Teachers can work with the natural function of the brain to enhance learning in the classroom. Your learning space needs to invite your learners to be engaged and at the same time they should feel energized to do their best, be productive and creative. Classrooms should be organized in such a way that they flow and encourage free movement, and therefore creativity.
We want students to move, because movement is the best way for students to learn better. Movement supplies brain cells with oxygen, promotes the production of new brain cells, and aids in creating new synapses. This natural substance enhances cognition by boosting a neuron’s ability to communicate with other neurons. Movement also increases energy, reduces stress, and calms the mind and body. Movement benefits the hippocampus and, as a result, students can consolidate learning in the long-term memory.
In addition, we want students to have as many incentives and spaces to be creative as possible. Below, we explore some methods and tools that can be used to accomplish this goal of energizing and engaging.
- Energizing the brain:
- Flow: The flow of your room is crucial. Leave spaces for students to get easily from point A to B, from B to C, and so on. Avoid having things on the floor or hanging out that might be in the way of traffic in your classroom. Make sure when you look around your room that you can easily see mini hallways for your students to walk freely and with enough space to have two students walking in opposite directions.
- Movement: Provide your students with opportunities to move. If you have a flexible seating space, make sure you provide your students with different positions to work: standing, kneeling, walking, bouncing, laying down, rocking, etc. Make sure your learners move while learning, and don’t think of movement as a separate activity from learning. Students need to try many alternative postures throughout the day. There are many strategies for great ways to better learn such as music, emotions, hands-on, etc, but the number one strategy is: movement.
- Colors: the psychology of color tells us that bright colors promote energy. You do not need to paint a whole wall with a bright color, as long as you make sure you provide a space that invites creativity, productivity, and energy. It is better to dedicate a space in your classroom than having this element scattered throughout your classroom, otherwise the color only energizes. Provide a space, a corner, and even a wall that invites your students’ brains to be creative and productive. This space can be your ‘Makerspace.’ It can be a table with puzzles, hands-on things, manipulatives, or anything that fits what you are teaching.
- Lights: Is there a time in your day or in your block where you want students to be super active? Then, play with lights! Have them bright, but remember that you can still filter those lights so it doesn’t affect you or your students. Light filter for classrooms: https://amzn.to/2CWFNVF
2. Engaging the Brain:
- Collaborative space: This can take place in the form of group tables or a space on the floor where you have morning meetings and/or collaborations. If you have desks in rows and columns, make sure you also have a space where a group can meet.
- Displays: It is better to display posters and other necessary things on one or two walls at the most, and leave the other two for the other brains’ needs. Display student work, goals, word wall, anchor charts, and whatever is extremely necessary and current.
- Makerspace: A Makerspace is a needed addition to your classroom! Makerspaces/STEAM labs are not places just for crafting. You can dedicate this space to extend learning and create just about anything for more subjects than just science and math. For example: advertisements, books, brochures, cards, collages, comic strips, dances, doodling, diary entries, essays, experiments, films, games, Google Earth tours, magazines, maps, news reports, photos, role plays, scavenger hunts, and so much more. For even more ideas, listen to this podcast! https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/makerspace/
By implementing these methods, you can build a learning space that radiates energy, productivity, engagement, and creativity. You can turn your classroom into a place that energizes and engages the brain and reap the harvest of the enthusiasm and success of your students.
Check next week for more methods and tools on the ‘Boosting Brain Function in the Classroom (Parte 2)’.