Get Active in the Classroom to Boost Literacy
Steve Hardaker, headteacher of St Luke’s C of E Primary School in Wigan
At St Luke’s we believe that being active throughout the day increases attainment and improves behaviour. We’ve also found that the fun element of sport and games improves children’s mood, energising them in other classes.
We often use a ‘Jigsaw’ approach in classes, so children work in pairs or groups to solve a problem and then one from each pair will move to another group to share ideas. This means that pupils are getting up, moving around and beginning to think and communicate in different ways, not just sitting in front of a laptop or staying with their friends for the whole class.
We have enjoyed ‘Wake Up, Shake Up’ in the classroom, so when we were offered the chance to be a trial school for Super Movers, an initiative developed by the BBC and the Premier League, we grabbed the opportunity with both hands.
Super Movers offers high-quality, curriculum-linked free video resources for teachers to use to help improve children’s literacy and numeracy skills at the same time as being physically active. It is now a part of our ‘physical diet’ at St Luke’s and sits alongside activities such as the ‘Daily Mile’.
The children love the videos because they identify with the key characters, such as Hacker T. Dog and Karim Zeroual from CBBC and find that learning about question and exclamation marks while following dance routines, is much more fun than listening to an explanation from the teacher and doing worksheets. The children in Year 2 have loved the adjectives and adverbs video, whilst CBBC presenter Ben Shires has made Year 5 look at commas, brackets and dashes in a whole new light.
We often use Super Movers for SODA (Start of Day Activity). During registration time we get children up and moving to one of the Super Movers videos in the classroom. We have found that it is a good idea to use one video for several days as the children like the routine and it helps them focus on a particular skill.
We did a Healthy Assembly recently and chose Reading Aloud with the Worst Witch. This covered punctuation and ‘reading with feeling’. We got some of the older children out at the front as performers and also along the sides so the younger children could see them and copy the movements.
I observed Year 4 children learning about homophones; the teacher used the Johnny and Inel video. They had a great time and were gripped by it, including children who perhaps wouldn’t usually have enjoyed dancing and singing. Afterwards, I asked them to explain what they had learnt. Children could define what a homophone was and provide good examples. They also said that it made them feel good!
We have found that Super Movers videos fit perfectly with our vision. They appeal to all types of learners whilst maintaining the importance of regular exercising and promoting a healthy lifestyle.
The videos are engaging and fun; the songs and movements engage children and help them to understand and remember. I’ve witnessed children re-enacting the videos at playtime and I’ve even passed children in the corridor singing Super Movers’ songs. Be warned: they are very catchy!
Hints and tips
- Super Movers can be a good way to start the day, especially if you use one video for several consecutive days.
- Use the videos to introduce a ‘brain break’ into a period of intense work.
- Try them for a whole school activity in assembly or at the end of the day.
- Introduce videos into history or science lessons so children realise that spelling, grammar and punctuation are not just for English classes.
If you are interested in active learning Super Movers, from the BBC and Premier League, has over 60 free videos teachers can use in the classroom. Visit the website to find out more www.bbc.co.uk/supermovers.
About the author
Steve Hardaker is headteacher of St Luke’s C of E Primary School in Wigan.