Learning in motion


Learning and physical activity go hand in ​hand at Winget Park Elementary, where active-learning equipment is taking the place of traditional furniture and students are encouraged to move as they work.

Winget Park used Physical Education Program (PEP) grants to purchase its new equipment, including pedal desks, spin desks, gliders, balance boards and flexible seating. The equipment arrived Oct. 3 and is being used in two first-grade classes and one class each in kindergarten, second grade and fourth grade, as well as the media center.

CMS health and physical education specialists have been working with teachers and schools to improve student achievement through better coordination, balance and physical activity. Winget Park Principal Jason Bissinger and a team of teachers had four days of training over the summer in Charleston with experts in kinesthetic strategies.

"That's been the key to this is how to use it effectively," said Kim Cooke, CMS physical education specialist. "The least-effective way to teach is sitting. You want to know 'How can I teach this concept through movement?'"

Bissinger said active learning fits well with the school's personalized learning focus and students took to the new equipment quickly. Teachers also are finding value in the concept.

11.22.16.Winget2_inside pic.jpg"One of the neat things has been teachers sharing the equipment with others who don't have it," he said. "They're seeing the effectiveness of the whole concept of active learning. It's the icing on top of the cake."

Darnell Murillo, in her 10th year of teaching at Winget Park, participated in the summer training. She had first gotten interested in action-based learning a few years earlier when the school structured recess. She said she and other teachers saw a decrease in behavior issues when they used games for learning, which made it clear they needed to incorporate more activity into the lessons.

Murillo has incorporated movement into her lessons since the first day of school, which made for a smooth transition when the new equipment arrived in her classroom. She said her students view the furniture as just another tool to learn new skills.

"Since acquiring the new equipment, I have seen my students' eagerness to learn grow," Murillo said. "They are very focused on their independent tasks and very attentive in our whole-class discussions."

11.22.16.Winget3_inside pic.jpgStudents also use the new equipment in the media center as part of the B3 (books, brain, body) special program. "The activities for B3 center on really knowing how you learn, taking control of your learning and how movement can help the brain to work more efficiently," said Emily Warnke, B3 specialist. "We incorporate the Active Brain Lab equipment with skills that they are working on in their classroom each week."

Parent response has been positive. One parent showed Murillo a video of a student playing school at home and mimicking the same routines they perform in class. Another parent told Bissinger that now school is all her child talks about at home.

Most parents want to know how more equipment can be obtained, Bissinger said. It all comes down to funding, but as that becomes available, additional classrooms will be outfitted. Interest also has been sparked at other CMS schools and Winget Park has been welcoming visitors who want to learn more about the active-learning concept.

"This really is the future of education," Bissinger said.