Focus 2 Achieve

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I blog on Brain-Based Learning, Metacognition, EdTech, and Social-Emotional Learning. I am the author of the Crush School Series of Books, which help students understand how their brains process information and learn. I also wrote The Power of Three: How to Simplify Your Life to Amplify Your Personal and Professional Success, but be warned that it's meant for adults who want to thrive and are comfortable with four letter words.

Crush School Book promo

"Crush School: Every Student's Guide To Killing It In The Classroom (And Teachers Dig It Too)"  is a Learning How To Learn book.

 

 

 

 

In it, I use humor, classroom examples, and life situations to explain how to help students become mindful learners. I use brain science to explain why certain strategies work and others do not. "Crush School" is conversational. Each chapter is short and straight to the point.

Who is "Crush School" for?

TEACHERS: Use the book to teach the way mind wants to learn. Teach metacognition and learning strategies that help with understanding and memory. Great for AVID, Learning How To Learn/Study Skills courses, or in a core subject classroom.

PARENTS: Help your children become mindful, efficient, and effective students. Give them a tool that empowers them with the know how of to succeed in school.

SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS: Equip your teachers with a resource that helps their students gain success skills needed in school and beyond.

STUDENTS: Don't just study hard. Learn how to study smart. Figure out why some things you're doing don't work and what to do instead.

Check out the brief descriptions of each chapter below.

Chapter 1 explains the most effective way to use Crush School. Check out this excerpt:

Read actively. That means that you should take notes while you read THIS OR ANY OTHER PIECE OF TEXT, highlight, circle, underline etc. Your brain makes stronger connections, so you understand and remember better when you read actively.

Chapter 2 is about the importance of growth mindset in learning. Here's an excerpt:

“If you tell yourself that you can’t do something before you try it, you will sure enough fail at it. This is because you’re communicating to your brain that something is impossible. In return, your brain believes you and does everything in its power to prove you correct. It sabotages your progress!”

Chapter 3 explains why the learning styles theory is a myth.

Chapter 4 describes the brain and how it formulates meaning.

Chapter 5 describes how focused and diffuse thinking alternate and new neural connections are formed in our brain.

“Your brain is in the Diffuse Mode when you are RELAXING. You might be sleeping, napping, daydreaming, playing, walking, chatting.

Why is it important?

This is the mode in which your unconscious mind is working on concepts without you knowing it. Your brain cells (neurons) are making and strengthening connections between information.”

Chapter 6 contrasts working and long term memory, how our brain uses both, and how to effectively facilitate transfer of information from working to long term memory.

Chapter 7 explains why habits are so hard to break and how to make new habits effectively.

In Chapter 8, you are provided with a pain free method of developing good learning habits. The action plan to follow is included.

Chapter 9 is about the science of sleep and how sleep is tied to learning.

“SO HOW MUCH SLEEP DO WE NEED?

5-12 year olds need 10-11 hours of sleep.
12-18 year olds need 8.5-10 hours of sleep.
Adults need 7.5-9 hours of sleep.

I must admit, the poor sleep habit is a hard one to change. I struggle with it myself.

Just remember this:

1. A tired brain is full of toxins that mess with your ability to think clearly and be productive.
2. These toxins are also tied to dementia and Alzheimer’s.
3. Number 1 and 2 above really suck.”

Chapter 10 shows why multitasking is ineffective.

Chapter 11 focuses on focus aka not multitasking, but you're not just told not to multitask. You're given strategies that help you focus better.

Chapter 12 describes strategies that help your learning be more time efficient and effective.

“Time is one of those things you can never get enough of, but you can learn how to spend less time freaking out and more time getting stuff done. Chances are, you’ll still freak out from time to time, but at least it will be on your own terms.

In order for this to become your reality you must realize and apply this principle:

PUTTING THE TIME IN UPFRONT ACTUALLY SAVES TIME.”

In Chapter 13, I explain how to preview information and how previewing activates your brain to help you learn and remember concepts better.

In Chapter 14, I differentiate between passive and active learning and explain active learning strategies.

Chapter 15 covers writing effective summaries and why this strategy is important.

Can you beat procrastination? Yes you can! This is what Chapter 16 is all about.

“Go ahead: Lie to yourself. Convince yourself how successful you have been when you put things off to the last possible moment. And maybe you were at times. But guess what: YOU CAN DO BETTER. I know it. You know it.

SO WHY DO WE DO IT?

Most humans procrastinate. It’s because our brain experiences what it reads as pain when it is about to be put to doing something difficult. In addition, the part of the brain responsible for rational thinking, the prefrontal cortex, gets tired easily.

In response, our brain looks for ways to stop these negative feelings and switches attention to something more pleasant. We do something else and start feeling happy, which is unfortunately only temporary, as the task we must do does not go away.

It’s not easy, but

YOU CAN BEAT PROCRASTINATION.

Flip to the next page to see how.”

Chapter 17 is about spaced practice; why it works and how to do it right.

In Chapter 18, I discuss recall (as opposed to rereading). Recall makes all the difference...

Chapter 19 discusses 3 ways to change up the learning routine to maximize learning.

Use Chapter 20 to teach your students how to fail forward.

Chapter 21 is about teamwork and how to set up collaborative groups.

It’s always a good idea to get a study group going on your own. It’s an awesome way to be proactive.

This is how you become a better leader. You organize when, where, and how. You get others on board. You keep yourself and others committed. You study, teach, and learn from each other.

Keep your study group small. 3 to 4 people is ideal. Pick people who can focus and help you learn. Be honest with yourself. Will you be productive if you work with your best friend? Yes? Maybe? Not really?

Chapter 22 describes how to test your own learning prior to exams or presentations.

In Chapter 23, you will learn how to approach learning the same way teachers do.

Chapter 24 is about Jedi mind tricks you can use while learning. Well, it's about reflecting on your own learning aka metacognition, but Jedi mind tricks sound better.

Chapter 25 provides you with active reading tips and how to get the most out of reading.

Chapter 26 explains why it is important to write things down and take notes in class.

Chapter 27 talks about the things to put in your notes and gives you a method you can use.

Whether you prefer taking notes on paper or digitally, to get the most out of notes, you want to make the process an active one. Many students copy word for word when taking notes. There may be good reasons why, but this simple truth remains:

YOU LEARN VERY LITTLE WHEN YOU COPY WORD FOR WORD.

It’s because you don’t engage your mind. Not really… When you copy verbatim, all you’re doing is mindlessly writing stuff down on paper or on a device. You’re not thinking about the meaning of the words. And, your brain doesn’t get the chance to properly process the information. And guess what?

UNPROCESSED INFO IS GIBBERISH.

Creativity is a game changer in learning and life. Chapter 28 is all over that.

Chapter 29 talks about the importance of not giving up and giving your brain time to process information to learn it.

Chapter 30? Don't forget to relax too! If you're always stressed, you can't learn.

There are also 2 bonuses (learning tools) I added to help you Crush School!