So a friend of mine has started using "gonoodle.com" with her students and I've seen a few bloggers blog about it so I thought I'd check it out for my very high energy group. I signed up for the free version and spent an hour or so the other nice fiddling with it. It seemed worth it to try it! After all--the website offers both "calm" activities (we often need that!) and "energize" activities (sometimes needed as well). I was worried that my class might find it too babyish so I went into it with a few doubts.
I showed them the characters, explained why brain breaks are so important to learning, and how we need to be able to do things even as adults to help us keep focused and working hard. We voted on our mascot and the kids were overwhelmingly excited for the brain break featuring the song "Happy" (which, by the way, tends to make me irritated and annoyed--but ANYTHING for my students, right?)
The next 3 1/2 minutes were absolutely fascinating.
For the first 30 seconds or so, everyone stood there not quite knowing what to do. Then a few of my more gregarious students got really crazy wild--and within the next 30 seconds I saw a conga line form with about 5 students.
Then it became 10.
2 minutes into the song, I had only two students left sitting at their desks looking uncomfortable. On the next lap around the room, I heard, "Come on, *****! It will be fun! And to my amazement...he joined in. I watched to see what would happen next. A few kids called out to the remaining student who shook his head uncomfortably. The conga line started passing him by when a student at the front of the line broke away, went back, grabbed the boy by the hand and said, "It will be ok--just follow me." He got up, joined behind the line and actually walked behind the class! He didn't dance...he didn't reach out to the student in front of him--but
HE JOINED. (and may have even cracked a smile)
I love the idea of the brain break--but what I saw in my room was 3 1/2 minutes of community building and inclusion. Wow. It was one of those moments that you can't choreograph and can't script and can't predict. Can't lie--choked up a little to see my little guy who really really struggles with social situations be HELPED into a class activity by another one of my students. Victory.