: Embodied learning- moving away from the slides Kate Alliston, Director of Essex RS, reflects on how embodied learning can be a strategy to move away from the slides.

Embodied learning- moving away from the slides

Kate Alliston, Director of Essex RS, reflects on how embodied learning can be a strategy to move away from the slides.

by Essex Research School at Lyons Hall Primary
on the

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Year 6 children imitating the gestures of the teacher when recognising angles

The phrase Chalk and Talk’ has often been used as a derogatory term for the traditional teaching method of writing on the board and lecturing the class, as opposed to more informal or interactive methods.

Recently, there has been much debate on the difference between Explicit Instruction’ and Chalk and Talk’. Is it the same thing repackaged under a different name or something else entirely?

In their SEND in Mainstream guidance report the EEF makes a case for what explicit instruction is and how it differs from more traditional methods.

Explicit instruction:

• teaches skills and concepts in small steps

• uses examples and non-examples

• uses clear and unambiguous language

• anticipates and plans for common misconceptions

• highlights essential content and removes distracting information.

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A reception child using actions for different phonemes

Embodied learning

However, walk around many schools and look into classrooms. A lot of children are sitting facing a large screen as a teacher talks’ through a series of slides. There is a definite place for this as long as these sessions are interactive and follow the model of explicit instruction but what can we do to get the children out of their seats and learning in a more embodied way?

Embodied learning involves the whole body during the cognitive process. It is a relatively under-researched aspect of cognitive science but an exciting one. The EEF defines it as strategies that engage and make use of movement and the body to support effective learning.’

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Year 2 taking on the role of different characters in a story and discussing their connections to each other

What could embodied learning’ look like in the classroom?

report, states It is thought that by designing tasks and activities that appeal to pupils in a multisensory way, teachers may be able to make new information more easily comprehensible and memorable. Some actions and approaches for using embodied learning and physical activity in the classroom include play, enacting, gesturing, movement, and tracing.”

Examples from our school include:

* acting out a whoosh (the whole class telling of a story) in history, English or RE with the children out of their seats being the characters

* singing and using actions along with songs (maths, spelling, phonics etc)

* counting with beanbags (throwing and catching in pairs)

* acting out particle theory (solids, liquids, gases) The children gather together as a solid, then jiggle as they heat up and move apart and become a liquid and so on…

* drawing what is imagined as someone is reading a description

* creating physical family trees or character connections e.g. getting children sitting on a chair to be the main character and children surrounding them being the different members of the family. This could be set up like a family photo with the names and connections to the main character written on whiteboards

* children imitating gestures of the teacher e.g. using arm movements to show the different types of angle in maths, e.g. acute/​obtuse etc…

* acting out the circulation of the heart using beanbags as the blood

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A year 4 drawing of a description read aloud from the novel The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

Next steps

Think about:

* What embodied learning opportunities there are across all the subjects in your school.
* How long children are sitting in their seats in a school day.
* How much screen time your pupils are having each day in the classroom.

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A year 3 child tracing the shadow of their partner and using 1cm cubes to measure their arms and legs

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