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The Kinesthetic Classroom: Teaching and Learning Through Movement

A basic overview&rationale for increasing the number of movement activities&lessons within elementary school classrooms.

Sarah Weller-Bentivegna

on 9 July 2011

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Transcript of The Kinesthetic Classroom: Teaching and Learning Through Movement

The Kinesthetic Classroom:
Teaching and Learning Through Movement A basic overview and rationale for increasing the number of movement activities and lessons that incorporate student movement within each elementary classroom. “In order for man to succeed in life, God provided him with two means, education and physical activity. Not separately, one for the soul and the other for the body, but for the two together. With these two means, man can attain perfection.”
Ratey (2008) Presentation Project by Sarah Weller-Bentivegna
Summer 2011 The Kinesthetic Classroom: Teaching and Learning Through Movement
Gratz College Regional Training Center
Instructor Patty Savannah Provide staff members’ with resources on additional movement activities and the research to demonstrate why it is essential for educators to plan movement with their lessons and routines. Provide at least three activities that each classroom or grade level can easily use within their classrooms. Provide information on why and how educators should incorporate a variety of movement activities into their daily classroom activities and lessons. Purpose Ball toss/roll with your table group.

You may gently toss the ball (underhand) or roll the ball to other members of your group as you answer the questions or state the information.
Keep going until you hear the whistle, even if your group is repeating the information.
You may not toss the ball to the same person each time.
You may not toss the ball back to the person who just gave it to you.
If you do not know the answer you can turn to the person on your right or left for a reminder or the answer.
If you are unable to demonstrate the ability to follow the rules, you will need to sit outside of your group and watch this activity.
When you hear the whistle the person with the ball will answer the last question and then hold on to the ball until I ask for it to be returned.
You have two minutes. Warm up Each group of teachers will be given the following verbal question/directions
1. Skip count by 5’s. (5, 10, 15, 20, etc: Math, money, time, addition, multiplication prep.)
2. What are the steps in the water cycle? (Review as necessary. Science: Evaporation, Condensation, Precipitation, Runoff, and Percolation).
3. In order, state each letter of the alphabet and name at least one sound that each letter makes (Language Arts: reading & spelling “A /a/” etc.)
4. Name sports activities that include the use of a ball. (P.E.: soccer, ping-pong, tennis, basketball, etc,).
5. Name the different purposes for reading or writing (Language Arts: to persuade, to explain, to inform, to entertain, and to reflect).
6. Name the days of the week in order (Primary grades academic skill) What did you think of this activity?
Did it take long? (3-5 minutes total).
Was it hard for your group to do? Did you feel comfortable?
What happened if you did not know the answer? (Had help from group members).
How many different topics did we just cover?
How many grade levels could participate in an activity like this one? (All)
How much preparation did the teacher have to make? (Rules, expectations, consequences, come up with a few topics to cover).
Do you think you could use an activity like this to do a quick review? Why should we incorporate movement activities into our classrooms? Our students use technology both at school and at home. We are always trying to incorporate technology within our lessons to better provide an “exciting and stimulating” educational environment. When using both technology and/or movement activities within our classrooms students and teachers are provided with the “novelty and change the brain seeks”
(Langel, T. & Kuczala, M.: page 2). Students must take on some responsibility for maintaining their focus during classroom lessons, however, “teachers are in charge of creating and facilitating an environment that engages, motivates, and challenges the learner” (Langel, T. & Kuczala, M.: page 4). “Only 6 percent of U.S. high schools offer a daily physical education class. At the same time, kids are spending an average of 5.5 hours a day in front of a screen of some sort – Television, computer, or handheld device. It’s not surprising that American children are less active than they’ve ever been” (Ratey page 19). When we incorporate movement and fitness support within our classrooms we are teaching lessons that will “serve them for life.” Lessons about lifestyle; learning and being more fit within daily life. “The students are developing healthy habits, skills, and a sense of fun . . .” along with their academics (Ratey page 12). “Naperville (Illinois) provides a powerful case on how aerobic activity can transform not only the body but also the mind” (Ratey page 12). Student Focus and Engagement: We know that attention spans increase by some extent with a person’s age and their interest.

