The Educational Endowment Foundation recently published some research about the positive benefits of breaking up science lessons with an unrelated physical activity as an aid to improving learning retention.
The research used juggling as the ‘unrelated activity’ and this begs a few questions…
The first question is if science lessons need breaking down to take advantage of learning gains, then shouldn’t the whole lesson structure be revisited to ensure that the timetable is not optimised for content convenience, but for learning effectiveness. The most effective reshaping I’ve seen in a mainstream school has been that associated with the Opening Minds curriculum at the RSA Academy in the West Midlands. Here, ‘learning periods’ stretch to whole mornings or afternoons with the curriculum content planned across departments and natural learning flows with a short exposition, team analysis, information gathering, task completion and student-led plenary to bring the learning to a natural conclusion.
The second question has to do with the merits of juggling, of which I have long been a proponent. I used learning to juggle in a different context as a method to enable students to modify their negative behaviour patterns. The total concentration that juggling requires, coupled to its aesthetic and physical challenges takes up a lot of brain capacity so it is very difficult to maintain a negative mind set whilst juggling, and often by the time the juggling session was completed in as little as a few minutes, students were calm and positive.
The Daily Mail covered this story here: Source: Students grades could be boosted by juggling | Daily Mail Online
Read more about the EFF research project here: Physically Active Lessons | Projects | Education Endowment Foundation | EEF