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Uncommon Sense Teaching: Part 2, Building Community and Habits of Learning

via Coursera


In Part 2 of Uncommon Sense Teaching: Building Community and Habits of Learning, you will explore the following areas more deeply—helping you to connect with the latest insights into research and have fun while you are doing it!

• The value of forgetting
• Judicious use of rewards to motivate students (too many rewards can kill motivation!)
• How attempts to eradicate bullying can make matters worse
• How to avoid educational fads
• The hidden strengths of neurodiversity: Dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, and
other syndromes that relate to learning
• How to use habits formed by the procedural system to help you with classroom management
• The power of lesson plans

This is like no other course on teaching—it weaves late-breaking insights from neuroscience with personal insights from the classroom to provide unexpected, yet practical, new approaches. You’ll discover how to bring out the best from all your students in today’s diverse teaching environment, where students often have a wide range of abilities.

Uncommon Sense Teaching will take your teaching to a higher level for whatever subjects you teach, whether math, physics, literature, dance, art, or anything else; and whether you are teaching K-12, university, business, vocational, or at home.

Join us today to move into the new era of education!


  • Week 1: Motivation, Stress, and Character Change
    • This week’s materials cover motivation, stress, and character change—vitally important topics for us as teachers. We’ll learn about the importance of surprise in learning—part of what can make good teaching both surprising and rewarding! We’ll also discover why we like to say that “Curiosity is Queen” —and why being taken by surprise can be a very good thing when it comes to learning. We’ll also learn about the “Drama King"—that is, the amygdala—which can underpin some of our subconscious biases. And we’ll begin setting the stage to understand why cramming is so effective. At least, for short periods of time! Neuroscience is uncovering new insights about motivation. This brings us to a seemingly different area—unreachable, unteachable students who can tell you exactly what you want to hear, without any internal motivation for change no matter what you may do to try to motivate them. Perhaps surprisingly—bullying isn’t just a problem for students—it can actually be a problem amongst teachers themselves, with some of the best teachers bearing the brunt of the bullying behavior. But guess what—sometimes our best approach to help students sail successfully through stressful situations in life is to simply do what we teachers are born to do—teach with passion and with heart. All this, and more, in this week’s videos!
  • Week 2: How to Reach and Teach Both Procedural and Declarative Pathways
    • This week, we’ll learn how the brain decides whether to make some mental or physical task conscious or nonconscious—it all depends on how often we do it! We’ll also be sneaking in through both the front and back doors of the brain’s different learning systems. Of course, both declarative and procedural ways of learning can have advantages and drawbacks. But as we’ll see, having information deposited in procedural sets of links can be like having a nicely wrapped package of movements or thoughts that a student's working memory can automatically grab onto, instead of having to think through each tiny movement or thought individually. This can not only speed students’ learning—it can even make classroom management easier. Using the magic of the procedural system, your classroom can run like a well-oiled machine, seemingly without you doing anything!
  • Week 3: Intellectual Humility, Critical Thinking, and Bias
    • This week is full of surprises as we dig deeper into the advantages and disadvantages of faster and slower types of learning. Who knew that those who struggle with their learning—our hikers—can actually be more accurate with what they learn? For them, it can be easier to flexibly accept and change their minds when the data shows they are wrong. On the other hand, our race cars, who can learn faster and remember better, can also find it difficult to accept when they’re wrong. And all this relates in a very deep way, as you’ll see, with our ability to think critically. Join us as we explore all these ideas, and more, in this week’s videos! (And don’t forget, there’s plenty of optional extra info in the readings!)
  • Neurodiversity, Student Groups, and Charting Your Course to the Finish Line!
    • Syndromes such as dyslexia or attention deficit disorder can sometimes exert subtle effects that can make learning more difficult even though no diagnosis has been made. Other times, as with famed director Steven Spielberg and his dyslexia, a student's learning challenges can simply escape detection altogether. For teachers of these students, the best approach is to nurture these students’ ways of learning, rather than forcing them to learn like the majority of other students. Surprisingly often, this involves teaching more toward the procedural system for some students, and more toward the declarative system for others. All of this means that careful planning of your lessons is in order. What do we mean by careful planning? That's the subject of our final videos--we'll give you a template and insights to help guide your activities and allow you to soar in your teaching!

