When I first started using movement in my classroom, I noticed the number of discipline problems decreased. Of course, this belief was based almost purely on my observations. Since students seemed to be more focused after participating in physical movement activities, I continued to figure out ways to use movement in my lessons. When I started to research for my dissertation, I was able to locate various studies that supported my observations.
Several studies examined the effects physical active classroom lessons on on-task behavior (Evenson, Ballard, Lee, & Ammerman, 2009; Grieco, Jowers, & Bartholomew, 2009; Mahar et al., 2006). Students participated in daily lessons. These lessons included 10-15 minutes of content-based activities consisting of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Student behavior was observed following participation in the activities, and in each study, time on task behavior increased. Increasing on-task behavior during academic instruction has the potential to decrease disruptive behavior (Grieco et al., 2009). When students are not experiencing disruptive behavior, whether they are participating in it themselves or they are witnessing it in others around them, they have the potential to learn more efficiently because they are in a more positive learning environment.
When teachers decide to use physical activity lessons in their classrooms, they become energized when they notice improved classroom behavior. The increased excitement not only inspires them, but also transfers to their students. Teachers that I have been in contact with, in my building or through workshops I have presented, have raved about the success they have had after using movement activities. The questions that they have raised include:
How do I use movement more frequently?
How do I transition in and out of movement activities?
How can I utilize movement and not take away from the content that I am teaching?
What do I do with students who don’t want to participate?
They seem to be more focused, but do the activities actually help with learning?
I hope to explore these questions in future posts.