BrainWise - 10 Wise Ways to Stop and Think

A proven, evidence-based program for teaching critical thinking and decision making skills!

Overview

In order to succeed in today's world, everyone must possess the critical thinking and decision making skills necessary to analyze and respond to ever-more complex situations and to recognize, understand, and appropriately manage their own emotions. Learning how to control impulsive behavior, accurately identify choices, assess the consequences of actions, and make responsible decisions is what BrainWise is all about.

Educators, parents, counselors, social workers, health professionals, mangers, ministers, and others interested in teaching executive functions and critical thinking skills use BrainWise because they know the program’s evidence-based approach works.

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In my twenty-three years of teaching, I have tried and developed many approaches to help decrease my students' inappropriate behaviors. BrainWise has given me a gift. My students' behaviors have significantly changed. They now have tools to problem solve and are capable of using critical thinking skills.

Tracy Dodd
award winning teacher of emotionally disabled students

For the past nine years, I have been teaching BrainWise in my classroom. It is the best program I have ever used in I my twenty-seven years of teaching.

Wendy Cameron
award-winning kindergarten teacher

This is the best program I've seen in thirty years of working with youth. I cannot say enough good things about BrainWise. It gives you tools to help kids solve their own problems.

Larry Pambianco
Sheridan Youth Ministries

BrainWise helps me think about what I say or do. It has made my life better, and helped be a better parent.

Mother

BrainWise gives me tools to teach clients how to make better choices. I see immediate changes because the client “gets it.”

Psychologist

Using the latest understanding of how the brain works, BrainWise takes complex cognitive concepts and presents them in a concrete and easy-to-grasp format that is flexible enough to blend into any school setting or program.

BrainWise is being taught, to children, teens, and adults in rural villages in Alaska, India, and China, and in schools and agencies throughout the U.S. and Canada as well as 18 other countries. Its thinking skills are being field tested, taught, texted and integrated interactively online. BrainWise partners include Rotary, universities, social service agencies, mental health providers, school districts, justice programs, and health workers. They recognize the valuable outcomes of teaching individuals skills that help individuals control impulse, process problems, and respond responsibly.

See How BrainWise Will Work For You

Research and Results

Interviews conducted with BrainWise instructors include stories about former students who report, years after graduation, that BrainWise skills helped them improve their lives by attending college, getting out of gangs, building better relationships with their families, and learning how to get along with others. Both the instructors and students give credit to BrainWise for helping them make more positive decisions and improving outcomes in their lives.

Information and input from teachers, instructors, and students, together with decades of scientific-based research in the fields of education and the social sciences, was used to develop and measure BrainWise. Included in this research were findings from studies on youth development, strategies for changing behavior, and techniques for effective teaching. Field tests of the program were conducted over three years with high-risk students, and the feedback from faculty, staff, students, administrators, and parents was used to refine the curricula’s content and structure. The result is a program whose design allows for easy replication and fidelity to its content.

Research on BrainWise has been published in Adolescent Psychopathology and the Developing Brain: Integrating Brain and Prevention Science, a 2007 book published by Oxford University Press. It contains papers from a 2005 conference held at the University of Pennsylvania that highlighted cutting-edge programs and research on the brain.

For a copy of this paper, please contact us at:info@brainwise-plc.org.

For more information about Research on BrainWise

Research and Results

Products

Developed and tested in schools and programs over several years, the BrainWise Method uses innovative teaching techniques, a scripted curriculum, and visuals to teach students a series of essential emotional, social, and cognitive skills called "The 10 Wise Ways."

The BrainWise organization provides course instructors with a number of teaching tools and services designed to meet a wide range of needs. They include scripted curriculums for students in grades K-5 and grades 6-12, workplace examples for adults that can be integrated into the lesson plans, a companion book for teens, parents and other adults, worksheets in English and Spanish, posters, cards, and bookmarks.

Services

BrainWise has a talented research team that includes master teachers, public health professionals, and academicians with expertise on brain functions and neurobiology. They have collected independent outcome data on children, youth and adults using various behavioral measures, including instruments measuring executive functions. They are champions of BrainWise, and their expertise and years of experience provide the basis of the valuable services that BrainWise has to offer.

Learning how to stop and think, control emotions, and make good choices are skills that underlie success. Students who complete the BrainWise Program are making better choices and better decisions, which allow them to live happier and healthier lives!

  • What makes BrainWise different?

