There are attention systems located throughout the brain. Changes, contrast, novelty, movement, sound, and emotion get our attention quickly. People can focus attention externally for the equivalent of their age + or – 2 minutes. Students cannot pay attention and make meaning at the same time. Time for both must be purposefully built into all learning experiences. In order to create new meaning students must be given time to do it.
- You can either have student’s attention or they can be processing, making meaning and strengthening synapses, but both won’t happen at the same time. Time spent on each must be a planning consideration for optimal learning.
- Adrenaline is a hormone creating alertness. Its release can be planned for.
- Norepinephrine is also a hormone that helps with attention.
- For every 10 minutes of focused attention on new instruction, 2 minutes must be built in for a processing activity in order to strengthen synapses and create stronger, smoother pathways for retrieval.
- Novelty captures attention and improves recall. However, too much novelty creates distress while too little will create boredom. Balancing novelty with class rituals creates an environment that helps put students in an optimal state for learning.
- Attention getters include contrast, suspenseful questions, props, costumes, voice changes, drama, music, emotion, and role-play.
- Goal setting = more personal relevance = increased focus and attention = increased hope = more motivation.
What creative techniques can be used to get student's attention? How can time for focused attention be balanced with opportunities for students to make meaning with processing and practice activities?