Movement in Education

Hi All,

By now many of you know about the incredible importance of movement for learning.  John Ratey’s book Spark is a great resource for lay people to read about the research, but to sum up, all learning brains need cardio.  While we often hear about the benefits for children with ADHD, that completely ignores the fact that while it will definitely benefit children with ADHD, it is beneficial – and indeed necessary – for ALL children.  Why?

Cardio (and specifically cardio – other forms of exercise are not as effective) increases dopamine levels in the brain, the neurotransmitter that is necessary for motivation and sustained attention.  Dopamine gives us a sense of pleasure, and tells us to keep doing the activity that we are currently engaged in.  Many of us may know about dopamine through its natural role in sexual attraction or its unhealthy role in drug addiction.  At lower levels, we may even recognize dopamine’s presence through the sense of pleasure and well-being from reading a book.  But what we don’t often realize is that without that sense of pleasure at even lower levels, we wouldn’t even sustain attention to the end of a page.

So great, kids can pay attention better if they move more (hence why it gets so much press in ADHD articles).  But there are other benefits that parents and teachers need to know about.  There are health implications, as a recent study showed that children need to move ten minutes out of every hour to avoid atherosclerosis, a hitherto age-related problem where the veins harden and become sclerotic.  Movement breaks reverse that trend, and beyond that, the resulting higher dopamine levels lead to fewer mood disorders and fewer behavioral incidents in schools.  They lead to engaged students who want to be in class learning.  So the question is not how to afford the time to schedule in movement, the question is how can we afford not to?

At the request of a teacher, I created a document with suggestions on how to incorporate movement into your classes.  You can find it here: Movement Breaks by Affect Academics.  I hope that parents can give it to their teachers, and teachers can download it to pass around school.

And parents, don’t forget that cardio in the after school hours can lead to better sleep and lower stress levels, both of which are also inextricably linked with learning.

If you’d like us to visit your school for a professional development workshop around movement and the learning brain, please drop us a note at

Universal Design for Learning in Math

Well, I’m writing another blog post, so must be I have some slides to post from a conference.  Today’s conference is up in Northport, ME, the annual meeting of the Association of Teachers of Math in Maine.  When I signed up, somehow I blissfully ignored the fact that it was an hour and a half . . . → Read More: Universal Design for Learning in Math

#ATMNE16 and the interconnectedness of life

Interconnectedness, my spellcheck informs me incorrectly, is not a word.  And yet, lately my life seems to be not a tangled web, but a patterned weaving that any spider would be proud of.  I am married and have two daughters because one woman advised the administration that my beloved school in Downeast Maine should be . . . → Read More: #ATMNE16 and the interconnectedness of life

Slideshow for #yfinnovate: Reciprocal Stress and Learning

Hi Everyone!  Sorry for the delay in getting this up online.  A certain four year old had her first ever kid birthday party on Saturday.

Thanks to everyone who came to the talks on Friday.  For those who missed the math anxiety talk, I will be speaking again at the ATMNE conference in Manchester on . . . → Read More: Slideshow for #yfinnovate: Reciprocal Stress and Learning

Slideshow for #yfinnovate: Math Anxiety, Stereotype Threat, and Cognition

Anyone who knows me knows that I can talk for a zillion hours about the negative effects of math anxiety and stereotype threat.  However, when I work with schools, the feeling is that only math teachers would or should be interested in the topic.  I passionately disagree.  We should all care that 93% of our . . . → Read More: Slideshow for #yfinnovate: Math Anxiety, Stereotype Threat, and Cognition

Growth Mindset is Everywhere!

So, I’m on my 7th week of maternity leave. I write a lot in my head, but very rarely on paper these days. I hate typing one handed, and I’m always holding some child or another.

One thing I’ve been meaning to do for a long time is to add a section to the website . . . → Read More: Growth Mindset is Everywhere!