I recently read an article published by ASCD regarding the importance of processing time. Processing time, or wait time, is an importance component of teaching that several teachers struggle with. It isn’t a difficult concept, but over anticipation of the “right” answer and the time crunch of getting through all components of a lesson sometimes interfere with this process.
“The classroom teacher’s goal is to successfully integrate material into a student’s working, relational, and ultimately permanent memory. When students are rapidly overloaded with material, however, the teacher’s chances of achieving this goal decrease” (Roake, 2013).
As I read this article, I couldn’t help but think about how perfect it would be to insert a brain break, or energizer, within a lesson to help with the overloading of information. This type of break was actually suggested within the article. Providing students with a change of pace helps to “refresh students’ processing abilities.”
Ultimately, I was reminded of one of the energizers that I use in my classroom that combines movement and think time. I call the activity The Physical Question Challenge: Who is the strongman (or woman) of knowledge? I know that title is corny, but kids love it (and groan about it) when teachers are corny. This activity involves review questions. These can be thought of before class if the activity is used as a warm-up or key pieces of information need to be reviewed, or the questions can be thought of on the spot if it looks like students need a break from what they are engaged in at the moment.
I begin by calling out a physical movement. Students then begin doing the movement. After student have started the movement, I ask one the questions. Rather than have students answer the question right away, I make them perform the movement for 30 seconds. After 30 seconds have occurred, I either ask for a volunteer or I pull a name from the Cup of Dreams and Opportunities (my fancy way of using names on sticks). Students stop doing the movement and we wait for the correct answer. I then call out a second type of movement. The students begin doing that movement, and then I ask the second question. The students perform the activity for 30 seconds before an answer is provided.
The type of questions can really vary during this activity. They can be simple review questions with straightforward answers, or they can be questions with open-ended responses. Either way, students are stimulating their minds with the physical movements, refreshing their minds after intense learning, and they are being provided with processing time to help each student be successful regardless of how long it takes to process information.
Movement Action Ideas:
1. marching in place (without having the toes leave the ground)
2. straight arm circles (arms out the side and moving in a circle)
3. elbow to knee raises
4. throwing punches/shooting an arrow
5. jumping jacks
6. hammer throw
7. soccer kick