With only five weeks of school left before the End of Grade tests, the pressure is on! Students, teachers, facilitators, and administrators are all on pins and needles hoping our school digs itself out of school of reform status. Two years ago, only 8% of the fifth graders were reading on grade level. Last year just over 20% of fifth graders were reading on grade level. Based on our Mock EOG last week, we have 45% reading on grade level. (The students took the most recent Released EOG so the scores should be valid.)
One of the things we teach our children is to take brain breaks after every few pages (in math or science) or every passage (in reading). Some of my students put together a huge bulletin board outside my classroom that showcases the test-taking strategies and brain breaks. Brain Gym is a collection of research based movements that engage both hemispheres of the brain. We teach them specific movements that they can do silently at their seat on their own or during the three minute breaks. Here are our favorites:
1. Hold both of your hands out in front of you in a fist. Hold only your thumb out on one hand, and only your pinky out in the other hand. Then switch as quickly as you can. Hold only your thumb out on the opposite hand and only your pinky out on the other hand. Alternate back and forth as fast as you can.
2. Stand up. Hold one leg out in front of you. Make small circles with your toes in a clockwise motion. Hold the opposite arm out in front of your leg. Make small circles with your hand in a counterclockwise motion.
3. Stand up. Hold your right arm and left leg out to the side and pulse them five times. Then hold your left arm and right leg out to the side and pulse them five times. Repeat with your right arm and left leg four times, then left arm and right left four times. Do the same thing pulsing three times on both sides, then two times, then one time. You can get increasingly faster as you go or you can go in slow motion and try to keep your balance.
4. Cross your arms in front of you. Grab your right ear with your left hand. Grab your nose with your right hand. Then switch.
Bring on the EOG's. We're getting ready!