In an effort to meet the developmental needs of the whole child in mind, body, and soul, St. Jerome Catholic School in Spring Branch has adopted the philosophy and practice of Action Based LearningTM (ABL).
ABL was developed from brain research that strongly supports the link between movement and learning. Its aim is to increase the health, wellness, and education of students through movement, as well as fill developmental gaps.
Students engaged in ABL show improved memory retention, increased focus and attention, improved grades, and fewer behavioral issues.
St. Jerome teachers incorporate ABL concepts into their classrooms, which can include flexible seating options and opportunities for purposeful movement throughout the day. The lab is facilitated by Natalie Phillips, Instructional Specialist, in partnership with each classroom teacher.
The objectives of all ABL class sessions are to fill developmental gaps (in the younger grades); prepare the brain for learning by focusing on the 12 Foundations of Learning Readiness: Cross Lateralization, Body in Space, Balance, Motor Skills, Hand/Eye/Foot Coordination, Physical Fitness, Visual Development, Tactile Learning, Rhythm, Cardiovascular Fitness, Problem Solving, and Self Management; and reinforce and review academic content
Students rotate through stations allowing them to practice academic content while working on one of the 12 foundations listed above. Standards are drawn both from the Physical Education curriculum and subject areas that a station activity reinforces.
Typically, 2-3 stations will allow students to practice what they are working on in Math (e.g., skip counting, number line activities, etc.) and 2-3 for ELAR (e.g, spelling words, parts of speech, vocabulary, etc.).
The remaining stations tap into physical education skills
personalized for each grade level, and include activities designed to
promote learning readiness, such as visual tracking, crossing the
midline, and balance and coordination.
The remaining stations tap into physical education skills personalized for each grade level, and include activities designed to promote learning readiness, such as visual tracking, crossing the midline, and balance and coordination.
Teachers in elementary inform Mrs. Phillips what they are working on in class, and she will put together kinesthetic activities that reinforce the concepts. Catholic identity is also reinforced by starting each ABL session with prayer, and finishing with Psalm 129: “I am a child of God! I am wonderfully made, dearly loved, and precious in God’s sight!”
Movement in the lab increases activity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, leading to gains in focus, memory retention, and executive function.
But the best part of all, according to a third grade student, “It’s just fun!”