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The “Why” and “How” of Brain-Based Learning Techniques By Edudemic Staff

CorpHundreds of different variables affect how well your students digest information. Neuroscientific research suggests that some of the most important variables that impact learning include physical activity, social health, and the pace at which information is presented. Thankfully, you can harness and control many of the variables that make or break learning by using the following techniques.

 

Incorporate Frequent “Brain Breaks”

Given the mounting pressure that teachers face to crank out successful test-takers, it’s understandably tempting to cut recess, gym, and other movement activities in favor of sitting still and studying. However, taking a five-minute brain break to exercise the body and refresh the mind actually is more effective than subjecting kids to marathon teaching sessions in which they tend to become overwhelmed and fatigued.

Why it’s effective

Studies show that the brain absorbs and retains more information when the body is exercised periodically. Movement stimulates the flow of two important neurochemicals, noradrenaline and dopamine, which prime the brain for learning. It erases sedentary fatigue, increases heart rate, and improves circulation, all of which impact the success of a lesson.

Some teachers incorporate brain breaks by popping in a dance-along video or DVD, such as “The Sid Shuffle” from the movie “Ice Age” or, for younger kids, “Get the Sillies Out” by Just Dance Kids. Others use activity cards that prescribe brief, exhilarating activities such as “Mingle, Mingle, Group!” “Freeze Dance,” “Simon Says,” and “Animal Pretend.” The Internet abounds with brain break ideas; do some research to find activities that appeal to you, or consider creating your own. Key points to remember are that brain breaks last only a few minutes and, to avoid chaos and injury, they must be defined by safety rules.