Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Brain Dump

 I am officially back to work. I finally spent some time in my classroom last night while my son had soccer and football practice. My room is a mess, but I feel I was productive.

Today I will meet many new faces. I will also hold my first department meeting as the leader. I am a bit nervous.

Since I was able to get in my room, I was able to start some bulletin boards. Let me take this time and discuss the Brain Dump I talked about early this week.

This is a Brain Dump

I was introduced to this last year by the other 6th grade teacher at my school.

This is the bulletin board in my classroom.

 Last year it started out blank and as we learned a concept, I added to it. This year, I put the finished product up first. I haven't decided if I am going to cover them and uncover as we go or leave it like it is. If you have an opinion about that please leave me a comment. I am open to anything.

The name:The idea is we fill our students brain with so much knowledge and this is the stuff we want them to "dump" out before test and the stuff that won't be on their resource charts given to them by the state. Maybe I could add a "brain" picture up there by the name.

How I use it:
These are strategies that some teachers came up with a few years ago, both which are no longer here.  They felt students needed to remember certain steps for testing purposes and this is how they organized it. Last year it became my bible. I referenced it daily in class, multiple times. Students copied it 3 times a week for memorization. Students took a quiz every two weeks on it near testing time. Before common assessments students were required to create this on their test. (we added a blank sheet for them) They were only responsible for as much as was introduced early on. They didn't do all 14 until later in the year. The idea was for them to know this backwards and forwards and before their state test, write it out and use it while testing.

The benefits:Do I think our students benefited from it? Heck yes! We incorporated this into a daily routines, whether students wrote it on test day or not, I don't know. But, they were learning the strategies. They were recalling info that we didn't use daily. They may have hated the drill and kill, but I do know they knew where to find answers when I asked questions. My goal was for them to "visualize" this brain dump when they couldn't actually see the brain dump. Even our Sped kids could  do this. They may have had a fill in the blank version, but they knew the importance of the brain dump.

I do plan to make it more "fun" this year. Hopefully incorporate some games and possibly interactive white board things to keep it less dull. Also, I have a new team and we may see that we want to change up what is on it. That's will all be discussed in one of our first team planning meetings.  

And if you have any ideas or suggestions, please leave me a comment. I am open to anything.


  1. This is SO awesome! Thanks for sharing! Pinning for future reference!
    ☼ Kate
    To The Square Inch

  2. I love this idea! I teach the tier 2 and 3 math students, and there is just so much for them to remember, they get overwhelmed and give up. I'm definitely going to steal your idea and look forward to more posts and ideas on the topic. I'll try to keep you posted on how it goes. Thank you,

  3. I love this idea. I wish I would found it sooner, but I will begin it son. Thanks for the great idea.

  4. This is the first time I am seeing a brain dump, and I don't get this idea. Can you explain it a little bit more? You "dump" all the thoughts from the year the kids will learn? Where do these 14 ideas come from? I am from a CCSS state. I guess I could see if this was something you did for each "unit" or marking period/semester/assessment period, but the whole year?

    How is this allowed for use on a standardized test? Here teachers have to take down or cover all "instructional" bulletin boards/posters before testing can be done. As well as the fact that they can only use the official sheets/helps from the state for any testing. As for common assessments, if you use them in one room/building but the other teachers, in your building or a different building, don't, how is that assessing apples to apples?

    1. Some teachers came up with the 14 things a few years ago. We actually changed them last year when our standards changed.

      Students do not see this on testing day. Everything is covered. We trained our students to write the brain dump down on the scratch paper provided at the beginning of the test. We aren't even allowed to tell them to do that on the day of the test. We would talk about this prior to the test.

      On benchmarks or unit tests, we would have them practice.

      Think of the brain dump as a huge anchor chart. It was used all year and when students are testing they can recall what they have seen in my room all year. That is why they need as much interaction with it as possible, since I only test about 30 student, but would teach over 100.

      Also, Carolyn you are a no reply blogger if you want more info please email me separately at

  5. Does anyone have something for reading?