GoNoodle – Brain Breaks in the Classroom
Every year, I notice a change in student behavior that starts a week or so before spring break and grows more challenging as the school year comes to a close. Sitting through a lesson becomes increasingly more difficult and even my model citizens have moments of foolishness. I blame it on spring fever, as the longer, warmer days of spring make us all want to spend more time outside. My students and I grow tired of the routines that worked so well for us since fall. Whatever causes this phenomenon, in spring of 2014, I decided to try adding brain breaks by GoNoodle.com to break up our daily routines. This new addition helped me and my students get through the end of the year drama with flying colors.
I found the GoNoodle online program while reading an article on the Edutopia Website. GoNoodle has a large selection of video clips to guide students in dance routines, and also breathing and mindfulness routines. The dance routines perked us up and the mindfulness exercises slowed us down and helped us refocus. I have a mounted projector hooked up to my computer, so it was easy to begin playing GoNoodle videos. My students were very excited and stayed attentive through lessons to earn the next Brain Break. As they did Brain Breaks, we earned minutes (these will be called points in the 2014-2015 school year) that my students found quite motivating. As our minutes added up, we had goofy characters called Champs who went through a metamorphosis from goofy looking small guys to wild looking big guys. My students observed that the more ugly the Champs were when they were little, the cooler they looked at the end. As we finished building up each Champ I printed out its picture and that became a highly coveted award that inspired good behavior.
Examining this classroom dilemma using the Action Research model, I began by reflecting on an Area of Concern, or classroom dilemma. The problem I wanted to address in a positive way was how to deal with student inattentiveness and misbehavior. This problem was beginning to increase just prior to our spring break in April of 2014. I knew from past experience that the challenge would grow as we approached the end of the school year. I wondered if this problem might be managed through the use of brain breaks provided by GoNoodle. I formed my problem into a question. What will be the effects of GoNoodle Brain Breaks on end of the school year wiggles?
The data I collected to study this classroom problem included student completion of tasks, focus on lessons and overall classroom mood before and after we began doing Brain Breaks. My students enjoyed the Brain Breaks, whether active or mindful, very much. Students worked hard to complete our lessons so that they could earn another Brain Break. Brain breaks increased a positive mood in our classroom, for students and for me. Whether we were trying our best to do a Zumba dance routine, or learning to breathe deeply while traveling around the country and learning interesting facts about places in the United States, students participated and I sensed more happy, positive energy and decreases in the inattentive, and unsettled behavior in my classroom.