Episode 49 6 Common Sense Strategies to Improve Student Learning

Episode 49 is all about using the 6 senses – hearing, smell, taste, sight, touch and proprioception – in your classroom to improve student learning. 

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Using sight to help students learn can mean lots of different things in various classrooms.  It means to use colour, visual organisation, video or images, Modelling and demonstration

Examples could include:

  • modelling to students how to solve problems with visual demonstrations or giving a demonstration of how to pass a football.
  • Using a historical timeline to set a scene in History or a taxonomy for identifying animals
  • It means showing finished products in project based learning or in technology, creative arts or English
  • It means using visual clues to draw attention to critical or important pieces of information and so much more.


Using hearing can be as basic as:

  • ensuring that there is clear pronunciation of each term when you are talking and removing background noises where possible.
  • But is also includes:
    Helping them to associate sounds with specific items to recall
  • Using music to help with memory
  • Making use of rhythm and timing etc

Examples include:

  • Providing the sounds of animals to go with the study of them, or providing the sound of a rainforest when studying them.
  • Developing jingles to aid with recall… we can all recall the jingles from the ads we watched growing up.. This is much the same idea.
  • Introducing your lesson with up-beat music to help increase the energy and mood in your classroom
  • Reading poetry using a set pacing or timing for each line


Touch is about texture. We have a book at home that talks about the animals and on each page my daughter is encouraged to pat one of the animals to see what they feel like. How can you incorporate something similar to your lessons:

  • Perhaps you could bring in different samples of rocks for the students to touch and compare when learning about the layers of the earth, or different types of soil
  • Have students get wet as they learn about the water cycle, or feel the heat experienced by elite tennis players during the Australian open.
  • I remember learning about heat and the transfer of energy when I was at school and my science teacher getting us to feel this transfer but having us cool our hands in cold water, before putting them into warm water 


Personally I think taste and smell are connected, but obviously not everything that you might encourage a student to smell they can taste. But how can you use taste, food, drink to help your students to learn? In episode 28 with Camilla, she mentioned making Mango Milkshakes when teaching the letter M… and it can be this simple. I remember one of my Indonesian lessons when our teacher brought in fruits and made food that was traditional in Indonesia. You could have students taste the pH scale… They could compare the acidity of coffee, coke, chocolate, lemons, kiwi fruit, cucumbers, water, pancakes and anything else you can think of.


Smell is all about the nose and engaging it to learn ideas and is one of the best memory markers as far as your brain is concerned.
I use this for my lesson on supplementation (and combine it with taste, depending on the supplement). I lay out lots of different supplements athletes might use and ask them to try and identify them and then have them smell it as they learn about it. Maybe you could do this as students learn about the different types of gas that make up the atmosphere, or when they are studying volcanoes. Have students smell plants they are studying. You can probably even connect new ideas to specific smells that exist everyday… such as a type of deodorant or air freshener


Finally, my sixth sense, which is proprioception… to know where your body is without looking. And I really want to connect this with the more hands on learning, acting things out, or moving to a rhythm. In Steiner that have students toss bean bags from one hand to another standing up as they learn their times tables for example. I’m a PE teacher so I love seeing students learning by doing.  Engaging in games or perhaps you could have them re-enact battle scenes, cook something, or simply walk and talk. I have a colleague who often gets the students up and moving around as blood cells as they learn the basics of the circulatory system.

Combine for Maximum effect!

Now obviously, doing just one sense is not going to be as effective as joining a few, I would recommend 3 or more. For example, have students cook cultural foods, this uses proprioception, smell and taste, but if you also model it, have them cook together and have them feel the texture of the food, you are hitting all 6 senses.

Leave a comment below and tell me how you have used the 6 senses in your classroom!

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