Tabatha Gayle crab-walked across the classroom last week, racing two other students to a pile of papers listing different diseases, set in the middle of the floor in Ms. Forcucci’s health class.
While her teammates cheered, Tabatha picked up a piece of paper and scuttled it over to the whiteboard, dropping it into one of five pathogen categories lined up there. Then she ran back to the team, laughing.
Amanda Forcucci’s class at Hamden High School in Hamden, Conn., is doing something called “physically active learning” in the classroom. The idea is to get kids up and moving around during regular academic classes to improve their ability to concentrate.
“It’s fun, and moving around actually will help me remember the types of pathogens,” said Tabatha, 15. “Plus it helped me to get out of a bad mood.”
At a time when recess time is shrinking, childhood obesity is expanding, and everyone’s worried about the academic achievement gap, some experts believe that physical learning could pay serious dividends in the classroom.
The concept is that short bursts of exercise during class can help students stay engaged, concentrate better, and do better on tests.
As a result, the Connecticut Department of Education is trying to get the message out and encourage teachers to include these exercise bursts in their classrooms. The department has been sending a cadre of physical education trainers around the state to show teachers how to incorporate physical activity in their lessons.