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on 27 December 2013
This is the second book in a series which aims to help teachers engage their pupils by using Active Brain Based Learning and Teaching. (ABBLAT) Having never come across this terminology and being of the understanding that all learning involved the use of the brain, my curiosity was aroused!

The author quickly makes it clear that the major obstacle to learning is boredom and explains that the younger the child, the shorter the attention span. It is therefore imperative that the teacher engage with the child in such a way as to continually hold attention throughout the lesson.

This is where Active Brain Based Learning and Teaching comes in. In fact, the book practices what it preaches from the outset by using the exact methods to engage the reader which it details in the six steps chapters. It does this by causing state changes, i.e. asking the reader questions, imagining various scenarios, etc. This has the effect of holding attention and pique curiosity. (In my case, where is all this leading and how is it going to help in the classroom?)

The six steps form the nuts and bolts of the system and include lots of examples to show how they translate to the classroom. Written in an enthusiastic and chatty style, there are no convoluted explanations as to how or why ABBLAT works, just plenty of reasons and examples as to why it does.

The text is broken up with appropriate illustrations and each chapter is summarised which usefully allows you to check what you have learned along the way.

One point the author stresses which I found particularly interesting was his statement that the ABBLAT method did not rely on the personality or lack of it of the teacher! Any teacher following the methods in this book would be guaranteed success, even with the most challenging of classes.

As I am not a teacher, I cannot comment on this, but I did find the whole concept of ABBLAT intriguing and it certainly made a lot of sense. I can't give it 5 stars as I have not personally used the methods in the book. However, the writing style and the way the information is presented certainly held my interest. At its current low price it has got to be worth trying out, especially if you are struggling with a difficult class or feel exam results could be better.
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on 26 January 2014
This book promises to help you “be the outrageously successful teacher you know in your heart you can be” – then does exactly that. In the UK, as in most countries these days, there is enormous pressure on teachers and their performance while student boredom is the big obstacle teachers face. This is the second book I’ve read by this author (second in his series too) and it focuses on the “how to” of Active Brain Based Learning and Teaching, taking you through a six-step programme to successful teaching. This on its own would be valuable enough but also this author thoroughly engages the reader. He does this with a fresh and informal style and by making the book interactive in parts; he eerily anticipated my initial resistance to some of the suggestions, making me think thorough what he is saying, and showing me both the “why” and the “how” of his solutions and convincing me thoroughly. I’ve taught in a couple of tough inner city schools in London and the difficulties he describes and the practical examples of techniques and solutions really resonated with me. I actually found myself visualising specific difficult classroom experiences I’ve had quite vividly – then visualising them again with me using the techniques in the book. Amazing.
One of the tricks recommended for successful teaching is around gestures – the author makes a very convincing case for how gestures, used by both teacher and students, reinforce learning effectively and - crucially - make for its retention in students’ long-term memory. At the end, there are two useful appendices, packed with examples of gestures to use for language learning and maths learning respectively.
I strongly recommend anyone who teaches or is thinking of teaching, to read this book and I’ve just recommended it to my son, who is due to start teaching this year.
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on 19 December 2013
An inspirational and highly appropriate book, given the increasing focus on Teachers' performance these days. As the profession morphs from 'Jobs for Life' towards results-driven evaluation, smart educators should be actively searching for the 'Edge' that's going to deliver better-educated and truly-engaged students, not to mention enhancing their own skill-set and improving their future advancement prospects. Light-touch classroom management is no longer an option, especially with the proliferation of multi-cultural classes and student distraction, especially in the inner cities. Jason Stanley brings a wealth of real-life experience and Brain-Based Teaching science to what is a consummate and accomplished work-book. If you are a teacher, and you care about playing a part in improving student outcomes, this is a definite Must Read (and Use!). Highly recommended.
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