At Quibbletown Middle School we are trying to create a healthier overall school environment. Our 2015-2016 school year has started and we are off to a great start! Coming into the school year we introduced a few new ideas in an effort to keep our students active and moving outside of their regular physical education classes. As a teaching staff we first brainstormed some possible new ideas and eventually came up with two pretty cool ways to get our kids going. One was a no-brainer and the other raised (and still raises) quite a few eyebrows!
Brain Breaks and Energizers
Our first and simplest idea was the implementation of more brain breaks and energizers throughout the school day. Not all of our teachers are onboard yet, but this year we’ve convinced more teachers to embrace the value of integrating brief periods of physical activity into the classroom than in the past. To encourage buy-in, the school’s physical education teachers have offered to tailor these brain breaks and energizers towards specific classes and subject matter.
For example, some of our social studies teachers have taken their classes on virtual field trips. These trips have students standing in their classrooms and climbing the Great Wall of China, then swimming to Australia where upon arrival they hop like kangaroos, and so on! While moving the students continue to get information on each of these continents during their global studies unit. GoNoodle has also been a very useful tool for us when trying to get our students active during their non-physical education classes. Teachers can sign up at www.gonoodle.com and create class lists where groups can compete against one another to see who has the most moving minutes. There are several types of channels with different activities and methods of movement that are sure to keep kids interested. Anything and everything from Zumba to running steeplechase races are available for free to teachers.
Replacing Desks with Yoga Mats
Next up was a much bigger and far riskier endeavor. Every 6-weeks we needed to find a way to keep our students moving during their 2-weeks of classroom health instruction. Instead of them being inactive during that time, we decided to get a little creative and find an inventive way of getting them moving. We needed to think outside the box a bit, so we decided to remove all of the desks and chairs from our health room and replace them with yoga mats. I must admit that my administration initially looked at me as if I had completely lost it, but after I had an opportunity to explain my idea and thought process they became more supportive.
We now have the option of starting our classes doing a few minutes of yoga poses, a yoga brain break, or both! I enjoy starting my class by introducing some light yoga moves and then revisiting them as a brain-break half way through our 60-minute health class. So far this year we have introduced some movements that we as teachers like and others that are a bit more challenging. Now we allow the students to pick our movements for the day. The yoga mats also help the students focus on their posture while sitting on the floor. The only rule is, no lying down (unless of course we’re working on a laying yoga pose). So far our students have embraced the changes and seem eager to learn new movements in the classroom.