Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Power of 20 Minutes

by Guest Blogger Donna Wilson

Got a minute? How about seven minutes? Or 15 or 20? It's amazing what your students can learn in that little chunk of time!

One of the strategies we present 60 Strategies for Increasing Student Learning shares The Power of 20 Minutes as a means of maximizing attention, retention, and recall in keeping with the brain's natural attention span.

When planning the learning time you have with students, break your lessons into chunks of 20 minutes or less in order to be more effective. For younger students, learning chunks of seven to 15 minutes are even more effective.

Some other suggestions for teaching with optimal attention and focus in mind:
  • Always begin your lesson with the most important information. The brain is most likely to remember information presented at the beginning and end of the lesson.
  • At the beginning of your lesson, give an overview of what you will be covered to pique curiosity.
  • Variety is the spice of life ... and your lesson! Change things up a bit through the lesson—for instance, varying where you stand and your tone of voice. Use music, graphics, and visual aids to keep your students' interest.
  • Shift gears every seven or eight minutes. For instance, you might want to take a break from presenting and have students draw something related to the content.
  • Summarize before moving on to something else.
  • Give students a "brain break" to pause and process what they've learned. Use physical movement or let students take a few minutes to share with one another before moving on to something else.
By respecting the way the brain absorbs information in these shorter chunks of time as well as capitalizing on the laws of primacy and recency, we can help students learn in a more more joyful and effective way.

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