Schools across Maryland are teaching online, or in some cases, in a hybrid environment. While the teaching environment is totally different, physical activity can continue to be a part of instruction. Movement during the school day activates and energizes students’ brains, improves concentration and focus, and promotes positive attitudes toward physical activity.
Integrating movement into online and hybrid instruction may be even more important than during normal operations, where changing classes, fetching materials, and sharpening pencils create natural opportunities for students to move their bodies.
Here are some ideas for adding movement to your online or hybrid classroom:
Move during instruction:
- Moving multiple choice: Give students a multiple choice problem to solve. Assign a body motion to each answer. Have students do the motion to indicate their answer.
- Activity on/off: Keep a stack of index cards with movements written on them. Whenever students are losing focus, pull out a card and have students complete the movement for two minutes. Then it’s back to business as usual. Most of the movements in the Edible ABCs Alphabet Activities list can be done without students leaving their desk area.
- Set a schedule: Establish a classroom learning-to-activity ratio, such as scheduling a 2 minute movement break after 20 minutes of instruction.
- Learn while moving: Apps and other technology solutions can help students move and learn at the same time. The Walking Classroom offers free podcasts for students to listen to while walking, each combining a core curriculum topic with a health literacy message and character value.
Move during transitions: Transitions offer established times when movement can happen in your day, and helps kids get their sillies out.
- Morning movement: Establish a morning movement routine to start each day. One to two minutes of deep breathing with some light stretching can prepare students to learn.
- Move between classes or subjects: When students are ready to change online classes or shift subject matter, take a break to do some quick movement: squats, toe touches, or jogging in place. If students are online, send them on a scavenger hunt to find an object (e.g., something orange) to bring back and show the class.
- Pair movement and water breaks: Scheduling regular time throughout the day for students to get a drink of water, and pairing the transition with movement, attends to two aspects of student wellness.
Work with your colleagues to create school wide support:
- Set a schoolwide brain break policy: For example, “Teachers shall provide at least one, 5 minute physical activity break for every 60 minutes of academic instruction each day.”
- Physical activity nudges: The wellness team can send weekly nudges to teachers with physical activity ideas to try that week. Find ideas here.
- Incentivize progress: School wellness teams can create a challenge for teachers to track how much physical activity they are incorporating into their teaching. Use an activity log such as this one. Offer incentives for increasing minutes or reaching goals.
Communicate and participate: Let parents know about your plans to integrate movement into instruction. They will appreciate knowing you’re thinking of their child’s wellness, and will know to expect their child to be up and about during class. And remember to move with your students–you will be a role model and encourage students to participate, and it will benefit your own physical and mental health.