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Brain Gym

In today’s classroom, instructors are looking for more and more ways to keep students active while maintaining an organized, manageable learning space. One method that teachers both in the United States and abroad have sought to integrate into their classrooms is called Brain Gym. Brain Gym promises simple, controllable exercises performed by student in or around their desks that will not only give them the benefits of an active body, but an active mind as well.
Some experts believe that movement is the door to learning. For instructors looking for a way to incorporate movement in the classroom setting, brain gym could be the answer. Brain Gym is a training program that claims that any learning challenges can be overcome by finding the right movements that create new pathways in the brain. Brain Gym claims that the brain can be activated for optimal memory retrieval and storage by repeating a set of twenty six patented movements. The repetitions are designed to integrate the body and mind which helps improve things like memory, concentration, reading, writing, listening and physical coordination. Brain Gym was created by Paul Dennison in the 1970s. Dennison did a lot of studying in the field of educational kinesiology which he described as learning through movement. He developed a lot of the Brain Gym movements while he was studying vision training, Jin Shin Jitsu (a form of acupressure), and applied kinesiology. Eventually he compiled the program into a booklet under the Brain Gym name. The idea spread and it is now used in 80 countries all around the world.
Studies have found children engaging in daily physical activities tend to enjoy learning, are more focused, and have a higher overall success rates throughout their educational careers. Learning new material is not an isolated brain function. In fact, our intelligence and learning capability results from the network of every nerve and cell in our bodies. Research has shown successful brain function requires connections across the neural pathways located throughout a person’s brain. Brain Gym movement exercises are being used my many educators to target these networks, and improve the concentration of their students. Brain Gym is not meant to replace existing programs and curricula in classrooms; rather it enhances programs and curricula and encourages each student to be self-responsible. Educators using Brain Gym techniques act as guides for students through activities, and allow students to notice when they need extra help. Students become aware of how they learn. There have also been studies showing Brain Gym benefit in the improvements of learning, vision, memory, expression, movement abilities, and academic performance. In addition, it takes the stress out of learning by allowing students to enjoy the learning process, and relax. It also creates opportunities for students with all different learning styles to succeed. Students enjoying the learning process results the overall class being more focused, having less behavior problems, and generally a higher success rate in completely accurately classroom tasks.
There are simple exercises that can be done in a classroom to begin a new lesson or activity, grab student’s attention, or calm their nerves before test. The first activity is called brain buttons. Teachers ask students to relax and place their index and thumb on the soft indentations below their color bones on each side of their sternums, and press slightly for two minutes. This exercise allows pathways of communication between the right and left hemispheres are their brains. It also improves the blood flow going to the brain helping the students to concentrate. This can also be used for down time for students to breathe and relax quietly by themselves. The next activity is called Cook’s Hook-ups, and allows students to emotionally center which helps to relieve stress. This activity is excellent for educators to do before distributing a test to their students. Tell students to Clasps hands together and bring them up to their chest. Then have them cross their feet to their ankles, and take deep breaths. Another example of an activity teachers can use to bring simple movement into their classroom is called Cross Crawl. Teachers have students bring up their right knee, and cross their left hand to or past their right knee. Then do the same activity with the left knee and right hand. This exercise helps coordinate the right and left brain passing information flow between the two hemispheres. It also stimulates balance and helps students to pay attention.
Although Brain Gym has found many advocates since its introduction to the classroom, it has found critics as well. Some say that the change in classroom behavior based on Brain Gym’s activities is the result of a placebo effect. Children who received similar exercise breaks were found to perform at equal or better capacity as those who participated in Brain Gym. Other critics claim that the exercise kinesthesiology introduced by Brain Gym’s creator is a pseudoscience. They see its theory as entering the supernatural, with “brain buttons” that change the body’s “energy flow”.
Regardless of what critics say, the benefits of Brain Gym can be seen clearly. For many teachers worldwide, Brain Gym has produced active classrooms and focused children. Placebo or not, the positive nature of these ends can surely justify the means.

Steve Weatherholt, Danielle Hall, Beth Linnet, Dave Fiorita






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Steve Weatherholt
Danielle Hall
Beth Linnet
Dave Fiorita


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Stephen's Notes
Some experts believe that movement is the door to learning. For instructors looking for a way to incorporate movement in the classroom setting, brain gym could be the answer. Brain Gym is a training program that claims that any learning challenges can be overcome by finding the right movements that create new pathways in the brain. The claim of Brain Gym is that if repetitions of 26 Brain Gym movements are performed, the brain is activated for optimal memory retrieval and storage. The repetitions are designed to integrate the body and mind which will help improve things like memory, concentration, reading, writing, listening, and physical coordination. Brain Gym was created by Paul Dennison in the 1970s. Dennison did a lot of studying in the field of educational kinesiology which he described as learning through movement. He developed a lot of the Brain Gym movements while he was studying vision training, Jin Shin Jitsu (a form of acupressure), and applied kinesiology. Eventually he compiled the program into a booklet under the Brain Gym name. The idea spread and it is now used in 80 countries all around the world.
Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain_Gym
http://esl.about.com/od/englishlessonplans/a/braingym.htm


Danielle's Notes
Brain Gym can be integrated into the classroom in many ways, the entire class can do the activities together, teachers may work with individual students or students may do them independently. Brain gym is good to use during transitions from one subject to another or when you are having a hard time maintaining students attention, keeping in mind that the proper training is needed before any activities with students.
You can find training information at the following web sites:
http://www.braingym.org/schedule?level=1
http://www.aotss.com/AOTSS_2006_3-D%20BG101%2071206.pdf
http://www.braingymclasses.com/FreeBrainGym.htm

Dave's Notes
Although Brain Gym has found many advocates since its introduction, it has found many critics as well.
Some say that the change in classroom behavior based on Brain Gym's activities is the result of a placebo effect.
Children who recieved similar exercise breaks were found to perform at equal or better capacity as those who participated in Brain Gym.
Other critics claim that the exercise kinesthesiology introduced by Brain Gym's creator is a pseudoscience.
They claim that excercise kinesthesiology enters the supernatural realm with its "brain buttons" and "energy flow".
http://www.scepdic.com/braingym.htm
http://www.oxfordbraingym.com/research.htm
http://teachers.net/mentors/bc/topic468/.29.05.05.38.42.html





Danielle Hall Website http://www.taskstream.com/ts/hall265/BrainGym.htmlBeth Linett Website http://www.taskstream.com/ts/linett1/BrainGym.html