Keep Your Class Moving!

Keep Your Class Moving!

Photograph by Jeff Woodward.It’s 1:30 in the afternoon, and our class is preparing for language arts block. Recess and lunch seem like hours ago, and we still have an entire content area left to teach. As my co-teacher and I begin to set up for the lesson, we notice Jenna rocking in her seat, Daniel tapping his pencil incessantly, and Christian gone—signed out to use the restroom yet again. Suddenly we realize what all these bothersome behaviors have in common: movement.

Moving to Learn

As we talked over our observations, my co-teacher and I reminded each other how important movement is to humans—especially children. Movement increases oxygen and blood flow, enhancing alertness and helping students keep bodies and minds engaged in the task at hand. That engagement helps reduce off-task behaviors, which makes classroom management easier. And because movement activities can be fun and engaging for all members of the class, they help create a positive learning community. Plus, movements included during a lesson can actually reinforce the skills being taught. Far from interfering with learning, then, movement actually increases it.

Finding Ways to Incorporate Movement

After that bumpy afternoon, we dedicated ourselves to giving our students more opportunities to be active throughout the day, every day. When they’ve been sitting too long, we offer a quick energizer for a brain and body break. We add extra movement as we transition from one activity to another. And we build movement right into many of our lessons, using it to preview, teach, or review a skill.

To get you started, here’s a language arts activity that you can easily adapt to fit your own grade level. Have fun, and keep moving and learning!

Editing with Energy


Find or create sentences or paragraphs with incorrect grammar.

How to do it:
  1. Display a sentence/paragraph (or make copies for each student).
  2. Explain the problem with the writing; for example: “This writing has no marks of punctuation or capitalization. Let’s edit it together.”
  3. Read (or have a student read) the writing aloud as the class looks and listen for errors.
  4. Ask students what types of errors they notice and make corrections to the chart in a bright color.
  5. Brainstorm possible movements for each correction (see ideas, below).
  6. Chorally reads the message aloud. As you point to each edit, the class performs the associated movement.
Suggested editing movements:

Feel free to devise your own movements or brainstorm some with your class. Students can use the movement chart for other editing lessons and for peer editing during writing workshop.

Capitalize a letter: Raise hands above head
Add period: Squat and bend knees to chest
Add comma: Squat; then raise and curl right hand
Add exclamation mark: Jump up and then stomp feet
Add question mark: Raise both arms and curl hands to left
Add apostrophe: Stand on toes; raise right arm and bend it at elbow
Insert quotation marks: Raise hands and bend left and right index finger

Tags: Movement