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Author: D. Antonio Cantu
Title: A Web-Based Left & Right Brain 4MAT Approach to Teaching Middle and High School History
Publication Info: Ann Arbor, MI: MPublishing, University of Michigan Library
April 2001
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Source: A Web-Based Left & Right Brain 4MAT Approach to Teaching Middle and High School History
D. Antonio Cantu


vol. 4, no. 1, April 2001
Article Type: Computing in the K-12 Levels
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.3310410.0004.108
PDF: Download full PDF [32kb ]

A Web-Based Left & Right Brain 4MAT Approach to Teaching Middle and High School History

D. Antonio Cantu

In 1980, Bernice McCarthy, a former classroom teacher, developed an open-ended, holistic teaching model that took into consideration individual learning styles, in particular those characteristics associated with right and left hemisphere dominance. This article provides an overview of this pedagogical framework, which became known as the left and right brain 4MAT teaching model. It also outlines how technology and the Internet may be integrated into the 4MAT model to enhance history education at the middle and high school level.

For almost a century, students of education have suffered under the yoke of the behavioral psychologists, who see learning as synonymous with a change of behavior. We reject this view, and observe instead that learning by humans leads to a change in the meaning of experience. ... How can we help individuals to reflect upon their experience and to construct new, more powerful meanings? [1]

—Joseph D. Novak & D. Bob Gowin

Joseph D. Novak and D. Bob Gowin first posited their distinction in how educators should perceive of learning two decades ago, however it is even more valid at the dawn of this new century than it was at the close of the previous one. With the increasing number of technology literate and Internet savvy students in schools, referred to by some educational demographers as the I-Generation, the need for digital curricular and instructional frameworks is greater today than ever. In a recent interview, Janet M. Healy, author of Failure to Connect: How Computers Affect Our Children's Minds-for Better or Worse, outlined the potential benefits and shortfalls associated with the integration of computer technology in the classroom:

I am intrigued by the possibilities of technology not only for teaching and learning but also for learning about the learning process. How can we plug in more effectively to kids who are at different stages of development and who experience learning in different ways? I am interested in applications that reach for that goal and don't simply recapitulate the old educational models. We haven't found a way yet–and I doubt whether we ever will–to let machine technology replace human technology in the education process. But through research, we may eventually combine human and machine technologies to discover why children are or are not learning certain things and to present information in a wide variety of modalities. [2]

The impact of computer technology and the Internet on education is no longer a topic of conjecture and speculation. The most recent set of U.S. Department of Education data on the integration of technology and the Internet, for example, show that nearly 90 percent of schools have the ability to support online initiatives. [3] Other data on the proliferation of computers in the classroom, as well as computer and Internet access in student homes, serve to illustrate the increasingly important role such technology plays in society and schools. The question, therefore, is not whether computer technology and the Internet will play a role in twenty-first century education, but how extensive its impact is today on student learning. A critical factor in the integration of technology and the Internet into middle and high school history classrooms is the curricular and instructional approach teachers use to achieve such integration. One framework that seems ideal for such integration is the left and right brain 4MAT teaching model.

.02 Left and Right Brain Learning Modalities

In 1980, Bernice McCarthy, a former classroom teacher, developed an open-ended, holistic teaching model that took into consideration individual learning styles, in particular those characteristics associated with right and left hemisphere dominance. This pedagogical framework became known as the left and right brain 4MAT teaching model. The purpose of the model, according to McCarthy, was simply to "raise teacher awareness as to why some things work with some learners and other things do not." [4] One way for teachers to attend to the needs of left and right brain learners is to develop lessons that sequentially incorporate multiple activities that call on students to utilize both left and right brain learning modalities. Characteristics associated with left and right brain learners are as follow:

Left Brain Right Brain
Verbal Visual
Sequential/Linear Holistic/Simultaneous
Logical/Mathematical Artistic/Musical
Reasoning/Cognitive Emotional/Affective
Analytical Creative

.03 4MAT Curricular Framework

sequence/learning cycle associated with the 4MAT model is as follows:

I. Experiencing
Examine-Left Brain Connect-Right Brain
Reflect, analyze experience Engage in experience
II. Conceptualizing
Define-Left Brain Image-Right Brain
Learn concepts and skills Imagine or "picture" the concept
III. Applying
Try-Left Brain Extend-Right Brain
Practice with content Apply to more complex experience
IV. Creating
Refine-Left Brain Integrate-Right Brain
Analyze application for relevance, usefulness Share and celebrate learning

.04 Left and Right Brain Teaching Approach

A number of topics and themes addressed in middle and high school history courses provide teachers with a plethora of ideal primary and secondary resources for classroom use. The left and right brain 4MAT curricular and instructional model also allows teachers to categorize these materials in accordance with the specific learning needs they address. Examples of some of the primary and secondary resources teachers might integrate into their curricula include the following:

Primary and Secondary Resources
Left Brain Right Brain
Speeches Posters & Broadsides
Memos & Letters Songs
Newspaper Headlines & Articles Historical Artifacts
Political Party Platforms Political Cartoons
Supreme Court Decisions Photographs
Statistical Data Historical Vignette
Literary Works Newsreel/Video Clips
Historical Timeline Maps
Government Documents Radio/Audio Recordings

