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Brain Gym Exercises

These simple exercises are based on the work presented by Carla


Hannaford, Ph.D. . Carla Hannaford, Ph.D. is a neurophysiologist and
educator with more than 28 years of teaching experience. In her best
selling book "Smart Moves", Dr. Hannaford states that our bodies are very
much a part of all our learning, and learning is not an isolated "brain"
function. Every nerve and cell is a network contributing to our intelligence
and our learning capability. Many educators have found this work quite
helpful in improving overall concentration in class. Introduced here, you
will find four basic "Brain Gym" exercises which implement the ideas
developed in "Smart Moves" and can be used quickly in any classroom.
They are surprisingly simple, but very effective!

Drink Water
As Carla Hannaford says, "Water comprises more of the brain (with
estimates of 90%) than of any other organ of the body." Having
students drink some water before and during class can help "grease
the wheel". Drinking water is very important before any stressful
situation - tests! - as we tend to perspire under stress, and dehydration can effect our concentration negatively.

"Brain Buttons"
This exercise helps improve blood flow to the brain to "switch on"
the entire brain before a lesson begins. The increased blood flow
helps improve concentration skills required for reading, writing, etc.
Put one hand so that there is as wide a space as possible
between the thumb and index finger.
o Place your index and thumb into the slight indentations
below the collar bone on each side of the sternum. Press
lightly in a pulsing manner.
o At the same time put the other hand over the navel area of
the stomach. Gently press on these points for about 2
minutes.
"Cross Crawl"
o

This exercise helps coordinate right and left brain by exercising the
information flow between the two hemispheres. It is useful for
spelling, writing, listening, reading and comprehension.
Stand or sit. Put the right hand across the body to the left
knee as you raise it, and then do the same thing for the left
hand on the right knee just as if you were marching.
o Just do this either sitting or standing for about 2 minutes.
"Hook Ups"
o

This works well for nerves before a test or special event such as
making a speech. Any situation which will cause nervousness calls
for a few "hook ups" to calm the mind and improve concentration.
o
o
o

Stand or sit. Cross the right leg over the left at the ankles.
Take your right wrist and cross it over the left wrist and link
up the fingers so that the right wrist is on top.
Bend the elbows out and gently turn the fingers in towards
the body until they rest on the sternum (breast bone) in the
center of the chest. Stay in this position.
Keep the ankles crossed and the wrists crossed and then
breathe evenly in this position for a few minutes. You will be
noticeably calmer after that time.

More "Whole Brain" Techniques and Activities


Have you had any experience using "whole brain", NLP,
Suggestopedia, Mind Maps or the like? Would you like to know
more? Join the discussion in the forum.
Using Music in the Classroom
Six years ago researchers reported that people scored better on a
standard IQ test after listening to Mozart. You would be surprised at
how much music can also help English learners.
The Brain: An overview
A visual explanation of the different parts of the brain, how they
work and an example ESL EFL exercise employing the specific area.
Using Colored Pens
The use of colored pens to help the right brain remember patterns.
Each time you use the pen it reinforces the learning process.
Helpful Drawing Hints
"A picture paints a thousand words" - Easy techniques to make
quick sketches that will help any artistically challenged teacher like myself! - use drawings on the board to encourage and
stimulate class discussions.
Suggestopedia: Lesson Plan
Introduction and lesson plan to a "concert" using the suggestopedia
approach to effective/affective learning.
Learning Theory, Styles
About Guide Kimeiko Hotta Dover provides this wonderful resource
to information concerning: brain and intelligence, multiple
intelligence theory and applications, learning styles, adult learning
theory and more.

