Click play below to hear movement routines for your literacy block:
The school day can feel long for kids, especially being expected to focus and pay attention while sitting at their desks. One way to get students refocused while also incorporating learning is through movement. Getting students engaged and moving amongst your classroom benefits students in so many ways while also providing an aspect of fun. In today’s episode, I’m sharing 4 specific movement routines for you to incorporate in your upper elementary classrooms.
Movement has huge benefits for not only your students but for the classroom environment that you choose to create. Additionally, each of these movement routines have positive impacts on your students’ collaboration, communication, and perspectives on various topics. Inside each movement routine, I also discuss examples of the different ways each routine can be utilized during your literacy block.
Just like adults during long PD sessions, students want to get up and move around during the school day. And while movement can be a way for students to release energy, it can also be a way to regain attention and focus on learning. So whether you’re looking for a new way to engage your students, review a lesson, or foster discussion amongst your class, use these movement routines to find success.
In this episode on movement routines, I share:
- 4 specific movement routines that engage students and regain focus
- Reasons why incorporating movement benefits kids
- The process for teaching movement activities to your students
- Examples of how to incorporate each routine during your literacy block
- Sign up for my Private Podcast: Confident Writer Systems Series
- Check out the Stellar Literacy Collective Membership
- Free Literacy Block Workshop
- If you’re enjoying this podcast, please leave a review on Apple Podcasts!
Related episodes and blog posts:
- Episode 111, 4 Ways to Easily Incorporate Movement into Your Instructional Day
- Movement in the Classroom: Get Kids Moving With These 4 Easy Movement Routines
- 4 More Movement Activities You Must Try in Your Classroom
Connect with me:
More About Stellar Teacher Podcast:
Welcome to the Stellar Teacher Podcast! We believe teaching literacy is a skill. It takes a lot of time, practice, and effort to be good at it. This podcast will show you how to level up your literacy instruction and make a massive impact with your students, all while having a little fun!
Your host, Sara Marye, is a literacy specialist passionate about helping elementary teachers around the world pass on their love of reading to their students. She has over a decade of experience working as a classroom teacher and school administrator. Sara has made it her mission to create high-quality no-fluff resources and lesson ideas that are both meaningful and engaging for young readers.
Each week, Sara and her guests will share their knowledge, tips, and tricks so that you can feel confident in your ability to transform your students into life-long readers.
Hey, there Happy Monday, we are getting ready to start the last week of September. And I really hope that you are starting to hit your school stride. I know that the first few weeks, it always takes time to get your routines and systems in place. And I feel like it always takes a few weeks for your class to really start to feel like a community.
But you know, hopefully at this point, things are starting to gel, you’re feeling good about the class culture that you’re building. And hopefully you’re even starting to see a little bit of evidence of student growth and progress, which is always exciting when that comes up.
And now that you are a few weeks, or even a month or two, because if you started in August, you’re almost done with your second month. But now that you have some time into the school year, this really might be a good time for you to start to introduce and incorporate movement routines into your classroom. And I’m going to share four specific routines.
And movement is incredibly important. I think, especially in upper elementary because as our students get older, they have longer attention spans. And there can be the temptation to give students an assignment and have them spend 30 to 40 minutes sitting at their desk completing this assignment. But even in fourth and fifth grade, they’re still kids, and we want to give them opportunities to get up and move around.
And I know sometimes movement can be scary for teachers, because it’s like, okay, how do I keep my students moving, but also engaged on task productive, and that’s where movement routines come in. So like I said, I’m going to share four specific routines that I think are great for your literacy block.
But first, before we jump into those, let me just share two reasons why I think movement is so important, especially at the upper elementary level. The first reason is, you know, like I said, it gets kids out of their desk and moving around, which is going to help with their attention and their focus when they are at their desks.
You know, and I think even thinking about adults is like it when we go to PD sessions. If we’re sitting for long periods of time, we just start to get antsy, we start to wiggle, we want to you know, we get distracted. And it’s hard for us to pay attention and focus what we’re doing.
So if you can be really intentional about incorporating movement into your classroom, not only will your students be engaged during the movement activity, but when your students go back to their desk, they’re going to have greater attention and focus to continue working. So movement helps with attention. That’s a big benefit.
But also movement activities can really help build classroom community. And I think one of the main reasons is, is because movement activities often focus a lot on collaboration. And they give students opportunities to interact and discuss with our classmates. And this just contributes to creating a positive class community.