    BrainWise simplifies and presents brain research so that children as young as five, as well as teenagers, and adults understand how thinking affects their behavior. The program is easy-to-teach, and its scripted lesson plans, teaching aids, and reinforcement activities lay a foundation that can be integrated into existing curricula, programs, and school, home, and work cultures. The program’s concepts and vocabulary address all problems, from playground altercations to workplace hostility, and from hurt feelings to suicidal ideation. Program instructors can easily customize lessons to address problems specific to their students or clients. They are told that practice of 50 or more hours is necessary to insure that BrainWise graduates will retain the skills and use them to make good choices and decisions.

    BrainWise has been independently evaluated by academic researchers, a private research company, and government researcher. The results consistently demonstrate that the BrainWise method helps graduates improve their critical thinking, executive functions, and social and emotional learning skills.

    BrainWise is recognized internationally as a comprehensive program that teaches critical thinking concepts and executive function skills, applies them to everyday situations, and reinforces them through practice to create new, and lasting, brain pathways. The program’s results have been validated by independent research, and its successful outcomes have been presented at national and international academic conferences.

    These features distinguish BrainWise, and highlight its effectiveness as a program that problem-solving and decision-making skills.

  • Is BrainWise an evidence-based program?

    BrainWise has an extensive history of applied research and evidence-based evaluations that show program graduates make improvements in behaviors that affect their health and well-being. The program has been evaluated by analysts with a private research company, academics at two universities, and researchers with a state health agency. They used qualitative and quantitative measures, including focus groups, standardized self-administered behavior questionnaires, and instructor assessments. The instruments measured changes is social and emotional behaviors, including executive functions.

    Research results show that program graduates — middle school students, high school students, and adults – improved or significantly improved on items that measured problem solving behaviors. The researchers have presented the program’s outcomes at national and international academic conferences. A chapter on the BrainWise program is published in Adolescent Psychopathology and the Developing Brain: Integrating Brain and Prevention Research. (Link here to timeline showing Milestones for BrainWise Research.)

  • Who can benefit from the program?

    BrainWise benefits people whose behaviors raise the questions: What was I thinking? What was he thinking? What was she thinking? What were they thinking? Children, youth, and adults need the critical thinking skills BrainWise teaches to help them make better choices and responsible decisions. When they learn and use the 10 Wise Ways, they stop and think before they act. Without them, they use embedded Lizard Brain survival instincts that react to intense emotions.

    The program is taught to special needs children and teens, as well as to average and high performing children and teens. And while the benefits for welfare mothers and homeless men are more dramatic, BrainWise has individually helped parents, teachers, health professionals, and employers as well as families, students, clients and patients.

    The program’s benefits extend across cultures, benefiting youth and adults in China, including women who are targeted by sex traffickers. The U.S. Indian Health Services approved BrainWise as a program that benefits Native Americans and Alaska Natives. It is taught in India, Canada, Taiwan, and other countries to improve health behaviors and prevent suicide, drug and substance abuse, and family violence. The 10 Wise Ways are being taught to help people of all educational and socioeconomic levels. The program’s benefits are recognized by educators, parents, caregivers, health providers, behavioral health specialists and others who want to teach critical thinking and decision making skills. (Link her to BrainWise success stories and testimonials.)

  • Who is using BrainWise?

    Individuals who use BrainWise are seeking teaching tools that will help them give their students, clients, and patients skills to make better choices and decisions.
    BrainWise is used by kindergarten teachers and college professors, by educators who work with severely developmentally disabled youth, as well as teachers of gifted and talented. It is used by nurses working for home visitation programs and by counselors with drug and alcohol treatment programs. Social workers, behavioral health specialists, therapists, career counselors, principals, professors CEOs and directors use BrainWise. They teach the program to Girl Scouts, teens on probation, incarcerated men and women, elementary school children high school students, broken families, peer educators and homeless women and men. The program is used by public schools and private schools, in court-ordered treatment programs and after school community programs, in church organized parent groups and private businesses. BrainWise is used in the workplace to increase job retention, worker productivity and workplace safety.

    To see how BrainWise is being used in a variety of settings, click on the “BrainWise and Your Program” button on the top left side of this page.

    If you would like to develop a customized program to fit your particular situation, please contact us at 303-837-0229 or email us at info@brainwise-plc.org with your request.

  • What do people say about BrainWise?

    Testimonials from BrainWise graduates show their support for the program’s effectiveness, and express enthusiasm for the way using its skills has helped them. A frequent comment is “I LOVE BrainWise!” followed by examples showing the positive changes they have made. An analysis of testimonials identified themes that included how BrainWise had helped them make better choices, how they are happier after learning the skills, how BrainWise changed their thinking from negative to positive; how helped them become responsible for their actions; and a recommendation that BrainWise be taught to everyone.

