Spring Is a Verb!
We should all take a cue from this season’s name: spring up from our seats and get moving! Take a break outside or just stand up and do a quick energizer—it will help lessons run more smoothly and increase your students’ engagement and learning. Not sure your class can make an efficient transition from play back to work? Try launching (or ending) a lesson with an academic-focused Morning Meeting group activity, an energizer, or a song that’s related to the topic of the lesson.
If you join in the fun, you get the benefits of play, too. You may find you’re able to think more clearly and execute lessons more effectively. Plus, making time to have fun with the children you teach takes pressure off and can help you stay positive at what’s often a stressful time of year.
When I taught fifth grade, each spring I introduced my students to the skills and rules for playing Ultimate (a game involving a Frisbee). I found that the time it took to introduce a new sport to students was well worth the investment. Once the weather was nice enough to be outside, we’d take breaks during the heavy academic day to practice throwing and catching the disc, learning where the boundaries and endzones were, and practicing defensive and offensive moves. Each day we added a new skill and practiced it, often playing a modified version of the game in the afternoon.
We all reaped the benefits of spending this time playing together. The fresh air and exercise made the students more focused during lessons. Having the opportunity to get blood pumping through my body made me a better teacher, able to articulate my thoughts more clearly. And, by learning a non-competitive game together, we continued to build community at a time of year that is often trying for fifth graders.
On the field, I heard students teaching one another—how to aim the disc, how to catch the disc while running, how to intercept a throw and cause a turnover. The tolerance, patience, and kind words they practiced on the field carried into our classroom, leading to new partnerships at work times, students helping one another with math concepts, and an increase in compliments. Playing Ultimate together allowed us to finish the year feeling like a cohesive team that was ending a successful season.
Sarah Fillion is a Responsive Classroom professional development designer.
Tags: Movement, Playground