Active Learning Update: Brecht Elementary School
Karen Quinn, Active Learning Specialist, Grade 3
We have experiences within our school to prove that activity supports productivity in the classroom so this was not a hard sell. Next, I researched and presented a variety of techniques, strategies and activities –just a few brief minutes -at each monthly faculty meeting. The goal was to provide practical ways to embed productive activity into an already existing curriculum and pacing guide and provide accommodations across grade levels and abilities. I wanted it to seem natural.To take this to another level, I needed to generate funds for classrooms and additional practical materials that inspire rigorous movement while learning. Manheim Township Education Foundation (MTEF) supported our plan: Active Learning Equals Student Engagement by providing $789 for a customized k-4 package, Energy for Learning Tool Kit from Fizika Group. The kit contained activities and tools that teachers can use to promote physical activity while learning. For example, some items include alphabet bean bags, numbered disks, large math cubes, a physical BINGO, Skillastics.
As the year progressed, physical activity became increasingly linked to the classroom. Physical breaks became a natural intervention for specific students. Students walk briskly, with an adult and come back to class with a clear mindset and ready to try again. Personally, I embedded activity into my annual goal. My math students monitored their academic performance on basic fact tests by comparing their scores with and without rigorous exercise. Whether our increased performance related to random assignment, or skill tested, we all agree that physical activity did not hamper our performance and most like supported increased scores. Students continue to exercise rigorously prior to longer math tests and feel that small breaks and longer spurts of activity promote stamina. We have fun rotating the activity dice amongst teams while testing.
Finally, as a school, we’ve incorporated an idea, Move It, where teachers and students begin the day together walking briskly outside for approximately 15. This is fun, generates positivity, and promotes camaraderie. Next year, I envision my team matching activities to specific learning needs. Now that we are all moving, we can continue to enhance classroom performance and climate by individualizing active learning strategies and techniques.