Movement has been acknowledged as an effective instructional strategy for enhancing procedural memory and improving student behaviour. Simply put, it involves physically engaging learners by including the body in learning experiences. Not only does physical movement increase energy levels and improve mood, it also provides an external stimulus to help students think logically and reinforce memory of the internal stimulus. Students thrive on this change of stimulus and the fun factor is maximized!
Movement can be incorporated into classroom activities and lessons in a multitude of ways. For instance, some teachers have students select an energizing partner. Students are then given opportunities to stand and conference with their partners throughout the day to reinforce concepts taught. Another potential use of movement in the classroom is through the appointment clock. Students use their clock to make appointments with other classmates at specific hours throughout the day or week. These appointments are then used to get together and discuss content being learned at that point in time. The options are endless, but the key is to incorporate some opportunity for student movement during a lesson.
For grade 6 students in my practicum class, movement was an important component of their daily routine. Lessons and activities often involved physical movement, such as consulting with a partner, surveying classmates, or taking a trip to an anchor chart or bulletin board for inspiration. For example, during one math activity, students were required to work with a partner to record and graph their heart rates before and after a series of jumping jacks by taking each other’s pulse. A common ‘body break’ that is used is the stand up, sit down game. Students must pay close attention to the teacher, whose arms are giving instructions:
- arms horizontal = stand up
- arms down at her sides = sit down
- arms up above her head = do nothing
This is a fast-paced incorporation of movement in the classroom that quickly re-energizes and re-focuses students. And it is, of course, FUN!
Tate, M. (2010). Worksheets don’t grow dendrites: 20 instructional strategies that engage the brain. London, UK: Corwin.