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The Perfect Music for Brain-Based Learning

Music to use in the classroom

How You Can Choose the Perfect Music Every Time

Here is how to decide what music to play in your classroom to help with brain-based learning. While you could use an endless number of criteria, these  are a good start. I recommend using an iPod with a Bose Sound Dock player. You get the best of all worlds.

1) State. What emotional state are you trying to elicit? Pay attention to what happens to your own body and mind as you listen to a song. Pay attention to the beats per minute (BPM). Songs in the 35- 50 BPM range will be more calming, while those in the middle 55-70 BPM will be more moderate for seatwork. For activities, the pace might be 70-100 and for energizers, maybe 100-160 BPM will REALLY rev it up.

The state is also the feelings you want to have within your students. When students complete an assignment, project or even a simple task, I want upbeat celebration music. When we are doing a class stretching or reflective writing, I want slower, uncluttered, calming music. When we are about to start out on a big task, I want inspirational, upbeat, even marching music. In short, use music as a second teacher in the classroom to support the mood.

2) Age of Listener. What generation am I working with? Stay within your generation! The way to decide is ask this simple question: If they’re adults, what music did they listen to in high school and college? If they’re age 14 or less, what are the current soundtracks to movies that are hot?

3) Type of Music. Do I use music with words or instrumentals only? In general, use words only if it’s for transitions, games that require them or special occasions. Most of the time, instrumentals are better. If you use only one kind of music you’re missing out on some great alternatives. Read more

Student Engagement Tips: Student Interaction

Transparent Teaching.

You present a key point, using an overhead as a
 prompt for yourself. Now it’s the student’s turn to put it in his or her own words. 
You can number sentences, so that each student takes the odd ones. You can
 also color-code them so one takes those in blue and the other takes those in red. 
Everyone stand, mix up to find a partner. On cue, one person translates the
 sentence into their own words, creating meaning for themselves and maybe 
others. This is a good way to ensure that everyone understands the material.

Voting With Their Body.

This strategy is a kinesthetic affirmation based on
 others taking an action to respond by doing something with their body.

As an
 example, first ask your students to stand up. Ask them to vote with their body. 
Say, “If you believe this is true, go to that side of the room. If you disagree, go to
 this side of the room.” Then, they might do an activity such as a pair share.

Before they go sit down, you might say, “Now take in a slow deep breath and 
hold it…good. Now let it out. If you feel more confident, have a seat.

Or, “If
 you’re ready to learn something new, please have a seat.

Filling “Holes”.

Good for students using a notebook 
or those with any collection of pages with notes.

Each student finds the
 weakest page (one he or she’d like more info on) from his or her workbook
 from the last unit or learning segment. They open that up and leave it 
exposed.

This activity works best with a “set-up” beforehand. Talk to the students
 about learning from others and the fact that we all value other’s opinions and that
 no one can know everything. Remind students in advance, that his is a chance to
“give ideas and get ideas,” and it’s not the time for rude comments or love letters.

Students stand up and walk around the room (use music for this one). Make it 
mandatory that they stop and write on at least one open notebook page. Give
 students about 3 minutes and keep them focused. Once students have returned 
to their seats, you can evaluate how many actually did get comments. If they are
 seated in a cooperative learning group, you can also have students pass their
 notebooks or the pieces of paper to solicit comments. Then they can share with 
their team what they learned from the comments.

Be sure to check out our summer workshop on Tools For Maximum Engagement here. It’s filling fast and is one of our more powerful teacher workshops.

Creative Commons License photo credit: woodleywonderworks