Emotional Intelligence: How to boost learning with music

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If you are a teacher, you know that teaching—and learning—are emotional experiences. Thanks to neuropsychology and neuroscientists, we have some exciting ways to increase the joy in our classrooms, which in turn increases the learning. Why? It’s one of the most basic concepts in teaching and learning…happy kids learn new things easier than stressed out kids.

Eric Jensen, a pioneer among neuro-educators, suggests nine ways to ramp up the emotional intelligence in the classroom or in any learning environment. To help students connect positive emotions with learning, try adding in some of the following strategies:

  • Music

  • Games

  • Drama

  • Storytelling

  • Role modeling

  • Celebrations

  • Controversy

  • Rituals

  • Introspection

For the next several weeks, I will unpack each of these strategies and offer some examples of what they can look like in your environment. Let’s get started with incorporating music.

Whether we’re talking about vocal or instrumental music, classical or jazz styles, music from a radio, or from the streaming device of your choice, music in your students’ ears can elevate their learning. Jensen includes music because of what the research shows.

Music, as long as it is added intentionally and not overdone, can relax students. This “de-stresses” them and primes them for effective learning. We all know how stressed we can feel when too much information is crammed into our heads. It can halt our ability to listen actively and process new ideas.

But, music changes the brain’s neural map. When kids get to learn how to play a stringed instrument or one that requires the fingers to change positions, cool neural interactions happen inside the brain.

Since many schools can no longer afford music programs for the whole school, teachers who invite music into their classroom can still save the day AND positively influence their kids’ brains. When students get the chance to sing, dance, play instruments, etc., the parts of their brain that process music develop extra neurons! Voila! Better brains—better learning!

Shurley English makes it easy to adopt music in the classroom with musical and rhythmic jingles that teach grammar. Kids easily connect their emotions to their learning during jingle time. You can too! For more information about ideas to bring jingles and other brain-building activities to your kids, go to our website: www.shurley.com and check them out.

Remember to keep the link between students’ emotions and the learning process in mind as you plan and deliver all of your lessons.  Emotions drive attention, which in turn drives learning and memory.  

(This post is part of a series on Emotional Intelligence. To continue to part two, click here.)

Sentence Pattern Study: Pattern 3

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Last week, we began our study of sentence patterns. Remember, if you recognize the pattern of a sentence’s core parts, the grammar of the sentence (or its word arrangement) will make more sense. Last time, we discussed Pattern 1 and Pattern 2.

Today, let’s start our study with a new Pattern 2 Sentence: Jackson throws some bread. Remember, transitive verbs (V-t) transfer action to an object.

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Now, let’s remake this sentence into a Pattern 3. We will simply add an indirect object (IO).

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The chickens get the bread Jackson is throwing. That makes the chickens the indirect object. Here is the pattern: SN V-t IO DO.

You can talk yourself through it like this: 

Jackson throws what? bread – direct object

Jackson throws bread to what?  chickens – indirect object


The chickens are the indirect objects that get the bread. Now, practice some Pattern 3 sentences on your own, using these steps:

Step 1 – Substitute the subject noun, verb, and direct object in your own sentence.

Step 2 – Add an indirect object that can receive your direct object…and still make sense!

Next time, we’ll learn about Pattern 4!

How to Implement Team Writing: Establishing Guidelines

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The overall goal of team writing is to provide an opportunity for small groups of students to collaborate during each step of the writing process to produce a shared piece of writing

If a team writing activity sounds like an implausible dream (considering your students’ diverse stages of writing development), take a deep breath and listen up!  You might be surprised to learn that there are tremendous benefits in store!  Some of the most notable student benefits include having the opportunity to…

a)   discuss the writing process with peers.

b)   listen to the ideas and perspectives of others.

c)   learn to negotiate.  

d)   learn to meet deadlines.

e)   find a complementary partner(s).

f)    get inspiration from others.

g)   have fun.


Shurley English includes team writing opportunities in most grade levels, and as these lessons are introduced, two key components for success are defined:  respect and teamwork

Students are taught that respect is first and foremost.  It means to show people that they are important through our words, actions, and attitude.  Students are expected to treat others with respect and to follow these Guidelines for Respect during team writing. 

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The other key component for team writing success is Teamwork. Students learn that teamwork means working closely with others to reach a goal.  They also learn that teamwork and respect go hand-in-hand.  When teammates respect each other, they make an effort to work together to reach their goals.  Everyone on the team must participate, communicate, and cooperate equally! 

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As you can see, there are many positive benefits that come from team writing opportunities.  As the teacher, you can rest assured that Shurley English provides the necessary steps for students to collaborate successfully through each step of the writing process.  Why not make a team writing project a part of your lesson planning soon?