Reading and Exercising
Reading and exercising should be a part of the school curriculum in order to maximize opportunities for student success. The Department of Education has introduced a project to get students reading and exercising called the Let’s Read! Let’s Move! Summer Series. A tool for thinking about fitness with your students was presented this week in a video featuring Cornell McClellan, the First Family’s Nutrition and Fitness Trainer. He was speaking to Secretary Arne Duncan about youth reading, eating well, and exercising. While at first glance it seems a bit awkward to combine both ideas, this program provides a new way for teachers to consider how to get their students moving and eating better.
From personal experience we know that movement increases students heart rate and circulation, so naturally this will help improve student performance. In the video the participants are reading the Hungry Caterpillar, but that story won’t be effective with most grades beyond early elementary. A great book for teachers who work with adolescents is Teenage Fitness: Get Fit, Look Good, and Feel Great! by Kathy Kaehler. This book talks about changing ideas about your body type, general fitness, and eating well for young people. This is a targeted book that talks about healthy choices in teen-aged diet and exercise. Reading excerpts from this book in your classroom might get your students in a mindset to be healthy during the next school year.
How can teachers fit in movement during regular classes during the content that they teach? Add opportunities as you plan your lessons. If you teach science, plan for some of the experiments to be physical experiences like testing soil, identifying species of trees, or team experiments to get students moving as they explore your topic. If space allows consider building a school garden. Just about any class can benefit from a scavenger hunt to find things that students can bring into their experiments or refer to as they write. These opportunities will also inspire the naturalistic learners in our class groupings. Improvised conversations and scene work between historical characters in social studies classes provide cooperative opportunities to rehearse and move around with a partner. Math teachers can have students measure and design building projects preparing students for engineering and architecture professions. Teach fencing techniques, movement games, outdoor film projects, and choral movement with drama and Language Arts students. Don’t worry about students being too old to participate, because 12th graders love these activities as much as elementary students. Students love to move – we just have to figure out how to connect what we are reading and writing to incorporate physical activities.
Teachers should plan opportunities for their students to enjoy both reading and exercising as frequently as possible. If you are looking for more ways to get students moving in the classroom check out a the quick print resource link below for more ideas about movement in the classroom written by Dr. Martha Eddy of the Center for Kinesthetic Education. No matter what content you teach, make it a habit to plan lessons that include reading and exercising.
Source: The Center for Kinesthetic Education, Department of Education