Parsing vs. Pausing

When you pause, it gives everyone’s neurology a chance to reset. It gives you a chance to “get back” to yourself. It’s one of the benefits of the Jesus Rule, and WBYT. Do it consciously and soon it will become an unconscious part of your teaching.

Similarly, when you parse word chunks, you purposefully allow your students to process what they have heard up to that point. Do that consciously until it becomes habit as well.

I don’t think brain breaks are worth stopping class to play some game. Just parse and pause, and the work of resetting everything is done. Why would one stop class to do a brain break when you can do it inside your lesson?

So many things from TPRS that I don’t do anymore…



7 thoughts on “Parsing vs. Pausing”

  1. So I don’t know how this will work in your zoom formzts, but I do know the need for physical movement at the computer. We know the hazards of full days in front of a screen. What we are asking of these children is not good.

    If your brain breaks are tied into your storytelling as a movement that takes place at certain words (remember the old going on a bear hunt) this could be the novelty that the brain is looking for. Besides brain breaks are generally fun. Their stress level and ours are on high alert. It gives a moment of silliness and laughter.

    My favorite has become the touch your shoulder with your left hand , touch your ear with your right. Ping cross body movement hooks up the brain side to side. This is helpful. A two minute round of this as everyone’s energy is lagging gives a pause and refresh. Not to mention concrete experience with dire tional.

    Use them as transitions to the next section of what your daily plan is . . . we do breathing breaks many times with arm movements. Think of your shoulders and neck muscles after 60 minutes in front of your computer. Take care of yourselves with some desk exercise or just standing up for 5 minutes. 20% more oxygen flows to the brain.

    I agree parse and pause are super important. Being overwhelmed by the current state of our world today is also tough. Make these next two months as loving and fun as possible for yourselves and your students. You need to allow your room to be an inviting oasis where students will want to show up and participate.

  2. Kate said:

    …I don’t know how this will work in your zoom formats, but I do know the need for physical movement at the computer….

    For the new online me, it’s less about traditional physical classroom brain breaks like silent ball (a real classic) and more about just staying in the language and doing more corpus callosum breaks like “Class, a secret!”

    It’s almost like we have to sneak the brain break into our instruction to avoid losing the focus of the class by stopping it for an online brain break. I keep exploring this.

  3. I’ve definitely been exploring this too, and mostly given up on scheduling a brain break in the middle of class. Funny you should write about it now.

    Kate, I don’t know about your students, but if my students in my remote classes are feeling worn out, stressed, tired, itchy, scratchy, tingly, or whatever, then they aren’t going to hesitate to put their camera off, get up, lay down, eat some food, or do whatever they need to do. In fact, many of my students, as well as the students of many of the teachers in our TCI Chicagoland group, refrain from putting their cameras on at all. Essentially, they take their own brain breaks when they feel the need.

    A big challenge is to hypnotize the students. To lure them in and captivate them for extended periods of time. To pull them up onto the language train that we are conducting and keep them there for significant chunks of time.

    I notice that, for example, when Lasaun is looking down from the camera (Lasaun is usually fully attentive with his eyes clear in the camera), that if I just stop talking, take a big-breath-long pause, then he will look up again. That’s magic right there. The silence is magic.

    My impression is that the best “brain breaks” are those that happen spontaneously in class. Like when we started talking about what the character Aang (some avatar the kids know. I don’t know him) was seeing in the refrigerator because he was thirsty (Matava script), then we started talking about drinks and bottles of drinks, and sharing in the camera the different bottles of drinks we had with us. I see that as a brain break right there. Or when we talk about the color of something and then I ask students to go find something close to them that’s that color to show in the camera.

    Oh, also to point out, I’m sure most kids have their phones in front of them most of the time throughout class. Another way in which they take their own brain breaks. Just another hindrance for us. Another obstacle we’re trying to overcome.

    That said, the need for pausing and settling the mind is important. Maybe I should practice a 2 minute moment of mindfulness/ silence in each of my 60 minute class periods. I don’t know.

    Sorry if my thoughts are a little scattered here. But the brain break thing is interesting, how we adapt the idea to remote learning. I’m noticing the need to go real slow with at least one of my class periods. Slower than ever before.

  4. Slow is good. Silence is good. A conference instructor I knew once had an agreement that she would do a phone break every 30minutes and had someone whose job it was to signal here when the time came.

    With older students I can see that turning off their camera or leaving class is a break, but not respectful of the class community.

    And remember my students are adults and we meet in person in one of our homes. My thoughts on zooming come from my college online classes when internet education was all new.

    Your spontaneous breaks are the best because they are all in. I loved the drinks in the refrigerator break. And isn’t that an interesting subject to explore as we all invite friends over.

  5. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    For jr high, the position of the admins in my daughter’s district is that ‘camera on’ is an equity issue. Some kids do not want their household to be seen. Maybe they are caring for younger sibs. The admin position is firmly, ‘if the student can turn the camera on, please do so.’ They were sure to reiterate this at Zoom go to school night.
    I don’t work in a place w/these socio-economic equity issues and my Ss are much younger. I try to insist that camera remains on.
    My husband is a HS teacher in a very mixe- income school – he says that many of the Ss turn off their cameras at some point. He tries to cajole them to keep/turn it on. But kids are dealing with anxiety and depression like never before – it’s at epidemic proportions – and no one wants to completely alienate them. These are but some of the reasons…

  6. I get that but it doesn’t resonate with me somehow. I know that many American children are battered by life. But what about the great majority of kids of privilege who want to play video games or text with friends in class? Permission granted!

    What about them? I would say that most kids who are not turning on their videos, like 98% of them, just don’t want to go to class and this is a perfect excuse.

    No wonder they are so depressed. Nothing is required of them. They fill no role in society. Thank you to Covid. Covid has brought the end of a terrible thing – American education. It will never be the same. Good riddance.

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