Physical activity breaks, sometimes called brain breaks, are beginning to gain attention among K-12 teachers as a way to keep their students alert and engaged in the classroom. In the Fall 2014 semester, faced with the task of teaching an introductory course in Theory of Computing in a once-a-week, 2 1/2-hour format, I decided to try incorporating physical activity into my own classroom. Time is precious in the college classroom, so any physical activities have to be directly related to the course material. I will describe some physically active exercises that I used in the classroom to teach students about regular expressions, finite automata, and other theoretical concepts. During the semester, I found that these exercises helped students to have fun and to stay connected to the material, even at the end of this long, late-night class. I also found that the exam averages and the overall course average were higher in Fall 2014 than they had been during the previous four years of teaching this night class. This invites further experimentation with the technique in future semesters.
Tinkham, Nancy Lynn, "Physical Activity in a Theory of Computing Class" (2015). ACMS Conference Proceedings 2015. 21.
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