Transformative Education – It’s Not Just for Our Students

Written by Rachelle Franz, Ed.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Kinesiology and Health Studies –

Nearly three years ago, I bumped into two colleagues at the shared-office printer, and we began a casual conversation about Mind Brain Education (MBE). The term was fairly new to me, but my colleagues had already begun exploring this concept and began to share their insight. I was hooked. I wanted to learn more about how MBE could benefit my practice and my students’ learning. This casual conversation led to what we now call The Embodied Brain faculty study series. Our group is an organized, intentional, and diverse professional learning community, meeting every other week to discuss what we are learning in light of MBE research and practice. This collaboration represents five departments across the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) and is comprised of faculty interested in understanding how MBE can assist us in transforming our classroom environments. Our latest book of interest is NeuroTeach, Brain Science and the Future of Education (Whitman & Kelleher, 2016). Personally, I have been most impacted by this book, so I would like to highlight several of the main points here in hopes that you too will be intrigued.

Our Embodied Brain group committed to meet regularly for lunch [thanks to the support of the UCO Center for Teaching and Transformative Learning (CETTL)], discuss our thoughts and ideas about assigned reading, and share these ideas with others both on and off campus. This year, we presented at the annual UCO Collegium. Thankful for the willingness of a Nursing colleague and our friends in Music, we embarked on singing (and I use this word lightly) our version of “The Twelve Research-Informed Strategies Every Teacher Should Be Doing with Every Student.” Take a moment to read through these strategies and then sing the song. This will be good for recall, but I can assure you it will be equally as good for your spirit. Enjoy!


* The bolded text (listed below each strategy) should be sung to the tune of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”

  1. Class periods should be designed with an understanding that what students will recall most is what takes place in the first part of the class and what students will recall second most will take place in the closing minutes of class.

The FIRST research strategy my colleague gave to me – start and end successfully.

  1. Students should be given more frequent, formative, low-stakes assessments of learning.

The SECOND research strategy my colleague gave to me – low-stake assessments are good for me.

  1. Students need more opportunities to reflect, think meta-cognitively, on their learning and performance.

The THIRD research strategy my colleague gave to me – reflect metacognitively

  1. Students need to know that the pervasive way they choose to study is actually hurting their ability to learn for the long term and that self-questioning is much more effective than reading one’s notes.

The FOURTH research strategy my colleague gave to me – self testing more effectively

  1. Students need to know the anatomy of their brain, especially the role of the Prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and hippocampus play in their learning.

The FIFTH research strategy my colleague gave to me – love my Amy G (amygdala)

  1. Students, parents, teachers, and school leaders need to understand that sleep is critical to memory consolidation. Without sufficient sleep we create a system that perpetuates the illusion of learning.

The SIXTH research strategy my colleague gave to me – sleep consolidates memory

  1. Students need to know that “effort matters most,” and that they have the ability to rewire their brain to make themselves better learners and higher-achieving students (the concept of “neuroplasticity”).

The SEVENTH research strategy my colleague gave to me – effort makes me brainy

  1. Students need more, but well judged, opportunities for choice in their learning, which enhances engagement and intrinsic motivation.

The EIGHTH research strategy my colleague gave to me – autonomy motivates me

  1. Students need to love their limbic system and recognize the impact stress, fear, and fatigue have on the higher-order thinking and memory parts of their brain.

The NINTH research strategy my colleague gave to me – manage stress, fear, and fatigue

  1. Students need opportunities to transfer their knowledge through the visual and performing arts.

 The TENTH research strategy my colleague gave to me – the value of creativity

  1. Students need their teachers to vary the modality of teaching and assessment based on the content (as well as the time of day). What methods suit this topic best? What methods have I used and will use again soon so that I can provide a range of challenges? All students learn best when taught in a variety of modalities, and when the modality is chosen with the content in mind rather than the student.

The ELEVENTH research strategy my colleague gave to me – the spice of life is variety

  1. Students need frequent opportunities during the school day to play.

The TWELFTH research strategy my colleague gave to me – play regularly


Whitman, G., & Kelleher, I. (2016). Neuroteach: Brain science and the future of education. MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

*Special thanks to Dr. Nancy Detlinger for the “jingle” above

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