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How the Brain Influences Behavior

How the Brain Influences Behavior
Management Strategies for Every Classroom

July 2008 | 264 pages | Corwin

"This is a timely topic with workable solutions that enables students to learn in today's classrooms. A must-read for educators working with diverse populations."
—Carolyn Chapman, Educational Consultant
Creative Learning Connection, Inc.

"This winning book presents clearly outlined brain research as it applies to proactively managing classroom discipline issues. A must-have for teachers who prefer to not only teach, but effectively reach every student too!"
—Toby J. Karten, Graduate Instructor
College of New Jersey, Gratz College

Use research-based strategies to improve behavior in the K–12 classroom!

Combining theory and practice, best-selling author David A. Sousa helps educators understand what is happening in the brains of students with behavior problems and offers practical, effective intervention strategies compatible with current findings in neuroscience.

In easy-to-understand language, the author presents current information on brain development and function and highlights factors that affect social and emotional decision making and negative behaviors like impulsivity, defiance, and violence. Comprehensive yet concise, this guide for K–12 teachers and counselors provides methods for teaching self-control and fostering positive relationships with troubled students and provides case studies that match effective strategies with specific behaviors. Educators will find answers to critical questions such as:

  • How does the rate of brain development explain the erratic behavior of adolescents?
  • What type of data collection can help teachers manage misbehavior?
  • Can peer influence help curb misbehavior rather than encourage it?
  • Why are boys more likely to misbehave than girls and what can teachers do about it?
  • How do school and classroom climates affect student behavior?

This invaluable handbook also features reproducible forms, worksheets, checklists, additional references, and an expanded list of primary research sources to help teachers understand and apply research-based principles for classroom and behavior management.

