Do you know your neuromyths from your neurotruths?
Tips for Facilitators
Many of the cards are worded to be provocative. Some will challenge long and deeply held beliefs. We want debate and discussion. Here are some guidelines for facilitators to help them create an impactful session:
- Facilitate thoughtfully; steer discussions back to safer ground when they go places where you are unsure what the research truly says.
- If you are unsure of an answer to a question, just say that you don’t know that yet and reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. This exercise is all about busting neuromyths, so avoid creating new ones or perpetuating ideas that are not backed by research evidence.
- Use one of the extension activities, or put your own spin on the experience, to give participants a space to unpack their thinking.
- Begin extension activities by helping teachers connect what they are already doing to positive things they have read on the cards, then move on to tweaks and changes in practice.
- Create an easy way for participants to raise questions with facilitators after the session has ended. Some people might have a thought burning in their mind as a result of a long-held belief being challenged, and being able to air that thought right away can be immensely helpful.
- If you want to know more about the topic on a card, match the letter on the back to the list of citations on this website.
The goal of these activities is to help teachers unpack the experience they just had playing the card game. They should help teachers make connections to things they are already doing, and identify some next-step areas for change.
We estimate that these activities could take an additional 10 to 40 minutes. These activities could also be used for spaced practice at a later date.
Please feel free to modify these activities or create your own. Educators are fabulously creative, so we know you will come up with some great ideas. Please share them with us; we would love to hear from you. Email us at email@example.com.
Extension Activity 1
Help teachers see how their current practice already aligns with MBE research. The journey of becoming an MBE research-informed teacher is not so daunting when you can see that you are already on the pathway.
Take a look at the cards in the Happy brain pile and see which ones you can sort into either of these two piles:
I ALREADY do or know this
I already purposefully AVOID doing this
Extension Activity 2
Help teachers plan an actionable next step.
- Instruct teachers to choose one card that really resonates with them, either because they were particularly jolted by the revelation or because they can see the great impact it could have on the needs of their students. Teachers could choose individually or as a group, your call.
- Have teachers write down what they can do in the next two weeks to put the strategy or idea on the card into action in their own class. Group members should help each other develop their action plans.
- Share out some ideas from the groups.
Extension Activity 3
Identify what really is resonating most with the group as a whole, which might help you identify priorities for systematic change in your school or district. Many neuromyths can be addressed with simple interventions, so have faith! Each card has a unique number on it. Use a word cloud polling app, like Mentimeter, Slido, or Poll Everywhere, and have audience members enter their top three most important neuromyths (as a digit, not text). The most-voted-on neuromyths will appear largest in the word cloud. Ask for volunteers who have the best “would-want-you-to-be-reading-a-book-on-Audible” voice, and ask them to read the top vote-getters out.
Streak for the brain-cash
This game works well in person and online over video conferencing.
While it works well as a solo game, it is more fun played in small groups.
- If you are playing this online, distribute a deck of cards to a quarter of your faculty.
- Announce the rules to everyone, then put people in groups or breakout rooms of 4, making sure you have someone with a deck of cards in each group.
- The dealer should start by shuffling the deck well.
- The dealer reads the statement on the top card. As a group, decide whether the statement is true or false.
- Each group is allowed one “pass” that they can choose to use at any point.
- Flip over the card and see if you were correct.
- Count your longest streak of correct cards.
- If you are not correct, start building your streak again from zero. You get your one “pass” back.
- When you reach the end of the deck of cards, count your longest streak. If your streak was still active when you reached the end of the deck, you get a +5 bonus to your score.
- The team with the highest score wins. Think of some creative or delicious prizes for the winners.
Build your MBE inventory
This works very well as a solo game, but can also be played by a small group. It can be played online, either with one person who is in charge of the deck, or with everyone having their own deck and comparing answers at the end.
- Find the three brain cards and use them to make three piles:
- Happy brain: “This is true of me – I regularly do this”
- Sad brain: “This is not true of me – I never do this”
- Puzzled brain: “This is somewhat true of me – I sometimes do this”
- Shuffle the cards, answer side down, and deal yourself 24 cards.
- Put the rest of the cards away. You can play this game multiple times and get a different set of cards each time.
- Read the top card and decide which of the three piles you should put it on.
- Keep going until you have sorted all 24 cards.
- Now it is time to see how well you did. Turn over all the cards in your Happy brain pile – the things you regularly do – and look at the answers.
- Put all the cards with a Smiley brain on them in a pile to your right – you got these correct. They are already part of your MBE inventory.
- Look for all cards with a Sad brain on them and read the answers. Put them in a pile on to your left. These are things that you can work on removing from your practice.
- Now turn over your Sad brain pile and look at the answers.
- Put all the cards with a Sad brain on them in a pile on your right side – you got these correct as they are already things you avoid doing.
- Look for all cards with a Happy brain on them and read the answers. Put them in a pile on your left hand side. These are things that you can work at adding to your practice.
- The pile you have created on your right is your MBE Inventory – areas where your daily practice already aligns with research. Select your top three areas of strength.