Just as there are multiple resources for teaching middle and high school history, so, too, are there myriad products that can result from student interaction with these materials. Once again, the left and right brain 4MAT curricular model provides history teachers with an excellent framework for classifying these students activities and products. Some of the student activities and products that can be included in a middle or high school history teacher's instructional repertoire include the following:

Student Activties & Products
Left Brain Right Brain
Research Paper Readers Theater Project
Essay Political Cartoon
Speech Poster or Broadside
Annotated Bibliography Web Page
Book Review Film Critique
Newspaper Account/Story Fictional Newscast
Crossword Puzzle/Quiz Graphic Organizer
Fictional Diary Entry/Letter Song
Timeline Poem

.05 Technology and Internet Integration

The Internet and World Wide Web provide both an ideal resource and platform for left and right brain 4MAT lesson plans. Middle and high school history teachers may now design lesson plans that incorporate Web-based materials into their 4MAT lessons. In addition, many of the classroom activities they produce may be placed on the Internet for student use. All of these innovations enhance 4MAT lesson plans in a manner never imagined.  The following table outlines some of the Web-based activities and student products that teachers can integrate into their 4MAT lessons:

Web-Based Activities & Products
Left Brain Right Brain
Analyze statistical historical data; create graphic representations of historical data Construct thematic web pages that include various visual images (e.g., posters, political cartoons, broadsides, photos, illustrations)
Create hyperlinked timelines and maps Design virtual landscapes, analyze computer simulated topographic battlefields, cities, maps, etc.
Write and publish hypertext essays and papers on the Web; critique written resources through an annotated bibliography Analysis of song lyrics, composition of song lyrics, design and publish online presentations that incorporate music and visual elements
Develop content-focused PowerPoint classroom presentations Develop multimedia Hyper Studio classroom presentations
Design Web-based, interactive games, puzzles and quizzes; develop or complete cognitive WebQuests Internet based simulations, cooperative web searches, and role playing activities that incorporate Web resources, classroom presentations

The digital age that ushers in the twenty-first century, provides social studies educators with a unique opportunity to venture down roads never taken before by teachers in the history of education. Teachers, however, must be willing to take the first step in this process; without their leadership, the use of computer technology and the Internet in education will continue to lag far behind other sectors of society, such as government, business, military, and the legal and medical professions. Therefore, teacher understanding of the role of technology in social studies education is absolutely critical. Chris Dede reminds teachers of the mistake we have made over the past decade, which has hindered our ability to fully integrate such technology in education:

One of the mistakes we made in implementing educational technology was focusing first on students, rather than teachers, because when the computers on the students' desks are mysterious devices to teachers, it's unreasonable to expect effective integration into the curriculum. [5]

The potential and use of technology and the Internet in history education, from the middle school to the high school level, is dependent upon the curricular scaffolding with which learning will be constructed. The left and right brain 4MAT approach is one such model that teachers may employ to build a digital learning environment in their classroom.  In addition, it provides a much needed curricular model for organizing primary and secondary resources for student classroom use. The result, is a primary document-based, multidimensional approach to teaching middle and high school history in a digital age.

.07 Notes

1. Joseph D. Novak and D. Bob Gowin, Learning How To Learn (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,1984), xi.

2. Carol Tell, "The I-Generation–From Toddlers to Teenagers: A Conversation with Jane M. Healy," Educational Leadership 58, no.2 (2000): 8-9.

3. Michael J. Berson et al., Social Studies on the Internet (Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 2001), v.

4. Bernice McCarthy and Susan Morris, The 4MAT CourseBook, Vol. 1 (Barrington, Ill.: Excel, 1994), 7.

5. D. Mark Meyers, "Teacher Education," in Joseph A. Braun, Jr. and C. Frederick Risinger, eds., Surfing the Social Studies: The Internet Book (Washington, D.C.: National Council for the Social Studies, 1999), 113.

.08 Bibliography

Michael J. Berson et al., Social Studies on the Internet (Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 2001).

Bernice McCarthy and Susan Morris, The 4MAT CourseBook, Vol. 1 (Barrington, Ill.: Excel, 1994).

D. Mark Meyers, "Teacher Education," in Joseph A. Braun, Jr. and C. Frederick Risinger, eds., Surfing the Social Studies: The Internet Book (Washington, DC: National Council for the Social Studies, 1999), 113.

Joseph D. Novak and D. Bob Gowin, Learning How To Learn (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984).

Carol Tell, "The I-Generation–From Toddlers to Teenagers: A Conversation with Jane M. Healy," Educational Leadership 58, no.2 (2000).

.09 Appendix: Lesson Plan Framework

Left and Right Brain 4MAT Lesson Plan
Introduction

 

 

 

 

 

Course
Time
Materials
Standards
State National

 

 

 

 

 

Procedures and Application
I. Experiencing
Examine-Left Brain Connect-Right Brain
II. Conceptualizing
Define-Left Brain Image-Right Brain
III. Applying
Try-Left Brain Extend-Right Brain
IV. Creating
Refine-Left Brain Integrate-Right Brain
Bibliography
Print Electronic
D. Antonio Cantu
Assistant Professor
Department of History
Ball State University
Muncie, IN 47306
dcantu@gw.bsu.edu