A short piece in Medium, Why Your Brain Needs Idle Time, written by Markham Heid illustrates the importance of “brain breaks” as a way to consolidate and deepen learning. He quotes Loren Frank, a neuroscience professor:
The research on learning is extremely clear,” says Loren Frank, a professor at the Center for Integrative Neuroscience at the University of California, San Francisco. “To learn something well, you need to study it for a while and then take a break.
A brain break can be a key to solidifying neuronal connections that are critical to our sense-making. As the connections are solidified the sense-making goes into our long-term memory. Markham Heid goes on to elaborate on the importance of time off or time outs to “consolidate and encode” new information.
Neuroscience if full of important insights into how the brain functions that could revolutionize how we teach and how students learn in K-12 schools. Do you incorporate formal or informal brain breaks into your learning environment that allow students to reflect on their learning, consolidate the information, and apply what they have learned? If you design them into your lessons, then you are on the path to using neuroscience research to impact your teaching. If you don’t, then you might consider how to integrate these principles into your lesson design strategy.
Carolina Mares, a Westminster School French and Spanish teacher, recently did a workshop at our February In-Service, entitled, Brain Breaks in the Rigorous Classroom. Here is the title of her workshop.
“Help your students feel more alert and ready to tackle the next challenge in class by incorporating brain breaks! Brain breaks are mental breaks designed to help students stay focused. Brain breaks get students moving to carry blood and oxygen to the brain, can energize or relax, and can provide processing time for students to solidify their learning. The brain breaks in this presentation have been tested in the LS and MS, though with some tweaks can also apply to US.”
With help from teachers like Carolina who are exploring the research, integrating and experimenting with it in their classroom, and sharing their successes with other colleagues, we can use neuroscience to design learning environments that support deeper learning for students.
Look at the article in Medium as a way to start your journey, then reach out to teachers who are already doing the work.