Lynn Stoddard presented at our November 2013 conference on a program he created some years ago called The Great Brain. Essentially, this project is designed to allow students to become “great brains” on a subject they choose. They dig in seeking various levels of mastery.
Lynn Stoddard is a veteran educator with 36 years as a teacher and elementary school principal. He retired “early” to promote a different philosophy of education in which parents and teachers unite to help students grow in seven major dimensions or powers of human greatness: Identity, Inquiry, Interaction, Initiative, Imagination, Intuition and Integrity. His 12 children all attended public schools in Davis County. He lives in Farmington and can be reached at efhg.org.
How to Become a GREAT BRAIN:
– A Specialist, Expert, Mastermind or Genius
1. Choose a topic: You can be smarter than anyone in your school or neighborhood on any topic you choose. All around you there are common things waiting for someone to discover something new about them. Choose one of them for an exciting adventure in learning.
2. Build Questions: Write down all the “facts” you think you already know about your topic. Make a list of questions you would like to learn about your topic. See if you can ask questions that start with each of the following words: what, why, when, where, who, was, which, would, were, how, is, do, does, did, may, are, could, shall, will, have, if. Keep adding to your list of questions as you carry out your investigation.
3. Study: Gather information about your subject. Study intensely with your eyes – draw or paint pictures of your subject. Count, weigh, measure, collect and compare. Search in all possible places – libraries, internet, newspapers, magazines, television, interviews with authorities, etc. Read everything you can get your hands on. Write letters for information. Perform experiments. Keep a notebook of your findings. Make a bibliography of your sources of information.
4. Imagine, Create, Invent: After filling your mind with information about your subject, use your own ideas to create or invent an original product – a story, a poem, a work of art, a piece of music, a construction, etc.
5. Prepare to Share: Think of a creative, interesting way to share your Great Brain knowledge with your class, relatives and friends. Take time to prepare visual aids, a speech, a PowerPoint presentation, a demonstration or other ways to share your knowledge that will hold the attention and interest of your audience.
6. Share: Schedule a time and place for sharing your Great brain knowledge. Make invitations for those who you would like to come to your presentation. Practice giving your presentation to a friend or family member in a loud, clear voice. Hear suggestions for improvement. When you feel confident, give your presentation. Welcome your listeners, and, at the end, let audience members ask questions. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know,” if you don’t know the answer.
THE GREAT BRAIN PROJECT
–Official Entry blank—
On this________day of_______________20_____ I, _________________, do hereby enroll in the Great Brain Project of__________________School. With my parents’ help I have chosen the subject, _____________________, to study in depth until I feel qualified and prepared to give a presentation to my friends, relatives, and classmates.
I AGREE TO:
1. Prepare a list of questions with which to guide my research.
2. Study diligently at school, at home, and in the community.
3. Keep a record of my findings and plan an interesting, creative way to share my new knowledge with others.
4. Let my teacher know when I am ready to make a Great Brain presentation.
I understand that diligent participation in this project may qualify me for a Great Brain award on one of four levels. It will also entitle me to membership in the Great Brain Club.
I/We the parent(s) of____________________________________________ do agree to become partners with my/our child and the school to assist him/her in the chosen quest.
Great Brain Levels of Knowing
A Suggested Vocabulary
Novice — A person who is just beginning to investigate a topic.
Specialist — A person who specializes in a particular field of study.
Expert — A person who is very skilled or highly trained or informed in a special field of study.
Mastermind — A person with great intelligence in a particular field who is skillful in teaching and guiding others.
Genius — A person with great mental capacity and inventive ability in a particular field of study.