Incorporating Purposeful Movement into Science Content Instruction

Although there are many opportunities for students in my STEM class to participate in hands-on activities or move around the room as they collaborate, there are also days when the lesson is pretty teacher centered. I have had to be creative when I plan for these lessons so that I can get students up and moving and refocused.
I think most people would agree that when we exercise, blood flow throughout the body increases. But did you ever stop to think that the blood also flows more to our brains as a result of physical activity? With this increase of blood flow to the brain comes more oxygen which enables our brains to perform better.

Shift to the classroom setting where much of the day (especially in upper elementary and middle school classrooms) is spent sitting at a desk listening and/or taking notes. Why not find ways to incorporate movement into instructional activities in an effort to improve student comprehension and overall concentration?

Although there are many opportunities for students in my STEM class to participate in hands-on activities or move around the room as they collaborate, there are also days when the lesson is pretty teacher centered. I have had to be creative when I plan for these lessons so that I can get students up and moving and refocused.

One strategy I incorporate regularly is the Kagan strategy Mix-Pair-Share. In this class building structure, students "mix" around the room while I play music. When the music stops, they partner up with the person closest to them and share their ideas or answers to a question. I love how this gets my students thinking, moving, and talking to each other about topics that we have been learning about. It also ensures that each student has a chance to share their ideas. Everyone is engaged in the discussion instead of just a handful of students.
Although there are many opportunities for students in my STEM class to participate in hands-on activities or move around the room as they collaborate, there are also days when the lesson is pretty teacher centered. I have had to be creative when I plan for these lessons so that I can get students up and moving and refocused.
A second way I incorporate movement is through the use of hand signals or body movements as a way for checking for student understanding. If I have students respond to a multiple choice question, they may walk to a corner of the room designated as A, B, C, or D based on their answer. Sometimes I simply have them stand up to agree or choose a side of the room. During a review of examples of potential and kinetic energy, I posed several simple scenarios for students to classify. To show me their response, they stood up to represent potential energy (because they are higher above the ground and thus have more gravitational potential energy) and they waved their hands above their heads to represent kinetic energy (because going down the first hill of the roller coaster involves kinetic energy of motion). They got a chance to move AND show their understanding.
Although there are many opportunities for students in my STEM class to participate in hands-on activities or move around the room as they collaborate, there are also days when the lesson is pretty teacher centered. I have had to be creative when I plan for these lessons so that I can get students up and moving and refocused.
I also like to have students complete SCOOT "games" - basically another way to check for understanding - by placing various questions around the room for students to scoot to and answer on a sheet of paper. Rather than a basic independent worksheet that is completed in class, students answer similar questions while moving around the room. I've even had them make observations and identify the physical properties of matter while "scooting" around the room.
Although there are many opportunities for students in my STEM class to participate in hands-on activities or move around the room as they collaborate, there are also days when the lesson is pretty teacher centered. I have had to be creative when I plan for these lessons so that I can get students up and moving and refocused.
Although there are many opportunities for students in my STEM class to participate in hands-on activities or move around the room as they collaborate, there are also days when the lesson is pretty teacher centered. I have had to be creative when I plan for these lessons so that I can get students up and moving and refocused.

Finally, every teacher recognizes that students aren't able to focus on content learning every second of every day. Even as an adult, I find my mind wandering and my attention drifting during especially long meetings. Using physical activity breaks in the classroom helps students get ready to learn and remember information better.

I use the activities in this set of Brain Breaks for Bigger Kids to get my students up and moving. To refocus them. To encourage them to think in a different way. To reward them for good behavior. I will even leave the cards for a substitute teacher as "filler activities". (My students LOVE that if they complete the assignment given by the sub they can have a brain break at the end of class!)
Although there are many opportunities for students in my STEM class to participate in hands-on activities or move around the room as they collaborate, there are also days when the lesson is pretty teacher centered. I have had to be creative when I plan for these lessons so that I can get students up and moving and refocused.
 Although there are many opportunities for students in my STEM class to participate in hands-on activities or move around the room as they collaborate, there are also days when the lesson is pretty teacher centered. I have had to be creative when I plan for these lessons so that I can get students up and moving and refocused.
Some of the ideas are simple (or even common), but I find that by having a set of ready-to-go brain breaks on a ring I am more likely to flip through the cards and actually USE them on a daily basis. And that's the point, right?

What other ways do YOU find to incorporate movement into your lessons?

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