Why do so many teachers expect students to sit and listen to lectures when the research shows the strong connection between physical activity and learning? In fact, Eric Jensen, author of the book Teachingwith the Brain in Mind, says, “When we keep students active, we keep their energy levels up and provide their brains with the oxygen-rich blood needed for highest performance. Teachers who insist that students remain seated during the entire class period are not promoting optimal conditions for learning.”
Maybe teachers are reluctant because they think it will require more time to prepare lessons that involve movement, or perhaps they are worried student behavior will get out-of-control. However, in my experience students are often more engaged and well-behaved when they are allowed to get out of their seats in my English classroom. Whether it’s getting students to rotate around the room for a carousel activity, moving to corners of the room for a debate, or walking around to interview one another, students appreciate the opportunity to get out of their seats.
Games are another way to get students moving. I often use Trashketball games because they motivate students with their love of sports. Additionally, the games encourage friendly competition because the teacher arranges the class into teams. This team approach is an excellent way to meet the needs of all students, especially when they are arranged in heterogeneous groups. The rules to these games also encourage students to work together on their teams to solve the answers; they can keep trying to find correct answers even after they have made a mistake. The games don’t require many materials and they’re easy to play.
I provide power point Trashketball games that include detailed rules and explanations for both the students and the teacher. Furthermore, each game provides a brief review of its topic and includes several rounds of practice exercises. Even in middle school and high school, holiday themed games can make learning more fun.