Taught by

Barbara Oakley, Beth Rogowsky and Dr. Terrence Sejnowski


4.9 rating, based on 32 reviews

Start your review of Uncommon Sense Teaching: Part 2, Building Community and Habits of Learning

  • Uncommon Sense Teaching Part 2 is a very informative course. Thorough study of the course will give you a more understanding at what is really going on in the brain while we learn. Supported by scientific research, which is also included in the course and also in depth books, scientific articles and a lot of supporting material for a deeper understanding of the subject is available. Excellent learning experience for all diversity of students.
  • I have done all the MOOCs that were taught by Barabara Oakley. The first one changed my life, was "Learning How To Learn". Uncommon Sense Teaching 1 and 2 gave me more motivation to teach, explanations about how students learn, and how we teachers should...
  • Anonymous
    When it comes to teaching, common or uncommon, it all focus on helping students to learn according to their potentials. some fast learner with strong declarative strengths, while others slower through the procedural sysytem. Courses should be designed flexible enough to accommodate both.
    Formative assessment with frequent feedbacks hep students consolidate knowldege in the celeBral cortex and basal glandia, while summative assessment makes sure they have really learn what they can use in life.
    Uncommon sense teaching emplys neuro sicience to halp students overcome learning hurdles, be they lack of motivation, procrastination, ADHD, etc.
    It is a course and a book designed with pratical love. Thnks.
  • I am a retired teacher and education researcher. The set of 'Uncommon Sense Teaching' courses in combination with the Learning How To Learn course are unparalleled. I have been searching for courses such as these throughout my entire career. These courses have helped me understand how I could have improved both my learning and teaching and the bonus is that they are taught by professionals who care deeply about their work and subject area disciplines. For anyone contemplating a career in teaching, I recommend them without reservation. I await the third course in this series with great anticipation -- can't wait to get started.
  • Well worth doing if you already completed the first course in the series. The quality of instruction has not taken a dive and the instructors remain as enthusiastic as ever.

    My only quibble is with the rubrics used to grade the honours part of the course. I am never a fan of specifications to write a certain quantity of words in order to qualify for points because I believe brevity can be a virtue. This is a very minor quibble, however.

    Highly recommend.
  • Anonymous
    The teachers make the knowledge from different scientific fields, important for teachers, extremely accessible with use of their own advocated methods (e.g. analogies). They live as the learn so to speak. The arguments are supported by scientific research (e.g. published papers) and the offers lists of references and interesting books and they give you concrete methods to apply instantly. This course should be a must in the educational system.
  • The course is well presented and well planned, helping teachers secure rational explanations for so many challenges we face in a system that requires inclusiveness and a diverse range of
    learning capacity in both the student and the teacher, I became more aware of how much the teacher can learn from the student when the relationship is synergistic--Now I understand that if the student has not learned the teacher has not taught.
  • Another excellent course for teachers and instructors of all sorts. This second part is also very enjoyable and easily taken into practice given all the tips and examples provided. All of them scientifically proven and including the neurological explanation why those work and which ones should we avoid.
    Again, many thanks to the creators and collaborators of this amazing MOOC.
  • Anonymous
    Fantastic insights into improving teaching for school and college students, and even beyond! The three presenters are enthusiastic and demonstrate all the principles they teach: I will never forget the declarative and procedural learning pathways thanks to the Conductor, Hip, Neo & the Gang of Basil plants! Looking forward to Part 3.
  • Anonymous
    This is a fantastic course for anyone who work in the sectors of 'teaching and learning'. It has a lot of both theoretical and practical components. If you wish to accelerate your teaching practice to a higher level, this is a MUST COMPLETE course. THANK YOU so much for creating this wonderful online course!
  • Anonymous
    For anyone who wants to become smarter this course provides evidence-based research and insights on becoming an effective learner and teacher. Barb, Beth and Terry give a framework of insights on how to get smarter. Whether you are a student, teacher, or learner, I highly recommend this course. This course rocks!
  • Anonymous
    Through a series of very engaging videos, with frequent formative assessments, learning is made easy and interesting. The information presented linking neuroscience and learning in neurodiverse classrooms is useful and immediately applicable!
  • Anonymous
    Loved the excitement of each of the instructors. Very helpful tips of uncommonsense ways of teaching. The biology aspect of learning was effectively done and I think I will never forget that great line "Learn it, Link it, Let's do it"
  • Anonymous
    This is absolutely an amazing course. We’ve got the best of the best. I am amazed how complex neural subject can be explained in a simple way. Tons of excellent tips and practices for teachers who want to be ‘uncommon’.
  • Anonymous
    Great MOOC. Truly inspiring. The passion of the teachers make it unique. Thank you very much. I have to say that I think is one of the best MOOCs I have taken. Looking forward to the third part of the specialization.
  • Anonymous
    Exceptional for the next generation!

    No wonder this MOOC keeps getting me hooked as I can foresee A future where most educational systems be implemented with Uncommon Sense Teaching Strategies!

    Let's make it happen!
  • Should be a required course for all teachers at all levels. Interesting, informative, thought-provoking, helpful, encouraging, empowering , and well-presented. I loved it! Thank you!
  • Anonymous
    This is very valuable course. The neurocognitive aspects are informative and useful when thinking why some students struggle to learn and what we can do to better facilitate learning.
  • Anonymous
    It was a mind-opening course, which was excellently executed.
    I gain a lot of new insight to enrich my teaching strategy for my upcoming lecture.

    Thankyou Barb, Terry and Beth
  • Profile image for Brad Bridges
    Brad Bridges
    Course reinforced concepts in the book. Valuable insights on teaching and the presenters debunked some commonly held beliefs about teaching. Well done and time well spent.

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