Well the weeks are flying by and my students are settling in to the routines and expectations in the classroom. I have a large class this year (do I keep mentioning this?). I know to some of you having 28 students is not a large class, but in my small classroom 28 grade six bodies seem to take up a LOT of space. My class is becoming more focused, and they have started to realize that how I do things in my classroom might be a little different from what they have experienced before.
This week I implemented BRAIN BREAKS in my classroom. Why, you ask? I have been reading extensively over the past few years about the brain/body connection and how teachers can improve student achievement and engagement by having students use all facets to experience learning. I first read about Brain Breaks during the summer, and I thought it would be a great idea to try to implement in my classroom this fall. My observation has been that students tend to get antsy and need to move to around especially before and after an intense mental task, such as taking a test. I saw a variety of ideas on different blogs including some great ideas at Rachel Lynette's Minds In Bloom blog.
I chose to download and utilize the Roll Some Brain Breaks instructions from Your Therapy Source as I liked that I could print out the colourful pages and use them right away. I downloaded the page, made multiple copies (1 per pair of students), mounted them on card stock, laminated them and then put them into large sized Ziploc baggies. I added a single standard die to the baggie (from the dollar store) and added a die I had created myself by using white blocks and coloured stickers (also from the dollar store).
I now have 14 baggies with the cards and dice in them. I put all of the baggies into a large white tub. I assigned one of my "teacher assistants" the job of being the Brain Break Monitor. On my cue, he passes out the baggies to each of my classroom "elbow partners' and they roll the dice and choose which brain break to take. I usually put on some music, either from a CD or something I have on my laptop ("Share it Maybe" by Cookie Monster from Sesame Street is a current favourite). The students continue to roll and follow the instructions on the cards until the music ends. When the music stops, the students put the dice back in the baggie, zip it up, and the Brain Breaks monitor collects all the baggies, puts them back in the tub, and puts the tub away. We can usually accomplish this all within 5 minutes.
What a difference a little brain break makes! The students are much faster to settle, focus and produce better results. I have noticed an immediate difference, especially on days when it is rainy and we don't get outside for recess. I plan to continue using this strategy and hopefully my students will be healthier and happier because of it.
What do you do to provide your class with a brain break?