The HeidiSongs method uses multiple pathways in the brain to reach and teach your students.
See it, say it, hear it, and do it - all at the same time!
Simultaneous multi-sensory teaching is the engagement of multiple pathways in the brain at the same time in the teaching process. This is different from what many people tend to think of as multi-sensory teaching, because the children use multiple senses simultaneously to practice the material, rather than using one of their senses at a time. In our teacher preparation courses, many of us (including myself!) were taught that multi-sensory teaching referred to the practice of using lecture to teach on one day, music the next day, art the following day, and movement on the next, etc. This, unfortunately, does not have the same affect on acheivement as having children simultaneously respond physically and orally to visual stimuli. Research shows us that in order to get the best learning outcomes possible, children need to simultaneously use as many of their senses as they can when they practice. For example, if you are trying to teach a child a new word, the child should ideally see it, say it, hear it, and do it- all at the same time. This begs the question: how would you 'do' a word with movements? HeidiSongs gives you a way to have children see, hear, say, and act out a word and its spelling in a fun and motivational way. This method takes advantage of most children's natural love of music, rhythm, and movement, as well as the mnemonic mediator for which music is famous!
Probably all of us have experienced a time when a favorite song or jingle came on the radio, and we instantly found ourselves singing along to lyrics that we had not heard for years! Simply listening to music can bring back memories so vivid that they can move a person to tears in just a few moments. When we combine lyrics, music, and movements we can be transported far beyond time and place to help us remember situations and conversations long since forgotten. This is the power of multi-sensory education! And this is why the International Dyslexia Association recommends multi-sensory teaching methods for children with learning disabilities, such as dyslexia. But I have found that using these methods in the primary classroom speeds learning comprehension and memorization for all levels of students. And the most amazing thing happens when simultaneous multi-sensory teaching occurs: the struggling students begin to progress, and the more advanced students start to soar! And once they start to soar and enjoy reading and writing, there is no stopping these children. Therefore, this is where the magic lies: all of your students can learn and progress at the same time, even if their achievement levels span from students that barely know more than a few letters to those that can read fluently.
Why does this work, and furthermore, how does it work? When a child is taught using simultaneous multisensory techniques, multiple messages are sent out to the brain at the same time. This means that you are using multiple pathways in the brain to reach your students. If one pathway to the brain is blocked (as in a learning disability), there are other alternatives. If a child cannot learn auditorially (by just listening), he can still learn through another available pathway. Researchers tell us that the brain has 100 billion connectors (neurons) that shoot out in many directions as we learn. Each neuron has an axon and many dendrites. To stay healthy, neurons must communicate with each other, carry out metabolism, and repair themselves. The child that has sustained brain damage from a complicated birth, head trauma, or malnutrition, etc., must try to learn 'by going around' these damaged neurons. If the teacher tends to instruct through lecture only, and the child has auditory processing issues, then that child probably won't learn much from this type of instruction. You can insure that all learners continue to benefit from instruction by including as many simultaneous multi-sensory lessons as you possibly can in your instructional time.
Interestingly enough, the functional MRI's of efficient readers show a very different type of activity in the brain from those that struggle with reading. Brain imaging of struggling readers show "diffused activity scattered throughout the brain," since some of these connections work inefficiently or not at all. (Scattered activity is an inefficient use of brain power.) However, good readers "use specific portions of the left brain, with brain activity highly focused in very specific areas." The real magic of multi-sensory teaching is this: multisensory learning experiences can actually remap the brain over time, training it to use the less preferred areas in future learning. An MIT study published in Aug., 2008 of the journal Neuropsychologia showed that remedial instruction resulted in an increase in brain activity in several regions of the brain associated with reading. The neural gains became further solidified during the year following the remediation! After 100 hours of intense remediation, the brain scans of the slow readers showed that their brains had been significantly "rewired" in comparison to the control group. There was almost no discernible difference in their brain scans when compared to the good readers. Here is the reason why: when you exercise a muscle, it gets stronger. And in a similar fashion, when you train the brain to learn, it also improves its own capacity to learn. The brain is an amazing organ; it can adapt and change over time as needed. So you really do have the ability to help children change how they use the pathways in their brains, simply by using simultaneous multi-sensory techniques.
Additional Research Links:
The Power of Movement in Teaching and Learning
Susan Griss - Education Week - Published Online: March 20, 2013
A Child’s Brain Develops Faster with Exposure to Music Education
By Brain and Creativity Institute (BCI) at the University of Southern California
How Does Integrating Music and Movement in a Kindergarten Classroom Effect Student Achievement in Math.
Janet K. Evans Wayne State College, Wayne Nebraska
Singing to children may help development of language skills
Amelia Hill - guardian.co.uk, Sunday 8 May 2011 14.44 EDT
Rhymes 'boost child development'
Beverley Hughes, British Minister for Families and Children
Music And Child Development: The Importance Of Music To Your Developing Child
Daniel Dwase, editor of the online Child Development Guide
Why Kids Shouldn’t Sit Still in Class
Donna De La Cruz, New York Times Online
Rhythm and Music Help Math Students
Sophie Bushwick, www.scientific american.com/podcast
How Music Affects Developing Brains & Why it’s Important to Teach!
Sophie Bushwick, www.scientific american.com/podcast