Sitting Still in Class is Overrated at The SPOT
Kids at The SPOT might not be sitting still much in class, and that’s actually by design. “We want students to move when they need to and do what works best for them to learn,” said Matt Edwards, director at The SPOT. “Sitting still simply isn’t necessary as much as we tend to think it is in the classroom.”
With grant support from Healthcare Foundation of Wilson, The SPOT implemented “My Classroom MOVES” interactive classrooms in August 2021 to provide students with the opportunity to exercise and move more together or individually throughout the day. The flexible classrooms include rising desks, alternative seating, under-desk treadmills, and floor mats at each station. All ages starting at kindergarten can use the desks since the height is adjustable.
Flexible classrooms can increase engagement, empower student choice, increase oxygen flow to the brain, and improve metabolism. The teachers changed their approach a bit, and before long everyone began to realize the new opportunities. Now that everyone has gotten used to the change, Edwards says both students and teachers seem happy that they no longer have the repeated interruption of a teacher needing to tell students to sit still.
Students have the opportunity to use the desk at anytime during their classroom or homework sessions. They can track calorie burn on the elliptical, which creates a fun opportunity for friendly competitions and some self-motivation. Additionally the program coordinator developed a My Classroom Moves plan for teachers to utilize during their daily class time. For example, teachers can have students stand or use a specific component of the active desk stations while learning for the first 15 minutes of a class.
With a total of 70 desks located in six of nine classrooms at The SPOT, homework or class work can take place two times a day for up to 140 students. They’re using these active desks approximately 12 hours a week. Classrooms at The SPOT are used for more than just homework and tutoring so the new active stations are being used for various programs, including STEM, iPad Labs and Restore Circles.
Another creative way that The SPOT has been keeping students physically moving is with virtual field trips. By using Oculus Virtual Reality, they’ve set up a fun way for kids to physically move within a designated space as they navigate places like monuments in Washington D.C. or The Sistine Chapel. These virtual experiences provide a new kind of active learning that get kids moving and exploring places they might never see otherwise.
“These changes have been extremely successful all around for our students who have ADHD or others who just need to move around more, as well as for those who prefer to sit still,” said Edwards. “When you give students the permission and ability to move freely, they find what works best on their own.”