Getting students moving Warwick Valley schools to offer a program on kinesthetic learning

Warwick Valley schools to offer a program on kinesthetic learning


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  • Photos provided by WVSDThe kinesthetic labs are housed in rooms that previously were used for computer labs. One of the activities involves a keyboard, where a child will do a hopscotch-type activity while hopping on a keyboard from letter to letter, while figuring out their letters;




  • The kinesthetic labs are housed in rooms that previously were used for computer labs.




By Abby Wolf

— The Warwick Valley School District will host a presentation on kinesthetic learning at its next work session, to be held at Park Avenue Elementary School on Monday, March 25.

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instructional Services James Yap gave a preview of this presentation at Monday night’s regular school board meeting.

Kinesthetic learning, according to a fact sheet he handed out, is “based upon brain research that supports the link of developmental movement and physical activity to increased academic performance. Brain science strongly supports the link of movement to learning,” because “the brain and body’s movement and learning systems are interdependent and interactive.”

“If the pathways and neural connections are not developed or underdeveloped the brain struggles to retain and grasp learned information.”

'Miracle-Gro for the brain'The kinesthetic learning program was implemented by the school district in 2017, Yap said during a telephone interview, based on research demonstrating that this kind of program supports academics. He referred to a paper published by Harvard Medical School researcher, John Retey, entitled, “Exercise is ‘Miracle-Gro’ For the Brain.” Similar studies have been done at MIT and other institutions.

Also from the fact sheet: “85 percent of all learners are kinesthetic learners. That means they learn by doing, touching, feeling, experiencing. Skipping is a reading readiness skill. Children need time and developmental repetition in order to create movement pathways. In order for information to move between lobes of the brain a child needs to be able to physically cross their midline.”

According to Yap, Goshen and Port Jervis school districts have also put into place kinesthetic learning labs as part of their educational toolkits; he added that other Orange County school districts – as well as some Westchester County schools – have toured Warwick Valley’s kinesthetic lab for ideas on how to implement the program in their own districts.

Yap said that the school district was concerned with the amount of time students typically spend sitting in front of screens: kinesthetic learning, he said, would offer a way to a “balanced academic approach,” to “providing content not just on the computer or by reading a textbook,” but by getting up and moving around, too.

One of the slides that Yap showed at Monday night’s meeting offered a pair of brain scans displaying a dramatic difference between brain activity in a sedentary person, and the various areas of the brain “lit up” in the same person, after just 20 minutes of activity, such as walking.

The kinesthetic labs are housed in rooms that previously were used for computer labs. It was a “net-net” (i.e., no additional) cost to the district: “Instead of replacing (obsolete) computers, we invested in the kinesthetic” equipment, Yap said.

Initial feedback from teachers, he added, has been very positive: They’ve been “very enthusiastic.” Also: “Every student benefits” from this program.

ExercisesInstructional aides push in to K-2 and grades 3-4, typically about once a week on average for about 20 minutes. Students use a variety of equipment that changes weekly in order to keep kids engaged. Some of the exercises include:

• Ladder: Students walk beside a ladder, while reading sight words (grade-level appropriate words children are expected to be familiar with) that are on the ground in front of them;

• Steps: Students walk up and down low steps while looking at sight words;

• Balance board: A child will hold and read from flashcards while balancing on a balancing board-type tool;

• Keyboard: A child will do a hopscotch-type activity while hopping on a keyboard from letter to letter, while figuring out their letters;

• Balance beam: Children use this equipment to establish balance, which is a skill that helps with memory and enables them to assimilate facts.

Yap maintains that these exercises help on both “the academic side and the PE side” for the students.

Kristen Schulze and Graig McElroy, PE teachers at Park and Sanfordville respectively, will give the presentation on kinesthetic learning and the benefits of the kinesthetic lab at the meeting on the 25th.

While Yap said that instructional aides involved in the program will be attending the meeting along with school principals, parents are welcome and encouraged to attend also.

Other businessThe school board adopted a resolution regarding the annual school board elections and budget vote, and authorized inclusion of a bus purchase proposition to the ballot.

The district gave its assent to the following field trips:

• The high school French class to SUNY Albany on March 29; and

• The high school physics class to Six Flags Great Adventure on May 22.

The board approved the nominations of the following candidates for Orange-Ulster BOCES Cooperative Board: William Boss, Joseph Byrne and Edwin Estrada.

Next Work session, kinesthetic lab demonstration on Monday, March 25, 7 p.m., Park Avenue Elementary.

Budget update #3 on Monday, April 15, 7 p.m., at the high school.

The foundations of kinesiology

The Warwick Valley School District will host a presentation on kinesthetic learning at its next work session, to be held at Park Avenue Elementary School on Monday, March 25.
Kinesthetic learning is “based upon brain research that supports the link of developmental movement and physical activity to increased academic performance. Brain science strongly supports the link of movement to learning,” because “the brain and body’s movement and learning systems are interdependent and interactive.”
The foundations of kinesiology are:
• Visual development
• Rhythm
• Tactile learning
• Motor skills
• Eye/hand – Eye/foot
• Physical fitness
• Cardiovascular
• Problem solving
• Self-management




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