December 24, 2017 at 9:34 pm #82067Dr. Anson ChenMember
In Hong Kong for most classroom learning situations, throughout the day there are about 8 lessons with each lasting 30-40 minutes, while learners are required to using the “Sitting” Posture for almost 7 lessons daily to learn different subjects and occupy the same desk and chair for about 2-3 months can there be a chance for change of classroom seating plan, hence they are able to be assigned to a different learning location. We notice that many learners with “prolonged Sit to Learn posture” gradually either turn to a layback-slender posture or lying on the desk even while writing.
So we sometimes use the following approach to help make changes to their learning postures:
a. Keep standing after Greeting
1. Students stand up to greet “goodmorning” to teacher.
2. After greeting, teacher asks students to remain standing up.
3. T continues to stimulate learners recall/retrieve ideas by asking learners to think about 2-3 ideas they remember most/provide examples of exercise (give 10-15 secs for individual think time)
4. T uses signal to see who raise up hands fastest have the opportunity to voice out/share ideas, when a learner has provided an idea, he or she may invite another classmate to sit down with him/her
b. Looking for information around the classroom
Teacher posts some information of the learning materials on the walls of the classroom, assign different learners to take turn to go find the information, then return to share with neighbor
c. Be the presenter
Randomly invite 4-5 learners to stand at different locations of the classroom, invite other learners to take-turns and go listen to their sharing or presentation
We notice the above approaches do get learners to get into a more alert state of learning, wonder if you have any comments on the above approaches?
December 30, 2017 at 5:04 pm #82374Craig CarsonGuest
I am not as familiar with the educational systems of Asia, but after reading your post, I would assume if I did a learning walk in many classrooms that most would seem more traditional in arrangement. Potentially administrators would place value on students learning in their desks. Please forgive my assumptions if they are false. The preponderance of teachers that I work with in my district have moved past traditional seating and rows to a much more flexible seating model. However, there are those who prefer a more traditional approach. For any teacher, whether a traditional or flexible approach, I often offer this research and advice. It works in any classroom.
We have known for 3 decades that standing, walking, and exercise all produce better chemicals in the brain than just sitting (Gillberg and colleagues, 1986; Lundberg 2008). Whenever students are sitting for long periods of time, the ability to learn diminishes. I always share what Eric Jensen (2008) has stated for years, “Norepinephrine is a memory fixative that aids in the ability to remember content” (p. 41). Just standing alone increases a student’s heart rate and norepinephrine levels; walking increases the two even more. Now, consider what you have suggested as your listed strategies, you are adding intrigue, curiosity, or a sense of limited resources! You have now stimulated good chemicals within your students’ minds that impact learning, memory, and mood—all for the better!
If students in a class are more sedentary than active, or are subjected to a more traditional approach in seating, I recommend some of the following good ideas to incorporate movement and arousal.
– Do a 7th Inning Stretch! Every 7 minutes of sustained attention to an outside stimulus (lecture, watching a demonstration, listening), stop and have students process. Like we do at a ballgame, standing up and processing is even better if we want to induce the good cascade of learning chemicals within the brain. (If a teacher is trying to develop stamina in reading or writing, then I do not suggest the 7th Inning Stretch. There are other ways to help during those activities.)
– Lead their group in stretches or exercises! Between concepts in a lecture or in a series of topics, have student leaders lead their teams in some yoga stretches or ones that include some cross-lateral movements. This takes only a couple of minutes, and the students are ready to learn for the next sequence. Possibly you might have them connect the stretch with what they are learning by embodying the content—elementary cardinal directions: stretch both arms to the north 5 times, to the south 2 times, to the west six times, and to the east 4 times…you get the picture.
– Perform a dance or do some kind of movement to music! Music enhances mood (especially student choice music with elevated BPM) and naturally leads to movement. Heart rate will likely go up – elevates pulse – increases good chemicals once again! Remember, for those teachers and administrators who do not want to experience students who seemingly look “out of control,” this takes only a couple of minutes and usually, with the right classroom management tools, leaves students in a much better state for learning.
– Take a Walk and Talk! If a teacher is concerned about losing class time, have the students do the processing and discussions on their feet, with a partner, walking and talking about the content. For instance, in writing class, have students do a quick pre-write over a topic—Main idea on top with 5 bullet points that relate to the main idea. Then have students walk and talk through their sticky note with another partner. It will take approximately 4 to 5 minutes and both students sit down with a clearer picture of what they are going to write. Not only have they boosted learning chemicals, they have also answered questions and filled in details to a partner that will aid them in their writing activity when they sit down. It works like a charm!
These categories of ideas listed above just scratch the surface to how our teachers are battling the “prolonged Sit to Learn posture” as you put it. Do you see these ideas fitting within the schools that you are working in Asia?
I’m anxious to read other comments and ideas from teachers around the world.
Here are the referenced I mentioned:
Gillbert, M., Anderzen, I., Akerstedt, T., & Sigurdson, K. (1986). Urinary catecholamine responses to basic types of physical activity. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 55, 575-578. Retrieved from https://www.academia.edu/17059948/Urinary_catecholamine_responses_to_basic_types_of_physical_activity
Jensen, E. (2008). Brain-based Learning: The new paradigm of teaching. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press.
Lundberg, U. (2008). Catecholamines and Environmental Stress. Allostatic Load Notebook. Retrieved from http://www.macses.ucsf.edu/research/allostatic/catecholamine.php
January 14, 2018 at 10:38 am #82997Dr. Anson ChenMember
Hello Dr. Craig,
I am deeply grateful for your reply, with ample of supportive ideas including research reference that highlight the benefits of using more physical movements to change the body state or learning postures that can naturally regulate the brain chemicals.
It’s encouraging to hear how teachers you worked with are making the positive changes, while those approaches you share are wonderful ideas for teachers in Asia to learn about too. Yes, let’s keep exploring and expanding our applications.
Once again thank you for enriching our learning.
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