Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Need to Move

Cute Little Girl in Pink Dances on the Beach during the Kite Festival. In Get up and move! from Nancy Teaches, Nancy shares,

“I am a kinesthetic learner. I need to move. While others could sit still for hours, I learned best by pacing and moving my arms and adding movements to concepts.”

I was so glad when I read this because I am also a kinesthetic learner. When I tell people that I sometimes get this strange look as if they think I’m crazy. What a difference it makes if I can move around when I am listening to a lecture or even watching a video. Since I took up knitting, I am able to focus on what I am listening to so much better. I always thought I was a visual learner because I had to see things to learn them. Now I realize that I not only have to see things but I also need to be moving in order to make it easier. I used to hate listening to audio books but now that I can knit as I listen, I love them.

I have found that many of my students were getting in trouble in other classes because they needed to move and the teachers expected them to sit quietly in their desks and listen to a 50 minute lecture. I have to admit that this would be impossible even for me. I remember going to the university and listening to lectures about different learning styles but I thought it was ironic that most of the professors teaching this never practiced what they preached.

I always allowed movement in my classroom because I understood the need to move also applied to my students. I tried to learn what students needed more movement then others and made sure they knew what options they had during my lessons. I wanted them to know what behaviors were acceptable for movement that would not distract me or the other students. By getting that out of the way at the beginning, I think my students appreciated it and were more engaged in the lesson. They didn’t get antsy and try to control the need to move which of course was more distracting than just doing something. I would also allow other students to offer suggestions for movement before I began a lesson. Sometimes the students would think of things that worked for them that I had not thought of and others may find useful. I think this is a good way to teach them to be self advocates and talk about what they need.

Here are some of the things I allowed:

1. Sitting at their desk quietly squishing a squishy ball.

2. Getting up and standing up in the back of the room quietly.

3. Guided note taking enabled students to move their hands.

4. Drawing pictures to summarize what I am talking about.

5. During independent work, they were allowed to “buy” a 3 minute break with the class money they earned.

6. If any of my students did yarn crafts like crocheting or knitting, I allowed them to do that as they listened.

7. Put students in small groups to answer questions together.

8. Have activity centers and allow students to get assignments from different activity centers. When they finish, they can turn in that activity and go get another assignment.

9. If they have computers, I allowed them to backchannel on a site that I approved in order to discuss the topic we were discussing and used the conversation as a study guide for others.

10. Allow students to brainstorm ways to show their understanding of the lesson or new skill by doing a small project. This would be a great assessment rather than a written test. Once the project is approved by the teacher, students can form groups by choosing the project that appeals to them.

What strategies do you use in the classroom to encourage or allow movement? Please share.

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original image: 'Cute Little Girl in Pink Dances on the Beach during the Kite Festival.' by: Mike Baird


Sioux Roslawski said...

Pat--We do "Musical Shares." On each desk there is a half-slip of paper, and things to fill in. (Perhaps we're working on adjectives, so the items will look like this:

1. a __________ dog
2. the _________ car and so on)

The kids will stand up, leave their pencil on their desk along with the half-worksheet, and when the music starts, they dance around the room (in a predetermined path) and when the music stops, they go to any desk, fill in one of the blanks,and wait for the music to begin again.

Another thing I do is use music for each transition. Between reading and language, between lunch and math, we have a DJ that chooses the song, and we sing and dance. (I use the same music for both activities--old Motown, my favorite disco songs, etc.) The kids each have a set of lyrics, we have a couple of "playlists" so it's reading as well as movement.

loonyhiker said...

@Sioux Thanks for these wonderful ideas! I love them! It makes me want to dance just reading about them! :)

Nancy Teaches said...

Thanks so much for mentioning me and my blog. I love when I find a fellow kinesthetic learner. (We should start a club!) I'm also a handwork girl... embroidery, needlepoint, quilting, etc. so we are kindred souls in that way as well. Need to keep moving to learn! So glad you enjoyed my post and LOVED your ideas. Nancy