Today is K day at the A to Z Blogging Challenge!! My K stands for:
Huh? I know, right?
Over recent years in the education, there has been much research on learning styles, and the different ways individuals best retain new knowledge. I think most people have heard of visual learners (learn better with pictures, graphs, charts), and auditory learners (learn best by hearing information), but not everyone has heard of being a Kinesthetic learner.
Well, honestly, kinesthetic is actually a big fancy word for “Hands On” learning.
Here are a few examples:
- Vocabulary words on a hopscotch board on a classroom floor where students jump and say the word and its definition
- A science experiment that students complete themselves then log their observations.
- A scavenger hunt where students must solve multi-step equations to find the next clue
- A human number line (each kid holds a number on the line) that students jump to solve math addition and subtraction problems
I think you get the picture. When I was a new teacher, kinesthetic learning made me VERY nervous. All those kids running around! I pictured mass chaos, and as a new teacher, the LAST thing you need is more chaos in your classroom!!
However, as the years rolled on & I started teaching middle school, I had many classes where my kiddos were flat out bored, several who would not participate and even more who struggled with focus. I have mentioned in past posts, I have struggled with focus most of my life.
So I decided chaos was better than apathy.
I went to my Go-To website for excellent lesson plans, Teachers Pay Teachers, and searched for kinesthetic or hands on lessons. That little search changed EVERYTHING opened up a whole new world in my classroom for my students and I.
All of the sudden, I had kids rushing to class to see what today’s fun activity was going to be. They actually got excited about scatter plot graphs when they had to bounce tennis balls to collect the data they were graphing. On most days, they would come in and immediately start moving desks to the sides of my classroom because they knew we would be up and moving for most of the period.
Ohhhhh, there was chaos. But I got used to it because it was “Learning Chaos” and I am totally okay with learning any day of the week!
Now, please understand, there are STILL days when we cannot do a “Hands On” lesson because of the content, and there is just no other way to get it covered other than the traditional way (students in their seats & listening or speaking). But I really try to teach my classes with mostly lessons that require some kind of movement or action.
Every now and then, I will have a student in one of my classes who is extremely shy, has sensory or anxiety issues that make them uncomfortable with all the chaos. I try to address their learning needs by:
- Giving them a “Heads Up” about what we will be doing, and exactly what kind of noises and movement they can expect. This works well because when they know what to anticipate, their anxiety about noise seems to lessen.
- I had one student who wore earplugs when the noise got too much for him, but he removed them for instructions or when discussing things with his peers
- Assigning another empathetic student to be a “Learning Partner” with my uneasy student helps too. There are usually small groups or partner activities so it isn’t very obvious to the other students, and it helps me manage the chaos while still keeping informed on the student who is uneasy & how they are doing.
There are thousands of ideas for kinesthetic learning all over the internet. Have you ever tried one you (& your students) really enjoyed? I would love to hear about it!
Have a great Wednesday!