We live in the age of Netflix, which encourages a strange habit these days of “binge watching” TV shows. “Binge Watching”, as a phrase, means watching numerous (too many?) episodes of a show all in one sitting. I recently went to watch a new TV show I had heard about only, to download 8 episodes at once.
I know I sound old, but it wasn’t that long ago that we used to have to wait for a specific channel to bring us a rare “marathon” on an off-season Sunday afternoon. Now, with streaming TV, we can binge-watch shows all the time.
So, the problem is, when I binge-watch, I go on overload. My brain can’t actually process all that stuff. The next thing I know, it’s the middle of the night and I can’t actually remember what happened or in what order in the “Series of Unfortunate Events” or “Portlandia” or “Man in the High Castle” or whatever.
And then one of two things happens.Either my brain shuts down like a full belly on Thanksgiving -- orr I need to process some of the info to make room for more.
We used to take commercial breaks. Or wait a week for the next episode. Now, we have to force ourselves to pause it for a restroom break.
Kids brains get “full” too. They can really only handle 10-15 minutes of school content before they can’t handle any more and they either shut down or need to process.
What can we do to prevent kids’ brains from shutting down?
There are plenty of ways to process classroom content. Here are a few of my quick favorites:
- Talk About It -- Turn and Talks are the best classroom hack ever.. Take a break from your lecture/discussion/video/reading/activity and have the kids turn and talk about it.
- How? You can either ask them to recap what they just learned or ask a higher-order question for kids to discuss/process together. I would eavesdrop to see how well they’re getting the material.
- How? You can ask them what they just learned, how they can apply it, or what it has to do with another thing they learned. Give them a short time limit and ask them to write the whole time.Then, you can use what they write to see where they are in their thinking and learning
3. Draw about it -- Having kids create a meaningful representation of their learning is powerful -- if THEY make the drawing (not copying one from somewhere).
- How? Ask kids to make a visual illustration of a vocab term, a concept, or how two ideas go together. This makes them process the info and make it their own. Again, you can use this info to see where they are in their thinking.
There are, of course, plenty of longer, more involved ways to process content. But these three are the quickest and most adaptable. I highly suggest you give your kids a “processing break” and give them time to digest their learning. I honestly believe that they learn and retain better when they process their learning.
Do you give processing breaks? If so, how do they work for you? If not, will you try one? If you aren’t changing up the activity, try taking a processing break! Let me know how it goes!