University of Minnesota
minnesota writing project
center for writing

Minnesota Writing Project.Center for Writing's home page.

Cathy Stamps

© 2001

Action Research

Emotional Intelligences and Brain Research

There are many components that make up a good teacher. A teacher must be dedicated, competent in curriculum area and able to relate to students. Knowledge alone does not guarantee a good teacher, the teacher must be able to transfer their knowledge to their students.

Two areas of education that are just beginning to prove credible are multiple intelligences and the brain. Some implementation of these two are simple exercises, while others are more in depth research on the brain. There are many components that need to be considered before students come to school. The teacher must take many things into consideration such as:

• How am going to promote team work in the classroom?
• What is my plan to teach ethics in the classroom?
• What will I do if students are not accepting of students?
• How am I going to make everyone feel safety and comfortable?
• Does my classroom have a good feeling about it?
• How am I going to meet the needs of every student from the high to the low?
• Do I ask questions that stimulate student's brains?

These are important questions that need to be addressed with much thought by the teacher. With the increasing amount of research on the brain, it is easy to guidance on ways to create a classroom where the brain is used to its full potential. In Phy-ed, students exercise the brain. Exercising the brain is also important for them to work to their full potential. As educators, we are getting students prepared for real life situations. Since the work force is becoming predominately team oriented, we as educators need to take this into consideration. Team work, relationship building, and acceptance have never received attention like reading, writing, and arithmetic. Students need to feel safe and relaxed before earning can occur (Ellison, 4). If students are preoccupied with their comfort, that will be the focus until it is taken care of.

Ideas for my classroom

1. I have learned that students need to feel safe and comfortable before they can learn. In my classroom this is one of many goals this year. I will begin the year with bare walls. Right away at the beginning of the year, I will immediately place work from the students so they all feel connected and welcomed.

2. Another thing I learned from my research was to allow conversation and discussion in the classroom. If it gets too chaotic, I will let it go and discuss it the next day. I will ask the students first what went well, then move to were there any problems. I will encourage the students to come up with the problems to show ownership and power. Then we will go on to a discussion of how we will solve the problem in the future.

3. Encourage water- it is found that increasing water intake helps chemical and electrical action between the nervous system and the brain. Academic skills will improved.

4. Teach Brain Exercises

• Brain Button-helps cross the left side of the brain to the right
• Cross Crawl- improves muscle awareness and works on centering and grounding
• Cook's Hook-up's- increases attention and emotional centering
• The Owl- improves short term memory and helps cross the "auditory midline"
• Thinking Cap- increases mental/physical fitness and helps screen out distractions
• Double Doodle- improves hand/eye coordination and improves visual discrimination and spacial awareness
• Belly Breathing- helps relaxation of the central nervous system
• Space Buttons- improves depth perception and helps make eye contact steadier
• Calf Pump- improves expressive speech and language ability and integrates the front and back of the brain
• The Energizer-helps relax the central nervous system
• Earl Button- works on centering and grounding
• The Elephant- improves short/long term memory
• Foot Flex- improves expressive speech and language and integrates the front and back of the brain
• Lazy 8's- improves eye-muscle coordination and enhances binocular/peripheral vision
• The Rocker- improves study skills and helps in attention nd comprehension skills
• Arm Activation- increases respiration and hand-eye coordination
• Energy Yawn- improves visual attention and perception

5. The first few days of school are critical. I will set up my room to foster community, develop trust, begin routines, nurture friendships, begin to understand my students (their skills, style, interest, and concerns).

6. Teamwork needs to be taught, practiced, and assessed throughout the year.

7. I will allow students to manage their time. I will give choices of work to complete, ways to share their knowledge, and topics of study. Students will begin to own their work and learn with much more motivation and desire.

Works Cited
Elder, Linda. "Critical Thinking: They Key to Emotional Intelligence" Journal of Developmental Education. 1 Nov. 1997: 40-41.
This article contains explanations of emotional intelligences. It compares the cognitive and affective dimension of the mind. It discusses the three basic functions of the mind: thoughts, feelings, and desires.

Ellison, Laurna. The Personal Intelligences: Promoting Social and Emotional Learning. California: Corwin Press, Inc., 2001.
This book contains up to date research on the brain and how to improve education. It is an excellent source to refer to when creating an environment for students that will allow everyone to be successful. The majority of my action research will model the work of Laurna Ellison.

Fogarty, Robin. "The Intelligence-Friendly Classroom" PHI DELTA KAPPAN. May 1998: 656-657.
This article defines an intelligence friendly classroom, discusses various theories of intelligence, and implications of applications.

