03/10 - Move it or lose it: Exercising the brain - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Education News

03/10 - Move it or lose it: Exercising the brain

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Posted: Monday, March 10, 2003 10:03 am | Updated: 2:05 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

A student can learn academic ideas through movement of the body, and some students even learn better when physical action is involved, a Scottsdale fitness teacher says.

Angela Gilliam, fitness teacher at Aztec Elementary School, integrates academic concepts from the classroom into her physical education routine.

"Basically, you can teach anything through movement," said Gilliam, who has taught at Aztec for six years. "At our school we try to teach the entire child, every bit of the child, not just the one area."

Basic activities include students speaking in Spanish while counting stretching exercises, spelling out words as they perform jumping jacks, or learning about the heart during cardiovascular exercise.

Gilliam has also done bowling units in which students have to learn the math that forms their score.

The philosophy behind such integration of curriculum is that by including physical movement, you address the whole child.

"If you actually move through it, it stays with you longer," she said.

On top of that, the children still get the benefit of the exercise intended in fitness classes.

Another practice the students learn is "creative movement," in which they are given the freedom to decide how they want to move in relation to loose direction given by the instructor. Gilliam may give concepts like shapes, symmetry, balance, or counterbalance, and have the students act out the ideas as they wish.

She also has the students act out through movement or dance topics in drama, English or social studies.

"It adds another facet of learning other than sitting there and reading a book," Gilliam said.

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