The idea that students who are sitting still and intensely focused on their work are learning more is behind us. Research makes it abundantly clear that movement and learning are connected. In fact, movement is not only healthier for students, it improves their success rates.

A recent NY Times article entitled Why Kids Shouldn’t Sit Still in Class discusses the growing scientific evidence that brief activity breaks during the day help children learn.  In fact, according to the article, “A 2013 report from the Institute of Medicine concluded that children who are more active ‘show greater attention, have faster cognitive processing speed and perform better on standardized academic tests than children who are less active.’”

In a recent post, GettingSmart shares that “As we think strategically about how to structure next-gen classrooms, the word ‘active’ belongs in the vocab list alongside blended, personalized, project-based, and many others. Teachers and administrators are making movement an hourly part of the instructional day, not only to benefit classroom culture and student health, but to make learning more effective.”

When thinking about movement in the classroom, consider these key questions:

  • Can I easily make enough space?
  • Am I including everyone?
  • Are the students engaged?
  • Is my classroom environment going to help or get in the way?

There are a number of websites with interesting ideas for activities. Here are a few:

Anne Green Gilbert of John’s Hopkins summarizes it best. “Movement is the key to learning.” So ask yourself: is my classroom environment ready to help my students get active? Furniture that is easy to move and configure can eliminate delays, disruptions, and confusion as students move from one learning mode to another—including active breaks.

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