Sweet, Sharon. "A Lesson Learned About Multiple Inteligences" Education Leadership. Nov. 1998: 50-51.
In this article, adapting the classroom environment to improve grades, increase motivation to learn, and encourage growth in all intelligences is discussed for different different types of learners.

Tomlinson, Caron and Kalbfleisch, Layne. "Teach Me, Teach My Brain A Call for Differentiated Classrooms" Education Leadership. Nov. 1998: 52-55.
This article challenges the traditional classroom, It suggests that the traditional classroom does not work for some students and may be harmful to some students. It also gives suggestions on how to create a differentiated classroom, according to the research on the brain.


Creative Writing

Crazy Love

I didn't know there would be something special about the date June 16th, 2001. Sure 16 was my softball number all through high school and college, but other than that it was just another day in June. Playing ball has been a huge part of my life, as well as my boyfriend Pat's. Pat and I have been seeing each other for three years, if you count the six months that we were in love with each other but were "just friends". Little did I know the number 16 would come to signify more than just the reminder of stolen bases, the crack of the bat, and fly balls in the outfield. On the night of June 16, love, proposal, and family all came together.

My dad has contributed to most of my success as a ball player, from getting moved up to the varsity team in ninth grade, to being a starter on the Gustavus softball team from the beginning my freshman year to the end of my senior year. Ever since I can remember, my dad had been taking me to ball fields either watching the Twins or hitting ground balls to me. Even though I would roll my eyes and complain about practicing softball with my dad, inside I thrived on this time we spent together doing something both of us love. I remember getting frustrated with my dad for not challenging me enough while hitting me fly balls and then getting mad at him when they were too challenging. I'm very grateful my dad had all the patience he had with me, otherwise I wouldn't have had experienced all I did in softball.

Playing softball taught me the importance of dedication and teamwork, allowed me to meet many friends, and led me to travel around the United States. During my freshman year at Gustavus, we took a road trip down to Texas over spring break, which allowed us to bond as a team and play some ball in decent weather. My sophomore year, we upgraded our travel and flew to California. We played in the slums of San Bernardino, as well as on the shores of San Francisco. I try to forget my Junior year spring break trip. We went back to the old fashion way of traveling and drove down to Missouri. The only thing I will say about that trip is that we renamed Missouri to Misery. With that awful experience, my coaches "Heart Attack" Tom and "Garbage Can" Waldo, treated us to a trip back to California, flying. I ended my softball career on a fabulous trip and also with a continuous hitting streak that even made the paper!

Pat has also lived, loved, and breathed baseball. From the time he was five, he had a passion for the game. He would get up with the sun, sing the National Anthem, and play ball by himself. Patty Wilson, Pat's neighbor, friend and acting grandma, would come out and shout "You're out!" when Pat would slide into home base dreaming he hit a home run.

His career continued when he spent six years as a ball boy for the Minnesota Twins. It's ironic that I would watch my future husband ball boy and admire him from the stands. I was a little jealousy too. The memories of being with the Twins during two World Championships, bonding with Kirby Puckett, and getting picked on by most of the ball club will always be a highlight of his life.

Baseball didn't end for Pat after his pitching appearance at the State High School Baseball Tournament. He continued to be a big part of Minnetonka baseball's success by coaching for the next eight years. He was the only person to not only to play in the Babe Ruth World Series, but also coach. This coaching experience shows the dedication, commitment, and love for the game Pat possesses.

The number 16 triggers many sweet memories of my softball career and Pat's baseball career. One can understand the reason Pat chose this night to ask me the most important question of both of our lives. Sixteen came to mean so much more on the night of June 16, 2001.

The night began like a typical weekend night for me, as I baby-sat at the Trautz' house. I had just tucked in the kids, taking my time with each of them. Elizabeth had just read me her joke book and Sara and I chanted our saying "goodnight, sleep tight". And I'll never forget Michael's comment "Cacky I miss you" and Jack's new infatuation with Harry Potter.

I went into the living room, opened the window to get some fresh, summer air, plopped myself on the couch and began to read. It wasn't long before I dozed off.

Ring Ring

"The Trautz'," I answered.

"Hey Cathy, are you sleeping?" asked Pat impatiently and nervously.

"Ya, I think they're going to be late. Go ahead and eat. I'll be home later." I answered in a groggy voice.

Usually I got impatient after 10:00 for Jill and John to get home, but for some odd reason, I was O.K. with it.

About a hour later. . .Ring Ring

"The Trautz'," I answered.

