Sunday, February 23, 2014

Gross Motor Activities

Those of us who work in multisensory education know the importance of using large motor muscles as part of daily instruction.  Using large movement helps to reinforce directionality and sequence.  It provides a direct path to the brain in a way that fine motor movements do not.  Think of the muscle memory involved in navigating a dark bedroom at night.  You know where everything is without the aid of eyesight.  You have tactile memory and spatial awareness. 

Now consider mimicking the direction and sequence of multi-digit multiplication operations, or numeral formation.  These activities allow students the opportunity to get up, flood the brain with oxygen and move.  Consider Geometry Simon Says, or even the direction and spatial movements associated with transformations of function.

Dr. Joyce Steeves believed that students needed the opportunity to get up during a lesson each day.  It might mean tossing a weighted object during skip counting or forming numerals in the air, but they do need to get up and not just to offer samples of homework worked the night before.

I observed a wonderful lesson in North Carolina in which the 4th grade teacher in an independent school, used dry erase pens to write problems for the students to solve on various desk surfaces around the room.   They were given a single sheet of paper quartered for completion.  They could move to the various desks to copy and solve, work collaboratively etc.  They were given a fixed amount of time and had to pass the papers in before exiting for the next class.  There was a seat time discussion of the problems before dismissal so there was an orderly transition to the next class, but the students were well regulated and engaged...up and actively involved in the math lesson. 

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