Now that we know why we need to infuse movement throughout the school day, let’s talk a bit about how it’s done.
Rarely do I meet a teacher who doesn’t agree that movement is important or beneficial. In fact, most teachers want to add more movement to their teaching. However, movement in the classroom is a new frontier for many. I hear statements like,
“The kids will get out of control.”
“I just don’t have the space.”
“There isn’t enough time- I have too many standards to cover.”
Those are all valid concerns! There was a time in my career when I had those exact worries.
Then a wise friend (Judy Trotter) said something that really stuck with me. To paraphrase her, “Kids were made to move. It’s going to happen whether you like it or not. So, you have a choice. You can chase it all day and end up frustrated. Or, you can get in front and lead the movement and use it!”
That realization led me on a journey to explore techniques and lessons that would make movement-based learning work in my classroom. It’s a really big topic. In fact, I have written a 28 page document on the topic of managing movement and getting started. I have decided to upload it on Teachers Pay Teachers, but I want you (my loyal and lovely readers) to have a free copy. Therefore, I will include it as a limited-time free download in my newsletter (heading to your inbox this weekend!)
If you haven’t signed up yet, go over to that little box on the upper right that says “Subscribe to Wonder Teacher’s monthly newsletter.” Enter your email address and click the red “join now” button. Easy!
Next week it will be for sale on TPT and will disappear from the “free download” site, so make sure to sign up for the newsletter if you want a free copy.
Here is my approach (condensed from 28 pages) to establishing movement in the classroom:
1- Establish high expectations before you start. As teachers, we do this with everything else (how to write names on papers, how to line up, how to walk in the hall, etc.) Yet for some reason, we neglect this step with movement and try to jump right in, saying something minimal like, “Stay in control!” Then we turn on the CD player and are upset when kids start jumping around the room. Here’s the problem: most kids don’t know what “stay in control” means. What is control? What exactly are they supposed to control? How? Until the expectations are crystal clear, you’re unlikely to have success with movement activities.
2- Start small. In movement, that means start with basic non-locomotor activities (no traveling around the room.) The video below provides a perfect example of a basic non-locomotor movement break idea.
3- Gradually increase the difficulty while introducing concepts like “the freeze signal” and “personal space bubbles.”
4- Make sure students are successful and “ready” before moving to more challenging movement activities!
5- Introduce basic locomotor movements (traveling from one point to another.) Games and dancing are fun ways to build this skill.
6- Start experimenting with content-based movement activities. Use tableau (create “frozen pictures” of the life cycle of a butterfly.) Try narrative pantomime (travel from one side of the country (AKA classroom) to the other like Lewis and Clark during a guided movement story.) Yes, I’ll share more about these structures soon!
7- If a lesson goes wrong (kids do get too wild, aren’t listening, etc.) stop and regroup. Analyze where the breakdown occurred and go back to reteach/ rehearse that issue with the class.
8- Be consistent and enforce your rules and expectations. Rule breakers “sit and watch.” However, avoid “taking” movement-based activities as a punishment for other behavioral issues. Those kids usually need to move the most! (Much more on behavior in the document.)
As I said, there is so much information on each of these topics that I had to write a “book!” Grab it from the newsletter this weekend and let me know if it helps you!
In the meantime, check out the video below. Look how simple and easy movement can be in the classroom! The teacher is playing an upbeat song and leading the children in some basic dance moves. Notice, too, the way she uses it as a transition. If you watch closely, you’ll notice her calling one group at a time to get materials for the next lesson while the others keep dancing. Clever!