Brain based learning isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” method to student success; it is small changes and revisions to your curriculum that can be easily implemented to benefit a large variety of students.
When students learn new knowledge, brain cells (neurons) become more strongly connected, which creates a more robust network, increasing communication between the neurons. Hence implementing brain based learning is something all teachers should be doing.
I have condensed 10 strategies to implement brain based learning in the classroom that can be easily fused into any teachers programme.
Let me introduce you to the first strategy ‘Brain Time Clock’ and why its needed.
Why Implement a brain based learning strategy: 'brain time clock' to combat fatigue?
We’ve all been there before: after a long day of work or learning, we feel burnt out, tired and fatigued – even if the day comprised of sitting in the office or classroom. Students experience this too, especially after long school days seated at the same desk all day long.
But why does this mental and physical fatigue happen even when students are seated quietly at desks, with little to no physical exertion?
The human brain runs on cycles called ultradian rhythms.
An ultradian rhythm is a recurring cycle repeated throughout the 24-hour day, closely linked to circadian rhythms that influence our sleep cycles based on the natural environment around us.
Ultradian rhythms, unlike circadian rhythms which cycle once a day, cycle much more rapidly – once about every 90 to 120 minutes! They influence attention, interest, cognition, memory, visual perceptions, moods, and behaviour.
So if students are passively learning for hours on end, their ultradian rhythms are being worn out. The expectation that they be at attention and engaged in passive or lecture learning is simply counterintuitive to how the brain works. In fact, it is these ultradian rhythms being overworked that often contribute to brain fatigue and “burn out.”
So we need to teach our students how to regulate their brain time cycles or classroom management will be a tough road. Student will fight you every step of the way. So lets change how we do, what we do.
How to implement 'Brain Time Clock' in your classroom, today.
It is recommended that passive learning be taught for no more than 12 to 15 minutes at a time, and be varied properly with instructional learning. For example, lecturing for 12 to 15 minutes is okay – but hours on end will leave your students tired. In the meanwhile, instructional learning can be used to engage students in step-by-step or hands-on material.
Since ultradian rhythms cycle once every 90 to 120 minutes, another important aspect of nurturing the brain “time clock” is to fully unplug in that same time. This means pausing both instructional and passive learning, and invigorating the brain with physical or creative activities.
“Unplugging,” however, doesn’t include allowing for time with electronics. Students shouldn’t be checking their phones during these breaks, but should aim for an activity that engages them both physically and mentally. Using a phone, laptop, tablet or other electronic device can derail the 90 to 120-minute break.
Ultimately, students are humans. Humans are living beings – we function in cycles, like how birds fly south for the winter, or how whales swim across the worlds’ oceans with their young.
On a much smaller scale, implementing an understanding of ultradian rhythms in the classroom is one way that the human brain – and body – can become functional parts of the learning process, without the brain fatigue or “burn out.”