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In the recently published book, Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, (2008 Little, Brown), author and Harvard clinical associate professor of psychiatry, John Ratey, argues for more physical fitness for tier 1 students to improve academic performance and reduce obesity. According to Dr. John Ratey, physical fitness is like “Miracle-Gro” for the brain. “I cannot underestimate how important regular exercise is in improving the function and performance of the brain,” he writes. Exercise stimulates the brain to produce extra BDNF (brain-derived-neurotropic factor) which is used to enhance the development of new neurons (and their connections).
His book summarizes some recent research: A study in California found a correlation between fitness and test scores in both upper and lower income brackets. In both groups, children who were more fit performed better academically. A professor at the University of Illinois duplicated these findings.
In Titusville, Pennsylvania, where 75% of children receive free lunches, the school day was restructured to shave 10 minutes from academics and put it into physical education. Scores went from below state average to 18% above in math and 17% above in reading.
The intent of these suggested activities is to offer students a mental break. Math & Movement™ will energize your students during morning meeting, after lunch or during transition times (in between lessons, walking in the hallway or waiting in line) The activities take between 10 seconds and 2 minutes. Math & Movement™ utilizes down times. The Math & Movement™ activities simultaneously strengthen math ability, offer movement breaks, and energize students.
Encouraging the children to lead his/her classmates in the Math & Movement™ activities strengthens leadership skills in children. In addition, when children lead, the teacher has the opportunity to help struggling children.
Obesity in America has reached an epidemic level. Combining learning math and physical activity promotes wellness while strengthening children’s math basics.
Yes. Classroom teachers may lead the students in physical education and receive credit for the physical education minutes, provided:
- The Director of Physical Education puts the additional minutes for physical education into the district physical education plan.
- The Director of Physical Education approves the physical education plan.
- The Physical Education (PE) teacher supervises the PE activities (the PE teacher does not have to be in the classroom, but he/she does have to be available to answer technical questions).
- The physical education in the classroom is monitored and tracked with a form.
- The classroom teachers receive professional development instruction on the activities and how to keep track of the physical education minutes.
- The extra physical education minutes are written in the classroom lesson plans.
- Physical education is integrated into other core subject areas.
Please note that the above comments may differ by state. Please contact your state education department for final approval.
Math & Movement™ can be incorporated in three four-minute chunks of time per day, fifteen minute segments for four days a week or twelve minute segments each day. The individual classroom teacher can thus lead the activities at their convenience.
In order to eliminate race, class, and disability as predictors of success and offer an equal educational opportunity for all children and youth, we must provide equitable learning conditions for all students. This translates to offering kinesthetic learners opportunities to learn through movement.
Research indicates that children in poverty are more likely to be kinesthetic learners, thus Math & Movement™ provides high quality education to youth from low-income neighborhoods.
The unique movements in the Math & Movement™ program strengthen one-to-one correspondence which is a prerequisite for learning arithmetic. Children with weak skill in one-to-one correspondence are at a disadvantage immediately. Math is cumulative. Deficiency in basic skills puts children at a disadvantage for their entire mathematical career.
Math & Movement™ can strengthen math basics at any age, including high school.
All students benefit from the practice of skip counting. After children learn to multiply, the continual practice of skip counting facilitates the process of learning division, fractions, factoring, algebra and advanced mathematics.
Children love to move—and they need to move. Too much sitting results in decreased circulation and a subsequent decrease in concentration, while certain kinds of movement stimulate the release of dopamine and noradrenaline in the brain, which are important in learning.
We also recommend Brain –Based Learning and Enriching the Brain by Eric Jensen; Smart Moves by Carla Hannaford and What’s Math Got to Do With It? by Jo Boaler.
Learn About The American Rescue Plan
The federal government is sending funds to schools to help students get back to grade-level due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To learn more about how you can help to get those funds to the right places, click the link below.