"Hey Cathy, are they home yet?"

"No, go ahead and eat. I'm not real hungry anymore." I responded with a little irritation.

"O.K. I'm starting to fall asleep also, but make sure to call me when you're heading home.

Instantly, I fell asleep and was awaken by. . ."Cathy, I'm so sorry," called Jill from the back door.

"No problem, they were perfect as usual,"

"Thanks so much Cathy. I'm so excited you're finally here for the summer!" Jill said as she gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

As I headed home I remembered Pat's persistence to call him on my way home. "Pat? Are you asleep?"

"Ya, I'm sleeping" he answered in a fake sleeping voice.

I noticed there were more police cars out than usual, so I made sure I obeyed the speed limit. I saw three cars pulled over and I even witnessed a man walking the line right above Ridgedale on Highway 394.

Finally I was home. I pulled into my garage, walked down the sidewalk, opened the door and noticed a chair sitting right there enshrined with lit candles flickering, roses and a note. The note read,

Welcome Home! Go into your bedroom and read the note by the candlles (spelling)! PB

Right then, my heart skipped a beat with excitement, "This is it!" I thought, "this is the night Pat will propose to me!!!" I looked at how long the candles had been lit. I couldn't determine how long they had been burning, so I followed the orders of the note and walked into my bedroom. The trail to my room was illuminated by candle light and scented with roses.

"Pat?" I asked. "Pat, this is so cute." Silence. I forced myself to have second thoughts, I promised myself I would not get anxious for him to ask me the BIG question, even though we were both ready to make the commitment. In my mind, I figured if he is sleeping then it's not happening, but if he's awake this is the night I will get engaged!

Entering my bedroom, I read the second note surrounded by candles and roses. It read. . .

Push the pause button, do not adjust the volume. Go into the kitchen and wait for the phone to ring. PB

I fumbled, trying to locate the pause button. After what seemed a hour, the song "Crazy Love," sung by Erin Neville, filled the room.

I can hear her heart beat for a thousand miles
And the heavens open every time she smiles
And when I come to her that's where I belong
Yet I'm running to her like a river's song

Hearing the words caused goose bumps to radiate throughout my body. This is a once in a lifetime moment! How am I supposed to act? I don't want to look like I know what he's up to, What if I am wrong? Am I ready? I returned breathlessly to the kitchen and Pat greeted me with a big hug.

"Do you know when I fell in love with you?" asked Pat.

"No, when?" I asked with a hundred things running through my mind.

"The first time I met you," said Pat in a tender, loving voice. "Come here, I have to show you something."

"What?" I asked (still in awe of the candles, notes and roses).

As he took my hand, he led me through my bedroom out onto my patio. There sat a stool with a white table cloth, with a dozen rose petals pulled off the rose, candles and a ring box. The candles were flickering in the moon light, with the sound of crickets and "Crazy Love" danced around us.

Pat grabbed the ring box, pulled out the ring and we embraced.

"Will you marry me?"

"Yes," I whispered, as a couple tears rolled down my cheek.

"You didn't let me get down on my knee. Did you answer?"

"Yes! I will marry you,"

"Here, put on the ring."

"It's the one! I love it!"

"I can't wait to tell you all about this. I have some funny stories to tell you. But first let's open the bottle of champagne to celebrate."

I asked a hundred questions. "Did you ask my dad? Who knows? When did you get the ring?"

I was finally able to bring out my wedding magazines. The ones I have been accumulating from friends who didn't need them anymore. I have to admit, they were all labeled and color coded with tabs long before this magical night. As I unloaded all of them on the table, I could tell Pat was asking himself what he got himself into. We stayed up until 4:30 am discussing everything down to the minor details.

"Who should be in the wedding?" I asked.

"Matt, Charlie, my brothers, Wils, Beach, Jace and Dan."

"EIGHT!" I asked, wide eyed.


"Well, I have six kids I want to have in the wedding and maybe more,"



"Well this is our wedding and we're going to have it exactly how we want it!" Pat assured me.

As I drifted off to sleep, I imagined Pat and I building a life together. I pictured our wedding day, buying a house , and touring around the United States in our RV to all the National Baseball Parks. We both dream of visiting them, it was just a year ago that I made a scrapbook for the beginning of this dream.

I also imagined us raising a family together. This time the coaches would not only be my dad, but my mom and Pat's parents. Little did I know I would be playing in the championship game, with the ball boy I once admired from the stands at the Twins games as a child. I will always remember the date in June when love, proposal, and family all came together.