Students pedal down a path to better focus in math by Klye Jones

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I love seeing situations like this happening in classrooms across the nation.  I only hope it continues to catch on.  Here is an introduction to the story:

CHINA, Maine —Instead of going for a bike ride after school, a few kids will take a spin in the middle of a classroom at China Middle School.

During a test day in Josh Lambert’s seventh-grade math class, students were pushing pedals while pushing pencils.

“It makes math class not so boring sometimes,” Hailey Mayo said.

Keeping kids’ attention for almost an hour and a half when you are talking about math can be a challenge, Lambert said.

“School is just a long time to sit and listen to adults tell them what to do,” he said.

Read the rest of  the article:


Taking a Risk: Moving to Manage


I just returned from Orlando.  The sunny, warm weather was a contrast to the chilly, wet weather.  Each time I travel to a conference, I feel exhausted when I return.  I barely had a chance to recover from the AMLE Conference in Columbus, Ohio, before I headed to the KDP Convocation in Florida.  Now, I am recovering from both trips.  I’m not just physically exhausted, but mentally exhausted as well.  I absolutely love the atmosphere of a conference.  I equally love the learning that takes place, but with so many great ideas, practical teaching methods, and integral pieces of research, my mind starts to swirl like the Oz tornado.  Of course, this is all good.  It comes down to moving from a sunny, energetic, stimulating moment to a calmer, cloudier, sit-by-the-fire processing moment.  Even though I am tired, I love both moments.

In reflecting on the KDP Convocation, I was drawn to several topics.  Alex Kajitani commented, “In order for students to be fully engaged, teachers need to be fully engaged.”  This struck me because, too often, I hear teachers either blame the curriculum or blame the students reference class boredom.  It is, however, passion that can create a stimulus for learning.  It is at these times that it may be necessary, as Joel Laguna stated, to, “Let go, be bold, take risks.”  Teaching is a rewarding career, but it teachers should not be tied to a curriculum.  Teachers should have the freedom to illicit student inquiry, as well as their own inquiry regarding the subjects, and classes, they teach.  This can require taking a risk.  We, teachers, need to tear down walls and be willing to put ourselves out there.  We may fail, but we have to give ourselves permission to fail.

Dr. Pasi Sahlberg framed the difficult job of teaching as “Teaching is not rocket science, it is more complicated than that.” Reaching the needs of all students and setting unlimited expectations for all is foundational to our role as educators.  Too often excuses get in the way.  While many of these excuses can be legitimate, we have an important job to conduct.

I think this is why I am advocating for using movement. I took a risk to challenge the status quo of what I had envisioned a productive classroom to look like. I was wrong.  As I continue to grapple with and explore the adolescent mind, it is apparent that movement in the classroom is a critical component to helping students achieve maximum potential in my classroom.  I presented to sessions at KDP:  an edTalk (Moving to Manage), and a workshop (Moving the Reluctant Reader). Teaching is much more than just content.  While it is scary to move thinking beyond standardized testing and content knowledge, it is necessary to keep the needs of the whole child at the forefront of our decision-making process.

Activate the Adolescent Writer


This week I have the opportunity of presenting at the 2015 AMLE Conference in Columbus, Ohio.  I will be presenting a concurrent session and a workshop.  My current session is titled:  Activate the Adolescent Writer.  In this session, I will present ways to use movement activities to help students with the writing process.  Many of the movement strategies can be used in areas beyond writing instruction; however, I have aligned movement with specific writing strategies to help students activate the mind prior to and during the writing process.

One of the activities I will be modeling is titled: Think-Time-Share.  This activity is aligned to a narrative writing prompt that can be used at the beginning of the class period.  Students are shown one or more photos (although it can be any media).  As students study the pictures, they think of sensory language that can be applied to each picture.  After a minute of observation, all students stand.  The instructor asks students to think about a specific picture and a specific sense.  The instructor then tells students to perform an action (running in place) for 30 seconds.  During these 30 seconds, students think about all of the words they related to the identified sense of the picture.  Once the 30 seconds have commenced, students share with a partner, and then volunteers are solicited.  The teacher then picks a different sense and a different action.  Once the students have had a chance to work through each sense, they write a narrative paragraph about the picture.