Educators Guide to the Human Brain. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Tokuhama Espinosa, T. (2011). Mind, Brain and Education Science: A Comprehensive Guide to New Brain-Based Teaching. New York, NJ: Norton & Company, Inc. Willis, J. (2006). Research-based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning: Insights from a Neurologist and Classroom Teacher. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Willis, J. (2007). Brain-Friendly Strategies for the Inclusion Classroom. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Willis, J. (2008). How Your Child Learns Best: Brain-Friendly Strategies you can Use to Ignite Your Childs Learning and Increase School Success. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks. Willis, J. (2010). The Current Impact of Neuroscience on Teaching and Learning. In Sousa, D. Mind, Brain and Education: Neuroscience Implications for the Classroom (pp 44-66). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree. Wolfe, P. (2001). Brain Matters: Translating Research into Classroom Practice. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
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Websites http://www.aboutmind.com/memory-brain-neurons-1.shtml http://www.wholechildeducation.com http://www.dana.org

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