Knowing that the Cerebellum contains 50 percent of the brain’s neurons, and those neurons focus on movement, cognitive patterns and novelty, we savvy educators might want to incorporate this information in planning our sessions.
Robert K. Greenleaf has spent years translating current brain research into practical classroom strategies. As President of Greenleaf Learning, he presents nationally on brain-based learning. In his May, 2003 article for Principals.org, Motion and emotion, [UPDATE 2-28-09 – Unfortunately, this site now requires a log in.] Greenleaf discusses various ways to “combine the notion of movement and space” to “tap into this powerful learning”. In particular:
When we combine the notion of movement and space, we can tap into this powerful learning by teaching a 10-minute lesson from the back of the classroom, asking learners to touch fingers together every time they hear a verb in a story being read aloud, having students stand while explaining a current event or cross their legs while reviewing for a quiz, or even conducting a discussion while walking about the building! Movement can be, but clearly does not have to be, a gross motor activity to supply additional or novel stimuli to the learning task at hand.
What types of movement are best suited to the learning spaces we have? The following suggestions are a few possibilities that may be practical in the classroom:
* Have students face the back of the classroom during a review for a quiz.
* Have the students sit sideways in their chairs during an activity or discussion.
* Have students write down the most important item of the day with their opposite hand.
* Ask students to turn their papers diagonally and complete an assignment that way.
* Have everyone cross their legs while you tell them about an important event. Or have them cross their legs and uncross them only to contribute to the discussion.
* Ask the class to stand up and sit down after each student question is answered.
* Make everyone move one seat for a five-minute explanation.
* Give everyone a pretzel to eat every two minutes during the review. Make pretzels available during test time.
* Ask students to stand behind their chairs while you read an important passage to them.
Incorporating some form of movement or novelty into any presentation, especially if the audience has been sitting still for quite awhile or listening to a monotone, can be
novelty can wake up the brain and give it a link for remembering.
As Greenleaf has noted:
Tag novelty and movement to the essential piece of a unit. The bimodal context of the visual and verbal greatly enhances recall and facilitates multiple pathways for retrieval. The type of movement can be completely arbitrary.