We also know that attention spans can be limited by a person’s medical conditions (ADD, ADHD).

When we are interested and engaged in something we can increase our ability to attend and learn. Did you know? An attention span can also be reduced by lack of movement? “Children who are raised in stimulating, active environments produce more neural connections in the brain” (Langel, T. & Kuczala, M.: page 2). “When the body is inactive for 20 minutes or longer, there is a decline in neural communication.”
(Langel, T. & Kuczala, M.: page 2) Students who take achievement tests in reading, spelling, and math following exercise perform better than they did when they not participate in these activities.
(Langel, T. & Kuczala, M.: page 4) “Students who use their body while gaining knowledge are actively engaged in the learning process.”
(Langel, T. & Kuczala, M.: page 4) “Studies in both California and Texas suggest that physically fit students do better on standardized tests.” (Langel, T. & Kuczala, M.: page 8) “The California Department of Education (CDE) has consistently shown that students with higher fitness scores have higher test scores.”
(Ratey page 21). “In 2001 fit kids score twice as well as academic tests as their unfit peers. . . When the CDE repeated the study in 2002, it factored in socio-economic status. As expected, students with a higher standard of living scored better on the academic tests, but the results also showed that within the lower-income students, fitter kids scored better than unfit kids. . . It suggests that although parents may not have immediate control over their financial situation, they can improve their kids’ chances of performing well by encouraging them to get into shape” (Ratey page 21-22). “Movement is the best manager of students’ learning states.”
Eric Jenson Langel, T. & Kuczala, M. (2010). The Kinesthetic Classroom: Teaching and Learning Through Movement. A workbook designed for Regional Training Center’s graduate course: The Kinesthetic Classroom: Teaching and Learning Through Movement. Research Movement with a Purpose
Preparing the Brain
Providing Brain Breaks
Supporting Exercise and Fitness
Building Class Cohesion
Reviewing Content
Teaching Content Some of the activities may seem quick and even silly, but they all have multiple purposes to benefit our students. Jensen, E. (2000). Moving with the Brain in Mind. Educational Leadership, November.

Langel, T. & Kuczala, M. (2010). The Kinesthetic Classroom: Teaching and Learning Through Movement. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin.

Langel, T. & Kuczala, M. (2010). The Kinesthetic Classroom: Teaching and Learning Through Movement. A workbook designed for Regional Training Center’s graduate course: The Kinesthetic Classroom: Teaching and Learning Through Movement.

Ratey, J., (2008). Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. New York: Little Brown and Company “Our brains are designed to learn short bursts of information followed by time to process the information.”
(Jensen, E. page 16). While Asian children have longer school days and school years than most schools in the United States, their students actually spend less time receiving new content. They have “regimented breaks, recess and formal play” to increase their circulation and ability to focus, review, and gain new information
(Jensen, E. page 16). (I will provide a few sentences about each bullet to briefly explain
how they are tied to movement within the classroom).

