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Thursday, September 1, 2016

If a Kinesthetic Classroom is Good Enough for Third-Graders...

Time spent on book: 2 hours, still more to go
What I did: Intro. Having brilliant ideas that seem less brilliant as I go
Grade for the day: Pending


Do you say "War Eagle" or "Roll Tide" in Wetumpka, Alabama? I'm not sure. But this video made me want to find out (because getting it wrong would end badly).

Here's the story...
A Wetumpka Elementary School teacher is keeping her students attention by encouraging them to bounce and move.  In Shay Nobles' third grade class, there are exercise balls for chairs and bikes instead of desks. It's the first kinesthetic class in the region....
"If you are moving, you are retaining much more information and much research shows after you exercise, you are much more able to focus," Nobles said. "So when they come in and they are sitting there peddling, they aren't focused on what's happening around them. They are focused on what is in front of them or what I'm saying. So I think it's helped their attention span a lot." 
So if it's good enough for third-graders, is it good enough for college students? Probably.

A while back, I reflected on Del Doughty's article on taking his class for a walk. Shortly after this, my old friend John Granger alerted me to something called Total Physical Response (TPR).

As I understand it, TPR is a teaching method pioneered by James Asher, and it focuses on making physical movement part of language acquisition. This has been expanded in some circles to TPRS: Teaching Proficiency Through Reading and Storytelling. So interactive storytelling as part of the process of adopting a new language.

Appropriately enough, this reminds me of John's kids.

When I met John Granger, we were both stationed in Okinawa. I lived on base and he lived in town with his family. Once day I was impressed to see his eldest daughter (who was 5 or 6 at the time) conversing with her Japanese-speaking playmates just as easily as if they were English-speaking. She wasn't taking lessons or anything. She was just playing. And she figured it out.

All of this has me thinking more about the connection between teaching, mind, and movement, between what we do with our bodies and how we sort through information.

I have long been conditioned to think of learning as something that we need to be seated to do. "Let's sit down and talk about this chapter." Just saying this sends soporific waves through my classrooms. Heads bounce off desks before I even open the text. Sure, they're probably not getting enough sleep.

But maybe it's time to "move through" a book or an idea.

It's worth a try. Heck, I've got a pair of elementary schoolers at home. I'll check with them--because they're the authority.

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