Friday, August 29, 2014

Make things bigger for those who like to move

As promised, I administered the VARK learning styles assessment today to my three groups of students.  They delivered exactly as I had expected - highly visual and kinesthetic, and one of them even had the audacity to score a zero in the read/write category!  Thankfully, I've been in this business long enough to know that this is exactly the type of kiddo who would struggle with reading, and that is why I placed her into my intervention reading class.  She and I giggled about it today.  She was so far on the other side of the scale, that she really was highly kinesthetic and nothing else.  That's hard to do!

So I started thinking today about these kiddos.  The ones who need to move.  And I researched it a bit tonight to see if others had the same thoughts about it as I did - make everything BIGGER.

Face it, public school is confining and restrictive.  We expect our students to walk in, make their home in their one little desk in a row or a "table", walk down the right side of a hallway, and act like miniature adults.  But some of them are just not ready for all of that.  They need to move and shake.  Adolescents - especially the boys - are like mini-firecrackers, ready to explode at any minute with all of the energy they've saved up.  How can we work with this in a traditional classroom?

Kinesthetic learners need to move.  Even the act of writing is better than just sitting, and they certainly do not have time to listen!  But what if we made it all bigger?  What if those kiddos who were kinesthetic were allowed to write on larger pieces of paper or small white boards where their entire arms moved and the other one was busy holding the paper or white board?  What if we allowed them to draw things on these pieces of paper where they were making larger, loopier, gestures rather than simply writing.  What if we created word sorts and matching activities where both of their hands were moving - or what if we made those sorts larger so that they had to put them on the floor to manipulate them?

Just yesterday I noticed my eighth graders glazing over at about one o'clock (late lunch on Monday), so I made them get up and walk across the room to answer a question.  Kind of a big deal to answer just one question, but they were awake afterward, and it gave my kinesthetics a duly needed break.  
So when the ants-in-your-pants kid looks like he's ready to vibrate himself right out of his seat, think quick, grab a large piece of paper and some markers and sit him in a spot where he has a little bit of room.  Ask him to do whatever you're doing - just bigger.  Chalk on sidewalks works really well, and so to those white boards that you can keep at their desks.  I know they're distracting, but you're going to get better attention from the kinesthetics (and the visuals, for that matter) if you give them white boards and colored markers.

What other things can you make bigger for these kiddos?  How can you appeal to their kinesthetic side in a more effective way?  Share your ideas with us below.

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