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Remote Ready Biology Learning Activities

Remote Ready Biology Learning Activities has 50 remote-ready activities, which work for either your classroom or remote teaching.

1998 Brain and Behavior Institute
Working Papers

"I learned neither sums not speech until I was ten ..." "... I feared fire, loud noise, ..., but only in the presence of those terrors, never between times, and so anxiety was foreign to me ... My moral training required no preachment ... : Who neglects his appetities suffers their pangs ... Cleave to him, I learned, who does you kindness; Avoid him who does you hurt; Stay inside the fence; ... Don't exchange the certain for the possible; ... Simple lessons, instinct with wisdom, that grant to him who heeds them afternoons of browsy bliss and dreamless nights. Thirteen years they fenced my soul's pasture, I romped without a care. In the fourteenth I slipped their gate - as I have since many another - looked over my shoulder, and that what I'd said bye-bye to was ..." and found was ...
- - - John Barth, Giles Goat-Boy, 1987

Institute expectations/hopes

Esther BrownBiology, health at Edison/Fareira, fascinated by brain
Rita Brownspecial ed, science, life science at Wilson Middle, see how to integrate brain/technology into classroom
Angela Bryantcomputer science atElverson Middle, to learn more about brain
Oscar Galvisphysics and chemistry, Bok High School, new teacher, wants new things
Randal Hollyscience teacher at Fitzsimmons Middle School, revitalize seventh grade life science
Jo Ann Joneselementary counselor, special ed Whitier School, interested in learning disabilities, ADHD, mother of special ed child
Barbara JohnsonEnglish and reading,Lincoln High, wants to know why students react the way they do, understand that people react differently
Nora Kasperenvironmental science at Father Judge High, realizing lots of topics (violence, teacher apathy, lack of communication) that brain and behavior seem usefully to relate to
Gloria Nicholsfacilitator at Olney Cluster, ASCD workshop on brain and behavior, brain causing disruptions?, provide information on how classroom relates to behavior (ex-sci teacher at Leeds), want "change" or not?, need it?
Yvette Palmertaught nutrition at Wilson Middle, moving to Martin Luther King High, wants to understand brain in order to better educate students
Maceo Randallbiology, environmental, physical science at Lincoln High School, changes, different kinds of students, how to get them to learn better, help students learn about brain/behavior/environment relations, make better decisions about school lives
Luci Ryanex Leeds, now at Wagner Middle, teaching math, increased need to focus on standards, what makes a whole brain vs left or right learner, effects of trauma, of diet (changes lead to changes in behavior), "problem solving" vs skills, is it desireable?, how affects brain?
Andrea Thomasfirst year teaching science at Rhodes Middle School, wants greater resource base in science, had been teaching social studies
Geneva Tolliferreo social studies and science at Central West A.B.L.E. (Acceptable Behavior Learning Environment) Academy, product of school system (including Maceo), interested in filling in missing gaps due to PG "getting into it", interested in seeing or not seeing what do or do not see, dealt with children differently this year than last year, change as professional, from old school, interested in working still better with "behavior-challenged" children, discipline to "cause them to learn", saw kid learn "with eyes closed", was controlling own behavior to learn better?, "every child different"
Regina Toscanispecial ed at Central East Middle School, "lower functioning" kids, interested in what can do to help "damage", use of bio-feedback to help attention, has learning disability and product of school system before such things acknowledged, wants to help others achieve, value/problems of "labels"
Marita Wagnerspeech therapist at Laura Carnell, wants to stimulate own brain
Aaron Watsonlast year at Cooke Middle School, social studies; wanted to enjoy thinking, heard it could be done here, wants to enhance professional knowledge for enhancing children's education
Carole Weeksschool nurse at Whittier School, special ed and regular ed, always interested in brain, behavior, ritalin only one of many drugs, does brain atrophy when not stimulated?, need for parents to better understand behavior
Nicole BlissBryn Mawr College undergrad, transfer from Temple, Delaware CC, physics major, encountered teachers saying "you don't know how to learn", interested in biology/brain in relation to how to learn, what learning is.
Paul GrobsteinShare some thoughts/experiences thinking about how the brain works ... hear your experiences/thoughts/certainties/uncertainties about education ... enjoy thinking together about how all that relates.

What is science?

What is life?

What do they have to do with education?

Science as a recursive process Life as a recursive process Education as a recursive process?

Public education not intended as enlightenment of students? Intended instead as socializing mechanism for workplace? Need for noiselessness to facilitate participation in workplace? Need noise/disarray for cooperative learning?

