Saturday, July 12, 2014

Resource Review: GoNoodle.com


During the school year I work with students for pretty short amounts of time (20-60 minutes), so I didn't really find breaks necessary beyond getting up to switch stations or getting a drink of water.  3-hour summer school with 18 kindergarteners and first graders proved an entirely different animal.  The website GoNoodle seriously saved my life.  It has 50+ free "brain breaks" that your students can dance or sing along to.  When you create a class on GoNoodle, you can choose a "champ" that will earn points as your students rack up brain break minutes.  When you reach a certain amount of minutes, your champ makes it to the next level.  Then you can send him to the "transmogrifier" where he transforms into a bigger, stronger champ.  My students went CRAZY every time their champ went to the transmogrifier.  They were blissfully unaware that their points were solely determined by the length of the brain breaks, and instead thought that their participation directly affected the points earned by the champ.  I did not disillusion them. 


As far as implementation goes, there are a couple of things you might want to consider.  If you don't want students lobbying you all day, you can work the brain breaks into the schedule so that they know when to expect them.  I don't make the brain breaks a reward, because when students aren't following behavior expectations might be the time they need it most! Taking away a brain break as a punishment is just going to make antsy students antsier and surly students surlier. Choosing the brain break also requires a procedure to avoid chaos.  Students will quickly develop favorites, and you will find yourself watching Despicable Me minions dancing to "Happy" three times a day if you aren't careful.  You can either make it clear that you will be the one choosing the brain break every day, or else you can rotate letting students choose.  Another thing to watch out for is brain breaks your boys may decide are "for girls." Anything with a pop song in the background or from the movie Frozen may qualify.  To avoid my boys covering their ears and moaning the whole time, I would select a "leader" to go to the front of the room and lead the dance or song.  Their eagerness to be chosen as the leader generally reduced the moaning/ear covering. 

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