Students work the same way. In fact, in his book The Highly Engaged Classroom, Robert J. Marzano cautions, “If our emotions are negative in that moment, we are less likely to engage in new activities or challenging tasks.” Every day, as teachers at one of the most rigorous charter systems in the country, we ask our students to engage in difficult work. While we cannot control all the emotions children bring into our classrooms, we can impact their feelings once they enter our doors.
One concrete, fun way to influence the mood of students in your classroom is by raising their level of activity by incorporating movement into your daily lessons. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
Movement to Lift Energy: If you have tight transitions and feel comfortable instituting solid routines and procedures, consider adding—
- A “stretch break” that allows students to stand and stretch between parts of the lesson cycle. This physical movement will promote the flow of blood and oxygen to your students’ brains, combating lethargy and helping them focus.
- A “rehearsal” that asks students to stand and repeat important information aloud in a way that will help them remember a key term or concept.
Movement that Furthers Understanding of Content: Energize your lesson and help students actively process using one of the following strategies—
- Give One, Get One: Pairs of students compare their understanding of specific information. First, students stand and find a partner. Then they work together to review notes on the topic of the current lesson. In doing so, they will compare notes in order to give insight and gain a new perspective. Partners should also be encouraged to generate questions for the teacher to answer.
- Voting With Your Feet/Human Graph: Students can move to a different part of the room to signify their response to a question or discuss a question, and chart their response. This works best with multiple choice questions (corners of the room) and Yes/No, Agree/Disagree, or True/False questions.
- Tableau: Ask students to use their bodies, either individually or in groups, to represent abstract or concrete content, or to physically represent the meaning of new vocabulary.