Using Motion to Boost Learning
School instruction has long been a static experience with students sitting while the teacher talks, but research indicates that students actually learn best when they have an opportunity to move while learning. The Association for Middle Level Education says “brain research tells us that students can actively listen to their teachers for as many minutes as their age.” That is not much time to impart all of the important parts of a lesson.
As teachers, we know that activities can quickly deteriorate into a free-for-all if we are not careful so setting guidelines can help to prevent those problems.
Establish Rules for Transition Movement
- Plan the type of movement and how long it will last.
- Plan to refocus your students once the activity is done. This can be with a set signal that indicates their attention needs to be on you again.
- Think through any potential problems. Do you have students who might get out of hand? Is there space for what you had in mind?
- Expect to reinforce the rules for the movement activity over and over. Don’t be afraid to modify the movement so that it works better and with less difficulty.
Activities for Movement:
- Video summary: Once you have taught a lesson, have students work in pairs or small groups to summarize what they learned. Then let them use an iPad to record each other talking about the two most important concepts or ideas they learned.
- Designate a daily motion: Some teachers have a certain motion that goes with each day of the week. This can reduce confusion since the students know which motion foes with each day and are prepared. For instance, Monday can be yoga moves, Tuesday can be taking turns choosing the movement, etc.
- For math or language arts, have students do one problem and then switch seats for the next problem. This gets them moving while also working.
- When having a quiz, place the questions around the room and have the students move around with a clipboard to write the answers.
- For review, play a game where the class is divided into two teams standing in a single file line. When you call Go! the first student runs to the board and writes something about the concept, runs back and passes the marker to the second student. If a student gets a concept wrong, the following student must correct it with that turn. The first team to get all the correct answers gets a point.
- Paper Basketball: For each correct answer, the team gets a chance to shoot a paper basketball into the basket. Team to score the most points is the winner.
Review materials are ideal for movement activities to break up the day and bring some fresh interest for your students in the subject matter. Edweek.org notes that “studies show that children who are more active exhibit better focus, faster cognitive processing, and more successful memory retention than kids who spend the day sitting still.”