Showing posts with label Putting language to integrating the arts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Putting language to integrating the arts. Show all posts

Saturday, July 12, 2014

"Embodied Cognition" We Think With and Through Our Bodies

I love learning new terms and putting language to concepts; it helps me to learn it better and also helps me to explain it to others better. Allowing students to move so they can learn and think has been a constant theme in this blog, and the term "embodied cognition," thinking with and through our bodies from the article "The Body Learns"  by Annie Murphy Paul on discusses the importance of getting the body involved in the learning process.

In a series of experiments carried out more than a decade ago, Arthur Glenberg of Arizona State University "found that children’s reading comprehension improved when they acted out a written text, using a set of representational toys (a miniature barn and horse, for example, accompanied a story about a farm). Glenberg then demonstrated that the same procedure could work on a digital platform: In a 2011 experiment, he showed that having first- and second-grade students manipulate images of toys on a computer screen after reading a story benefits their comprehension as much as physical manipulation of the toys."

Games are also an important learning tool for students and not just for the young ones either; we use games all the time at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Never make the mistake of thinking that what you're doing is too childish for the students in front of you; they'll love it. Here's a great game described in the article: 

"Mina Johnson Glenberg (who is married to Arthur Glenberg and also works at Arizona State, as director of the university’s Embodied Games for Learning lab) is taking the embodied approach even further, designing educational games that engage learners’ entire bodies.
program called the Alien Health Game, for example, presents students with this scenario: “You have just woken up to find an alien under your bed. It is hungry and it is your job to figure out what makes it healthy.” From an array of foods, users learn to choose the ones that are most nutritious, and then must dance, jump, and exercise to help the alien digest his meal. (A bonus: The game is so physically active that it measurably elevates users’ heart rates.)"
Take a few moments to read it, and you just might agree. Of course the challenge, as always, is implementing this type of learning in a system that is set up to keep students quiet and in their seats. But that's the great thing about being a teacher: rising to the challenges and making them happen for our students.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Emotionally Safe Classrooms

You may completely understand the importance of creating a safe classroom atmosphere, but if asked by an administrator or other stakeholder to explain, would you be able to put it into a language that they will understand? Let's face it, that language is one of data and research. So it follows that you'll need to have that data and research in your back pocket in order to make others see where you are operating from and convince them that your methods are sound.

I recently picked up The Kinesthetic Classroom: Teaching and Learning through Movement by Traci Lengel and Mike Kuczala (2010), and while I'm still working my way through it, I came across this interesting piece on emotional climate in the classroom and its effects on learning. It considers how the brain prioritizes information:

1. Survival: if this need is not met, the student will not be "in a position to work at optimal levels."

2. Emotional State/Stress: If a student feels stressed or has emotional distress he or she will be unable to learn effectively because the "parts of the brain that use higher-level thinking strategies and critical-thinking skills shut down when an individual's emotional state is compromised" (Souza as quoted in Lengel 9). This is a great piece of information to have at the ready when asked why emotional well-being in a classroom is so important-especially when many teachers are working in an atmosphere where the expectations are simply on cramming information into students' heads in order to pass  high-stakes tests.

3. Receiving Data for New Learning: it's simple and it's clear-if priorities 1 & 2 above are not met, then priority 3 is never going to be satisfied effectively.

Now we can probably agree that this is common sense in some ways, but when you can explain it to others in the way listed above, then you are speaking their "language" and are sure to get your point across.

Being able to put language, based on data and research, to what you are doing is a prime step in getting others-especially stakeholders-to buy into what you are trying to accomplish in your classroom.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Making Connections Across the Curriculum

Back to the Massachusetts Educational Curriculum Frameworks which advocate for making connections across the curriculum. Here's what it says:

Making Connections across the Curriculum

Teaching an interdisciplinary curriculum involves collaboration among faculty and the community. Teachers and students might explore topics such as:

• visual, oral, aural, and kinetic elements of the four arts disciplines;
• characteristics common to the process of creating art works in each discipline;
• interpretations of a theme or concept, such as harmony or compassion, through each of the four arts disciplines;
the ways in which the content of other disciplines is interrelated with the arts; including languages and literacy, scientific principles, mathematical reasoning, and geographical, cultural, and historical knowledge; and
the ways in which concepts from other core disciplines may be expressed through the arts.

While all of these points are important, I want to focus on the point of the last two since they deal with integrating the arts. They make a direct correlation between the arts and science, math, language and history and how concepts from these core disciplines, even though I'm not a fan of that term, can be "expressed through the arts."

I know I keep harping on this point, but the practice of integrating the arts is backed up by the highest educational power in the state. We need to become fluent in these frameworks, as we move forward in implementing them. We need to put language to what it is that we do in our classrooms so that others can understand and get behind it.