Moving Quietly to Engage

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I teach on the second floor.  When I first started having students move in the classroom, I panicked because I knew the teacher below me would hear my students moving around.  This feeling often echoes in the back of my mind as I get students up an moving in my classroom.  This is on my mind today because I overheard another teacher ask if her kids were too loud earlier today.  This comment was in reference to the fact that she had students participating in a movement activity.  The teacher in the room below her had no problem with the movement.  There are a couple of thoughts I have regarding this situation.

My first thought revolves around respect.  I think it is important for teachers to let other teachers know that they are using movement in their classrooms, how long the movement activities will last, and if there are days when it is absolutely necessary for a quiet classroom (like a test day).  This builds respect for both teachers involved.  It is hard to be on the second floor because having students simply walk around can cause noise disruptions to the class below.

The second thought is it is important for teachers to pick movement activities responsibly with the surrounding teachers in mind.  For example, if I want students to jog in place, I tell them that they can not have their feet leave the floor.  If I want them to march in place, I demonstrate how to do so in a quiet manner.  I often tell students that when we move we are to do so as quietly as we can. This provides them with an extra challenge.  If we are taking notes around the room, students are not allowed to make any type of noise.  If we are jogging in place, students are quietly listening to question prompts and processing information.

Movement is important.  The teacher I overheard today also mentioned how engaged her students were during the movement activity, and how important is was for them to get out of theirs seats.  Even though some may see a movement classroom as chaotic, it can actually be a very safe, engaging, and organized environment.

picture credits: http://www.riskmanagementmonitor.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/quiet.jpg

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Flipping and Moving

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http://edreach.us/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Flipped-Classroom.jpg

I have been answering a number of questions in my building about the flipped classroom experience.  I must admit that I am still a novice since this is only my second year treading the waters of the great flipped adventure.  As with many flipped classroom models, I often use my flipped classroom lessons as an opportunity for students to study information about a topic, strategy or skill that we will be practicing, revising, perfecting, or embracing in future class periods.  I am beginning to add a twist by having students perform some type of physical activity warm-up prior to watching the flipped classroom videos or reading the flipped classroom articles.  Of course, I have not real way of knowing whether or not students are participating in the physical activity, but I know that if they do, there is a potential for them to be more alert while they are completing the lessons at home.  For example, I might give them the task of doing jumping jacks for 1 minute before they begin to take notes.  Or, I might build in mini-movement activities in videos I create to help them energize prior to the mentioning of important terms or concepts.

Calendars, Rural Life, and Something New

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Welcome 2014!

I always look forward to a new year whether it is a new school year or a new year I get to change a calendar for. One of the traditions of my parents is to collect free calendars from local businesses prior to our large family gathering during the holidays.  The calendars are then put on the table for the rest of us to sort through and pick which ones we would like to take back to our respective homes.  There are so many calendars that all of the grandchildren can sort through them as well.  What I like about this tradition is how each person examines the pictures of the calendars to determine what he or she wants to look at each day of the year.  Some look for quotes and others look for an appealing picture during the birthday month.

Calendars are often inspiring, catering to the interests of those who select to view them.  This year my family ended up choosing a patriotic calendar, one of picturesque rivers across the U.S., and one that depicts the life of rural America.  Perhaps it is my rural upbringing, but I find the pictures in these calendars rather soothing.  Unfortunately, the visual calendars that my family sorts through is moving closer to becoming obsolete as people rely heavily on calendars linking to their computers or phones.  Many are willing to let the traditional calendars be replaced with the high-tech versions, others can’t stand to let the physical page-turning object out of their site, and others, much like myself, enjoy both.

I think this calendar experience if very similar to teaching.  When teachers think about their colleagues, they can identify those who are willing to try something new in lieu of traditional methods, they can easily spot educators who will accept nothing but what they have always done, and they can marvel as those who embrace the teeter-totter world of both.

Thinking about the calendar analogy had given me the opportunity to reflect on my movement crusade.  Of course there are teachers who are willing to embrace the movement idea and add all sorts of movement activities in their classrooms.  I applaud these teachers and know that they will find some success with the approach.  There are teachers who are too nervous, or unsure of the application in their classrooms, to try movement activities, so they opt out of doing so.  Again, I applaud these teachers because I know they are doing amazing things in their classrooms.  And, finally, there are teachers who are combine teaching strategies they know to be effective with movement activities that they will realize also to be effective.  Obviously, since I consider myself as falling into this category, I give an enthusiastic applause for these teachers.  I think these teachers are the type that think through the teaching process and look for reasons effective strategies work for students.  Still, some teachers do this and realize that movement activities are not what they believe is right for their classrooms.  I believe it is a process most will come to love, but if it doesn’t work for some, the students will still learn!  I just happen to be a strong believer in the positive outcomes I have seen and researched.

One of the movement activities I  plan on using this year is based on a calendar.  This activity is used as a review of the week.  There are a couple of ways to complete this activity.  One way this activity can be used is to print out the days of the week (Monday-Friday) with one day printed on a single sheet of paper.  Two copies of each day are distributed to ten random students.  One the back of each day, a list of activities, terms, or various contents is listed based on what was covered on the specific date.  The remaining students receive a blank sheet of paper.  At the teacher’s signal, students with the blank sheets of paper walk mingle throughout the room locating a day of the week.  In pairs, they review the day of the week with the person holding the day of the week sign.  The pairs write down what was covered on the day with the day of the week person checking their work.  If the pairs have information not included on the day of the week sign, it is added.  Midway through the activity the roles are switched.  This can be done a third time to give each person a chance to be the day of the week person.

A variation of this activity is to hang large poster around the room with the days of the week printed at the top.  Students then walk around the room with post-it notes and identify what was covered each day.  These poster could stay posted for an entire unit with students adding information each day of the unit.