The Power of Brain Breaks

As I was reading 17,000 Classroom Visits Can’t Be Wrong17,000 Classroom Visits Can’t Be Wrong by John Antonettti (our keynote speaker for One by One 2017), I learned some very interesting facts about the human brain. Antonetti, in turn, discovered these facts from Brain Rules, a book written by molecular biologist John Medina. One of the twelve big ideas in Brain Rules includes the notion that exercise boosts brain power.

I saw this firsthand with Brian Pederson’s 8th grade math students when I visited his classes.  Brian says, “Sometimes I can just tell that they (my students) are very tired and need an energy boost, or just something to make their brains kick on again.”  As a result, he tries to have a brain break each class, specifically during the last half of class. From what I saw, his students very much look forward to them.

Brian said that  brain breaks usually last about 5 minutes but some can go longer or shorter. When he and his students are pressed for time, he “will sometimes have them do a very quick, 30-second break, such as ‘go high five 10 different people’ or ‘go and touch 10 non-adjacent chairs.’ The students appreciate even the small breaks.”


I asked his students to capture some of the brain breaks on video for us to share with other classes.This video gives you a view into one of the many brain breaks that Brian uses to re-energize and re-engage his students throughout his 80 minute periods.  This one is called “Pass-Clap”.  Brian is more than happy to share his resources…thanks, Brian!


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