Brain Awareness Week: Moving Bodies, Active Brains

by Tanya de Hoog, Junior School program specialist

On Tuesday, Junior School teaching faculty welcomed guest speaker Colleen Politano, a highly respected and longtime Victoria educator, and co-author of “Brain-Based Learning with Class”. Ongoing professional development as a part of Brain Awareness Week is important for teaching faculty. Simply put, without the brain, learning can’t happen. Opportunities for teaching faculty to explore and revisit key understandings about how the brain functions and learns impacts learners on a daily basis.

Colleen challenged Junior School teaching faculty to get students moving. This turns on the RAS (reticular activating system) and improves attention and a learner’s ability to process information. Colleen shared brain research, along with many practical tools and strategies that can easily be incorporated into the learning day to get students moving.

When movement is built into learning, learners feel energized, stay alert and process information more readily. Movement fuels the brain with oxygen and glucose, which helps learners to think and make sense of concepts and information. A 2- or 3-minute movement break can yield 20-30 minutes of attentive and productive learning time. She also emphasized the importance of cross-lateral movement to stimulate both hemispheres of the brain.

“We can either have attention or make meaning. We can’t do both. Using movement helps kids shift from attention to making meaning,” Politano said.

Colleen’s session was “a good mix of the cerebral and practical.” “And, movement makes learning fun!” reflected grade 2 teachers, Nina Duffus and Pam Yorath.


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