Klea Scharberg

Integrating Movement Roundup

Ensuring a high-quality physical education program is important. Equally important is ensuring that students are active across the school day and not just in gym class. Research shows that kids who are physically active are not only healthier, but also likely to perform better academically; and short activity breaks during the school day can improve concentration and behavior and enhance learning.

In short, school-based physical activity is valuable exercise. It aids cognitive development; increases engagement and motivation; and is essential to keeping kids healthy and engaged, as well as safe, supported, and challenged. In November we looked at new ways to encourage movement and how schools are bringing physical activity out of the gym and into the classroom.

Listen to the Whole Child Podcast with guests Jill Vialet, CEO and founder of whole child partner Playworks; Michael Opitz, author of Literacy Lessons to Help Kids Get Fit & Healthy; and Andria Caruthers, a principal at West Education Campus in Washington, D.C.

Consider the importance of movement during a typical school day spent sitting at desks. Are we in jeopardy of exposing our students to more stress because we overly focus on collecting data and increasing test scores?

Know that the brain benefits from physical activityResearch supports the correlation between exercise and neurogenesis (the production of new brain cells) and from that, improved learning and memory and a decrease in depression.

Ask yourself if you always practice what you know benefits students with regard to integrating physical activity into the learning experience.

Identify where your school falls along the movement continuum, where on one end schools don't believe that physical activity (PA) has a major or beneficial role to play in learning, and on the other end it is included in the way they teach and the way the kids learn. Somewhere in the middle are schools that see activity as simply providing a break from classwork.

Understand how we have engineered physical activity out of almost every aspect of daily living and strategies schools can use to reverse the trend.

Explore the emphasis on movement and physical development as essential to learning in the Waldorf (Steiner) and Montessori education approaches.

Learn how physical activity can be added to the classroom from the NEA Health Information Network, the nonprofit health and safety arm of whole child partner the National Education Association.

Coordinate your school's approach to promoting active and healthy living with a school health audit and five-point implementation strategy of increasing opportunities for physical activity, integrating physical activity and health education, focusing on the individual, working with the community, and investing in teachers as learners.

Think about using video games that require physical interaction to combine the power of brain-based learning and having fun to support authentic learning outcomes.

Try a sample fitness literacy lesson with your students:

  1. Involve your students in an activity that relates to the fitness topic they will be reading about.
  2. Once they have engaged with the activity and developed some questions about what they did and how it might contribute to their overall health, have students read different texts about the topic or engage them with a read-aloud that brings awareness to the activity they completed before the reading began.
  3. Help your students take control of their own well-being by providing them with ideas for what they can do both in and out of school to monitor their own health.

Get hundreds of lesson plan and school activity ideas and resources from the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance; U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Edutopia; the American Heart Association; and P.E. Central.

Remember to take a break and go outside and play.

Find information on supporting and integrating physical activity across the school day from whole child partners the American Association for Health Education, American School Health Association, Directors of Health Promotion and Education, National Association for Sport and Physical Education, National Education Association, National Parent Teacher Association, Playworks, Society of State Leaders of Health and Physical Education, and SPARK.

In this video, Whole Child Podcast guest and whole child partner Playworks founder and CEO Jill Vialet believes that there is a physically active game for every space.

Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

In 2003, Maine educators committed to increasing the amount of time students are active during the school day without taking time away from academic classes. Developed by the Maine Center for Public Health, Harvard Prevention Research Center, and the Muskie School of Public Service, with support from the Maine Department of Education, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and local schools, the Take Time! Physical Activity Program requires participating schools to engage all students in 10 minutes or more of physical activity every day, outside of physical education classes or unstructured recess, primarily within elementary and middle schools. Learn why schools should "take time" in the video below.

Twelve video examples are available to view and implement in your classroom, including this one where students use "math and whole-body spelling" to compare and order numbers with up to four digits and spell high-frequency, grade-level words.

How do you design your classroom lessons to include movement and physical activity? What effects has this had on student engagement and overall school climate?

Share |

Blog Archive

Blog Tags