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Blogs

RIDE supports several blogs throughout our website where Rhode Islanders and RIDE staff share their thoughts.

On this page, we have collected all of the blogs on our site - many of which share posts from Rhode Island educators other than RIDE staff. Blogs are listed in alphabetical order:

  • Commissioner's Corner: Commissioner Wagner's blog posts and messages to the Rhode Island community.
  • District Teacher of the Year (DTOY): Posts from the Rhode Island District Teachers of the Year, past and present, who share about instructional successes and challenges they encounter in Rhode Island classrooms.
  • Equitable Access to Excellent Educators: Rhode Island educators and RIDE staff explore factors and perspectives on the importance of ensuring that all students are taught by high quality educators.
  • Leadership: Reflections and insights from RIDE’s Leadership Fellow and other district and school leaders on the challenges and opportunities of being a school leader.
  • Rhode Island Poet Laureate: Reflections and poetry focused on teaching, learning, and the experience of education from Tina Cane, Rhode Island Poet Laureate.
  • Rhode Island Science Education (R.I.S.E.): A communication blog to update stakeholders in education and in the community on important developments, events and accomplishments in science education in Rhode Island.
  • Student Voice: Because student voice is an essential component of our discussion on education, RIDE will post essays written by students from around Rhode Island.

Click on a category below to filter by a particular blog:




The Case for More Movement to Engage Learners in our Academic Classrooms

Posted by: Kamlyn Keith on 4/6/2018
Julie Lima Boyle, 2012 Rhode Island Teacher of the Year
English Teacher
Coventry High School

Steven McKanna, 2017 Coventry Teacher of the Year
Physical Education Teacher
Coventry High School

How many of us, when asked to sit still during a meeting or presentation, sometimes find ourselves getting antsy? We just cannot sit still for extended periods. As educators, we have literally and figuratively learned to think on our feet!

Yet too many classroom teachers let a nostalgic notion linger in our minds – despite all of our work and findings to the contrary – that a quiet classroom full of students sitting still writing or reading is the sign of an effectively run classroom. Why is this?

Growing evidence suggests that incorporating brief activity into learning activities helps our students to learn and be more attentive in class. Nationally, a growing number of programs designed to promote movement are being adopted in schools, especially at the elementary and middle levels. Many believe that the time to embrace a “Movement” Movement is upon us.

John Ratey, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, claims: “Movement activates all brain cells kids are using to learn, it wakes up the brain.” Meanwhile, research from the Institute of Medicine suggests that students who are active show greater attention, have faster cognitive processing, and perform better on assessments than students who are less active.

We believe educators owe it to our students to find ways to incorporate activities featuring opportunities for movement into our meaningful instruction. The scientific research backs the informal findings afforded to us by a combined forty plus years in ELA and PE classrooms. To speak plainly: students’ minds can only absorb what their buttocks can endure!

Still, well-meaning educators like us (especially at the high school level) cannot help but wonder, too, how well we prepare students for traditional college lectures and/or the workplace by incorporating more movement into our lessons. Are we delaying their ability to show discipline and focus? How many professors do you hear about who are asking students to move as part of the class?

Our responses to such concerns always circle back to the importance of the life skills we are sharing that extend beyond the demands of any content area or age level. The link between movement and learning is undeniable. We believe that it is now or never for our K-12 students to internalize the important links between activity and education. We are seeking to maximize their health and learning for a lifetime.

Many educators have come to recognize the importance of including reading, writing, numeracy and science skills across curriculum. There is much to suggest that we need to start trying to include movement across curriculum with the same intensity. There is movement in the texts from which we teach English, science, art, tech education, social studies, etc. The topic comes up naturally in all content areas, not just PE.

Students moving in a classroom

Classroom movement activities need not be ancillary or “unnatural” in our lessons: they can be important components of learning. Educators pressured to cover curriculum simply don’t have time for another addition to our “to-do” lists. Educators with our own varying levels of fitness can find activities that work well for all.

Movement is different from exercise. Movement is natural. Most agree that our society is not moving like it used to, so many exercise instead. Walking, lifting, and bending are all natural movements. We do not all have to be fitness trainers to incorporate movement into our instructional strategies.

Gallery walks, “line up” activities, four corners discussions, music mingles, skit performances, and other such strategies are used regularly and well in the ELA classrooms at Coventry High School. Through these initiatives, students of all levels of readiness are engaged in reading complex literary and informational texts. Students often report that they have fun while participating in these formative assessments. These can be great opening, middle, and/or closing activities.

We are indeed at a point where educators should embrace and model the idea that humans benefit mentally as well as physically when we move.

Linked below are some additional ideas and resources to find methods of incorporating movement into your classroom that work for you and your students. Take a risk. Try it out. Note the positive impact on your students’ attention, engagement, and academic performance when we get them moving!


Julie Lima Boyle has been a secondary English teacher at Coventry High School for 19 years. She is the ELA Curriculum Coordinator at her school. She was honored to be selected as the 2012 Rhode Island Teacher of the Year, and, since then, has been facilitating many professional growth workshops for fellow educators in RI.

Steven McKanna has been a secondary physical education teacher in Coventry for 30 years. He is the 2017 Coventry High Teacher of the Year.

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