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Fun Teaching Strategies that Integrate Movement

Janelle Cox

How often do you find your students fidgeting in their seats, irritable and anxious to get up? Every day there is more and more research that confirms there is a connection between learning and movement. Back in the day, in a traditional classroom, students would spend the majority of their day sitting in their seats.

In today’s classrooms, because current research shows that physical activity increases blood flow, which can be related to enhanced learning, teachers are using teaching strategies to get their students up and moving a lot more.

If you are preparing a lesson that looks sedentary, then try and integrate some kind of movement into it. Here are a few teaching strategies that can change a lesson with minimal to know movement, into a lesson with a lot of movement.

Teaching Strategies: Learning Stations

Learning stations, or as some educators call them learning “Centers,” are mostly a staple in early elementary grades. However, as much as they are effective in elementary grades, they are just as effective in the older grades. Here’s why.

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First of all they can be differentiated so that all students are working at their own level. This is great because you know that you are meeting the needs of all students.

Secondly, learning stations can be whatever you want them to be. For example, if you want students to work on math, then you can have several different math stations where students “Move” through each station to complete each task. If you want students to work on persuasive essays, then you can have students “Move” from station to station completing different forms of this topic. Stations are a great way to get students up and moving, and you also have the option to let students stand to complete their task.

Gallery Walks

Gallery walks are becoming quite popular in classrooms lately. During a “Gallery walk,” students explore multiple texts or images that are placed around the classroom. Teachers often use this strategy as a way to expose their students to different texts as well as a way for students to share their work with their peers. This strategy is especially helpful for kinesthetic learners because students are moving about the classroom.

Chalk Talks

The chalk talk strategy is much like a gallery walk, except students talk with the chalk. You can also have students do a gallery walk/chalk talk where they walk around the classroom reading text that is placed around the room, then write their response underneath the text with their chalk. You can also pose a question on the front board and have several students come to the board to talk with their chalk to answer or give their opinion of the question. Both teaching strategies are a great way to integrate movement into your lessons.

Musical Mingle

Think of this movement strategy as a game of musical chairs, except in this activity when the music stops, students must discuss the problem, question, or statement that was posed by the teacher with the person that is the closest to them. This get-up-and-go activity can be used with any sedentary lesson that you may have. For example, let’s say that you were conducting a reading lesson, which usually never involves movement. You can incorporate some movement by playing musical mingle. Students can discuss the text your reading or answer a literary question all while being up and moving about.

Interactive Boards

Mini chalkboards, or whiteboards, are a great way to change up your lessons and get students moving. Whatever your lesson may be, you can integrate an interactive board to it. You can pose a question and have students intermingle in a small group then write down their opinion on a board. Or, you can have students write down their answer on their mini board then move to a preselected area in the classroom. There are many options that you can do with interactive boards to get your students moving about in your classroom.

Class Debate

Teachers have been using the “Debate” strategy to get their students up and moving for years. The way it works is that the teacher poses a question that really gets students thinking. Then, students must formulate their opinion to be either for or against the question. Once they have made their opinion, they go to a specific side of the classroom where they stand with their team and discuss their opinion. Then, students on both sides of the classroom take turns debating the issue that was presented.

If you find that your students are doing too much sitting at any point in the day, then try to integrate one of these strategies into your lesson. Any way that you can increase their physical activity so that the oxygen in their blood can increase will be a great benefit to your students’ learning. 

How do you integrate movement into your lessons? Have you tried any of the above strategies in your classroom? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below, we would love to hear your ideas.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.