As teachers, after spending a few hours with your class, it’s easy for you to tell which teaching method works best for your students – whether it’s auditory, kinesthetic, or visual. Perhaps the most difficult students to work with, however, are active (kinesthetic) learners. They’re the ones shaking their legs, fidgeting, and tapping their pencils on the desk when everyone’s reading. At first, they might appear to be disruptive, but the reality is, they simply learn by movement not by sitting. In other words, their bodies need to be in motion in order for them to understand what’s being taught. The good news is that once you find a way to connect with those students, the class as a whole will likely be more engaged in the material being presented.
It doesn’t have to be a lot of work on your part to get these students involved. They just need to know that you care and you’re making an effort to include them in the curriculum. So how can you help your kinesthetic learners in the classroom?
Allows Students to Work in an Alternative Space: When most people think of the word “education,” they typically envision a classroom environment where students are sitting at a desk listening to an instructor. While this is true for some, it’s not always the case for most, especially when it comes to kinesthetic learners. In fact, education is the means of gaining knowledge by use of various learning, teaching, and study strategies, and this is where alternative learning environments can help.
Creating an alternative working space – or relaxing atmosphere – for students to work in allows them to thrive in a communal environment where each person is involved in a different task. Within these workstations, students are able to collaborate with one another without feeling the stress of the academic environment lingering over their head. These spaces also provide students with the opportunity to expand their network with other students, faculty members, and volunteers. This means that not only will kinesthetic learners benefit from the mentorship of various education officials, but they can be themselves and study in an environment that doesn’t restrict them to a desk for 4 to 8 hours – depending on the education level.
Provide Project-Based Learning (PBL): Generally speaking, engagement and passion are two things that are in short supply in our education system today – between teachers and students. It’s as if the system doesn’t accommodate for all the learning styles out there which means, students who care about their education could still miss out on other important work-life lessons, like how to be a creative problem solver, or how to work in groups.
This is why project-based learning is important for all learning styles – not just kinesthetic.
For starters, project-based learning (PBL), is a teaching technique that involves the teacher presenting a problem to the class and the class solving it together in smaller groups. So rather than reading off the facts to students and hoping it stays in their head, teachers give students the resources or clues they need and watch them work their magic. Throughout this learning method, mistakes are allowed and even encouraged as long as they use it as a learning tool to recognize and address the problem as a group. The result: Students will become better active learners and engage themselves in the material being presented by the instructor. They’ll also develop important workplace skills as they work on becoming more efficient in planning, flexibility, and collaboration.
Implement Movement In the Day-to-Day Curriculum: According to Concordia University, “one of the major goals of teaching critical thinking is turning students into active learners.”
How, then, can you turn kinesthetic learners into active learners?
The process isn’t that difficult at all. You just have to get creative and utilize small movements in your lesson plan. Let be honest here, sitting all day is hard for anyone. In fact, sitting has become such a big a problem that the phrase “Sitting is the New Smoking” is now a common expression used to point out how sitting for long periods of time can a decrease a person’s muscle mass and increase the fat throughout their body. This leads to things like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and heart failure according to the American Medical Association.
As a teacher, it’s important for you to learn about the different ways students can engage their body’s while studying. This might sound silly to some, but even incorporating some sort of physical movement while students read from a book can help them recall the information a lot better. You could have them reenact a scene from a play, or have them stand up when it’s their turn to read in class. You can even have them demonstrate a battle scene, for instance, using a visual from class. Again, allowing students to use their body parts throughout a lesson will increase their motor memory. So when test time comes around, they’ll be prepared and not running frantically asking other students for the answers.
In the end, yes, kinesthetic learners can create a few obstacles in your lesson plan, especially if that’s not your way of teaching. However, thinking outside the box and getting their bodies involved can make learning the material fun. As an instructor, don’t be afraid to experiment with your class. Find out what works, and what doesn’t.
Guest Author: H. Davis
Thanks for the read! Did I miss anything? What are some strategies you use to teach kinesthetic learners? Feel free to leave a comment below.
Davis loves exploring the wilderness and working with children to better their education. If you can’t find him online, you might be able to catch him cheering on the Dodgers, or reading up on social issues.
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