New Albany teachers get moving to learn

By Michaela Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

This week, New Albany teachers learned how tag can teach American history, a relay can reinforce the anatomy of nerve cells, and charades can boost vocabulary recall.
The exercises are designed to get kids moving and learning, said presenter Mike Kuczala, acting director of the New Jersey-based Regional Training Center and co-author of “The Kinesthetic Classroom, Teaching and Learning Through Movement.”
“There’s a whole science behind it,” said Kuczala, whose workshops were paid for by a Carol M. White Physical Education SHAPE UP! Grant. “It’s more than just giving kids a break from their chairs.”
The human brain is geared toward implicit learning – essentially learning through experiences, Kuczala said. Traditional school models stress explicit learning, such as reading, lectures and work sheets.
Episodic memory trigger
Some of the exercises tap into episodic memory – the same trigger that helps us remember where we were on Sept. 11. Others help students visualize concepts like the calorie imbalance between exercise and junk food, and how densely populated states like New York have more congressional representation than geographically bigger Montana.
A host of studies, including one based in Mississippi, bear out that the more active kids are, the better they do academically.
Seeing the benefits
Even though some teachers worry about time and space initially, they quickly see the benefit of incorporating more movement in the classroom, even at the high school level.
“It’s a more effective teaching tool and can save them time because they spend less time re-teaching,” Kuczala said.
In all, 42 New Albany teachers spent part of their summer last week moving and learning.
“The teachers have to experience what they’re going to use to learn it,” Kuczala said. “These guys have been great.”
Teachers attending the workshops said they have big plans for the movement exercises.
“I love the idea of getting kids moving,” said New Albany High School media specialist Tamara Waldrop, who plans to use the exercises to boost collaboration and team building in her yearbook group. “I can definitely use it.”
Contact Michaela Gibson Morris at (662) 678-1599 or michaela.morris@journalinc.com.