    Graduates talked about how they feel happier, have skills to control their actions, have learned how to make better choices, how they no longer feel like a victim, and how they have learned to get help when they have a problem. They said that they have fewer problems at school, home, or work, and attribute this to BrainWise.

    More dramatic examples include statements about how BrainWise helped participants change behaviors involving substance abuse, how it helped them get help for suicidal thoughts, and how it helped them get out of a gang. Parents who took BrainWise said the skills they learned helped them not hit their children.
    To read additional comments from teachers, parents, and students, and to view actual “before and after” drawings by students, click on the “Success Stories” button on the top left side of this page.

  • How is the program structured?

    Developed through careful research and field testing, the curricula and teaching aids were designed to be flexible for instructors and adaptable to fit different populations, school and agency structures, and settings. While developed in a classroom setting for children and teens, the BrainWise Program is adaptable to a variety of demographic groups and programs, including leadership training, the workforce, money management, family health management, parenting, and many other formats.

    Program fidelity requires that participants be taught each of the 10 Wise Ways and complete the accompanying worksheets. Additionally, key to retention is having participants gain 50 or more hours of practice using the concepts. Encourage participants to use their BrainWise CPR problem solving worksheets inside and outside the classroom, and have them how reinforce the 10 Wise Ways using daily situations, current events, games, and other activities. Organization create a “BrainWise Culture” where problems are assessed using the programs concepts and terms.

    BrainWise concepts are easy to teach, but merely learning the concepts does not mean they will be retained without the necessary practice. To facilitate both the learning of the concepts and their practice, the program is divided into two distinct sections:

    Part I – BrainWise: Learn It! This section of the curricula introduces the 10 Wise Ways. The modules can be taught separately or combined. Instructors are encouraged to integrate the concepts into existing materials, as well as to use BrainWise terms for discussing problems as they arise. Use the worksheets for practice, and help participants pull them together by assessing problems using the BrainWise CPR problem solving worksheet. Have participants practice using the skills outside the classroom.

    Developed through careful research and field testing, the curricula and teaching aids were designed to be flexible for instructors and adaptable to fit different populations, school and agency structures, and settings.  While developed in a classroom setting for children and teens, the BrainWise Program is adaptable to a variety of demographic groups and programs, including leadership training, the workforce, money management, family health management, parenting, and many other formats. 

    Program fidelity requires that participants be taught each of the 10 Wise Ways and complete the accompanying worksheets.  Additionally, key to retention is having participants gain 50 or more hours of practice using the concepts. Encourage participants to use their BrainWise CPR problem solving worksheets inside and outside the classroom, and have them how reinforce the 10 Wise Ways using daily situations, current events, games, and other activities. Organization create a “BrainWise Culture” where problems are assessed using the programs concepts and terms.     

    BrainWise concepts are easy to teach, but merely learning the concepts does not mean they will be retained without the necessary practice. To facilitate both the learning of the concepts and their practice, the program is divided into two distinct sections:

    Part I – BrainWise: Learn It!  This section of the curricula introduces the 10 Wise Ways.  The modules can be taught separately or combined.  Instructors are encouraged to integrate the concepts into existing materials, as well as to use BrainWise terms for discussing problems as they arise.  Use the worksheets for practice, and help participants pull them together by assessing problems using the BrainWise CPR problem solving worksheet.  Have participants practice using the skills outside the classroom. 

    Part II – BrainWise: Live it! In the BrainWise Zone!  This section provides examples of ways instructors can encourage participants practice using BrainWise CPR by applying them to assess a variety of problems.  This includes using the 10 Wise Ways to analyze stories, movies, videos, popular TV shows, advertising, and current events.  Other ways to gain practice include creating categories involving the 10 Wise Ways for game templates for shows like Jeopardy! and Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Examples for the latter are available in back issues of the BrainWise newsletter for instructors. 

    This structure engages participants and uses current events and popular culture to give them opportunities to apply what they have learned to a wide range of situations.  The BrainWise CPR Problem Solving Worksheet helps them apply their skills, and can be used as little or often as is necessary for each participant.   The result is that students, clients, and patients learn to stop and think and use the 10 Wise Ways to process problems.  They learn how to avoid reacting to emotions and impulse.  They also learn they have a choice:  Use these skills or lose them, leaving the brain to revert to impulsive and reactive Lizard Brain thinking.

    In the BrainWise Zone! This section provides examples of ways instructors can encourage participants practice using BrainWise CPR by applying them to assess a variety of problems. This includes using the 10 Wise Ways to analyze stories, movies, videos, popular TV shows, advertising, and current events. Other ways to gain practice include creating categories involving the 10 Wise Ways for game templates for shows like Jeopardy! and Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Examples for the latter are available in back issues of the BrainWise newsletter for instructors.

