A supercharged brain.
That’s the goal of the Kinesthetic Learning Lab at Woodview Elementary School. While the lab, called the Active Lab, may look more like a gym than a classroom, student visitors have an opportunity to plug in and charge up their bodies and minds in this flexible learning space.
From a colorful ball pit to swivel seating, bouncing balls, stationary bikes, a trampoline, and a small obstacle course, the Active Lab has everything but the traditional school desk or chair.
Kinesthetic Learning is based on research that connects physical activity to increased academic performance. Research shows that motion and engaging the entire body trigger a biological mechanism that helps students concentrate and retain more information in ways that traditional classroom settings don’t.
Woodview educator Lisa Nettey launched the lab this school year, serving a percentage of the campus population. Campus educators quickly recognized the benefits and expanded services to all students in the school. Each week Nettey rotates the entire student body through the lab, ensuring every child on campus has a minimum of 30 minutes in the lab’s learning space.
A strenuous workout is not the goal of lab activities – invigorating the body to support optimal brain function is the point — the result; improved mood, focus, recall, and overall academic performance.
On the surface what may look like play to the uninitiated is a holistic instructional model designed to support learning for all children.
The lab also provides educators with a tool to help identify and address learning deficits in the moment. In a traditional classroom setting, it can sometimes be challenging to see when a student is struggling or can’t find an answer. In the lab, it’s different. Nettey knows that when motion stops the brain is struggling and she can address it immediately.
Sitting is not on the list of activities in the lab; students are in motion from the second they walk in the door until their session ends. This motion, combined with instruction designed to support the class curriculum, is one of the reasons students are more than enthusiastic when it’s their day to visit.
“I am supercharging my brain,” said kindergartner Walter Castillo as he jumps into the ball pit. Catillo’s been in something that looks like a swiveling shell practicing his numbers. Each spin is another numeral on the countdown to 100.
“I’m not mad anymore. It helps me focus,” said 4th-grader Brian Robinson. Robinson and another student take turns quizzing each other on vocabulary as they spin away on stationary bikes. “It’s helped me with my vocabulary and math,” said Robinson.
“Thirty minutes a week is not enough for kids,” said Nettey when talking about the current model Woodview supports. Because campus leadership and educators agree Woodview is looking to expand beyond the lab and into the classroom. Campus educators are applying for a grant to fund training and resources to support kinesthetic instruction at the school.
This expansion of services into the classroom is just one step in a much larger plan for Kinesthetic Learning at Woodview and in SBISD.
“My vision is for Woodview to be SBISD’s showcase for Kinesthetic Learning,” said SBISD Director of Student Health Darlene Evans.
In total, SBISD currently has 15 Kinesthetic Learning Labs at 13 campuses including elementary DAEP.
Schools for Early Learning
- Lion Lane
- Panda Path
- Spring Branch
- Pine Shadows
- Shadow Oaks
- Buffalo Creek
Take a look inside Woodview’s Active Lab in the video below.
Submitted by Melissa Wiland, SBISD Communications, email@example.com.