About the Author
Are Behavior Problems on the Rise?  
Can Neuroscience Help?  
About This Book  
Questions This Book Will Answer  
Chapter Contents  
Other Helpful Tools  
1. Handling Social Misbehavior
The Social and Emotional Brain  
Emotional Processing  
Pathways of Emotional Signals  
What Leads to Social Misbehavior?  
The Teacher Is the Key  
Interventions for Handling Social Misbehavior  
Dealing With Social Anxieties  
Using Social Stories to Modify Behavior  
A Case Study: Using a Social Story for a Verbally Aggressive Student  
A Social Story for Angry Students  
2. Dealing With Impulsive Behavior
What Leads to Impulsivity and Violent Behavior?  
Genetic Variations  
Prenatal Exposure to Cocaine  
Cerebral Lesions  
An Important Word About Testosterone  
Ignorance of Rules of Behavior  
Some Strategies for Controlling Impulsive Behavior  
Cognitive and Cognitive-Behavioral Interventions  
Putting Impulsive Problem Behavior in a Social Context  
Using Picture Books to Curb Impulsive Anger or Anxiety  
Other Suggested Strategies  
3. Teaching Self-Control Through Self-Verbalization
Examining Self-Control  
What Is Self-Control?  
Are Children Learning Self-Control?  
Brain Structures for Self-Control  
Do Mirror Neurons Play a Role in Self-Control?  
Losing Self-Control  
Helping Students Regain Self-Control  
Verbal Self-Contol of Aggressive, Defiant, or Other Behavior  
The Power of Self-Talk  
The ZIPPER Strategy  
"Say No and Walk Away" to Resist Peer Pressure  
Self-Control Through Self-Talk and Self-Monitoring  
The Nature of Attention  
Self-Monitoring for Other Problem Behaviors  
Self-Control Through Self-Rating of Emotional Intensity  
The Anger Thermometer  
4. Managing the Behavior of Boys
Why a Concern With Boys?  
Gender Differences in Behavior  
Genetic and Environmental Factors  
Impact of Biology  
Some Research Findings on Behavioral Differences  
Using Research-Based Strategies  
Movement-Based Instruction and Classroom Management  
Boy-Friendly Instruction and Discipline  
The Responsibility Strategy  
And What About Girls?  
The Rise of Cyberbullying  
Bullying Versus Cyberbullying  
Dealing With Cyberbullying  
5. Building Positive Relationships With Troubled Students
Relationships and Research  
Insights From Neuroscience  
Some Research Findings  
Developing Teacher-Student Relationships  
The Importance of Positive Relationships With and for Students  
Reaching Unreachable Students With Dialogue Journals  
The Lunch Bunch: An Educator's Idea  
Managing Serious Behavior Problems Through Adult Mentoring  
6. Using Peer Relationships to Modify Behavior
Examining Peer Relationships  
Dealing With Peer Influence: A Two-Edged Sword  
The Desire to Be Liked  
Peer-Mediated Behavior Management Strategies  
Peer-Mediated Anger Management  
Factors to Consider in Peer Mediation  
Peer Confrontation to Curb Misbehavior  
The Mystery Motivator/Mystery Character Intervention to Decrease Inappropriate Behavior  
Group Contingency Interventions  
7. Managing Oppositional Behavior
What Is Oppositional Behavior?  
Causes of Oppositional Behavior  
Students With Oppositional Behavior in the Classroom  
Teacher Knowledge of Oppositional Behavior  
Teacher Frustration and Countercontrol  
Defiant Students: Explosions Waiting to Happen  
Avoiding Triggers for Misbehavior in the Classroom  
Teaching Students to Relax  
Other Strategies  
What About Oppositional Defiant Disorder? (ODD)  
Development of ODD  
Treatment of ODD  
8. Developing Positive Self-Esteem
The Nature of Self-Esteem  
The Power of Self-Esteem  
Research on Self-Esteem  
Guidelines for Building Self-Esteem  
Building a New Perspective on the Troubled Student: The Strength-Based Assessment  
What Is Strength-Based Assessment?  
Motivation and Attribution Retraining  
Motivation Research and Attribution Theory  
The "Shine My Light" Strategy  
9. Putting It All Together
Educational Climate: Are We Happy Here?  
What Is Classroom Climate?  
The Biology of Happiness  
Successful Behavior Management in the Classroom  
Assessing Classroom Climate  
Classrom Management and Cultural Diversity  
Guidelines for Managing Diverse Classes  
Positive Behavioral Supports in the Classroom  
What Are Positive Behavioral Supports?  
The Functional Assessment of Behavior  
The Behavioral Improvement Plan  
Multitiered Interventions and the Student Support Team  

“This winning book presents clearly outlined brain research as it applies to proactively managing classroom discipline issues. A must-have for teachers who prefer to not only teach, but effectively reach every student too!”

Toby J. Karten, Graduate Instructor, College of New Jersey, Gratz College
Author, Inclusion Strategies That Work!

“This book is a must-read for those interested in managing classroom behavior in a manner that is both effective and research based.”

Stephen D. Shepperd, Principal
Sunnyside Elementary School, Kellogg, ID

“This is a timely topic with workable solutions that enables students to learn in today’s classrooms. A must-read for educators working with diverse populations.”

Carolyn Chapman, Educational Consultant, Creative Learning Connection, Inc.
Author, Differentiated Instructional Strategies

Written by the renound Sousa, this book combines theory and practice in a user-friendly approach. Research findings have been explored and applied to behaviour management in the classroom. The aim is to help teachers understand behaviour and how to deal with it effectively using strategies which have been experimented with in research. A really interesting read to help explain behaviour.

Sasha Pleasance
Care & Learning Opportunities, South Devon College
May 16, 2012
Key features
This exciting new book, written by a top-selling author at Corwin Press, will:

  • Provide research on how to apply brain-compatible learning to classroom management strategies
  • Understand how neuroscience research can be utilized to improve behavior in the K-12 classroom
  • Offer specific strategies and tips for working with specific student populations, including students that are defiant, violent, attention-seeking, and inattentive in the classroom
  • Discuss how the brain is different for boys and girls and how behavior varies among cultures 
  • Provide an expanded list of primary sources for those who wish to review the core research on the brain and behavior.

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter 1

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