Music in the Classroom

The use of music in the classroom can make the entire learning process
more enjoyable and can stimulate "right" brain learning. Six years ago
researchers reported that people scored better on a standard IQ test after
listening to Mozart. Other tests soon followed: Rats raised on Mozart run
through mazes faster and more accurately. People with Alzheimer's disease
function more normally if they listen to Mozart and the music even reduces
the severity of epileptic seizures.
Just think of all the times you have used music to help you study for tests,
think clearly about something, relax from daily stress, etc. If you think
about it, using music in the ESL EFL classroom is a pretty logical thing to
do considering how helpful it can be to the learning process.
Setting the scene Musically
Using music to introduce an exercise is a great way to activate vocabulary
and get students thinking in the right direction. Take a piece of music or
song which you associate with a certain activity or place ("New York, New
York" sung by Frank Sinatra) and play the first 30 seconds of the piece.
You will be surprised at how quickly associations come to students' minds many more than if you introduced the lesson by saying, "Today we are
going to talk about New York City".
A wonderful example of this can be found in any broadcast of "Morning
Edition" by National Public Radio. Each story is ended with a selection of
music which in some way relates to that story. This music is repeated after
a commercial and before the next story. In this way, listeners are subtly
encouraged to reflect on the story they have just heard.
"Headway Intermediate", a popular EFL student's book published by
Oxford Press, gives another great example of setting the scene musically.
Every extended listening is preceded and followed by a short snippet of
related music - usually the beginning bars and the final tones of a given
piece. These little touches do wonders to add atmosphere to an otherwise
familiar classroom setting.
Using Music Selectively To Enhance Concentration
The most important point to remember when using music to accompany
learning is that it be an aid to learning and not a distraction. Let me give
an example, if your class is doing a grammar exercise and you want to use
some music in the background to help students concentrate, choose music
which employs regular periods (repeated phrases and patterns) something like Hayden or Mozart, maybe Bach. Choosing abrasive,
disharmonic music will distract students while their brains try to make
sense of the disharmony. Choosing something melodic which employs
musical patterns will not distract. Not only will this type of music not
distract, the regular patterns of the music also help to underline the
repetetive nature of grammar.
Another example of using music selectively would be written descriptive
exercises in which students need to use their imaginations. You can set the

scene musically which will help stimulate their imagination. Let's say
students need to describe their life as young children. Ravel's "Mother
Goose Suite" playing softly in the background will help them return to
those simpler times through its sweet harmonies and simple structures.
Listening to Shostokovitch, on the other hand, would put them right off!
Here are some suggestions for appropriate music for different activities:

Grammar - Mozart, Haydn, Bach, Handel, Vivaldi


Imagination exercises (descriptive writing, speaking) - Ravel,
Debussy, Satie
Current Situation, News in the World - Rap (for inner cities and
their problems), Ethnic Music from the discussed countries (you
would be surprised at how many people quickly associate the type
of music with a part of the world)
Making Future Plans - Fun upbeat jazz ("Take Five" by Dave
Brubeck)
Discussing "Serious" issues - the "serious" Germans: Beethoven,
Brahms - even Mahler if you are adventurous!

Use your imagination and you will quickly find that your students will be
using their imaginations to improve their English - usually without being
aware of it.
More "Whole Brain" Techniques and Activities
Have you had any experience using "whole brain", NLP, Suggestopedia,
Mind Maps or the like? Would you like to know more? Join the discussion in
the forum.
The Brain: An overview
A visual explanation of the different parts of the brain, how they work and
an example ESL EFL exercise employing the specific area.
Helpful Drawing Hints
"A picture paints a thousand words" - Easy techniques to make quick
sketches that will help any artistically challenged teacher - like myself! use drawings on the board to encourage and stimulate class discussions.
Using Colored Pens
The use of colored pens to help the right brain remember patterns. Each
time you use the pen it reinforces the learning process.
Brain Gym
The brain is an organ and can be physically stimulated to improve learning.
Use these simple exercises to help your students concentrate better and
improve their learning abilities.
Suggestopedia: Lesson Plan
Introduction and lesson plan to a "concert" using the suggestopedia
approach to effective/affective learning.

Learning Theory, Styles


About Guide Kimeiko Hotta Dover provides this wonderful resource to
information concerning: brain and intelligence, multiple intelligence theory
and applications, learning styles, adult learning theory and more.