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Students in Motion

Rachel Perugini Life in the Classroom

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At the start of school this year, I started videotaping lessons for my National Board pursuit.  Initially there was a lot of annoyance over how my voice sounded and how much I played with my hair, but then I started reflecting on what I was actually doing on tape.  Outside of the directions I was giving and the questions I was asking, I realized I move pretty constantly during class time.  I don’t just wander around my room aimlessly, but rather, I am frequently, bouncing between groups of students to answer questions, kneeling down and back up again to talk to kids, carrying textbooks around the room as I read and monitor student behavior.

Some days I do not even sit at my desk except when I’m taking attendance or during the last class of the day (my prep hour) when I relax to do some much-needed planning and grading.  I don’t wear a Fitbit or a step counter, but I was both impressed and concerned about how much exercise I must be getting on a daily basis; no wonder teachers are so exhausted at the end of the school day.

When watching my recordings, I contrasted my endless energy with the little movement most of my high school students were getting as they sporadically moved around the room during our 55 minute class.  I say most of my students, because I was fortunate enough to receive 6 standing desk this summer from a contest I entered last year.  6 students in each of my classes are seated at a sit-to-stand desk on wheels.  With a quick turn of a lever, the desk transitions pretty easily from a standing, podium-style desktop into a lower, traditional sitting desk.

In my videos, these students moved often between sitting and standing whenever they needed a change.  This is in addition to the wiggling they did as they moved their desks around to meet their energy-burning needs.  Just this week, I watched 4 students gathered around 1 standing desk working on some reading questions for The Crucible.  It was impressive to see how much they bounced between looking at their books on the regular desks behind them and then back up to standing to record their evidence.

However, not all of my students like the new standing desk options.  At the beginning of the school year, I gave everyone the opportunity to try the new desks out and then asked what their preference would be for seating this year.  A large number of kids wrote they absolutely would not want to be at a standing desk; it is all about personal preference.  But for those who wanted the standing desks, it is all about choice- the choice to stand when they need to and sit when they want to.

I wish all of my students were more active in my class.  I also realize I am lucky to even have the ability to give 6 students the option to work while standing throughout the day.  Because of this, I have set a goal for myself to get all of my students more physically active during our class in the next month.  I am going to focus on building movement into the lessons and activities I plan.  You can find the suggestions I found in my searching here:

-8 Teaching Strategies to Get your Class Moving

-8 Ways to Get Students Moving

-21 Awesome Ways to Get Your Students Moving

Feel free to add your great ideas below, so I can see what works for your students and figure out how to incorporate more movement in my classroom.

 

I am originally from Pennsylvania where I earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Shippensburg University. In 2012, I moved to Arizona to teach on the Navajo Reservation; I liked the state so much I decided to stay. I taught language arts, reading, and journalism for three years at Many Farms High School. During that time, I earned a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction for Reading. In 2015, I moved to Flagstaff where I currently teach 10th and 11th grade English. I have been an avid reader all my life, so I love that my job gives me that chance to read amazing books with my students all day long.

  • James King

    One time I watched an episode of Survivor where they had to go to a chalk board that faced West then go East through an obstacle course to get to an East facing answer post, where they had to recall what they saw on the other.

    I don’t remember HOW I constructed it in my class room, but the kids fell into complete chaos. It was a hilarious idea if I was recording a sitcom about being a bad teacher. So I suppose the lesson there was: the classroom may be too small for some crazy constructs, but the outdoors may be better.

    I have sense taken my kids to grass fields to do crazier/sillier activities with positive results. I guess just: analyze your space!

  • Mrs_Buzan

    I love that you recognized this excellent solution for some students is not perfect for all. I sometimes forget not to hyperbolize my problem-solving for students.