I often take 10 to 12 students for targeted handwriting AKA Move to learn type activities! Most of my students are quite active and love to escape the classroom. At times they are very noisy and mostly want to do things 100 miles an hour, in competition with each other or just want to be silly together. I’ve been experimenting with various activities to get them to move with organised purpose. The other week I tried the paired rolling we did at the conference. I was a little reluctant to try this earlier as most of the students don’t/can’t roll slowly in a coordinated manner crossing the mid-line. Well, this worked out the best thing I have tried. It challenged the students to work together engaging them in problem solving in order to roll successfully together. The results were fantastic, the movements were slower, their focus sustained and their rolling style much improved. And, they still had fun! Since then they seem to be more settled and I don’t feel that I am spending half the time refocusing the students. Thank you to the person who suggested this activity!
Move to Learn – An intervention programme
I incorporated Move to Learn into my teaching and learning programme 1st term of 2008. I was teaching Year 1 at the time. Three of my students had learning difficulties and another two students showed limited body and spatial awareness. The learning disorders and difficulties amongst these children included
· Fine motor control
· Short term memory
These difficulties impacted heavily on their reading, writing and numeracy acquisition.
We always started our day with movement and music and this is where I noted 5 of my boys who displayed awkwardness with their bodies and would tend to find a corner or a table to lean on as they moved to the music. My two students with autism would not move at all. The other 3 lacked confidence and were clearly unhappy with the simple dance movements.
Within 3 months of the programme, the class as a whole worked through the morning’s movement and music with a greater level of happiness and would invent new dance moves which they would teach each other. 80% of the class clearly had mastered all of the basic movements and were able to assist others experiencing difficulties. Their engagement in the learning programme indicated good use of short and long term memory.
By third term, my five boys were experiencing greater confidence with their dance movements and were happy and confident in the classroom and playground. Two of the boys were reading and writing short simple stories and had mastered all the foundation movements. I am teaching Year 2/3 now and half of my students from last year moved along with me, including my five boys.
I have continued with the Move to Learn Programme, however I only target six boys, two of which began this year. Three of the boys were receiving Occupational Therapy weekly throughout term one and two and two have since been discharged as they had achieved age appropriate competency in fine motor control. Of the six learning difficulties, short term memory, fine motor and immaturity have shown significant improvement. These students are still currently behind in reading and writing acquisition but they are making good progress. They move confidently around the classroom and playground and demonstrate greater fine motor control and planning.
I believe that the Move to Learn Programme, coupled with a number of other intervention strategies, has contributed to the range of movement and language competencies that these boys are now enjoying. It is evident that the programme will need to continue for some time to support and tune them into learning.
Charmian Venn, EYES Conference Move to Learn Sept. ‘09
For several years now I have been teaching my reading program with selected students form years 4-7 at TDHS.
During the first week or two of each school year I test each student to assess their reading age. Those who test up to -3 years behind their CA are removed from their classes for small group work twice a week. I begin with a phonetic based program, move to a spelling program and finally to a sight word and comprehension based program. I devote the first 20 minutes of each session to MtL exercises and then move to the reading program for the remaining 20 minutes.
After several weeks of introducing and perfecting the MtL exercises I add other physical components, to the exercises, like balancing, throwing, catching, bouncing, hopping, juggling etc.
The immediate benefits that I noticed once I start the exercises with a group of students is that they become less fidgety, are happier and begin to follow instructions more easily.
The classroom teachers notice similar improvements too.
At the end of the semester I test the students and the results have been consistently impressive.
Year 4 and year 5 students improve their reading age at an average rate of 6 months and Year 6s and Year 7s 12 months. The most impressive improvement in a reading age for a student over one semester has been 2 years and 9 months. This improvement is beyond the normal CA increase.
I have been responsible for implementing this program at our school for three years now. At the beginning of last year, two year 1 teachers began to teach MtL to their whole classes which was a huge task and, I might add, at which they persevered with admirably. In one of these year 1 classes there were two boys diagnosed with autism, one with dyspraxia and one who was decidedly different who hadn’t been diagnosed with anything except ‘very intelligent with oral language but unable to write a thing on paper’. These students were especially hard to teach the exercises to and with the whole class involved at the same time and only 2-3 adults helping at any one time.
Progress seemed minimal. But, more of that later. The school admin began to take notice of the results I was getting along with the positive comments from the year 1 teachers! So, in semester two last year we decided to introduce MtL to the three P-P classes with 2 x 40 mins sessions a week.
It took 8-9 weeks to correctly implement the exercises, so that the students, the P-P teachers and the teacher assistants were confident with what they were doing.
We chose to survey the parents of the P-P students at the end of term 3 to see if they had noticed any positive behaviour changes with their child since the beginning of the term. Some of the choices were:-
. concentrating more
. remembering messages
. showing better sleep patterns
. showing increased self confidence
. improved throwing skills and balancing
Overwhelmingly, the parents replied with ‘improved sleep patterns’.