You know, it allows the students to hear a variety of responses and perspectives to questions. So that’s either going to validate their own thinking or allow them to consider a new perspective. And, you know, it also gets students used to working with all of the students in their class.
I don’t know about you, but my students would often, you know, either just want to work with their friends, or maybe they would have opinions about people they didn’t want to work with.
But when we regularly incorporated movement activities, because these movement routines, it’s quick interaction and engagement with their classmates, I started to notice that my students were more open and willing to work with any student in the class because they were so used to it from these movement routines. So movement can definitely help improve collaboration and contribute to a strong classroom community.
So today, I wanted to share with you four different movement routines that you could incorporate into your literacy block. You know, at some point, these could be things that you do daily, they could be things that you do weekly. I love using these during test prep season and so this would be a really good time of year to introduce and practice these routines with your students.
I think anytime that you are incorporating movement into the classroom, you have to teach students how to move correctly. So with all of these you’re gonna have to, you know, teach them one at a time, explain to students the process, let them practice, have a few students model, maybe show them the right way, have some students show the wrong way, and then give them feedback on how they did.
And you really want it to become a routine. So when you say like, Okay, we’re going to do loops of learning, or we’re going to do a four corners, you don’t have to explain the directions, your students just know how to move according to that specific routine. So keep that in mind with all of these, if any of these routines that I share with you, you’re like, Oh, I really liked that idea. And I want to incorporate it in my classroom, just make sure you take some time to actually think through, what would the sort of instructional and teaching part of that look like.
Okay, so the first movement routine that I like using in my literacy block, I call it loops of learning. And honestly, you can use this for any subject area, but it does work in in your reading block.
And the way that it works is you want to split your students into two groups. And then once your students are in groups, you’re going to create two concentric circles. So that means one group of students is going to create the outer circle, and one group is going to create the inner circle, and you want your students standing so they are facing each other. So the outer circle faces in and the inner circle faces out.
Once they’re in this position, you’re going to give your students a question to respond to, students will discuss with the partner that they’re facing, and then once students have discussed the question with their partner, the circles are going to rotate in opposite directions. So maybe like if everybody moves to their left, they’re going to be standing face to face with a new partner, which means then you can ask a new question, and they’re gonna respond to that question, but they’re discussing with somebody different.
And this can be really great if you are discussing a shared text. So if you’re, you know, at the end of your read aloud, if you have like three or four response questions you want your students to respond to, you could have them quickly jump up and form their loops of learning, and have them answer and respond to the questions. And so they’re just discussing with different students.
This also could work if you want to review like homework or questions on a worksheet. So let’s say you gave your students a passage to read. And maybe there are four questions on a worksheet, you could have them take their worksheet and then stand in their loops of learning and first person, they’re going to both share their answer to question one, and then they rotate. And then they would share their response to question number two, and three, and four.
And the reason why I like a routine like this is students are up there moving around, they’re going to be interacting and engaging with a variety of students, but it allows basically every student to have their voice and their opinion heard, which means, you know, I think sometimes when we’re questioning students, if we only ask questions to one student at a time, it’s only that one person’s voice that’s being heard and validated.
But with a structure like this, you know, half of your class is responding at the same time. And so it can be just a really fun and different way to review either homework or questions or like I said, to discuss a read aloud text.
You can even do something like this during your morning meeting. And if you have, you know, questions about like, what’s your favorite genre? Who’s your favorite author? You know, things like that. They can even be open ended questions that aren’t comprehension specific. But it just gives students an opportunity to share their thoughts, their opinions, their answers with a variety of students.
And because it is structured, right, like, students are standing in a circle, you’re teaching them how to move, it’s a very structured sort of routine. So I love using this one. And this is one of the routines that if you’re like, oh, I can really see that working, I would make sure that your students have an A group and a B group, like who is the inside circle who is the outside circle, so that way, you can quickly set up the loops of learning before you get started with that. That is the first routine.
The next movement routine that I like to do with my students. And my students love this one. It’s called quiz quiz trade. And I learned this one from a Kagan training that’s all about collaboration. And they have a lot of like movement activities. But this is a great one because again, of the movement side of things.
And so a quick little rundown of what quiz quiz trade is. Every student gets either like a task card or a question stem. So again, if you’re using task cards with reading passages, this might take a little bit longer. But if you’ve shared like if you have done a shared passage or a shared story, if you have question stems or question cards, every student gets a card with a question on it. Or you could even have students come up with a question of their own on a post it note.
