It is CRUNCH TIME! As we move through remediation for the BIG TEST—here are a few brain facts to keep in mind:
- A teacher has less than 3 minutes to engage a learner at the start of an activity.
- A small bit of stress, competition, can stimulate learning by engaging the learner with a boost in adrenaline. (Remember balance with stress is important)
- Students learn information more easily in small chunks. We used to think 7-8 but now researchers believe it is 2-4. Breaks and process time are very important when learning new information.
- Waelti, Dickinson and Schultz (2001), found a benefit “associating rewarding, positive social experiences with the learning process” which is called dopamine-based reward stimulated learning. This basically means that students are more comfortable and engaged when talking with their peers so collaborative learning helps to stimulate learning.
- Graphics can increase retention of information forty two percent which is especially powerful for our English Language Learners and low socioeconomic students who lack background and vocabulary
- Repetition actually changes the brain and creates a clear pathway for the brain to share information to other neurons.
- Movement and active learning (GAMES) cross the midline of the brain and connect both hemispheres which increase neuron activity and engagement.
Knowing these facts, using GAMES to increase student attention will also enhance the brain’s ability to learn information. Remember that learning happens when dendrites are activated and a message is sent along the axon. When the neuron is repeatedly stimulated, synapse occurs which is creating a connection or pathway of learning from one neuron to another.
Here are 3 games to help engage students and their brains during rest review.
Sink or Swim:
- Divide your class into two teams and have them sit across from one another. Assign each student a number. Example: If each team has 12 people. They should each have a number 1-12.
- Ask a question to the team or call out a number and ask that person. They get 15 seconds to answer. (You can increase or decrease this based on the questions you plan to ask)
- If the team gets the answer correct, they are able to sink one person from the other team. (They choose by number rather than person)
- Then team two gets a question. If they get the answer correct, they can sink a person or save one of their own members who are now sitting in the middle.
- The game continues back and forth until one team has no players left.
QR Code Walkabout:
- Create a QR Code for 8-10 Math Questions (this could be vocabulary or another subject) You can use the following site to create QR Codes. It is simply typing or cutting and pasting the information into the link: http://www.qrcode-monkey.com/
- Place QR Codes around your school building.
- Partner students and give them a recording sheet. Here is a sample: QR Recording Sheet
- Students then will do a “Walkabout” with the goal of completing each problem (showing work) and returning to the classroom in a given time. Students will use the Ipad to “read” the QR code and begin the problem.
- If there are two pairs of students working on a problem—they must go to another problem or wait.
- If you do not have Ipads for students, you could just print the problem and post it at the designated station.
Post it Practice:
- The teacher can write a vocabulary word on a Post It note and stick it to the student’s forehead or their back
- The students then move around the room and explain the word to someone else without disclosing the word itself.
- After about 15-20 minutes of the students sharing explanations without disclosing the word, the class returns to whole group but do not look at their own word yet.
- The teacher will facilitate a discussion by going around and asking what word they think they have and what others said to make them believe that is correct.
- The person checks to see if they were correct and the class discusses meaning.
- Repeat with next student.
Variation: Use photographs that represent a vocabulary word or topic. You can use quotes or events for a history review.
Getting students engaged during this time of year is tough—but with test prep—even harder! Get them involved, talking, games and movement will improve their attention and engagement while increasing their ability to retain and access the information.
If you try one of these out—let me know! I have more to share! I hope you will share a game or activity that keeps your class involved in the comment section.