Elementary school in Chaska incorporates movement into learning

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A new style of teaching is shaking things up at one Chaska elementary school. It's called Academics in Motion.

The idea embraces a child's need and desire to move around and uses it to help the students learn.  

“Our initial goal was 'Hey how can we get the worksheet off of the desk and get them moving?'” said Sam Mueller, a kindergarten teacher at Clover Ridge Elementary School.

While working on their math and reading skills, students participate in physical activities like stationary biking, aerobic stepping and hopscotch-like activities. After a few minutes at each station, the students rotate and move to the next lesson.

“I can tell immediately who’s engaged and who isn’t,” said Mueller. “You have a kid doing a worksheet and they look like they’re engaged, but are they? I know if they’re doing the activity, they’re getting it. If not it’s pretty apparent.”

As of this year, Academics in Motion isn’t just for kindergartners. It’s now part of every grade K-5.  

“After last year, we decided we had enough data collected and positive enough results that we wanted to push this out and make it something that was accessible to the entire student body and not just a few classrooms,” said Jake Jauert, the creator of Academics in Motion.

Jauert makes it very clear. This isn’t just jumping around. It’s a science-based strategy.

“We also know the brain, just like any other part of the body, needs oxygen,” said Jauert. “If they’re in their seats they’re getting less oxygen and less blood flow. So, it actually improves their focus.”

“It sounded a little weird at first, but it’s really, really fun,” said Elsie Lopahs, a Clover Ridge fourth grader.

Parents say their kids love it and come home talking about it. 

“They’re not quite as wiggly, I should say, because they’ve had that break during the day and not been sitting all day long, so they’re a little calmer, maybe, you might say at home,” said Tracy Wacker, parent.

To adults, it’s exercise. To kids, it’s fun. But teachers say most of all, it’s a learning style that works.

“The kids love it so much,” said Mueller. “It just feels so successful and it’s fun to see where it keeps going.”

Academics in Motion is only fully implemented at Clover Ridge Elementary. Other schools in District 112 are inquiring and other districts are asking about it too.