But the important thing is every student has a task card or a question card that they can respond to. And before you get started with it, each student needs to read their own question and have an answer to the question on their card. And then they’re going to get up and they’re going to move around a room to find a partner. Sometimes I like to play music to this or read a poem.
And then when I stop, they have to find a partner, you know, something to sort of like make it a little bit more fun. And we always say it’s like you find the very first person that you’re next to there’s no walking around to find your friend. And so when students have found a partner, partner A would read their question, and the other partner would answer it. So the idea is, is they’re going to both respond to the other person’s question card.
And the reason why we want our students to answer the question first is because we want them to have an idea when their partner responds to their question. Can they say, oh, yeah, that’s correct or I have an a different opinion or, you know, look at the evidence here, they basically are serving as the corrector, the person who can tell them if it’s correct or not.
And so once students have responded to the question card or the task card, and they’ve talked about their answers, they’re going to switch cards. So now the student has a new question, or a new passage or a new task card, whatever it is. And now they can find a new partner. And they’re going to repeat that same process, they’re going to find a new partner, and they are going to respond to each other’s questions. And then at the end, they’re going to trade cars.
So they’re going to quiz quiz trade. And the reason why I like this is because students are constantly trading cards, it means that they constantly have a new question stem in front of them or a new task card that they need to respond to, which means it’s okay if they end up being partners with the same person.
I know sometimes when we’re doing things like a mix and mingle or you know, when students are finding someone who they want to gravitate towards their friends, they maybe are shy, and they don’t, you know, want to initiate a new like conversation with somebody else. And so, when you do a quiz, quiz trade, you’re basically saying, you know, it’s okay, if you only have a group of like three or four people that you’re going back to, or it’s okay, if you want to go back to your friends.
I know that students love interacting and being collaborative with their friends. And I tried to create opportunities where that’s okay. And so again, because students constantly have a new card, because every time they interact with somebody, they’re trading cards that they’re responsible for, they can interact with, you know, the same people again.
So I love this one, this one works really well if you have like a multiple choice questions. Or if you have like a short little passage with questions on it, you could even do it with just like question stems. But this is a fun one to do what you know, if you’re, again, like preparing for a test, if you’re checking answers, if you’ve got task cards, this would be good in lieu of like independent practice.
Or, you know, instead of like centers if you want to give your students a little bit more time to practice independently, but in this case, they’re up moving around. So hopefully that makes sense quiz quiz trade, that’s a fun one that students always love.
And then the next one that we do a lot of is four corners. And maybe you’ve heard of this one before, there’s a ton of different ways that you can incorporate this into your classroom.
One of the ways that you can do it is you can label all four corners of the room with each letter A, B, C, and D. And then this works well if you’re having students, you know, review a multiple choice or answer something that has a multiple choice. And so students would answer their multiple choice question, they would write down their answer and explain why they chose it.
And then on your command, whatever your signal word is, students are going to walk to the corner of the room that corresponds to their answer choice, then you’re going to let students you know, discuss and respond their answers. And one of the things that I like to do with four corners is give students an opportunity to change their mind.
And this can work really well. If you are taking a grade for an assessment before students submit their work, I always like to give them an opportunity to think through their answers to you know, double check their work. And so everybody goes to a corner A, B, C, and D have somebody from A say why it’s the right answer, B, say why. So right answer, C, D, and explain.
And a lot of times students might hear another student explain their thinking or their rationale. And they’ll be like, Oh, I didn’t consider that I didn’t see that evidence, and they have an opportunity to change their answer choice. And again, it’s important for us to keep in mind that especially with things like multiple choice, yeah, we want students to get the right answer. But more importantly, we want them to understand why something is the right answer. We want them to understand how that answer came to be.
And so if you can incorporate something like this, it just gives students another chance to understand the thinking behind it. So that’s one way you could do four corners.
Another way that you could do four corners, and I almost like this one better, because you guys know that I’m not a huge fan of multiple choice questions, especially in reading. But another way that you could do it is you could label each corner of the room as a specific category, or kind of like a type of response or descriptor. And then after reading the shared text, you could let your students go to that specific corner.
So for an example, you could label the four corners as one of the corners could be, I have a strong connection to share. One could be I have a question, I’d like to ask, one to be I have a prediction that I want to share. And one could be I have a strong opinion about this text. And then this could be done after your read aloud, you know, even after independent reading, have your students write down, you know, their choice what it is out of those four, a connection, a question a prediction or strong opinion, have them write it down, and then have them go to that corner and discuss it with other students.
