It was a hot, sticky afternoon in Mrs. Hall’s 5th grade classroom. The students were sleepy and Mrs. Hall was convinced they weren’t paying attention. Mrs. Hall knew that listening is an active, conscious process that has a huge impact on learning. She realized there were strategies she could use to wake up the students’ brains, interest and ability to listen.

She had them listen to classical music. Classical music by composers such as Mozart and Tchaikovsky encourages the brain to enter a relaxed, focused state which is highly conducive to learning. This has been termed “The Mozart Effect.”

She had them take movement breaks. A few minutes of movement exercises at transition times can re-energize the nervous system for better listening, attention, and learning. A great source of powerful movement techniques is Hands On: How to use Brain Gym in the Classroom available at

Mrs. Hall taught students how to bracket their distracting thoughts, showing them how to classify thoughts into three groups:

Now: thoughts that promote full involvement in the lesson.
Later: appropriate to pursue later, for example, an interesting related idea, a clarifying question or an important task to perform.
Never: not an appropriate thought, for example, a discouraging or negative thought such as “I can’t get this,” or “This is stupid.”

She showed the students how to visualize a container such as a chest or jewelry box to put their “Later” thoughts into until a better time to think about them and how to visualize putting their “Never” thoughts into a trashcan!

Because Mrs. Hall understood how important visualization is for building comprehension while listening, she taught her students how to anchor visualizations. As she began a discussion of the reading, she had them direct their attention to a particular spot in the classroom, for example, the door, the chalkboard, or a picture on the wall. The spot became the visual and spatial storing place for the details of the reading that she wanted them to remember. When she wanted a student to recall an important fact from the reading, Mrs. Hall had the student look at the spot that anchored the information to jog their memory.

For students who had great difficulty listening, she realized the training had to go deeper. She thought of the Samonas Auditory Intervention program. She knew that some students have auditory inefficiencies that cause them to become very fatigued when listening and they eventually run out of the energy needed to pay attention. The Samonas program helps students develop skills such as phonemic awareness, attention, memory, concentration, organization, social communication, verbal and written expression, comprehension, body awareness, and frustration tolerance. Samonas therapeutic listening plans are individually developed to target a student’s unique learning needs.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Kari Miller is a Board Certified Educational Therapist and Director of Miller Educational Excellence in Los Angeles. She began her career almost twenty-five years ago as a special education resource teacher. She has worked with students in a vast array of capacities, including special education teacher and educational therapist. Dr. Miller has a PhD in Educational Psychology and Mathematical Statistics, a master’s degree in Learning Disabilities, Gifted Education and Educational Diagnosis, and a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and Behavior Disorders.

To contact Dr. Miller
Phone: 310-280-9813