In our program, the class planners are divided into 6 parts. Each part works to set the student up for the next part of the class so that by the time the class is over, the mission of creating a cool experience for every student every class (while also helping them become better) is accomplished. Also, this is not an “overnight” revelation. I’ve put decades of research and development into this strategy.
Part 1: Class begins with a routine that has a systematic variety of age-specific warm-ups so that our students are never bored with it.
What makes this cohesive to the next section of the planner is that a good warm-up gets more blood flowing to the brain, which is the main character in this concept. Keep in mind that if your students are bored with the warm-ups, then they won’t apply much effort, which leads to lesser blood flow to the brain, aka: brain fuel.
Part 2: The second part of the class is the mat chat where we cover details about the skill we are going to cover in the day’s planner including: the main benefits to the skill and how it applies to their training; how this skill can be applied at home and school; and a quick list of the skill building drills we are going to play to help practice the skill.
What makes this cohesive to the next section of the class planner is that it activates their desire to learn, because now they understand what they are going to do next, and why it is going to help them become better.
Part 3: The next part of the class is the skill-building drills, or game-based learning drills. Now, these are not some random drills that were put together just to fill class time. Our drills are skill-based and incorporate age-specific training.
What makes this cohesive to the next section of the planner is that proper drills influence the brain’s “working memory.” Basically this is when the brain starts to fire up more neurons, which in turn leads to the production of proteins that enable new connections to be wired, also know as neural growth. In other words, the kids’ brains are at the maximum level to start learning and retaining information wicked-fast!
Part 4: The next part of class is when we cover the curriculum that they will be tested on for this particular skill. We call it their skill-stripe testing, or curriculum checkpoint.
What makes this cohesive in the planner is, now that the brain is firing at optimal levels, fluid intelligence is kicking in. This is the process where the brain is re-wiring to function at a higher level than normal, so it picks up material faster, and also stores it for long-term use.
Part 5: The next part of the class is the cool-down. We run our students through a cool-down routine, and like the warm-ups, include a systematic variety of age-specific stretches so that they don’t get bored with the same routine.
What makes this cohesive to our goal of maximizing classroom value is that this portion of the class is when the students “download” the information they just learned as they stretch. Just like when you are downloading a big file that takes a little time, if you were to shut off your computer before the download is complete then that information doesn’t get stored properly – that’s why the cool-down is so important.
Part 6: The final part of the class is when we play a fun game. We rotate a collection of age-specific games that are all geared towards one main goal – and that goal is fun!
What makes this final part of the class cohesive to our bigger picture is that the students leave with the BIGGEST smiles on their faces. We want the last thing they remember when they leave is fun and: fun equals cool.
So: cohesive integration? Yep, it works. Keep in mind that you should have kick butt curriculums and instructors that compliment this mindset as well. This format isn’t going to solve all of your problems, but it’s a good place to start!