The Teen Brain Pt. 4: Movement

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By Bobbie Dunn,

Welcome to Part 4 of this series on The Teen Brain.  If you haven’t already, be sure to check out a very informative overview presented in Part 1, as well as practical information you can use today in your classrooms presented in parts 2 and 3 on feedback and relevance and experience.

Part 4 is all about movement.

Though it seems simple, and many people think that it’s something that should be left for recess and physical education, movement can automatically make students’ brains work better. According to Hileman (2006), “…movement is a reliable way to increase blood flow, hence oxygenating the brain…simply standing can raise heart rate by as much as 5 to 8 percent in just seconds.”

Our brains need oxygen, and there is a growing concern that students aren’t getting enough movement to keep the oxygen flowing to the brains.  If students seem to lose interest or are getting antsy, a simple 30-second stretch break may work miracles!  Debra Prigge (2002), agrees with Hileman, but then takes it one step further by saying, “Integrating movement into learning activities increases circulation and oxygen flow to the brain, which in turn can increase student attention.

Plan your class activities so that movement is built in.”  How hard is it for students to stand up and find a partner instead of just choosing the person next to them?  Or instead of handing back papers, have students come to the front to get them from you.  Though I didn’t realize this before, movement doesn’t have to be something that takes away from learning time; students can simply stand to discuss an idea with a partner instead of sitting at their desks.  Students love going outside; by having them do a “walk and talk” lap around the school, they’re getting a chance to have some fresh air, as well as get their bodies moving while they’re discussing a classroom-related topic.  As long as we give students a chance to be up and moving throughout a long class period, we are assisting their brains and helping them stay attentive.

Stay tuned for Part five tomorrow: Making Learning Meaningful.