How Do I Love Thee? Embodied Thinking

Module 5: Assignment #1

Embodied thinking is when we do not have to consciously think of the actions that are needed; our body just automatically knows how to do them.  One example of this would be tying your shoe.  After tying thousands of shoes over the years, we don’t have to think about finger movements or steps, we just do it.  However, not all embodied thinking involves physical movement.  Empathizing is understanding and sharing the feelings of someone.  This emotional feeling and connection is another great means of embodied thinking.  Empathizing may come into play when you are reading a book and you feel yourself becoming a character and sharing what they are experiencing.  Embodied thinking and empathy are important to use in the classroom as many students learn kinesthetically.  Making the content available in a variety of ways will offer more opportunities for students to succeed.

It may be difficult to incorporate embodied thinking in some courses that students are taking.  Most mathematical concepts are abstract and students may have a hard time “becoming an equation” or “thinking like a square”.  I had to take time reflecting on some geometric concepts before figuring out how I could use embodied thinking in my classroom.  In Geometry, there are several new terms for students to know throughout the year.  To grasp the vocabulary, I would have them make connections to the word through their bodies and physical movement.  This could be done in a variety of ways: charades, gestures, Simon Says, or a dance.  I would choose to use motions or gestures and have the high schoolers display the term with their bodies. 

In our study of triangles, I would separate them into groups, brainstorming ideas for the different types: isosceles, equilateral, right, acute, obtuse, 30-60-90, and 45-45-90.  This embodied thinking pushes students to think beyond the looks or definitions of the terms and actually become the term.  Looking at it through a new lens, and peer discussions, would enlighten them to a deeper understanding.  They would think about the relationship of sides, vertices, lengths, angles, and properties of the triangles.  Another idea would be to have students partner up and take a picture of them creating the vocabulary term with their bodies.  Embodied thinking in this type of class would support creativity which is usually not a focus.

I could add some competition into this lesson by rewarding students with the most creative gesture/stance.  The winning movements would be used throughout the rest of the semester when referring to the specific term.  This would build automaticity in the students’ knowledge of the term and its meaning.  Below are examples of some triangle terms.

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Although this type of thinking may seem elementary, there are huge benefits to using it.  It would engage some of the students who are kinesthetic learners or “bored” in geometry class because they would be up and moving.  It encourages math conversation, creative thinking, and could be a game changer for some of my special education students who learn differently.         



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