Teachers Change Your Bait!

Brain-compatible differentiated instruction

By: Martha Kaufeldt


Products specifications
Attribute name Attribute value
Size: 254mm x 203mm
Pages : 192
ISBN : 9781904424611
Format: Paperback
Published: August 2004

Popular workshop presenter and trainer Martha Kaufeldt has done it again! This first book in her new series, Beginning with the Brain, is what every busy teacher has been waiting for. With an excellent concise summary of recent brain research and its implications for educators, the rationale is clear for how teachers should begin to differentiate instruction on a daily basis. Using a fishing metaphor which will guarantee a broad appeal, this book offers teachers a variety of strategies to pack into their personal ‘tackle boxes’! Classroom examples from all grade levels provide suggestions for how teachers can orchestrate powerful learning experiences in response to every student’s unique needs.

Fill your strategy tackle box with practical ways to vary the six key components of differentiation:

  • physical and social environment
  • content and its presentation
  • processing for learning
  • products to demonstrate learning

Everything you need is here, from how to set up student profiles and establish groups to how to collect on-going feedback and document progress. Activities that engage reluctant learners, strategies that will help for children with special needs as well as complex tasks to inspire the more able and talented students have been included in this practical user-friendly book.

Picture for author Martha Kaufeldt

Martha Kaufeldt

Martha Kaufeldt is a full-time trainer and educational consultant throughout North America. She has taught at all grade levels, and served as a district level coordinator and staff developer. She is the creator of the award-winning Concept in a Day (book and video) program which demonstrates how educators can maximize learning using a brain-compatible immersion strategy. Her bestselling Begin with the Brain provides strategies for implementing the key elements of brain-compatible learning and teaching in the classroom.


  1. This is an interesting little book that frames differentiation in classrooms within a very loose structure of brain research. It is not specifically aimed at educational psychologists (EPs). However, the content would be extremely valuable to support training sessions with groups of staff so they can rethink their approach and develop some understanding for the advice and recommendations we make in our day-to-day work with pupils and students.
    It is full of homilies, good advice and -˜tips-for-teachers' and I think, in that category it is a good mix of fact and `artefact'. There are three salient points I think worth reiterating from the many ideas and examples quoted. Firstly the issue of differentiation is a universal need to enable curricular access to everyone in our school communities; secondly that multi-modal or multi-sensory approaches are insufficiently used despite good intentions and a limited appreciation of learning styles; and thirdly, as Kaufeldt reiterates, the multiple intelligence model seems to fit all our classrooms and pupils better than a narrow transmission model. I know I saw many examples of elements of what she refers to in many classroom observations of pupils. However, the better learning was in classes that enjoyed the fact that their teacher did more of it, for more of the time, over more of the curriculum than did other teachers. However it does take time and Kaufeldt recognises the pressures (e.g targets, funding, performance) that can interfere with good teaching and compete for time.
    One aspect that I think she could have used better to reinforce her approach and her analogy with fishing is-that of being very clear about your aim or goal. In fishing, you want to make a catch as well as have a good day. Thus, as she describes, the patient, experienced angler starts by thinking what it will take for the fish to take the bait. This is what I think of, as reverse chaining that should be driving our thinking from the start- what do we want children to take away from the efforts we make as educators.
    The book is for teachers and educators in general, wherever in the system they lie. That said, it could be most useful when you are in a `stuck' consultation and need to think about how to free up a particularly unimaginative teacher or encourage creativity in others. So it might be useful to have it available to dip into for a suggestion in a report, a question in a meeting or even to reflect on how you also are `hooking' anyone in a training group you run. In supervision of trainee EPs, certainly for those without a lot of classroom experience, it might also be useful to encourage them to think quite specifically about exactly what, and how, education is to be achieved, for even our more concrete learners.
  2. Martha Kaufeldt's Teachers, Change Your Bait wins this week's prize for most self-consciously wacky title. It's written with the full age span of school learners in mind and the presentation heavy on clip art tries to create a sense of fun and accessibility. This fits with what we are told about the author: Martha Kaufeldt is a teacher and presenter from Santa Cruz, California. Her case is that “we can't wait for the neuroscientists to tell us what to do with our classes of unique learners”. That's where she parachutes in with strategies that are “compatible with how the brain learns”. Consequently, using her son's interest in angling as a template, she encourages us to think about the best time of day for learning, choose the best location, stock our tackle boxes with strategies and diverse lures. You get the idea.