Liberal arts model not a good basis for public education?

The brain ... ?

The Brain - is wider than the Sky -
For - put them side by side -
The one the other will contain
With ease - and You - beside -"

- - - Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

What is the brain (nervous system)?

Can it be ... everything? you?

The nervous system as an autonomous, homeostatic, recursive system rather than a stimulus/response machine.

The nervous system as an interconnected set of boxes connected to body, outside world

Each box made up of smaller boxes, which are themselves interconnected

The smallest box in any box is the neuron

Different nervous systems similar at this level, differ to varying degrees in how neurons assembled (see leech, interconnected into larger boxes

Patterns of interconnection matter: paraplegia

Have interacting boxes.

Autonomy, homeostasis, recursion? ... to come

Resting potentials, action potentials, receptor potentials, synaptic potentials

Movement = motor symphony

Central pattern generation

Corollary discharge

Distributed vs hierarchical control
Non-identity of different experiences because of different ongoing activities
Brings up issue of intentional, non-intentional, and whether can get to same place
Internal models, comparison with sensory input to get percept of reality
Can "will" self to not be seasick?

Esther BrownKids extremely creative, want education as preschoolers, and then gets lost - At what levels, in which boxes, does integration happen? - Has feeling that thoughts etc are chemicals/energy, has more of mechanical than of spiritual impression
Rita BrownFrom Regina, will find it easier to relate to student that hadn't been able to reach - more reflective, needs to appreciate his internal boxes
Angela BryantGenetic/environmental influences: ran track like father, stopped, returned to it - how much is the past which determines "bad" behavior?
Oscar Galvisnew stuff, if knew it, would have lived safer life, can help kids that way
Randal HollyIf all is neurologically based, does that mean that we don't judge? discipline? - Why humans so complex, sophisticated when other things aren't - brain not quite so incontrol of all things occurred to body, more of distributed system
Jo Ann JonesAlso thought of brain as "controller", as counselor/mother little bits add on for self, for others
Barbara JohnsonAll children are "special ed"; took from Regina things to put into own classroom, important to hear things from students, will be more "tolerant/understanding/?", can help lots of students - can have actions independent of genetics and of environment?, need to be looking for that - need course four or five times
Nora KasperThinking this year not only about students but also about coworkers, families, people in general - not just profession but life experience. Fortunate to have each other.
Gloria NicholsWhy use traditional ways of teaching? Need consistency, parents need to have say as educational styles change. We total of experiences, and therefore will change because of institute. Multicultural perspective: students need to be able to say that they don't understand. Technology overwhelming Wag the Dog).
Yvette PalmerWhy education stifling kids? Liked seeing actual brain. Regina's talk touched on role as child advocate. "I am your child" website, early development important. Important to learn from each other.
Maceo RandallWhat is difference between left and right sides sof brain? Why do we just use a portion of our brain? Free will versus destiny? How relates to brain and neurons? How get to places in brain to which we don't have access? What is memory? What constitutes healing? What is spirituality?
Luci RyanWhat really clicked this year was a concrete, that motor neurons, sensory neurons in different locations. Would consider teaching that part of science. How talk about chemicals, how use them? Relates to nutrition, among other things. Likes diversity of perspectives contributing to each other. Why have memory gap?
Andrea ThomasHelped to relieve some fear about computers, had interesting class this year, "cooperative learning" advice didn't seem enough, is "multifaceted problem" requiring multifaceted solutions.
Geneva TolliferreoChildren of mothers abusing drugs, why is result so negative, why doesn't drug have positive effect? - is possible that some kids react differently, even positively? Be careful, responsible about computers. Every teacher needs to be involved in issues raised in this class. Teachers need floor to "vent" (output to provide useful input for others),
Regina ToscaniUnderstandings in part from personal life - different inputs (outside world, from body, from output), may have different effects at different times, may have experience of altering inputs and that not affecting output as desired, has to do with signals inside box, mind to varying degrees independent of input, and can get so internally active so as to block output, "own little maze within brain", may seek input (shaking) to "quiet things down" - "identity" can fluctuate (like balls in box, does early in life, can settle down over time if feedback signals consistent - brain makes up its own reality - needs to make up something orderly inside if outside too disorderly - effort to achieve homeostasis? - importance of consistent feedback, difficulties with inconsistent feedback, does one want to integrate parts or leave them free to work under different circumstances? - problems inside box true of all people, students and adults - need will power -
Marita WagnerDifferent breeds of dogs different, have different "consciences", can that be bred?, can it be educated?
Aaron WatsonDifficulty of young black males losing energy in third grade, need to make use of energy/output instead of suppressing it - has gotten from complexity of how nervous system works enhanced belief in God, hard to believe such complexity occurred through randomness, natural selection - frightened by computers/robots, own ignorance of them
Carole WeeksDon't know what think anymore. Knows now that brain has lots of parts, needs still to understand how parts can work separately, can be conflicts coming. Can seeing how knowing a lot there can be lots not known. Has fresh view of what science, as "less wrong" instead of "solving".

