Exercise can make kids smarter. When I first read those words written by a respected author in a reputable periodical, I responded with skepticism: “Yeah right, just another foolish fad to be thrown out in a few years onto the trash heap of other foolish educational fads.”
But still a little intrigued, I tiptoed then waded into the voluminous research on the subject. And what I found astonished me: Cutting edge scientific research has unequivocally demonstrated that exercise can indeed make kids smarter. The link between exercise and brain optimization is so strong that I began to wonder why more educators don’t know about this research. And it started me thinking about how such basic knowledge about the powerful connection between the mind and the body for both adults and children can potentially revolutionize the way kids learn.
Here’s a summary of what scientific research has discovered regarding the brain-body connection. Much of this has been summarized by author Andrew Merle.
"Exercise after learning improves retention
One study revealed that people who exercised 4 hours after a memory test (the test involved seeing and remembering very detailed pictures) had better retention 24 hours after the test. The results indicate that exercise affects the process by which memories are consolidated (transferred from short-term to long-term memory).
Even short bursts of exercise improve the ability to focus
Another study showed that as little as 4 minutes of intense in-class exercise (called “FUNtervals”) increased the ability to focus among 9–11 year olds.
Even a single “dose” of exercise boosts learning
Another study revealed that 20 minutes of fast walking (60% of max heart rate) on a treadmill increased reading comprehension in 10-year-old children. The learning benefits have been especially profound for children with ADHD."
But why or how does exercise affect the brain?
A BBC article summarizes what research is now confirming:
"One possible reason is that exercise boosts the blood (and therefore oxygen) supply to the brain which helps give it the energy to think. It might also promote the growth of neurons and perhaps encourage the release of certain neurotransmitters and growth hormones that are crucial to the brain’s overall health. All of which could contribute to better concentration and memory.”
Since research and experience continue to affirm that active learning can make kids smarter, why do we keep cuffing students to their seats when we know that they can learn better on their feet?
You may learn more about Andrew Merle’s work here https://medium.com/@andrewmerle/exercise-will-make-your-kids-smarter-d642c12dfbf0
This quote from former first lady Michelle Obama should encourage and inspire all of those parents who continue to insist that their children should speak and write correctly. It should also belie that ignorant misconception that children of color should be allowed to speak and write in their own dialects instead of being taught how to communicate according to the conventions of English grammar.
"“Our parents had drilled us under the importance of using proper diction, of saying “going” instead of “goin” and “isn’t” instead of “ain’t “. We were taught to finish off words. They bought us a dictionary and a full Encyclopedia Britannica set, which lived on a shelf in the stairwell to our apartment, its titles etched in gold. Any time we had a question about a word, or a concept, or some piece of history, they directed us toward those books. Dandy, too, was an influence, meticulously correcting our grammar and admonishing us to enunciate our words when we went over for dinner. The idea was we were to transcend, to get ourselves further. They’d planned for it. They encouraged it. We were expected not just to be smart but to own our smartness – to inhabit it with pride – and this filtered down to how we spoke.”
To this I say Amen!
How can a knowledge of sentence structure help to improve your reading comprehension?
The link between reading comprehension and sentence analysis is clear: Every word or group of words-- every part of the sentence-- is telling us something. The question is: What is that word, or group of words, or sentence part saying? What is it telling us that we need to know?
Each word or group of words plays a key role in giving us information. In order to find out what information each part or group of words is giving to us, we need to ask the verbs and nouns questions. Answers to those questions will allow us to see what each word or group of words is saying, or helping the sentence to say, or rather how each word or group of words is helping the writer to communicate her meaning to us. So in order to improve both your reading comprehension and writing, you must first master your sentence comprehension skills.
What is the sentence saying? What’s happening in the sentence? What idea or ideas is the writer trying to communicate? These are the critical questions that lead to comprehension.
