Think back to when you were a student. Remember those afternoon classes? You’ve just had lunch, a full morning of various assignments and tests, and now the afternoon sun is glaring through the window. The classroom is a little too warm. And your teacher is at the front of the room, dictating notes. You feel your eyelids getting heavy… anyone else ready for a nap?
It’s fair to say at some point in your educational life, you’ve been the disengaged student feeling the weight of exhaustion or boredom lulling you out of learning. Therefore, educators are extra motivated to ensure students are focused, engaged, and energized so they can best learn the lessons they have developed. An active classroom, one that requires students to focus both mind and body, may be the secret to engaging students in their learning.
A comment consistently heard in teaching circles is that it’s unreasonable to ask kids to sit and pay attention for six hours a day throughout their school years. With school schedules edging out physical education and recess, one way to reintroduce activity is by integrating it into the general curriculum.
Physical activity in the classroom offers students and teachers new ways to engage the curriculum. A space that promotes movement at a personal level allows children to feel empowered with a sense of physical autonomy. Meanwhile at the class level, new opportunities arise for group configurations and interaction.
Teachers can build their lessons to take advantage of their classroom space. This can include breaking up assignments into various workstations around the classroom, allowing students to move from station to station to take advantage of active learning.
Teachers can use a beach ball which students lightly toss to one another as a method of class participation. The student with the ball is the one who can ask or answer the question. If a dialogue on the subject breaks out, suddenly all students will have to be aware of when the beach ball comes their way and the classroom discussion becomes active.
Some teachers have even built in short break periods for students to stretch. Teachers can lead students through some simple movements and breathing exercises to help focus the mind. Learning techniques to quickly and efficiently wake up students’ bodies and minds also develop healthy habits to carry through their education and eventual careers.
Take a look at your lesson plans for the day, and make sure you are finding ways to get your students up on their feet and moving around as they learn. The results will be a fully engaged classroom that’s ready to succeed.