So this way, it’s completely open ended, you know, students are just given an opportunity to respond to the text and talk about it. And again, it’s a way for them to get up, move around, you know, have a choice and interact with their peers about something. So that’s another way that you could do four corners.
And again, this is a great routine to use, especially the ABCD side when it comes time for test prep. And so if you spend some time now just even teaching your students the second version that I shared with the labeling with the connection question prediction opinion, your students are used to that routine to where you could then easily modify it for when we get into the season of test prep. So four corners is another movement routine that I love to do.
And then the last one, I think this is already the last one I’m on to number four is. I call it small groups scoot, and I’m sure maybe you haven’t. But scoot is a, I feel like a very popular way for teachers to use task cards. You know, they would place task cards either around the room or on the desk, and students would stand in front of them, and then scoot around from task to task cards. So that way, they’re responding to all of them, but they’re getting up.
So that’s if you do the whole group. I sometimes found that, you know, we would not have enough time to get through all of the task cards. So I would do what I refer to as small group scoot. And my students were usually in groups, a lot of times there would be groups of four desks or groups of six desks together.
And so each table group would get a set of questions or task cards, you would place the question, one question or one task card on each desk, and then you would have your students get up, push in their chairs stand behind the desk, and they would read and respond to the task card that is in front of them. And then when you say scoot, all of the students would rotate around their table in a clockwise direction.
And so every time a student scoots, they’re either reading a new task card or answering a new question. And then students would scoot until they completed all the task cards at their table. So this is great, because again, if you just have groups of four or six, it’s a small amount of work that students are completing, but it’s enough time for them to get up and kind of move around.
So it can be just an easy way for students to get up and practice, you know, some of those routines, especially if you do use task cards, but they get to move around a little bit. A lot of times, they would like to play music, you know, when we’re doing this. And task cards work incredibly well for small groups scoot.
But another way that you could do it is you could have four various response options at each desk. So you know, if you read a shared text, or passage or even your read aloud, students are responding to that. But on each desk, there is a different form of response, and students are just completing one portion of it.
So on one desk, maybe you would have a plot diagram of the story. And you know, students, when they get there, they get to choose which part they want to fill out. So maybe they want to only fill out, you know, the rising action event, or maybe they want to fill out the climax, or maybe they just want to do the hook part.
And so they get to choose, but every student that goes around is going to fill out one part of that diagram, or maybe on one of the desks, you have a set of response questions, and students are just answering one question. And so again, you know, everybody’s responding. But there’s almost this element of surprise. It’s like, okay, what question am I going to have to respond to, you know, and then you could easily do that as a group work or participation, something like that.
But again, as the group, they are completing a different type of response at each desk, you know, you could have a graphic organizer on one desk, and students fill out just one portion of it, you can have a question and answer. You know, if there’s like, again, if it’s four desks are six desks, you could have four boxes, one would be a question box, and then there’d be an answer box right next to it. So half the students would be asking a question, and then the other half would be answering it.
And again, it’s like they get to choose how they’re going to respond to it. But of course, every desk they moved to, they’re going to have less of a choice on how they respond. So that’s another way you could do it.
You could also just have on every desk a different open ended question for students to respond to. So again, you know, what question you have about the text, what connection can you make to the character? What surprised you the most? Which character can you relate to? But it’s just another way for students to get up, move around and respond to a text in a meaningful sort of way.
So here are four different movement routines that you can incorporate. Hopefully, maybe you’re already using something similar to these. If not, I hope that you can pick one of these and start to incorporate it into your classroom. Like I said, this time of year is a great time of year to start to introduce these routines to your students.
And the goal is for them to become routine. So that way, you can say, Okay, we’re going to do loops of learning, or we’re going to do small group scoot or four corners, or whatever it is. And students know exactly what they need to do. So that way, you can quickly and efficiently use this as part of your instructional time, but giving the students an opportunity to get up, move around and collaborate with their peers.
So again, just to review, four different ways that you could get your students moving during your reading block: loops of learning, quiz quiz trade, four corners, or small group scoot.
Let me encourage you to start using one or even all of these routines with your students. And when you do, hopefully, you start to notice, like I said, an improvement with your students attention and focus, as well as an increase in collaboration. And I’d even encourage you to pick one of these routines and see if you can incorporate it into your literacy block today.
So I hope you have a great week, and I look forward to connecting with you next week as well.