I love movement. Running. Galloping. Dancing. Walking. Climbing. Movement is freedom. It is the release of anxiety. It elevates my thoughts. It makes me aware of my entire body. It is tangible progress towards something. It is also, sadly, something our westernized culture seems to have forgotten.
Sitting at a desk for eight hours a day, outside of traveling around the country, was one of the reasons I left my government job in Washington. Prior to finishing my Master’s, I knew that a cubicle/office job would not be a sustainable option, but the temptation of random recruitment and the combination of idealism with an opportunity to affect the politics of our country were enough to seduce me. And there I was, in a future I did not predict. Sitting in a cube. Wearing my suit. Drinking my coffee.
Sitting all day, ironically, is exhausting–but not in the manner of exhaustion that envelopes you, cushions you, after a long day of physically exerting work. It is a droopy exhaustion. Lethargy from nothing. Perhaps from preventing a rhythmic flow of blood through your body, or from your spine being contorted over itself. Science-y stuff.
This sort of lethargy is what we often force our students into, especially in a technology driven One-to-One classroom, where students need not approach the board because they can simply comment on the projector from their seat using their device.
Our students spend seven to eight hours sitting, often staring into a screen… building anxiety and depleting their attention span. Students may walk to the cafeteria, but they do not have the luxury of taking a walk for (or to) lunch outside of school. Physical education is no longer on the totem pole of “college prep.” Grades are more important than teaching health. The connection of the mind and body, lost. In creating this atmosphere for our kids, we are going against a psychological and physical part of human nature: movement.
This is not to say that their devices are evil, or that technology does not have its place in the classroom–because it does. I am an advocate of collaborative work and the teaching of digital literacy… perhaps one of the most important skills we can teach our youth before they make poor rhetorical choices on social media. But the more I thought about my lesson plans with the use of our One-to-One devices (in which each student is given a device), the more I realized how just much I was having my kids move… which was not at all.
Inspired by a friend of mine who teaches in Portland, this past week I practiced timed breathing with my ancy end-of-the-day kids–and they loved it. We stood and focused on breathing for two minutes, after which my students sat calmly, were more on task, and seemed less anxious. Some didn’t get it, thought it was cheesy, and laughed; strangely enough though, most of my kids took it seriously. This result seems to have affected my philosophy, as I now plan to implement more physical movement in my classroom. If you’re having issues implementing kinetic stuff with your classroom technology, here are some of the plans I am attempting in the future:
Silent Board Chatroom Discussion:
Instead of having students write ideas down on their device or in a collaborative document, I have them brainstorm on a question for five minutes, then have them come up to the board and discuss. The board is treated like the comment section of a blog, where they have to put a discussion point of their own, and then respond to two others. This allows all students to come up and input something… often times I will find them all standing around the board to add even more points. Afterward, we discuss the points and I take a picture of the board, uploading it onto our OneNote Classroom so we can follow up with it later on.
I love doing this outside, though with the colder weather we will most likely be doing the activity in the hallway. Students get into pairs and are given a discussion point (a different one per group) and then walk as they discuss the point. After walking and talking for 10 minutes, the students will come back, write down their main discussion points in a graphic organizer in the collaboration space of OneNote, and then share their points with the class.
This one is pretty traditional. Giant post-its are displayed all over the room with a certain topic. Groups are to walk and peruse each post-it, writing a comment as they go by. Once we are finished, pictures of each post-it will be uploaded to our digital classroom and then students will enter a whole-class discussion.
Four Corners and Credibility in Research:
Another traditional activity. Corners are setup with Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, and Strongly Disagree. Based on a debate topic, students will go to a corner that matches their feelings toward a topic. They will then defend their position and will be given the option to shift once during the class discussion. Once done, students will come back and do research on their topic to build credibility behind their opinion, placing debate points and supporting evidence into their “digital corner” and organizing their points with the four aspects of argument.