Activating Learning by Milling to Music
When students pretend they’re at a fancy party making small talk, a simple brainstorm for writing ideas becomes more lively, more cooperative—and more effective.
There is a strong body of research indicating the benefits of movement and activity in the classroom. When combined with cooperative tasks, they can be a potent tool for learning. At Pierre Elliott Trudeau Elementary School in Gatineau, Quebec, third- and fourth-grade teacher Fiona Medley uses a playful strategy to get kids up out of their chairs and participating: She lets them wander around and chat about ideas with each other—while playing music. Although she also employs traditional reading and writing activities to help her students develop language skills, Medley relies on music, movement, and other arts integration strategies to teach vocabulary, story structure, and active listening. When it comes time to write, students are inspired, creative, and more focused.
To learn more about the research behind the practices seen in the video, check out the links below.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics’ report on how play enhances development in young children (2018)
- Kayleigh Skene, Christine M. O’Farrelly, Elizabeth M. Byrne, Natalie Kirby, Eloise C. Stevens, and Paul G. Ramchandani’s meta-analysis and review on whether guidance during play can enhance children’s learning and development in educational contexts (2022)
- Rachel Parker, Bo Stjerne Thomsen, and Amy Berry’s article on learning through play at school (2022)
- Luca Petrigna et al.’s study on whether lessons that include physical activity can improve academic achievement (2022)
- Lukas Mundelsee and Susanne Jurkowski’s research on the effects of collaboration on participation for all learners (2021)
- Suzanne F. Lindt and Stacia C. Miller’s article exploring strategies to incorporate movement into learning in elementary school (2017)
- Ella Shoval and Boaz Shulruf’s research on the benefits of combining cooperative learning with movement and activity (2011)
The partner-based discussion activity Milling to Music was developed by educator Jeanne Gibbs.