Thursday, March 3, 2011

Harriett Ball - Pioneer Educator

On My drive home today, I heard an inspirational story on NPR.   Harriett Ball was a public school educator who developed unique techniques to reach her students.  She died this week at the age of 64.

Because not all students responded to traditional teaching methods, she incorporated chants and raps to drill facts into her student's heads.  Harriett adapted music that her students were already listening to and changed the lyrics to reinforce content covered in the classroom.

She believed that all children can learn - the right technique for the right student just has to be found.  Additionally, she had a take-no-prisoners attitude and did not accept excuses - from students or from other teachers hesitant to adopt her techniques.

Harriett Ball discovered that in addition to using your brain power to achieve great results, you also have your full body to help with recall of learned material.  Using dance, rhythm, and music to tap both the potential of the mind and body resulted in a much larger comprehension and retention of classroom content.

Researchers in Alaska found similar results in their original study of the effects of footwear on memory recall.  They found that the more comfortable the footwear of the research participants, the better their ability to recall previously learned items.  The best results were from those participants who wore soft moccasins.  According to Elliott Masie who shared this research, "The researchers speculated that the ability to wiggle toes during learning difficult new concepts of procedures was related to cognitive retention."

When I was studying for tests in college, I wrote out my notes on 3x5 index cards and walked around while reviewing the cards.  Whether it was the writing out of the notes or the walking that helped, I always did well on tests when using this method.

Take the opportunity this week to apply "full body" techniques when learning new material or preparing for a presentation.

No comments:

Post a Comment