From motor control

Learning (and memory)


Eye and Retina, from Washington University School of Medicine - input as pattern of activity

Adding things to make it make sense (pretty good?)

Throwing away and adding to make it make sense (genetic information, lessons from past) (not bad?)

Color vision: creating categories (yuch?)

Depth perception: making sense using multiple cues

Generality of multiple cues, motion dependence

The role, or lack of it, of the "I-function", and another example

The use of ambiguity, making things up

Bottom line: experience a construction, using somewhat arbitrary categories; always ambiguous/subject to change, improved by multiple perspectives, testing; influenced but not determined by "I-function", leads to capability to make new things, not previously experienced (like science, like life)


Generalized control systems, autonomy, influenced by/not determined by input/I-function

Dreams as additional experiences, active "I-function"

"I-function" as mechanism for "making sense" of self, and hence others

Self as "I-function", non-"I-function" interplay - personality, intuition

"I-function" as agent of choice

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER (tentatively, always)

Who am I, how did I get that way, what can I do next?

Implications for education
Esther BrownOpened lots of doors, impressed with diversity, challenge is to funnel diversity into different teaching expressions; can use different chunks of model for different circumstances, experiment with it.
Rita Brownfirst year caught up in writing notes, this year let self get caught up, got more out of it; technology a valuable enhancement, helpful for thinking about it in own classroom; useful to have brain related to history of education
Angela BryantLearned a lot about how to create/work web site; teaching computer science; strengthen lesson plans by making more focused on individual characteristics of kids
Oscar Galviscompare brain/spinal cord to class; teachers and students can work separately but better if work together; classroom as complex as nervous system; better understanding of why kids behave differently from expectations; will use color and web in classes
Randal HollyNeurobiology a relatively new field of study, don't go that far back ... the basic ideas the most important as scaffolding, sound building blocks to get across complex ideas ... don't have to just accept that kids are different, can begin to feel how/why
Jo Ann Joneslots to observe and process, emotions/moods/dreams easier to grasp, action potentials etc still being processed; Kim on learning disabilities will help directly with school team; need to tune into individual learning styles; computers and internet experience valuable; will be more patient with children seeing behavior in terms of brains; children more than IQ and other "labels"; inspired by colleagues to push for more
Barbara JohnsonStudents come in with lots of baggage and we do as well, course helps teachers learn to appreciate baggage instead of reacting too quickly; still need to take course more than once; don't resent being here
Nora KasperGiving students a variety of different learning teachniques and appreciating their differences gets I-function in touch with other parts of nervous system so can give more different responses, become more of who are, is also making self more in touch with self.
Gloria NicholsNothing is reality, things constantly changing, but there is an influence of I-function, inside/outside person, can help children control outside behavior until have enough inside information to make wise choices; do need to develop patience to allow students to test their hypotheses
Yvette PalmerAs identical twin ... learning a constructive process, sums up most important part of course. Picking and choosing and putting it together.
Maceo RandallDeveloped awe for brain and nervous system, impressed by how many hats it wears, its diversity as interpreter of environment which allows us to understand learning itself; opens up ideas, gives new questions
Luci RyanBetter understand why children so different, acting the way they do. Look at students differently.
Andrea ThomasOverwhelmed as newcomer, by information on brains and computers
Geneva TolliferreoHumans seem to stumble more than do computers when developing patterns (Deepak's lamps; successive generations are supposed to get better and seem to but also seem so stumble more than appears in computer models; means one has to be more patient with humans
Regina ToscaniCame away more hopeful, professionally and personally; given brains always changing; can have long term positive effects
Marita WagnerGives greater appreciation of the individual.
Aaron WatsonEvery one has different and unique perspective; "yellow because agreed and collaborated on calling it yellow", allow each student the possibilities to interpret information that will allow for looked for outcome.
Carole WeeksLearned a lot, thoughts have changed about some things, problem is to determine whether behavior patterns a result of I-function or something else, to determine whether they know what they are doing or not; feel greater responsibility to help teachers/parents understand children, so can cope better with them, parents prepare kids for learning.

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