I’ve recently been exploring ways to keep my students engaged in learning by reading The Highly Engaged Classroom (Marzano and Pickering). If you’ve ever read anything by Robert Marzano, then you know it’s definitely not lightweight material! However, his recommendations are always backed by solid research. In fact, the new teacher evaluation tool being used in my state is essentially a compilation of his research-proven methodologies for effective teaching. I figured it couldn’t hurt to go straight to the source! Last week I shared how I use Fun Breaks with my students just to alleviate the monotony of sitting down for long periods of time. This week’s focus is on using rehearsal to both increase the energy level but also students’ retention of important information.
Physical movement raises the energy level in a classroom. Last week I shared how Fun Breaks infuse a lethargic atmosphere with energy and enthusiasm. Another way to use physical movement is through rehearsal. It’s just what it sounds like – repeating information in such a way so as to help students remember the content.
The gestures incorporated with Whole Brain Teaching are an excellent way to have students rehearse important content. Of course, your kinesthetic learners will be very engaged at this type of rehearsal. However, students with other dominant learning paths will still find it fun to use physical rehearsal to learn. This can be especially true for students with a language impairment. I’ve often noted that while these students struggle to repeat the question and answer part of a Power Pix, the gesture is usually easily remembered. It’s as if the physical gesture learned through rehearsal has bypassed the language barriers in their way.
One way teachers can improve the engagement level of their students is by using strategies that enable kids to answer the question, “How do I feel?” in a positive way. The authors assert that “any classroom activity that employs movement increases the probability that students will have a positive response…” (p. 25) I’m sure I will always be on the lookout for new ways to help students learn, but using rehearsal has a lot of benefits that I think make it worthy of my limited instructional time.