At Pilgrim Lutheran Church and School in Chicago, the staff is incorporating theories they learned at an in-service workshop by Wheatridge Ministries to help increase students’ learning. That workshop taught that “brain breaks” are essential to student learning, and therefore, teachers are regularly leading their students in kinesthetic activities in the classroom to help them boost their performance, says Pilgrim Principal Chris Comella.
“Especially before we do any testing, teachers will be doing stretching or dancing or some kind of physical activity to get the blood flowing to the brain,” he says. “In other activities, teachers will musically chant things, or make up raps for prayers. Or they get up in math class and sing and dance the math rules, which helps ingrain them on the brain.”
They also use things like sign language and “reader’s theater” performances during chapel time to reinforce learning and engage the brain, he says.
“Anecdotal evidence shows us that kids are happier and more enthusiastic about learning if it’s fun,” he says. “It’s fun to do raps and chanting and reader’s theater. And in terms of test results, we think their scores spike by at least a few points because the physical activity helps keep them mentally focused.”