ACPS’ efforts to incorporate more physical activity into our students’ school day just got a giant boost, thanks to grants totaling more than $35,000 from RunningBrooke’s Move2Learn program.
Students who are healthy are better able to learn and attend school than those who are not. In keeping with our health and wellness goal, ACPS has been working to incorporate more movement into everyday classroom activities. Using creative tools, resources and training we are equipping our teachers with strategies designed to increase student movement. Activities might also include things like reading outside, yoga during reading or parkour.
ACPS received 12 grants, four at the division level and eight across our schools. The division-level grants will be used to fund new bike equipment for the Bicycling in the Schools (BITS) program. By the end of this school year, BITS will have provided bike safety skills and taught many students to ride bikes at eight schools this year. The new funding will be used to expand the program to at least three additional schools in the 2018-19 school year.
Funding will also be used to provide transportation and instruction to help elementary school students learn water safety skills as part of the water safety and swim skills program. The program will serve fourth grade students in four elementary schools this year.
Both of these programs are offered as part of the regular physical education (PE) curriculum in these schools. A grant will also fund workshops and tools kits for teachers on how to infuse poetry with rhythm and writing with movement.
A teacher grant at George Mason Elementary School will enable purchase of alternative seating so that students can constructively channel their energy during class time. James K. Polk Elementary School will receive training and toolkits designed to incorporate student movement into reading, both at school and at home. A classroom at John Adams will improve hand-eye coordination and reaction time using a speed stacking game. And, T.C. Williams will get funding to support 25th Hour, the alternative PE program where students use heart rate monitors (provided) to analyze and record their independent workouts. In addition to receiving training and toolkits to incorporate student movement in reading and writing at school and at home, William Ramsay will purchase indoor and outdoor scooters for use in the gym during PE and outdoors.
Brenda Tarquinio is a fifth-grade teacher at John Adams Elementary School, who spent nine of her 24 years in education as a PE instructor. Incorporating movement in the classroom comes very naturally to her. A part-time movement specialist last year at George Mason Elementary School, Tarquinio has enjoyed integrating activities that she pushed into classrooms at George Mason into strategies she uses throughout the day in her classroom at John Adams.
I watch the body language of my students to see what they might need based on their level of focus on what they are doing. If they are working on a long writing prompt, for instance, I read their body language and squirminess to assess what they need. A movement break might include hand, arm and shoulder stretches because they’ve been using those muscles for a long time. I can see they need to stretch those muscles and refocus,” said Tarquinio.
Tarquinio incorporates movement into transitions throughout the day. She says it gives them a little boost of energy that enables them to refocus and move on to the next thing. It’s become a natural part of her classroom culture. Tarquinio recognizes that for some teachers, movement can be seen as yet another tool to incorporate into the classroom and it takes time to learn how to do it effectively. But, she offers encouragement.
There are quick and easy ways to add movement that benefits the kids. Teachers have to find ways that work for them. In the same way that we differentiate for students, it’s important to differentiate for teachers. We are a Changing Education Through the Arts (CETA) school. For some, artistic movement works well; for others it’s physical movement,” said Tarquinio.
Getting kids moving is at the core of Running Brooke’s mission: “RunningBrooke inspires our city’s at-risk kids to move, sparking their learning for success in school and life.”
RunningBrooke’s Move2Learn program awards grants to non-profit and other organizations based in Alexandria, working with Alexandria City children to provide innovative programs that get kids moving to support academic achievement. Move2Learn includes information, instruction, potential funding and supporting data that RunningBrooke shares across schools and organizations in Alexandria in an effort to get kids moving to spark and heighten learning.