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Beyond Movement Breaks: Making Learning a Moving Experience

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jen_ eye

on 8 November 2013

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Transcript of Beyond Movement Breaks: Making Learning a Moving Experience

Beyond Exercise Breaks: Making Learning a Moving Experience
Hidden Gems Part 1: Healing Trauma, Building Resiliency
Trauma is anything that happens to us that is so overwhelming that we are unable to bounce back. Being traumatized means that our nervous system is “stuck” somewhere in the activation-deactivation cycle of the fight-flight-freeze response. This results in our nervous system becoming dysregulated, unable to come back into a balanced state where we can socially engage and learn.
Hidden Gems Part 2: 21st-Century Skills and Movement for Movement's Sake
Dance brings the elements of kinesthetic learning together with the benefits of arts integration - including social-emotional learning and "21st-century skills."
Making Movement Work:
Relaxed Focus -
and the Secret to Finding More Time?

Practical Suggestions
Some of the smartest things teachers can do are the simplest. When we keep students active, we keep their energy levels up and provide their brains with the oxygen-rich blood needed for highest performance. Teachers who insist that students remain seated during the entire class period are not promoting optimal conditions for learning.

"Relax to Focus"
by Martha Eddy:
Neurodevelopmental movement patterns
Calming, focusing
Takes about 5 minutes
How do you like to move? What helps you feel calm and focused?
Eric Jensen points out that play, recess, and physical education are essential for many brain-based (biological) reasons:

• It allows learners to make mistakes without “lethal” consequences (with far less embarrassment and more fun than in a traditional classroom situation).

• It enhances learning (Fordyce & Wehner, 1993).

• It can enhance social skills, emotional intelligence, and conflict resolution ability.

• Exercise may increase brain chemicals such as norepinephrine and dopamine, which typically serve to energize and elevate mood (Chaouloff, 1989).

• It improves the ability to handle stress by “training” the body to recover faster from the quick surges of adrenaline associated with demanding physical activity . . . and classroom environments.

• It triggers the release of a natural substance that enhances cognition by boosting the neurons' ability to communicate with one another.

"Educators should purposefully integrate movement activities into everyday learning: not just hands-on classroom activities, but also daily stretching, walks, dance, drama, seat-changing, energizers, and physical education. The whole notion of using only logical thinking in, for example, a mathematics class flies in the face of current brain research" (Eric Jensen). “Classroom teachers should have kids move for the same reason that P.E. teachers have had kids count” (Larry Abraham, Department of Kinesiology, University of Texas-Austin).
Goal setting on the move.
Drama and role-plays.
Quick games.
Cross-laterals and stretching
Physical education and recess:
30 minutes a day, 3-5 days per week
Eric Jensen writes, "The breaks must last for 30 or 40 minutes to maximize the cognitive effects. For breaks of that length, it may make sense to alternate highly challenging activities with more relaxing ones. A short recess arouses students and may leave them “hyper” and less able to concentrate. A longer break engages high energy, but it cannot be sustained. Thus, a more calm, restful state of relaxation should follow. This pattern allows the students to focus better on the task at hand."
Kinesthetic Learning, Engaged Learning
Before computers or even books existed, children learned mostly through movement.
Kinesthetic Learning is Experiential Learning
“Movement anchors thought.” - Karla Hannaford

Cerebellum research tells us, “What makes us move, makes us think.”

Memory is “retrieved better when learned through movement,” and "85% of students are kinesthetic learners." - Jean Blaydes

“Almost all children of poverty rely on kinesthetic strengths for learning.” - Ruby Payne, author of A Framework for Understanding Poverty
Teachers can learn to tune into their own body sensations throughout the day, as a way to stay calm and regulated.
"Who is in Front of the Classroom?"
• We are more able to step back and stay calm and effective when students become dysregulated (such as with defiance, shutting down, and passive-aggressive behaviors).

• We feel more calm, effective and less vulnerable to taking student behavior personally, so we feel more at ease in our work.