There are only three basic sentence patterns
The key is to find the subject-verb relationship. Then we must find the word or group of words that completes the idea that starts with the subject-verb relationship. Some words or groups of words that complete the subject-verb relationship are answers to the question: (verb) who or what? These words or groups of words are called completers. When they occur after an action verb they are called objects, but when they occur after a linking verb, they are called subject complements because they either rename or describe the subject directly. Other words or groups of words can complete the idea started by the subject-verb relationship by asking and answering where, when, why, or how about the verb.
The word “that” either begins an adjective clause that answers “who?” or an object clause that answers “what?”
This is one way in which writers can add descriptions, clarification, and definitions to terms and various elements of sentences.
Why we teach reading comprehension and writing skills through grammar and vocabulary at Scholarskills: here is an excerpt from a shocking article about the inability of our students to read and write.
”Of about 78,000 NYC third-graders, they found the number who scored zeroes on three or more written answers doubled from 10,696 (14 percent) in 2012 to 21,464 (28 percent) in 2013, when the state tests were redesigned to fit the tougher Common Core standards.
But in the next three years, city third-graders — who were taught nothing but Common Core curriculum since kindergarten — still racked up zeroes at the same high rate, the study found.
The percentage with three or more zeroes on the ELA exam was still 28 percent in 2014, 29 percent in 2015, and 27 percent in 2016, the last year data was available.
That year, the state eliminated time limits, but the effect on zeroes was slight.
“We can’t say this is just kids getting used to the Common Core curriculum. This is all they’ve ever known,” Jacobowitz said. “It did not get better over time.”
What’s worse, the racial achievement gap widened. In 2013, the number of black kids scoring three or more zeroes was 10 percent higher than white kids. In 2016, the gap grew to 18 percent. The white/Hispanic gap grew from 11 percent to 20.”
Grammar and vocabulary are essential because students need to understand the structural foundations of words and sentences. They need to know how words are created, and how words are organized to create sentences. Morphology (the study of how words are formed) and syntactic analysis (the study of sentence structures) are two of the critical keys to comprehension and effective writing. It is the lack of these skills that leaves intelligent students completely unprepared for exams such as the ACT and SAT, which test a student’s ability to read and respond to complex texts.
#grammar #vocabulary #morphology #sentencestructure #SAT
Sentence-Smart is an exciting, grammar and vocabulary based reading comprehension and writing skills system. Sentence-Smart teaches students the art of taking words and sentences apart and putting them back together so that students can understand how words get their meaning and imitate how writers organize words to create complete, coherent thoughts. Students improve their reading comprehension and writing skills by learning how to analyze, break apart, and combine the parts of words, sentences, paragraphs, and essays.
Where there is no feeling, there is no learning. Words must be felt: they must be experienced. Experience always trumps memorization. We don’t memorize tunes--we experience them. They linger in our minds because we experience them emotionally; in the same way, words must “come to life” for students. Each word carries its own emotional seed. Each word can be linked to something that conveys meaning beyond dictionary definitions. To get students to “enter into the word” is crucial. Even if their “experience” is participating in the process of discovering, or decoding, or creating the words, their chances of remembering and using the words are greatly improved.
Someone passionate about words, someone in love with their meanings, subtleties, origins, and parts can make all the difference in a student’s encounter with words. When Steve Jobs would hold (or rather caress) an iPhone in his hand during its newest launch, even his detractors and competitors would feel the blush of his passion and a certain unstoppable impulse to find out what he was “so damned excited about.” This is true of students. Even the most lackadaisical student would become intrigued—if not energized—to find out what this teacher-person was so “excited about.” The subject can be anything from anatomy to zoology (even geology): it doesn’t matter! An excited teacher—someone passionately in love with his or her subject—can make a student interested even in something as arcane and soporific as the various striations in rocks. The challenge, then, is not for the student to learn, but for the teacher to create effective ways to engage the student so that he or she becomes an active, willing, and successful participant in the process of learning.
Rev. Vieira is a former high school master teacher, and the founder and president of ScholarSkills Learning Center.