It’s important that we level the playing field for all of our students. One of the ways we can is by integrating physical movement into all our classroom routines, lessons, and activities.
Regular movement helps all students regulate their mood in ways that improve their collaboration, cognition, and communication skills. Integrating regular movement also helps equalize learning opportunities among students who collectively enter the classroom each day with varying nutritional supports and in variety of emotional states.
Three specific strategies for movement help ensure that new learning is both reinforced and remembered. Doing simple things such as:
–Making certain students are up and out of their seats every twenty or thirty minutes,
–Asking students to “take a lap” and share their learning with others around the room each time they learn a new concept, and
–Inviting students to “speed share” a summary sentence with five new partners following a personal writing exercise
These strategies are easy, free, and essential ways to improve equity in my classroom and ensure that students are all prepared to learn.
What I did well…
Teachers appreciate learning a new practice that they can use the next day in their classrooms, and I have given the rationale for using movement and demonstrated it in such a way that its value is clear. The examples of how to integrate movement are easily adaptable. Using movement requires no special equipment or classroom set-up. All it requires is mindfulness – being aware of the research that validates the benefits of movement during instruction – and remembering to integrate it into daily practice.
What would I do more of, better, differently….
I would use another, different example with my teacher audience than the one I spoke about in the opening interview. I would provide a list of ways to integrate movement in grades k-12 (and beyond, since I teach graduate education classes and integrate movement with my adult learners, too!), and I would more clearly address the need for excellent classroom management as an underlying component for movement to be successfully integrated in all classes. I have provided professional development on this topic in my district, and I know that this concern came up with my colleagues.
I still want to grow this practice by…
There are so many, many interruptions in the school day that make time management a challenge. Fire drills, assemblies, and announcements over the public address system are just a few of the examples of practices that eat away at our precious minutes with our students, and sometimes they necessitate expedited lessons. I want to make sure that I include movement every day in “cementing” the learning that has taken place, rather than making sure I have simply “covered the material/lesson” in an expedient fashion. This takes discipline and mindfulness on my part.
I would also love to see how other teachers use learning protocols that include movement and songs to make learning joyous for students in all grades, and in all subject areas, and sharing these examples with my colleagues.
Lastly, I’m interested in making the value of movement in learning something that the students can articulate. We all need to be more aware about how our brains work most effectively. This meta-cognition regarding the benefits of movement will stay with my students throughout their lives, so that, hopefully, they will remember to help themselves and use movement in self-directed learning beyond their time in Mrs. Izzo’s 5th grade English Language Arts class.
About Marguerite Izzo
Marguerite Izzo, whose teaching career spans over 30 years, is a full time fifth grade teacher, specializing in English Language Arts. She has taug...