    This structure engages participants and uses current events and popular culture to give them opportunities to apply what they have learned to a wide range of situations. The BrainWise CPR Problem Solving Worksheet helps them apply their skills, and can be used as little or often as is necessary for each participant. The result is that students, clients, and patients learn to stop and think and use the 10 Wise Ways to process problems. They learn how to avoid reacting to emotions and impulse. They also learn they have a choice: Use these skills or lose them, leaving the brain to revert to impulsive and reactive Lizard Brain thinking.

  • Can BrainWise be integrated into other teaching materials and programs?

    BrainWise is praised by instructors for how easy they can integrate into other programs. The program’s universal framework is key for its adaptability, as it enables instructors to discuss problem situations appropriate for the ages, academic abilities, and cultural backgrounds of whomever they are teaching. Even though its foundation is rooted in complex brain processes, the program uses concepts and words that are easy to understand. The BrainWise approach can be used to assess personal problems, as well as the problems of characters in stories, movies, videos, TV shows, advertising, and current events.

    “Be BrainWise with Money” is an example of how an instructor incorporated the 10 Wise Ways into a money management curses. BrainWise has been integrated into behavioral health courses, substance abuse prevention, leadership classes parenting courses, and others. Instructors teach BrainWise as a foundation, and apply the 10 Wise Ways to whatever problems their students and clients need to address. The program’s thinking skills help them solve problems affiliated with family, relationships, school, work and community.

  • Is BrainWise culturally relevant?

    BrainWise is a universal program — everyone needs to learn how to build brain connections to stop and think. Its framework for teaching decision making concepts can be applied to anyone. The program’s cross-cultural relevancy is demonstrated by its use in cultures ranging from illiterate women in China targeted by sex traffickers to Native youth and families Alaska at-risk for suicide, substance abuse and violence. BrainWise is being taught to individuals of all ages, educational levels, and mental abilities, as well as cultural backgrounds. In a Colorado high school that serves students from 80 countries, a BrainWise instructor teaches the class to special needs students. BrainWise has been approved by the U.S. Indian Health Services as a program that works to improve the health and well-being of Native Americans and Alaska Natives. This recognition is difficult to obtain, and further proof that BrainWise is culturally relevant.

  • Can I teach BrainWise?

    Absolutely!  BrainWise is fun and easy to teach.  We welcome all who want to learn how to teach others the skills that underlie problem-solving and making good decisions! Each chapter clearly sets forth the goal and objectives of each lesson and provides the instructor with age appropriate group teaching activities. The flexible lesson plans allow for individual creativity and also show how to infuse the thinking skills into other subjects and activities outside the classroom.

    For lasting results, it is important that students and clients practice using the skills by applying them to problems inside and outside the classroom for a minimum of 50 hours.  The greatest impact comes when the program is taught with fidelity. This means that that each of the 10 Wise Ways is taught in the order they are presented – easy to do with the scripted curriculum and problem solving worksheets, and that all are taught to the student or client.

    Training is available, but is not required. Arrangements can be made for groups interested in obtaining specialized practice, and others can attend training sessions offered throughout the year.

    We have found that the best instructors want to teach BrainWise and are committed to teaching it with fidelity. The BrainWise staff and volunteers/instructors are available to help answer questions. Please contact the BrainWise program at info@brainwise-plc.org

  • How can I make BrainWise work for me and my agency or school?

    Thank you for recognizing the importance of having the support of your colleagues to teach BrainWise at your school or agency! If you can create an organization-wide culture where everyone knows and uses BrainWise terms, the critical reinforcement needed for retention will be a given. Every location is different, but the following suggestions used by BrainWise champions have helped them get support for the program:

    • Understand the benefits of BrainWise. Share this information with others, and identify those who are interested in teaching decision making skills.
    • Target behaviors important for your potential allies and highlight how BrainWise provides tools to achieve them.
    • Identify individuals who will be receptive to teaching or reinforcing BrainWise. Send them our newsletters and links to the webpage.
    • Insert the BrainWise language into your vocabulary. Even people unfamiliar with the program will quickly pick up on using the “wizard brain” vs. the “lizard brain,” the “constellation of support”, “red flags” and “exiting the emotions elevator.”
    • Make a short presentation on BrainWise. You can contact us for support.
    • Talk about the changes in behaviors that you have recognized. If you administered pre- and posttests, share the results.
    • Share BrainWise success stories that are pertinent to your colleagues. The monthly BrainWise newsletter has these kinds of stories, as does the web page.
    • Engage parents or families of clients as BrainWise advocates.