    There are chapters on hooking students' interest, varying the physical environment, and building understanding. If you can inoculate yourself against the occasional excesses of Californian wackiness, this is a hugely practical book. It's written by a teacher who clearly knows how to engage and motivate young people, and that charm and enthusiasm comes shining through in the book. Not that Martha Kaufeldt is (wait for it) fishing for compliments.
  3. Martha Kaufeldt has done it again! Teachers, Change Your Bait is an invaluable, user-friendly book that takes you step-by-step through exactly how to set up and implement a brain-friendly, differentiated classroom. Her explanation of the key elements of brain-compatible, differentiated instruction, and the practical suggestions for doing it are the best I have read anywhere.
  4. I am extremely grateful to Martha for her willingness to share her considerable wisdom, and I admire her skill in creating a book that is fun and easy to use. Following her guidance has made a world of difference in my classroom. Teachers will appreciate the wealth of practical ideas, and they will watch with joy as their students respond to a brain-compatible environment.
  5. “If we teach kids to think, not what to think, they develop strong values, and the confidence to make their own decisions later on in the face of peer pressure” (Barbara Colorosa)

    This book is definitely about helping teachers to help children do exactly what the quote above says. As someone who went through institutional “education' some time ago and frankly today am certainly not competent in any of the subjects I undertook at school, which is why I believe learning is more than memory and passing of a test. Martha Kaufeldt has set out to help teachers reinforce “learning' in a multitude of ways that will undoubtedly ensure that children of our future will be far more competent because true education is about drawing out from within. The suggestions for teachers within the book are great guidelines for teachers who feel stuck in a system where they want to create change and can do so by having the courage to change the way they teach material. In the personal development world there is a question “What is the height of insanity?” The answer to this question is “Keep doing the same things and expecting different results”. This couldn't be more true of education today and this is where Martha Kaufeldt has had the courage to address the problem at a root cause and to recognise that the children of today are “different' from 120 years ago when schooling first began en-masse. She encourages teachers to create a tacklebox of ideas, concepts, games, approaches to teaching instead of the “Spray and Pray” method as mentioned by Linda Darling Hammond at an international educational conference.

    Martha has also included in her book an interesting perspective on what different age groups are looking for in their learning process which I believe would form a useful foundation for any educator and particularly for adult trainers who end up often training adults who can often display some very similar attitudes within a conference training. However, as a person who has developed a learning programme seeing Martha stipulating how long children can focus for before they need time out to allow their brains to “download' the information is wonderful, welcome and thank goodness educators will now be able to understand why people “absorb' information more easily when their learning is multi-faceted.

    This is a book for educators who are committed, responsible and courageous. It is a book for those teachers who wish to maximise “brain/mind” understanding, as well as the eight intelligences into a format that will maximise the potential of learners. And one other thing ” in the business world various different roles are told to focus on the concept of a radio station “WIIFM” which stands for “What's in it for me?” Martha has summed it up well when she demonstrates within the book the importance of varying presentation in order to hook the students interest. Hooray ” our younger members of society will begin to love learning again as more and more techniques like Martha's are incorporated into the halls of learning.
  6. Teachers, Change Your Bait! is a text grounded in the realities of classroom life. It is a thorough yet digestible mix of brain research, learning theory, and psychological principles with specific strategies and activities that enhance teachers' ability to differentiate teaching and learning in their classrooms. Particularly noteworthy is how each chapter concludes with Tackle Box Ideas which summarize the guiding principles that open each chapter. Martha's relatable “teacher-down-the-hall” style drew me into a conversation about learning that both validated and challenged my educational beliefs and practices. This book, in its entirety or by individual chapters, would make an excellent professional development focus on differentiation. Bravo, Martha, for placing a truly valuable tool in the hands of educators!
  7. What a joy to find a book that provides essential information in such a warm and engaging manner. Martha has a sense of humor and she uses it to convey her passion to make sure the learning style of every child is understood and respected through brain-compatible learning. Martha gets it right when she says, “If you want -˜no child left behind,' then use various strategies to bring all children along.” This is a must-read for everyone who cares about children and education.
  8. A book full of practical suggestions, intelligently put together!

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