Originally Sent: 12/12/2013
December 12, 2013
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Singing and Movement Increase Learning
By Faith Berens, M.Ed.
Do you hear what I hear? “Deck the halls with boughs of holly; fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la! ’Tis the season to be jolly ….”
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” and many of us are playing Christmas music and perhaps dancing, playing instruments, etc. And in this month’s newsletter I would like to encourage families to be sure to incorporate music and movement throughout your teaching days, not just on special occasions and holidays, but all throughout the school year.
Did you know that linking music and movement to learning helps to increase a student’s engagement, retention, and long-term memory of information? More parts of the brain are used when producing music than in any other activity. Additionally, music just may be the “perfect” delivery system for information because it engages all learning styles equally and at once! Sung language is processed in more parts of the brain than just spoken language, making material “stick” faster.
Case in point, recently my husband wanted to call to get some estimates to have our family room recarpeted. He mentioned he needed to look up the number to some flooring specialists. Off the top of my head, I was able to sing him two leading companies’ phone numbers simply because I had heard them a few times on TV ads.
My husband was quite impressed because he knows me so well and will testify that math is not my strong point. In fact, I have a math dysfunction (dyscalculia) that causes me to have a very weak memory for numbers, number sequences, math facts, etc. However, if I put numbers to music, I can easily remember them. You do not forget what you sing!
Singing academic information makes learning fun, fast, and easy. Music and singing turns the brain on, so to speak. Moving and singing while learning causes the brain to perform “integrated thought” (gets more areas of the brain talking/connecting to one another creating and strengthening those synapses/neural pathways). Particularly for students with learning disabilities, processing glitches, and attention and focus difficulties, music and movement can be powerful learning tools to wield for instruction.
Active and Soothing
For students with slow or weak processing areas, singing and moving activates the dormant or slower areas. Singing may actually be easier for students with stuttering and other verbal and expressive/language difficulties and music/singing activities can also be helpful to utilize with students with fluency and prosody problems in reading. So get singing and moving during your day—it will help turn your kids on to learning and it can help with stress and anxiety.
My kids are naturally tactile, kinesthetic (wiggly) learners! I continue to learn that, rather than fight against this natural bent in their learning preferences, I need to incorporate music and movement into my teaching times, be it acting out Bible stories, putting motions to poems, or singing directions during important routines and transition times. I hope that you will do the same and find that your children get more turned on to learning.
• Virginia Largent, creator of Acadamiacs, educational specialist, and workshop presenter who spoke on “Music, Learning, and the Brain” at the 2013 HEAV conference offers related workshops. Check out her website.
• Be sure to check into Dianne Craft’s materials such as the Brain Integration Therapy manual and Teaching the Right Brain Learner study manual and DVD, available at her website.
• Sue Dickson’s workshop, “Singing Your Way to Success: From Failure to Honor Roll,” available through the FPEA website.
• Brain Gym by Paul Dennison and Gail Dennison
Some other great teaching materials that integrate music and movement are:
• Carol Barnier’s “Ditty Bugs” CD; these are rhythmical chants and simple “ditties” to teach information.
Her book, The Big What Now Book of Learning Styles is fabulous and packed full of easy-to-use activities and teaching ideas to bring in music, movement, and multi-sensory into your teaching day!
• Acadamiacs, offers over 2,000 songs and videos with interactive lyrics, movement, and educational information to make learning fun and easy.
• Sue Dickson’s “Songs That Teach”
• Lyrical Learning , puts scientific information to traditional tunes and songs in order to assist students in learning science concepts and facts.
Have yourself a Merry little Christmas!
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