On-task. Compliance. Engagement. Participation. The subtle distinctions have vast differences in brain activity and student engagement in learning.
Doing work and being off-task are vast opposites. Students must be on-task to learn, but not all compliant participation is the same.
Compliance and engagement are different.
When a student does what you ask, that student is complying. When a student has high levels of brain activity, that student is engaged. Another vast difference.
Here’s one strategy – a very simple strategy – you can use to increase engagement in your brains, uh, I mean students.
Intentional learning is the result of student engagement, not simply being on-task. Dr. Marcia Tate synthesized decades of brain research in her work on engaging the brain. In a recent article, Worksheets Don’t Grow Dendrites, she offers 20 ways to engage brains. Her suggestions include:
The simplest one to use is physical activity. Movement.
Getting students to move is a sure way to activate the entire nervous system. It allows information to be processed more effectively in working memory and muscle memory. Retention and recall will increase. More connections will be made.Are you growing dendrites in your classroom? Here's a strategy that will! Click To Tweet
There are so many ways that you already use movement to increase student engagement. Here’s a short list if you’re looking for new ideas.
For ideas on how to engage student interest using games, read here.
Here's a list of 9 ways to engage students with movement. #teachingClick To Tweet
The examples above are all examples of mindful movement to increase student engagement. They are thoughtful uses of physical participation. They boost learning, active processing, long-term memory, and more.
There’s also a use for non-mindful movement. This is much easier to use too. Here are a few examples:
Whether you use mindful or non-mindful movement, you will still get the benefits of increased engagement.
In her graduate research study The Impact of Physical Movement on Academic Learning, Kristy N. Ford presented several benefits of physical movement in the classroom. Here’s a summary:
Student engagement and learning can increase in math classes from the use of physical movement.
In the peer-reviewed journal Learning and Individual Differences, an article presented positive findings with 4th and 5th graders learning about fractions. They had 16 students in a physically active class and 16 students in a computer-based sedentary math class. They found:
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In a 2105 research study, study brain activity was recorded in a math class. One group of students sat in traditional seats and another had physical movement during instruction. The latter group displayed increased brain activity during math problem-solving.
This evidence supports the idea that movement, of any kind, can lead to greater student engagement.
Thanks for reading. For more instructional strategies, please take a look at these recommended articles:
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