Preparing the Brain: stimulate and prepare the brain for learning. Safe, supportive and stimulating classroom environment. Practice and preparation.
Providing Brain Breaks: provide oxygen to the brain, giving the brain a break from academic content, allowing time for the brain to process all of the information that has been presented. Preparing the brain to receive more information.
Supporting Exercise and Fitness: healthy lifestyle, reduce stress, “if students sit from the time they enter class until the leave what message is being sent?” (Langel, T. & Kuczala, M.: page 7). In just 60 seconds you can provide a movement activity to boost oxygen levels to the brain.
Building Class Cohesion: creating a safe, comfortable, collaborative, and supportive environment where students can learn and take risks. Encouraging communication, listening, motivation, discipline, improving the sense of belonging and self-esteem (Langel, T. & Kuczala, M.: page 9).
Reviewing Content: providing multiple review opportunities greatly enhances students understanding and skill level – beginning, middle, & end of lessons (Langel, T. & Kuczala, M.: page 10).
Teaching Content: more is learned when concepts are taught with movement, connecting the body and brain. “Implicit learning activates the body and brain simultaneously so both learning and the retention of the information take place with greater ease (Langel, T. & Kuczala, M.: page 11). Diverse Learners By incorporating movement within your classroom you are better able to teach and reach a more diverse body of students. This includes students on every level of a given subject; your students with attention limitations, English language learners, students of all cultural backgrounds, special education students, etc. Additionally, when using movement you are able to support the three major modalities of learning (visual, auditory, kinesthetic). (Langel & Kuczala, workbook page 11). “Increase understanding and retention
Improve social skills and class cohesion
Increase learner motivation
Provide opportunities for problem solving and higher level thinking
Stimulate the brain/body connection”
(Langel & Kuczala, page 11). By planning regular movement within your classroom you can “wake up learners, increase their energy levels, improve their information storage and retrieval, and help them feel good” (Jensen, page 17). Quick and Easy Transitions & Brain Breaks Classroom cohesion (beginning and throughout the school year).
ball pass/scatter with names, finger snatch, movement in place, clapping, stomping, movement rhythm, quick song All subject areas Body writing (air writing) with a finger, elbow, hip, or a foot – you pick the body part and have students attempt to write their spelling words, vocabulary words, or practice cursive writing .

Ball pass (warm-up activity done in groups).

Using arms/bodies to demonstrate concepts and comprehension –
Geometric terms (parallel and intersecting lines, acute, obtuse, right, straight angles, etc.)
Identifying vertical, horizontal, slanted, and curved lines to create drawings and letters to set the stage for handwriting.
Symmetry: Art and Math. Have students use their bodies to create symmetrical and asymmetrical “Art.”

Reviewing lessons and concepts
Beach ball/balloon volleyball – no score, just answer the questions when the ball stops (all subject areas).
Rotation review – stations around the room where the kids are moving to each and answering questions, discussing, or completing an academic or movement task (they can do specific movements between each station, or just have a few movement activities at several stations. All subject areas).
Using familiar activities
“I have . . . who has . . .?” Having the students move around the room to find their match.
Bingo boards are filled in by recording the answers to questions (that are written on slips of paper with corresponding numbers for each square on the bingo board) and then trading the paper slips with another classmate. The students have to sit in a seat to write their answers and then get up to get a new question.

The Kinesthetic Classroom: Teaching and Learning Through Movement. Gratz College Regional Training Center Class. P.Savannah instructor (Summer 2011)

(Quick explanation about each point, depending on the time and need of my audience, I may demonstrate a few of the activities; finger snatch, etc.). How can I successfully include
more movement opportunities? Take a moment to look around your classroom and evaluate safety concerns.
• Note the placement of furniture and open spaces.
• Note the placement of technology equipment and cords.
• Know your student’s physical abilities and limitations.

Take a few minutes to review expectations, directions, safety, procedures, and consequences everyday when first implementing activities in your classroom.
• Review personal space and practice how to move into and adjust the amount of space needed for different activities.
• Review areas of use (stay behind your desk, a particular area on the floor, personally assigned “movement spaces” around the room, areas that are off limits).
• Having a particular sound to use to indicate when you are moving into and out of movement activities (bell, train whistle, computer noise, etc.).
• Have a clock or timer clearly visible for all to know the allotted time.
• Practice moving into and out of the areas you are going to use.
• Have alternatives (especially for older students). Try a new activity at a time when your kids are most likely to succeed (best time of day, specific class, etc.). You can also try a new activity or practice movement during indoor recess times.

Create a variety of partnering systems (clock partners, groups of 2, 3, 4, 5, for different activities).

Have a back up plan for your movement activity in case it does not work!

(Review and elaborate, provide examples for each.)

Alternatives can include having a student be a time keeper, materials provider/collector, etc. Providing a specific number of opt out opportunities per month/quarter/semester. Your Goals To incorporate more movement activities within your classroom transitions and lessons in order to better engage your students, increase learning and performance, and to foster a healthy lifestyle for our students.
To use at least 1 new transition/brain break activity each week (using a few daily).
To use at least 1 movement activity within your lessons each day. “If students learn better on their feet . . .
then let’s get them out of their seat!”

Traci Lengel References
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