Brainy Digital Digest

tags: Center for Innovation and Leadership in Special Education Linking Research to Classrooms: A Blog for Educators

By Erin Jones
June 5, 2018


With the summer months finally here and the school year coming to an end, the Linking Research to Classrooms team thought it would nice to offer some light, fun and brainy recommendations.  This month, we’ll be sharing podcasts, social media accounts, books and articles all centered on the topic of mind, brain and education.  Here are some of our favorite brainy digital finds:

  • The_sushi_scientist on Instagram

    What do you get when you combine neuroscience with sushi? A really fun Instagram account that uses sushi to explain various neuroscience topics! Dr. Janelle Letzen, a postdoctoral fellow in Clinical Psychology at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, created the_sushi_scientist account on Instagram to make learning about the brain easier and quicker for students and those who are “casually neuroscience curious.” Dr. Letzen’s beautiful sushi creations depict various brain structures, functions and processes. Each post is supplemented with detailed explanations and/or scientist interviews, with references included.

  • Hidden Brain is a podcast from NPR that uses science-based stories to explore how our brains work. With eight years of episodes to choose from, you’ll find a multitude of topics, ranging from telling lies to dream jobs to the motivation of personal preferences. Hidden Brain also has a study guide webpage dedicated to teachers who use the podcast in the classroom. This awesome resource includes a list of episodes organized into appropriate age levels, with a printable PDF list of study guide questions for each episode. Here are a couple of episodes related to mind, brain and education that we enjoyed:

    • Episode 26: Grit – Many educators are familiar with the quality of grit and how it can strengthen character and motivate children for success.  This episode discusses how grit can be a powerful, but also occasionally problematic, quality.
    • Episode 32: The Scientific Process – Integrating science into teaching practice is important for many reasons, but determining what is “good” science can be tricky at times. This episode discusses reproducibility, why it is important for research findings and what happens when the same study design arrives at different conclusions.
    • Hidden Brain on Morning Edition: How Stories Told of Brilliant Scientists Affect Kids’ Interest in the Field – This is a short Morning Edition interview of Hidden Brain’s host, Shankar Vedantam, who discusses how achievement stories may actually negatively impact science grades and how reading about struggles and obstacles may help “brilliance” seem more achievable.
  • MindShift is an education podcast from KQED that highlights stories from teachers, researchers, parents and students.  Although it’s a relatively new podcast with only about a dozen episodes so far, MindShift’s topics offer insightful perspectives and relatable stories that we think you will find interesting. We are highlighting one episode that features podcasts in the classroom:
    • How Listening to Podcasts Helps Students Read and Learn – In this episode, a high school English teacher is interviewed about why he shifted his lesson plan from Hamlet to the story of Hae Min Lee and Adnan Syed in the popular Serial podcast.  He found that his students were not only more engaged, but they were using the same critical thinking skills to evaluate the podcast as they would a book.

As you round out your school year, we hope you might enjoy listening to these podcasts or work up an appetite for learning about the brain while scrolling through social media!

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