• Students’ nervous systems can be helped back into balance simply by being in the presence of a calm, regulated adult.
• We can avoid triggering or increasing symptoms of fight, flight or freeze in our students by not engaging in power struggles, or becoming out-of-control angry or anxious. Instead we can help them move through a stuck state by stepping back, being clear, firm and neutral. We can also show empathy or repair shame, if and when that is appropriate.
The most powerful tools we have for communicating with our students’ nervous systems are our bodies, faces and voices. The way we use our body, face and voice tone to communicate with students is often more important than what we say.
-- Example - Use of the "Break Chair" - Punitive or Neutral?
Beneficial Tools:
Beneficial activities include those that include some of the following elements:
(These elements would ideally be woven into activities that also support academic goals.)
• Social engagement, face-to-face, enjoyment of others
• Turn-taking
• Bringing more energy into the body through fun, play or movement
• Calming or resting, especially as a return to regulation after excitement
• Activating energy and excitement and then calming can help practice the activation-deactivation cycle
Somatic Awareness:
Self-observation/tracking sensations
Finding on-the-spot moments for students to briefly notice their own body sensations change, and then come back into regulation, such as after recess, when there’s a loud noise, or when something startling or exciting happens.
We can also model self-awareness of our own “experiencing,” for example verbalizing a think-aloud: “I notice that when that door slammed, my body changed – my throat got tighter, my breathing changed, and my shoulders tensed. You might also notice changes in your bodies. Just notice whatever you’re experiencing – where you might feel tense or loose or strong, or warm or cool, or what you feel in your breathing or throat…. and then see what happens next. You could ask yourself, what’s happening now?”

It's important for students to realize that feelings can change pretty quickly, if we just pay a little attention to them.
Body-Based Violence Prevention
Break Chair:
A non-punitive, neutral break chair can help students become aware of when they need to become calm again, and help them learn to do this.
When talking about an anti-violence curriculum, Maggie Kline asserts that she knows of “nothing better” than noticing about how one’s body feels and how it can change.
All students benefit from daily and/or regular practice in becoming aware of their somatic experiences (body sensations). Such self-observation and tracking sensations can be a calming practice, and it also supports the development of integration and empathy in our brains and nervous systems. (wow!)

Academic Review (in place of a worksheet?): Sparkle, Counting off, Assessment Activity
Concepts: Patterning, Paying Attention, Social-Emotional Skills like Self-Control
Three Ways to Build Memory
What did you think of these lessons? Notice? Wonder?

What was surprising about these lessons?

What might you do differently?

What might make kinesthetic learning challenging to implement?

What might benefit you and your students, in your classroom right now?
What are 21st-Century Skills?
"Few of us could disagree that today’s students must be taught the necessary skills to function in an increasingly complex, conceptual, and globalized 21st-century society and economy. Students have to acquire so-called 'habits of mind' that will enable them to develop the skills of creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving. In addition, they must be able to communicate effectively, collaborate with people different from themselves, exercise initiative, and be self-directed" (Bruce D. Taylor, Director of Education, Washington National Opera, in Edweek, 2/2010
One Idea for Dance in the Classroom:
Movement with Poetry
The spirit likes to dress up like this...
by Mary Oliver
Standing Partner-Share:
Why move in our classrooms?
What do movement, dance, games and body awareness contribute to our students' engagement and learning?
What would you want movement to be like in your classoom? For What purposes?
Space (also "personal bubble" or "kinesphere")
Tone - Fun or Serious?
What if I don't want to move?
Voice - Noticing, Describing, Reflecting
Students can demonstrate - they may have their own movement experiences to share - football stretches, cheers, made-up movements...
Benefits of Trying:
Possible challenges:
surprise and excitement from students, especially if they're not used to moving in class
giggling at unfamiliarity, or at the idiosyncrasies of our bodies
Not sure how students' bodies and nervous systems might respond to different experiences -
How might we handle these challenges? What might we gain from trying something anyway? How can we help each other?
"Movement is exploratory and can shift a classroom climate from controlled to more open-ended. This can feel risky at times. With the proper management, however, movement can stimulate greater creativity, communication, and ease in learning" (Martha Eddy).
Have awareness of what can be challenging about movement (e.g. accidents, giggling about the body and its idiosyncracies, too much too soon, disorderly)
•Teach and Model What is Comfortable for You: Know your own movement preferences – what you LIKE to do, how you enjoy moving.

Set clear frameworks:
clear time frames
limit space, maybe use place holders (‘sitting spots’)
clear language, defining expectations
using our reminding, reinforcing and redirecting teacher language
maybe involve learners in developing community guidelines for movement?
Excerpts from Jean Blaydes' dvd, How to Make Learning a Moving Experience
tableaux for story structure
a vision of what "dance" might mean to us?
One way is through words and numbers ("semantic memory").

This is the weakest form of memory.
Another way is through the place and time you learned something ("episodic memory").

The is a stronger form of memory.
A third way is through body movement, like remembering how to ride a bike or knit ("muscle memory" or "procedural memory".)

This is the strongest form of memory.
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