The Kinesthetic Classroom featuring Stacey Shoecraft

Kinesthetic Classroom Meet featured Wonder Teacher, Stacey Shoecraft!

Stacey is a fantastic and energetic 5th grade teacher, and she is passionate about providing her students with kinesthetic learning experiences. I interviewed Stacey to find out how and why she became so dedicated to getting her students moving. I also wanted to learn more about the unique furniture in her classroom.

Susan: This room is amazing! What have you got in here?

Stacey: This room is fully stocked with specialized educational equipment from a company called Kidsfit. I have several different units- some are designed to be used while sitting and others while standing. They all give kids an opportunity to move while they work- through balancing, walking in place, cycling, elliptical movement, etc. The unit I added this year is the bike seating unit with the table top. It has been a great addition.

eplace desks with movement stations

Susan: Is this the furniture your kids sit on all day?

Stacey: Yep!  Actually, many of my students prefer to stand. They even want to take tests standing up, so it’s nice to have the standing stations for them. Of course, I do have a large rug where we often gather for whole group instruction. I like to be able to pull them in close. And if they need a break from moving, I keep a few traditional chairs. Really though, they love to move!

Susan: How does all this impact your classroom management? I’m sure some people would worry about kids getting out of control or having trouble focusing on you and their work.

Stacey: Actually, the opposite happens! The kids stay pretty chill. We do have strict safety rules about how they can use the different stations, but I find that being able to move throughout the day really helps minimize disruptive behavior. One of my parents told me that her son used to come home from school full of energy and had difficulty settling down. Since he has been in a kinesthetic classroom, those issues have completely resolved and he comes home calm. It has changed their household dynamic!

Susan: How do the parents react when they walk in at the beginning of the school year and see this furniture (and no traditional desks and chairs?)

Stacey: They are thrilled! I find that parents understand that their children need to move! They are always excited to know their kids are going to have so many opportunities to be active during the school day.

Susan: What caused you to want to outfit your classroom with special equipment?

Stacey: Well, first I had to understand the power of movement! It started a few years ago when I found out I was going to have a student with special needs whose IEP required movement throughout the day. I had to change my planning process a bit and start thinking of ways to get him up and moving. Of course, that planning impacted my whole class- we were all up and moving a lot more. What shocked me was the impact of the movement on the rest of the class. All the kids responded so well- it really caught my attention and opened my eyes to the power of making teaching and learning more kinesthetic.

Susan: Do you think all teachers should have this kind of equipment?

Stacey: Yes and no! Yes, I believe that every classroom should have some kind of equipment that makes it easy for students to move. However, I don’t believe that every classroom needs to look like mine right from the start. Really, mine is a “showcase” for what’s possible. Most teachers would benefit immediately from having one or two stations to compliment their tables or desks. Kids could rotate through them. It would take baby steps to build up to a classroom set-up like I have.

Susan: What did you do when you first started and had no equipment?

Stacey: Back then one of my first movement activities was called Math Madness. I would play that song, “Get Ready for This,” that you hear at NBA games and we would do a 2-minute warm-up. It was really just a silly pantomime. I would pretend to open my locker and take out a basketball. The kids would echo my movements. Then we’d do all kinds of moves- spin the ball on our finger, dribble it, pass it around the room, all kinds of stuff. Then we’d throw the ball away and do jumping jacks, imaginary jump rope- whatever. I changed it up as I thought of new movements. (Note from Susan: Teachers- if you don’t feel comfortable leading this kind of activity, choose a student! They would love that.)

That was always followed by a math fact drill. It was basically a card game like “War” where kids lay down two cards and the first person to multiply (or add/divide/subtract) the numbers kept the cards. After each match, whoever won got to shoot on a toy basketball hoop in my classroom. They love that! We even created a Math Madness tournament with brackets (like March Madness in basketball) and the winners would get a little prize. It’s amazing to see how motivating it is to combine movement with basic math!

(Note from Susan: Not to mention the fun factor!!)

math madness fact practice

Susan: What else did you try?

Stacey: I started doing a lot of the basic brain breaks and energizers. Just simple ones that take a few moments. My kids responded so positively! I could see that adding little bursts of movement had a major impact on their behavior, attitude, and performance.

One of the things I did was buy a magnetic spinner for my board. In the morning I would write four different energy breaks on the board; things like yoga stretch, jog in place, dance break, etc. Then at different points throughout the day we would spin the finger and take a movement break. It was so simple! I really encourage teachers who are just starting with movement to start with easy ideas and build on them.

spinner on board for movement breaks

In my next post: Come back to read Part 2 of my interview with Stacey. It’s posted! She will explain how she continued to build movement into her teaching and share how she secured funding for the equipment. (Plus a few more easy movement ideas!)

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Comments

  1. Victoria Hampton says:

    Stacey Shoecraft is my personal and professional hero!

  2. Julie Van says:

    My daughter had Stacey in 3rd & 5th grade and my son had her for 5th. They are in 8th grade now & she still is one of their favorite teachers. They loved all the fun stuff she did in class. Stacey also went above & beyond one summer to tutor my son in writing. SHE ROCKS!!

  3. Brandy Clayton says:

    Three of my Four kids have been blessed by having Stacey Shoecraft as their 5th grade teacher and I’m hoping my youngest will have the same blessing. There are NO words to describe the profound impact she has had on each of them (even the one who hasn’t had her yet)! She isn’t just a Wonder Teacher, she is THE Teacher! Lover and Admire and RESPECT her beyond words!

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