Monday, March 19, 2012

Tip #7: Even the big kids like to move

Newton's laws of motion state that "an object in motion tends to stay in motion..."  This is especially true of kids.  And, based on my experience, the younger they are the more they wiggle and jiggle around.  Once, when I was teaching kindergarten/pre-K, I had a little girl actually get out of her seat and start to play patty cake with the garbage can as I was beginning my lesson.  She just could not bear to sit still, and-I guess-decided she'd befriend the only thing left standing, even if it was itself, inanimate.  My middle schoolers weren't much better when it came to their capacity to sit still.  Even when the whole class quieted down for an announcement or mini-lesson, I found myself talking over a chorus of pencil tapping.  Stillness was just against their nature, it seemed.  So, when I first began teaching high school, I would joyously sharpen pencils for students who were too lazy to get up and walk three steps to the sharpener to do it themselves because I was so relieved that I'd finally arrived.  I was finally teaching students whose energy level I could manage to stay a half step ahead of.  And, that is where I have stayed for the past nine years!

Even so, I am going to take this time to advocate movement in the classroom for students of all ages.  The young ones need to be able to move.  Why not give them some guidance and direction to make it a productive part of your class?  The older ones need to be shaken up a bit before their bodily inertia travels to their brains.  Why not get their blood flowing every now and again?

Movement seems to really help students, especially the kinesthetic learners.  Below are a few ideas to use in your classroom...

1) In Spanish, I always make my students play human bingo.  This gets them moving around and dialoguing in Spanish (something for which the extra blood flow is very helpful). 

2) Gallery walks are great ways to get students moving around.  One way I've used them recently is to post giant chart sheets around the room with a different character's name from the novel we are reading on each one.  Students pair up and go to a chart sheet.  They have a few minutes to write down a detail and or quote about the character along with the page reference.  Then everyone rotates to the right or left.  They look at what is written and add one or two new quotes/details about the character.  Students proceed like this until they are all the way back to where they started.

3) Word sorts are a quick, easy review.  I write vocabulary on post it notes and divy them up among the students. Then I write headings on the board and have them get up and put their post its under the heading they think it belongs to.  Finally, the class goes over what is on the board to check for understanding and correct any misunderstandings.

Check out more activities with movement using the link below!

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