Building a Kinesthetic Classroom (Part 2)

Building a kinesthetic classroom via Wonder Teacher

In my previous post, I shared the first part of my interview with featured Wonder Teacher, Stacey Shoecraft. She is passionate about the power of movement to help her students achieve. Today Stacey talks about her journey from movement breaks to a 100% kinesthetic classroom.

Susan: How did you transition from basic movement breaks to bigger ideas about movement?

Stacey: It actually started with a simple idea. What if I had a stationary bike in my room? Then I could give students the opportunity to move in another way- while they were working or reading. Structured movement breaks are important and helpful, but it’s also nice for a kid just to get a chance to go move on their own if they feel the need without having to wait for a movement break. So I put it out there for my parents at Open House. I told them I really didn’t need anything for the classroom in terms of paper or supplies, but if they happened to have a stationary bike at home (or saw one when they were yard sailing) I’d love to have it! It wasn’t long before a mom brought one in.

Susan: Did the bike make an impact?

Stacey: Absolutely! It made me want more! My antennae went up and I started seeking information. Around that time some folks in our school district were leading the way. Lindsey Beck and David Spurlock, two physical education leaders, were speaking about the power of movement, sharing the concept of Action Based Learning Labs, and providing professional development. I started to understand the science behind movement and got even more dedicated to making my teaching as kinesthetic as possible.  Then I found Kidsfit and I realized that we could really do something big!

Susan: Talk about that. I can imagine that kinesthetic work stations like the ones you have are expensive. How did you generate the funds to purchase them?

Stacey: I actually started with my own students. They had already gotten excited about the way they were learning and were eager to do even more movement! I shared what I had learned with them about action based learning and they wanted to go for it! We brainstormed ways we could raise the money for a Kidsfit station. It basically became a project-based learning opportunity. It had so many facets! We learned how to write persuasive letters to funding sources, how to write blog posts, how to write small grants, how to make videos, how to embed QR codes on our letters. Sometimes we worked on it through lunch and called them “business lunches.”  The students  really took ownership for transforming THEIR classroom. It was a powerful learning experience.

(Comment from Susan: What an amazing, AUTHENTIC project for kids! So many opportunities for interdisciplinary teaching and learning!)

Susan: Wow! So the kids really got involved!

Stacey: Absolutely! One little boy even started selling old toys on Ebay to help raise the funds. In the end, it all worked. Several people stepped up to help us; our principal, our PTA, our local Education Fund, some individual donors, and our local hospitals all donated to our cause. It was so empowering for the children to see that they could affect that kind of change and accomplish a sizable goal.

Susan: That is a lesson they will take with them for the rest of their lives!

Stacey: Absolutely! They saw that if you have a clear vision, hone your message, and communicate it effectively, you can do BIG things.

Susan: So what’s next?

Stacey: Well, I told the kids that it can’t just be about us. In fact, now that I’ve got a new class of students benefitting from last year’s efforts, I told them that their job is to help spread the word. Our vision now is classroom – school – district – nation – world. The goal is to spread the message that movement is powerful and that it helps children achieve at their highest potential.

Susan: Any other thoughts?

Stacey: We try so many expensive initiatives in education. Some of them are great and others are minimally effective. As we spend our money, I think we need to look at the research out there about the educational impact of getting kids up and moving. We spend thousands and thousands of dollars on technology without blinking. And I’m not saying we shouldn’t- I just think that funding kinesthetic classrooms is a simple and straight-forward way to increase student engagement and academic performance while also making our nation healthier!

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Isn’t Stacey a WONDER TEACHER!? I can’t wait to see what she does in the future. I’ll be sure to keep you posted!

Check out a video Stacey’s students recently created to help share the story of their classroom. Then below, see one more simple idea from Stacey about adding more movement to your classroom. (Click on link below to see video. The students made it themselves!)

LINK TO VIDEO on Schooltube- CLICK ME!

I want to go back to 5th grade and be a student in this classroom!
Here is one more “baby step” idea from Stacey:

kinesthetic learning center

Try setting up some kinesthetic learning stations in your classroom. The example in the photo is a math center for early finishers. While students problem-solve to fill in the boxes, they try to balance on the BOSU Trainer. There are many ways you could create similar types of stations in your room with simple equipment to add an element of movement to cognitive work. I’ll feature some in my next post!

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