Running head: BRAIN BREAKS

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Brain Breaks
Lauren Clark
University of South Florida

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Background

Right now I am in my Level II internship of the Elementary Education program at the
University of South Florida. I have been at Pride Elementary School in New Tampa for the past
two semesters and the classroom I intern in focuses on reading and writing. The classroom is
split into two blocks, each block containing about 17 to 18 students. After pursuing this career
for two years now, numerous things have intrigued me about this field and all of the aspects
that compose it. Currently, I am curious about how I can get my students more focused during
class. Sometimes I notice that my students get distracted easily or zone out during lessons.
Therefore, the purpose of my inquiry is to help me alleviate these issues in the classroom. This
inquiry is important for my students and their performance in the classroom because being
focused is one of the qualities of being a high-performing and successful student. Furthermore,
this inquiry is important for my practice as an educator because I can take what I learn from
this experience and apply it to my future classrooms.
Wondering
With this purpose, I wonder how brain breaks can impact the overall performance of a
student in my internship classroom. In addition to the affect they can have on my students
becoming more focused, I want to know what effects brain breaks have on how a student
behaves in the classroom, interacts with peers, performs on assignments, etc.
Literature Connections
To find literature for my wondering I used USF’s online research resources on the
school library’s website. I used keywords such as brain breaks, movement in the classroom, and
body movement when using the search engine. I did not use a specific journal because I had a
hard time finding the ones that were provided for us as a suggestion. Though, Educational
Leadership did come in handy.

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The first article I read was called “Getting Physical All around the Classroom.”
Although this one did not talk specifically about the effects brain breaks and body movement
has on the individual, it gave numerous ideas of how to incorporate physical activity
throughout all subjects and areas in the classroom. These areas ranged from math area to art
area, all the way to classroom chores.
The second article I read was called “Movement in the Classroom: Boosting Brain
Power, Fighting Obesity.” This article discusses the importance of exercise and how to make it
happen in the classroom. After reading this, I learned how classroom activities can be modified
and adapted for every grade level, subject, and child to meet the physical and mental needs for
each student.
The third article I read was called “Energizing Students.” I really enjoyed this article
for many reasons. For one, it referred to brain breaks as “energizers.” I never heard them called
this before and this gave me a new keyword to use in my research. Furthermore, this article
talked about different energizers to use within the classroom during science instruction. By
reading this article, I learned how energizers positively influence the brain and gained ideas of
what energizers can be.
There were many ideas and recommendations that were discussed throughout each
article that were similar across all articles I read. For instance, one recommendation was how
brain breaks or physical movements in the classroom can be short and take up little time. They
could be as simple as stretching or doing ten jumping jacks during the middle of a lesson.
Another idea was how body movement can be incorporated throughout the day no
matter what. It doesn’t matter what subject or what time it is, it is always a good time to get the
body moving if you think it is what your students need. “Students can complete an activity as
they perform an academic task—for example, running in place while reciting a poem, counting

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by 2s while touching their toes or doing sit-ups, or quizzing one another on an upcoming test as
they hold a push-up position,” (Reilly, Buskist, & Gross, 2012).
Overall, I gained a whole new perspective of how I can incorporate movement into the
classroom and how many benefits these movements can provide. I realized that a brain break
doesn’t have to be something we stop the lesson to do but something that can be implemented
throughout the lesson. We can use movement to help us better understand whatever we are
learning, whether it be spelling, multiplication, vocabulary, etc. The recommendations and
ideas I identified from the literature will help inform my inquiry work because now I have a
collection of numerous movements and breaks I can use throughout the day. Thus, the actions I
decide to take based on the literature are to try out some of the ideas I learned, such as slap
counting to spelling words or yoga after long periods of sitting, and see how the students react
to them. I think that the literature made me realize that my wondering does not have to focus
specifically on brain breaks but can focus on body movements as well, which is something I
will remember when I am inside the classroom.
Methods
To gain insight into my wonderings, I began to take action in the classroom. Something
that I added to my teaching practice was informing my teacher about what I was inquiring. By
informing her, I had an extra person to discuss my ideas with and gather insight from. It is nice
to hear from a person who has a different perspective of the classroom. Something else I began
to do was pay more attention to when the students needed brain breaks and when I noticed
them starting to lose focus. Adding these two actions to my teaching practice allowed me to
implement brain breaks more effectively in the classroom.
Moreover, other actions I took were collecting numerous forms of data. This data
included conducting interviews, reading more literature, conducting observations, and looking

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up blogs pertaining to the subject. For interviews, I interviewed my collaborating teacher about
brain breaks and several students after we completed a brain break. These interviews were both
formal and informal. The literature expounded upon what I had already collected and connected
to. My observations were very informal. During these, I just took note of how my students were
participating and reacting to the brain breaks we did. Lastly, the blogs I found described
multiple brain break ideas. Included in these blogs were directions for the brain breaks and
videos of them in action.
I made sense of the data in many different ways. For instance, after my CT interview, I
learned that I need to pay attention to two particular students when doing the brain breaks
because these are the students that would need the brain breaks the most. In addition, I learned
what my students liked and did not like about the brain breaks I introduced. By doing this, I
know what works and does not work with them. This ensures that I incorporate the most
effective brain breaks during my time there once a week. Overall, by continuing to add actions
to my practice and collect other forms of data, I can continue to see the effects of my inquiry on
my students over a semester long period. The information I gather will allow me to help them
in the classroom and also give me the opportunity to apply my newfound knowledge in my own
classroom someday.
Findings

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References
Almarode, J., & Almarode, D. (2008). ENERGIZING STUDENTS. Science Teacher,
75(9), 32.
Getting physical all around the classroom. (2006). Scholastic Early Childhood Today,
20(6), 40-41. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/217924376?
accountid=14745
Reilly, E., Buskist, C., & Gross, M. K. (2012). Movement in the Classroom: Boosting Brain
Power, Fighting Obesity. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 48(2), 62-66.