- The pile you have created on your left represents your MBE Action Items – areas where you could tweak your daily practice to help align it with what we know from research. Select three to work on. Choose items that:
- Resonate with you
- Are readily doable
- Are likely to have a positive impact on your students
- Finally, turn over your Puzzled brain pile and look at the answers. For each card, determine whether it should be placed in your MBE Inventory or in your MBE Action Items.
Share with us
Please take pictures of your teachers working with the cards and share them on Twitter (tag us @theCTTL) along with a sentence about what you learned, or email it to us: firstname.lastname@example.org. We love to hear your stories.
If you have any suggestions for a new card to add to our deck, a neuromyth you would love to see busted, or have thought of a new game to play with our cards, please send us an email.
Each card is supported by multiple pieces of research. The list below gives one citation for each card as a starting point for exploring more.
- Hattie, J., & Timperley, H. (2007). The Power of Feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77(1), 81–112.
- Center, L. D. W. (2014, November 29). Is the Feedback You’re Giving Students Helping or Hindering? LSI Dylan Wiliam Center.
- Teaching and Learning Toolkit, Education Endowment Foundation
- Bruyckere, P. D. (2019). More Urban Myths About Learning and Education: Challenging Eduquacks, Extraordinary Claims, and Alternative Facts (1st edition). Routledge.
- Dekker, S., Lee, N. C., Howard-Jones, P., & Jolles, J. (2012). Neuromyths in Education: Prevalence and Predictors of Misconceptions among Teachers. Frontiers in Psychology, 3.
- Macdonald, K., Germine, L., Anderson, A., Christodoulou, J., & McGrath, L. M. (2017). Dispelling the Myth: Training in Education or Neuroscience Decreases but Does Not Eliminate Beliefs in Neuromyths. Frontiers in Psychology, 8.
- Hinton, C., Fischer, K., & Glennon, C. (2012). Mind, Brain, and Education: The Student at the Center Series. Mind, Brain, and Education, March, 2012.
- Mills, K. L., Dumontheil, I., Speekenbrink, M., & Blakemore, S.-J. (2015). Multitasking during social interactions in adolescence and early adulthood. Royal Society Open Science, 2(11), 150117.
- Daniel, D. B., & Woody, W. D. (2013). E-textbooks at what cost? Performance and use of electronic v. print texts. Computers & Education, 62, 18–23.
- Wiliam, D. (2011). Embedded Formative Assessment – practical strategies and tools for K-12 teachers (US ed edition). Solution Tree.
- Diamond, D. M., Campbell, A. M., Park, C. R., Halonen, J., & Zoladz, P. R. (2007). The Temporal Dynamics Model of Emotional Memory Processing: A Synthesis on the Neurobiological Basis of Stress-Induced Amnesia, Flashbulb and Traumatic Memories, and the Yerkes-Dodson Law. Neural Plasticity, 2007.
- Dweck, C. S. (2007), The Perils and Promises of Praise. ASCD Educational Leadership, 65, 34–39
- Eliot, L. (2019). Neurosexism: the myth that men and women have different brains. Nature, 566, 453-454
- Bruyckere, P. D. (2018). The Ingredients for Great Teaching. SAGE Publications Ltd.
- Mueller, P. A., & Oppenheimer, D. M. (2014). The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking. Psychological Science, 25(6), 1159–1168.
- Cowan, N. (2008). Chapter 20 What are the differences between long-term, short-term, and working memory? In Progress in Brain Research (Vol. 169, pp. 323–338). Elsevier.
- Dunlosky, J., Rawson, K. A., Marsh, E. J., Nathan, M. J., & Willingham, D. T. (2013). Improving Students’ Learning With Effective Learning Techniques: Promising Directions From Cognitive and Educational Psychology. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 14(1), 4–58.
- Is technology changing how students learn?. Daniel Willingham–Science & Education.
- Kirschner, P. A., & De Bruyckere, P. (2017). The myths of the digital native and the multitasker. Teaching and Teacher Education, 67, 135–142.
- American Psychological Association, Coalition for Psychology in Schools and Education. (2015). Top 20 principles from psychology for preK–12 teaching and learning.
- Shonkoff, J. P., Garner, A. S., The Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health. (2012). The Lifelong Effects of Early Childhood Adversity and Toxic Stress. Pediatrics, 129(1), e232–e246.
- Kirschner, P. A., Sweller, J., & Clark, R. E. (2006). Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching. Educational Psychologist, 41(2), 75–86.
- Agarwal, P. K., & Bain, P. M. (2019). Powerful Teaching: Unleash the Science of Learning. Jossey-Bass.
- Executive Function & Self-Regulation. Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.
- Deans for Impact (2019). The Science of Early Learning. Austin, TX: Deans for Impact.
- Bruyckere, P. D., Kirschner, P. A., & Hulshof, C. D. (2015). Urban Myths about Learning and Education. Academic Press.
AA. Barron, K. E., & Hulleman, C. S. (2015). Expectancy-Value-Cost Model of Motivation. In International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences (pp. 503–509). Elsevier.
Copyright © 2021 by The Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning (CTTL). All rights reserved. This work, or any portion thereof, may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author. The CTTL at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, www.theCTTL.org