CAIS: The Brain, Learning and Applications – Day 2

Having enjoyed LeAnn Nickelsen’s Nutrition presentation – not only for the content, but also for the way she modeled teaching and presenting – I returned the following day for Deeper Learning: Success for All by Differentiating (Part 1). LeAnn, a Jensen Learning Certified Brain Research Trainer, has co-authored a 328-page book with Eric Jensen about this topic. (I have not read it.) Her presentation was an in-depth preview of the book, and jam-packed with examples and handouts we were encouraged to use. Part 2 was offered in the second set of sessions, and the extensive handout covered the content of both parts in order to accommodate attendees who wanted to catch other presentations.

In retrospect, I should have stayed for Part 2. However, M. Layne Kalbfleisch’s session on High-Ability Children with Learning/Psychiatric Disabilities attracted me for the promise of learning more about dyslexia. Kalbfleisch had interesting content to share but spent so much time calmly answering questions and offering opinion on the state of her field that she never got to the portion of her talk on dyslexia. The good news is that a copy of her slides is available on the conference CD. The frustrating news is that many of her slides need elaboration to elucidate their meaning and impact. (Note to myself: teach or present less to permit ample time for questions, or manage the process more efficiently.)

Two keynotes followed lunch, and also provided a time when we could all gather for announcements and a sense of group closure prior to the last concurrent sessions. July Willis began with Increase Student Engagement, Motivation and Memory using RAD Strategies. Before you say ‘oh, another long title’, RAD stands for Reticular activating system, Amygdala, and Dopamine. Her talk focused on ways to make the most of these interrelated brain systems.

Dave Gray gave the second keynote, Introduction to Visual Thinking, and it was his Visual Thinking in Practice concurrent session that concluded my day. I will have more to share about his sessions in a future post.


The pacing of this conference provided ample time between sessions to gather thoughts, a snack or engage in conversations with colleagues. Intentionally keeping the size around 200 or fewer and locating it on a country campus helped set the tone for relaxed give-and-take between attendees and presenters. Coming the week before many of us return to school for opening faculty meetings, I found this a much appreciated shot in the arm to help make the transition from summer to school!


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