In term 4 the P-P teachers and assistants continued on their own. At the end of the year the teachers noted a general improvement in the mood and overall happiness of the classes as a whole. One teacher noted a specific improvement with a student who was unable to climb on any equipment as he had little balance, difficulty gripping anything with his hands and lacked confidence. By the end of the year he was climbing the equipment with all his mates and hasn’t looked back.
At the completion of the year our school decided to implement MtL into all the JP classes in 2009. So at the beginning of this year students who had been taught MtL in year 1 were placed in 4 different year 2/3 classes and with their upskilled teachers and assistants continued with the program which has been very successful. All year 1 and P-P classes have continued with the program this year as well.
That left the Kindy class!
I decided that I would attempt to teach the program to the brand new 3 and 4 year old Kindy kids as soon as they started school in term 1.
After several near meltdowns the Kindergarten teacher and I succeeded in implementing the program over the first semester. It is now a pleasure to walk into the Kindy class when they are doing MtL and watch the progress that these ‘babies’ have made since February this year.
Thank you to the Kindy teacher for persevering.
So now our entire Junior Primary classes are experiencing the MtL exercises and regime – a total of 200 students.
Talking of progress, remember the year 1 students (from last year) with autism, dyspraxia and the non-writer? Well, in June this year I was called to the class by the teacher to see the results of 16 months of MtL with these students. Not only did I see some with neat, legible work, correct phonetic spelling and incredible stories I saw one boy, who was told he would never be able to write a word because of his autism, writing. He can now write from L-R and top – bottom and form letters correctly and independently.
I know we will continue to see more and more success stories like those in the future.
In my opinion the MtL program, as a holistic program, has changed the lives of some students at TDHS whether it be they are happier, sleeping better, more confident and coordinated or improved reading and spelling ages. We are certainly lucky at TDHS with such dedicated staff to teach and implement MtL as well as having the support of Admin and parents. Perhaps by the time I get to test the year 4-7 students in the future I will not have any candidates for my small group reading program! That would be progress!
A Participating Teacher from the 2006 Research;
Last year (2006) we did the MTL programme every day in the school with all the kids (2.5 – 6 years). At the end of the year, we normally expect the older children to be working with 50-odd piece puzzles and be able to draw a decent body image (mostly still ‘stick’ like). Well by Dec 2006, we were running out of 100-piece puzzles (first time EVER) and the body images were all full figure and with immense detail…… You see – it CERTAINLY works!’
Jocelyn King, Nyngan High School, Australia:
Thank you so much for producing the video. It is very informative and helpful. I have also gained a lot of information from the books. They have been extremely helpful.
Carol Hewatt, Sydney Australia:
Thanks for your 1st missile. I will be able to use the tip about walking up the stairs! Great to have someone to discuss some of the joys and trials. I have continued this term with two classes of 15 for 4 days of 15 minutes.
My sixth class boys have progressed to marching and rope skipping which they beg for after our flip flops etc. I am preparing an evaluation page for them to record the informal changes they verbalise to me e.g. I could read for just 10 minutes, last night I read for an hour! They are so proud of their achievements.
A visiting principal from a sister school in Uruguay spent some time with me watching the movement program and then talking with me. He was so impressed by what could be done for LD with no cost as his country is very poor. He said that, that input was the most worthwhile part of his visit. Of course I loved having a captive audience too! More appreciative than our teachers! He watched your video and went home with a copy and an outline of the exercises and a list of books that could be useful.
My school continues with the usual mix of parent/teacher who can understand what I am doing and are supportive and the others who are negative/derisive.
Great to hear from you… Thank you for all you continue to do… you are an inspiration!
Svea Gold, USA:
Your book and video arrived yesterday and of course I have already read the book and seen the video. I am very much impressed. Of course we are on the same wavelength.
I have great admiration for the fact that you are tackling the schools.
Your information is so valuable but I have little hope to reach the schools here except fot the occasional teacher or so. With the “No Child Left Behind” the teachers are exhausted. The kids are forced to read before they are ready and Middle School and High School students can’t read.
Your work is great and I love the whole child approach. Part of the problem here, is that if a teacher identifies a vision problem, the school is required to pay for treatment! Since the schools don’t have the money, the teachers are not allowed to say anything. Just forget about the other problems!
Anyhow, one step at a time, and I will do what I can with the backing from your material! Great stuff!
I am delighted to be part of your network!
Prarthna, OT, Sydney
I am the principle Occupational Therapist at Advance Occupational Therapy in Castle Hill Sydney. I use Move to Learn with many of my clients for lateralisation, improving concentration, sensory processing issues to name a few. Its a great movement sequence that all children can benefit from.
Louise Weavers, Physiotherapist, Thailand
Louise was working with a little boy , 7 yrs old.Struggling with reading and writing and great difficulty with L/R discrimination and lots of reversals with reading and writing. b/d and q/p and then did unilateral crawling for 2 weeks- he stopped doing reversals. He did the crawling for 5 days a week.