Energizers promote active classrooms at Friendly Hills
Energizers promote active classrooms at Friendly Hills
Posted on 05/06/2016
Energizer Training at Friendly Hills
Friendly Hills 5th and 6th grade teachers underwent "Energizer" training during their April 29 professional development day.

On the morning of April 29, all Friendly Hills Middle School teachers in grades 5 and 6 gathered to bend, stretch, jump, and twist, while simultaneously answering simple mathematics or vocabulary questions. The teachers were learning new ways to infuse physical activity into their classrooms as part of a professional development day. Training on the “Energizers” – classroom-based activities that combine physical activity with academic concepts – was conducted with the assistance of experts from the University of Minnesota Extension.

“Thanks to the Energizer training, our staff possess another great resource to help all students reach their potential,” said Chris Hiti, principal of Friendly Hills Middle School. “There is no shortage of research showing the connection between physical activity and academic achievement. It’s in the best interest of our students to help them be more active during the day, improving both their schoolwork and their long-term health.” 

According to the University of Minnesota, which has adapted the Energizers from a similar program in North Carolina, incorporating physically active lessons into the school day improves student learning. Integrating movement-oriented cues with audio- and visual-based cues activates more areas of the brain and creates additional learning opportunities. Likewise, studies have shown that the brain learns best in the calming state, which can be reached through physical activity.

“Our district has a long history of promoting wellness, and several elementary schools in the district have already incorporated activity into their classrooms through programs like Jammin' Minute. It’s great to now extend those concepts into the middle school,” said Hiti.

A similar training on Energizers was held for teachers in grades 7 and 8 on January 29. Since then, teachers have been utilizing the activities to reinforce lessons, connecting learning targets in math or vocabulary to specific movements. Teachers have even taken students on “learning walks”, where they discuss a recent lesson in groups while moving around the building.

Energizer Training at Friendly Hills, Jumping“Already we’ve seen teachers taking steps to promote more active learning in our school,” said Hiti. “I look forward to seeing the impact of these trainings now that the resources are available to all Friendly Hills teachers.” 

The Energizers focus on two types of movement to promote learning: lateral movement and activities that result in crossing the midline of the body. These simple activities improve blood flow to the all parts of the brain. Even just standing will improve blood flow by 20 percent compared to sitting.

Other benefits for students include improved focus, concentration and a longer attention span. The Energizers can also be an effective resource for teachers looking to refocus or engage a classroom and break up periods of lecture. Moreover, many energizers make use of student creativity for fun, interactive learning.

The Energizers trainings were made possible through funding from the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP), the Minnesota Department of Health and the Dakota County Public Health Department.