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Milton Hershey School Teacher Incorporates Movement into Classroom

By Cori Bertsch, MHS Elementary Division Teacher

From the moment my second-grade students walk through the door, they are moving and keeping me on my toes. While there is a time and a place for calm and quiet learning, I have found that fitness and movement are essential components to engaged learning. Even on rainy days and while incorporating the school’s health and safety measures of physical distancing, we have been able to make learning fun and interactive at Milton Hershey School.

For example, in math class, students are working together to identify patterns by clapping or stomping while standing behind their desks. The act of standing not only gets the body moving, but it also helps with blood flow and improves posture. Students are concentrating and expressing themselves through movement.

MHS Elementary Division students masked

Teaching reading can also be fun through catchy poems and dancing. The Phonics Dance is a rhythmic chant that introduces language arts concepts and vocabulary in a creative way. Ultimately, this helps the students grow their confidence in reading and writing and is a really fun routine to do together.

While recess may be our students’ favorite activity, they are actually learning important lessons like sharing and conflict resolution. Recently, we’ve been taking walks as a class, which we call “adventures walks.” Not only are they exploring outside, their brains are resetting for an afternoon of productive learning.

Other brain breaks can be incorporated into the classroom setting. One of my students’ favorite brain break moments also involves music. I’ll put on their favorite songs and they drum along using cut up pool noodles as drumsticks on their desks. While they rock out, they are also releasing frustration or just having fun making music together.

MHS second-grade student dancing with noodles

The common theme throughout these classroom movement examples is that they are doing these activities together. Without even knowing it, we are helping our students’ overall health, self-confidence, and improving moods.

These tips are not only for students. While drumming at your desk with pool noodles may be funny for adults, there are acts of self-care, mindfulness, and developing healthy habits that can be incorporated into the day. For example, take a walk, stand at your desk, and be realistic when creating your to-do list so you aren’t biting off more than you can chew.

In Memorial Hall, myself and other Elementary Division teachers are holding each other accountable by doing monthly self-care assessments that encourage healthy habits through a self-care bingo game. As we complete an activity, we mark it off and receive a prize at the end of every month for taking care of ourselves so we can better support our students.

MHS teacher Cori Bertsch and her daughters

MHS Teacher Cori Bertsch and her three daughters out for a hike.

I try to set a good example for my daughters and students by maintaining my overall health and fitness. Participating in physical activity as a group, whether at school or at home, strengthens bonds and improves overall mood for a successful day.

Both in the classroom and out, it’s all about finding balance and creative ways to get your body moving and staying active, the productivity and learning are bound to follow.

Milton Hershey School does not discriminate in admissions or other programs and services on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, sex, religious creed or disability. Read important MHS policies on equal opportunity and diversity, equal employment opportunity, and more.