One of our favorite times of the year is in August as we excitedly prepare for our new group of awkwardly lovable eighth graders to arrive for the first day of school. As we gear up and begin to plan and prepare for 180 days of jam-packed learning and growing, we embrace the opportunity to reorganize the physical layout of our classrooms in a way that promotes engagement and movement. Of all the choices in this process, the one we have come to keep constant and strongly encourage you to consider as you set up your own classroom, is “The Track”.
“The Track” is an idea first introduced to me by Tammy Levesque, a consultant from Lakes Region Partnership for Public Health in Laconia , New Hampshire, to promote movement in the classroom. The idea is to create a path around the perimeter of the classroom (by arranging furniture a little closer to the center of the room) which can be accessed by students throughout the class/day.
What’s the point? “The Track” is a place the whole class can go for a “Follow the Leader” movement break while completing an academic task such as: listening to instructions before a transition, formulating an argument to defend a position, and/or sharing ideas with a partner. It can also be used by individual students to get their blood moving or even to read. (Yes, it’s possible to walk and chew literature!)
My favorite example of the power of the track is with a reluctant reader in my fifth grade classroom several years ago. An avid athlete, this student was a self-declared hater of reading. When given the opportunity to read while walking “The Track”, she devoured the entire Harry Potter Series before entering sixth grade!
At first, Shannon was skeptical about this working at the middle school level, but now she regularly uses the method with her 8th graders. This year, the students in her first period class preferred to discuss literature, share answers and debate topics on the track. They said it helped them wake up, and they liked how easy it was to change partners.
It’s important to front-end the introduction of “The Track” with some safety rules about chair legs being pushed in and obeying posted walking speed limits. And you may want to warn the custodians about the tread marks that will get worn into the carpet- Harry Potter is no walk in the park! Have fun!
Anyone have any other ideas for setting up your classroom to facilitate movement breaks?