Podcast Whole Child Podcast

More Than Just Gym: Integrating Movement Across the School Day

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A high-quality physical education program is indisputably important, and so is ensuring that students are active across the school day and not just in gym class for 45 minutes—or worse, 20 minutes every other day. Research shows that kids who are physically active are not only healthier, but are also likely to perform better academically, and short activity breaks during the school day can improve concentration, 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 a whole child approach to education.

In this episode of the Whole Child Podcast, we discuss new ways to encourage movement and how schools are bringing physical activity out of the gym and into the classroom to maximize learning and well-being. You'll hear from

  • Jill Vialet, CEO and founder of whole child partner Playworks, the only nonprofit organization in the country to send trained, full-time program coordinators to low-income, urban schools, where they transform recess and play into positive experiences that help kids and teachers get the most out of every learning opportunity throughout the school day.
  • Michael Opitz, a former elementary school teacher and reading specialist and current professor of reading at the University of Northern Colorado, is the author of Literacy Lessons to Help Kids Get Fit & Healthy, in which he shares secrets for combining literacy-rich, ready-to-use lessons with easy-to-implement fitness exercises.
  • Andria Caruthers, is principal at West Education Campus in Washington, D.C., where she works toward student success through motivating her students to focus on academics and the well-being of the total body.

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?

Comments (9)

Julie Stock

November 5, 2011

In my high school classroom, I use a deck of cards called “Recessitate”. We have a block schedule so most students are sitting for over an hour at times. The activities encourage movement and concentration in ways that are fun. It always brings a smile to their faces. There are short exercises that involve calming or waking; I have never had a bad experience with this. Using the document projector, a student picks a card, reads it and leads the movement. It takes only a few minutes and makes a positive difference in the overall class climate. My 1st grade daughter likes the activity at home too! (“Mom, can we do Recessitate?”)


November 5, 2011

I use a wonderful engagement tool called Recessitate to incorporate more movement into my first grade classroom. We often get overwhelmed with mandated ELA and Math minutes and caught up in curriculum maps and pacing guides, leaving little room for movement and physical activity even though it is so desperately needed. Recessitate provides short “mini” physical activities that can be used during transitions, extra time or any time students are in need of a break. I have found that by using these activities students are more awake, alert and ready to devote their energy to the next task. Some of the cards also help calm down the atmosphere of the environment through movement and are especially helpful when transitioning from recess back to classroom.


November 6, 2011

As the day progresses in a classroom, there are definitely periods of time where the energy level of the kids needs to be re-directed. In my 5th grade classroom, I use a tool called Recessitate. When I see the kids beginning to get saturated with information and hitting a wall, or if they kids need to get calmed down, I use Recessitate. Recessitate is a box of cards with different movement activities in it that help shift the energy in my class. It offers a range of activities for the kids to do. The activity directions are easy to follow and the kids love the break in instruction to reconnect with their bodies and breath to get centered and more focused. The box also provides blank cards so the students can add movement activities that work for them that they want to share with the class. This added participatory strategy creates even more buy in and excitement from the kids when we use this excellent, motivational tool.

Frank Cardamone

November 7, 2011

It’s wonderful that teachers are taking initiatives to recognize the importance of movement, not just for the physical activity it provides, but the connection of movement and cognition. I’ve been studying various modalities since 2000 as part of masters work. I personally found Brain Gym to be a wonderful program that works both for the students and for the teachers. Then there’s the Bridges program, and Waldorf Remedial Therapy is also a wonderful tool. All of these provide empowering lifetime tools for those who take the opportunity to learn them.

Your Therapy Source

November 8, 2011

Research has shown that children normally move in short bursts therefore quick mini movement breaks work great in the classroom.  It allows children to build up those minutes of moderate to vigorous activity in smaller pieces.  In addition, by allowing children to take these movement breaks it can improve focus and engagement in the activities.  We offer a download entitled Mini Movement Breaks that includes 60+ quick activities that require no equipment.  You can get more information about it at http://www.YourTherapySource.com/minimove 
When physical activity is incorporated into the classroom here are a few tips for classroom management:
1.  Establish a routine.  If you start out with a specific routine and repeat that the children will know what is expected of them each time.
2.  Have a special signal or motion that indicates the children need to return to a “ready to work” state
3.  Finish each quick movement break with the same poem or song each time so again children know what to expect.
4.  Keep it simple.  When teachers have to rearrange rooms or space to get active it can be too difficult.  Try to think of ideas that can be easily carried out in minimal space.
5.  Think of ideas that can be incorporated directly into the lesson. 

Need more ideas?  Check out this hand out entitled 10 Simple Ways to Encourage Physical Activity in the Classroom.  This ideas require no equipment and are super easy to carry out daily.  You can find the hand out here http://www.yourtherapysource.com/10simple.html

Nancy Passikoff

November 22, 2011

As always, you are doing a terrific job.  Good to hear your voice, Molly!  Hope to see you all in NM, at least by the NASBHC Conference in June.

A happy Thanksgiving to all!

Mike Kuczala

November 23, 2011

I truly appreciate everyone’s interest in using movement in the classroom; a much underused tool to not only engage students but raise academic achievement.  I am the co-author of a Corwin bestseller, The Kinesthetic Classroom: Teaching and Learning through Movement.  It provides a 6-part framework for thoughtfully and purposefully using movement at all grade levels and all content areas.  I hope you find it to be a useful resource!

More Than Just Gym: Integrating Movement Across th

December 8, 2011

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December 24, 2011

Apepricaiton for this information is over 9000-thank you!

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