Sitting Still All Day…..Shouldn’t be the Norm

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I recently read through a number of facebook posts regarding parents who were upset because their elementary school-aged children were being asked to remain seated for a majority of their school day.  In addition, some of these parents were outraged because their children had limited recess opportunities.  I was a bit skeptical.  I’m not an elementary school teacher, and I don’t plan on entertaining that idea.  I have a great deal of respect for those that each elementary. With that said, I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that students would be required to remain stationary for long periods of time.

On the other hand, I have heard students and parents say that in the upper elementary school grades, teachers are preparing students for what they perceive a middle school classroom looks like.  While it may be the norm to some classes and teachers, I can’t image staying seated all day, every day in the middle school classroom, so how can elementary school students be asked to do so?

Parents were not necessarily upset by having students sit all day, but they were upset when their children were getting in trouble for not sitting still.  This is where I have a problem with the situation.  People need to move.  Teachers who sit in an inservice all day will find it hard to sit through an hour of a presentation with engaging in some sort of movement, so young children, who have limited attention spans, should have several scheduled moments throughout the day where they get up and move.

The summer is great time for teachers, adults, and the greater community to realize the importance of getting children moving.  When looking at my own children, I understand that I can’t sit them down and tell them not to move for several minutes or hours.  How awful if I actually did so!  Throughout the day they are exploring, entertaining themselves and others through play, running, swimming, laughing, and learning!

If young children are full of vibrant squirrelliness and are getting punished for it, it may be that they simply need more time to get up and move.  If teachers approach behavior in this way, what was once a negative attribute may blossom into something positive.  I am not suggesting that this will be the cure to what needs to be disciplined, but it is worth a shot.

I love my elementary school teachers, and I know they are doing wonderful things in their classrooms.  I also love my friends who have elementary school children.  I know they also appreciate the amazing teachers their children have.  I also know pressure from state standards are mounting and educators are struggling to meet the demands; however, it is important to keep the whole child in mind.  This is especially true for the youngest ones as school should be a great opportunity filled with wonder, excitement, love, joy, and a lust for learning.

Even a little movement is better than no movement!

 

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Visual Vocabulary Internalization

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Vocabulary building is an important skill students need.  Using visual cues  and repetition to help students learn and acquire vocabulary leads to powerful instruction and recall.  This movement activity involves photographs, vocabulary words, and standing/sitting action.

Before a teacher conducts this activity, it will be important to choose at least ten vocabulary words students have been studying.  For each vocabulary word, a picture is delicately and deliberately chosen to represent the meaning of the word.  It is important that the image truly can represent the word and cannot be mistaken for another vocabulary word.

To begin this activity, student are seated in their desks.  The teacher says a vocabulary word and begins a power point slide show (or something similar) showing the picture assigned to the vocabulary words.  When students see a picture that matches the definition of the word spoken, they stand up.  A short discussion occurs explaining why the picture matches (or does not match) the spoken work.  Students return to the seated position and the teacher reads the next word and continues to scroll through the power point.

This activity could be done as a formative assessment to test students prior to and after learning the words.