Make Learning Stations More Kinesthetic

Ideas for making learning centers more kinesthetic

I was so inspired by my recent interview with Stacey Shoecraft! (Read more here: 1st Interview and 2nd Interview.)

Her movement-based classroom is an energetic and happy place! Seeing all the different ways she uses movement to reach and teach her students made me think a little more deeply about ideas for pumping up our practice with movement.

Today, let’s think about ways to make our stations (AKA “centers”) more active. [Read more…]

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? [Read more…]

It’s All About Student Engagement

Student engagement article

I interrupt my current puppet series to bring you a message about student engagement.

To quote literacy leader Christopher Lehman, “Engagement isn’t a thing, it’s the ONLY thing.” (Emphasis added.)

The more I learn about effective teaching and the more I see it done well, the more I am convinced that the ingredient in the effective teacher’s secret sauce is engagement.

The kids have to be hooked. Involved. Active. Interested. Curious. Doing the work of learning and understanding for themselves.

No matter how many bells and whistles we put on our lessons, if the kids aren’t engaged deeply they just aren’t going to learn in a way that sticks. It’s that simple.

Technology isn’t the answer. “Mastery” teaching models aren’t the answer. Sleek, glossy curriculum packages aren’t the answer. I’ll even be so drastic as to say the arts aren’t the answer!

I truly believe that the answer is summed up in the response to this question: What are we asking to students to do and why should they do it?

The answer to that question depends on your students- their ages, backgrounds, interests, strengths and weaknesses, etc. Oh, and if your answer to the above question is, “Because they are supposed to do what I say!” or “They should be working hard to make As so they can be successful and go to college,” then you are on thin ice with this generation. They require a better answer than that.

And here’s another important part of the engagement equation: If our children feel loved, their engagement levels automatically rise! When a child feels valued, safe, and loved by a teacher, he will love her in return and work hard for her. This is why I am always beating the “Classroom Community” drum! The path to a child’s mind always detours through the heart. If you try to speed past the heart connection, you’re in trouble.

So how do we get to engagement? I’ll be transparent and say that after 18 years in education, I’m still figuring it out! But here is what I do know: [Read more…]

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