Audra Holck, a physical education teacher at Chinook Trail Middle School in Colorado Springs, Colorado, has a unique approach to her physical education classes: she only teaches MovNat. As a level 2 MovNat Certified Trainer, she draws upon her certification experience to design and implement her own MovNat program for 6th-8th grade students. And her students absolutely love it!
Audra plans and teaches six MovNat classes each day – two for each grade level – running about 45 minutes per class. Each class she teaches consists of a diverse student body, ranging from 20-30 students per class, including those acquiring English and with special needs. Her physical classroom is a functional and inviting space to engage her students in MovNat (and would be a true treat for any MovNatter to move in).
Fully-outfitted with MovNat’s cube equipment and mats, there are countless opportunities to practice a wide variety of Natural Movement skills: from ground movement to climbing on top of elevated surfaces. Her classroom also has important tools, such as weights for lifting/carrying skills and bands to support climbing skills. When it’s time for games that require more space, she expands her classroom onto the football field outside, overlooking the mighty Rocky Mountains.
Her approach to structuring her physical education classes for adolescents is different from how a MovNat Certified Trainer might program sessions for adults. She emphasizes the importance of student voice and choice and directly teaches students how to create their own programming to achieve their goals. Games are also a foundational pillar in her classes. “Gamifying things in a classroom teaches kids that movement is fun; it doesn’t have to be so serious and structured,” she explains.
When we visited her classroom in December 2021, she explained that her structure was slightly different than usual as her program is grounded in weekly skill-based objectives (i.e. a skill of the week). Further, since she teaches across three grade levels, she differentiates the skills using her knowledge of MovNat progressions. For example, this is how she progresses three common getup sequences across grade levels:
6th grade – Cross Squat Get Up – 5 times in a row
7th grade – Squat Get Up – 5 times in a row
8th grade – Strength Get Up – 2 times each side
Here’s an example of a class we observed:
Beginning of Class: After students entered the room and completed the attendance routine, they chose where to stand or sit. Some students chose to sit on or around cube equipment, others chose to stand or sit on the floor. Some students chose to take their shoes off (Audra encourages this but she has observed that most students prefer to keep their shoes on). Audra began class by reviewing the following schedule:
- Warm-up Game: The Floor is Lava
- Ground Movement (this was a special segment Danny Clark, MovNat’s Performance Director, did with each class for five minutes)
- Growth Training Plan
- Game Outside: Tripod Flag Tag
1) Warm-Up Game: The Floor is Lava. Upbeat music was played as the students walked, jogged, balanced, climbed, and jumped around the room, engaging in the various obstacles, freely, as they played The Floor is Lava. Audra would randomly stop the music and they would immediately get their feet off of the ground and freeze. Many of them had to freeze in a difficult hang, balance, etc. for a few seconds. If a student touched the ground while frozen, they would do two Strength Get Ups per side (the skill focus of the previous week) in order to return to the game. This continued for about five minutes and every single student was engaged and moving. They were all doing different movements and interacting with different obstacles. Students were also very aware of each other as they played and were safe with their movement patterns. There was a free flow of laughter, joy, and excitement throughout this game (and you couldn’t help but smile).
2) Ground Flow: Danny Clark shared a few ground movement challenges with each class as a fun way to continue the warm-up and try some new skills (the students were especially excited since they recognized him from Youtube, as Audra often uses MovNat’s Youtube channel as a primary resource). Typically, Audra will follow a game-based warm-up with some ground movement to extend the warm-up session. In this way, she prepares students for the rest of class by providing them with explicit skill practice in the ground movement sessions, while also balancing their innate need to explore Natural Movement patterns freely in the gamified warm-ups.
3) Growth Training Plan: This is an integral part of Audra’s program, as she empowers her students by teaching them how to program their own skill development and achieve their goals. “One of the big parts of our MovNat program is empowering kids to decide what they care about and what they need to improve upon. We do a goal-setting workshop focused on what they love, what do they enjoy, what do they want to improve on…Every day that they are in here, they are working towards their own goals…we are really working on not giving up right away and working through that productive struggle to learn something new.” Each student has placed their goals on the wall and many students go up to the wall and reference their plan during this portion of class.
As Audra walked around and coached various students, we also observed students helping each other out through demonstrations, technique tips, and encouragement. Students cheered when someone achieved a new skill or improved their technique. “Social emotional learning is huge in this class. Although things are individualized and focused on their movement progress, kids take responsibility and help each other out…One of my favorite things about this classroom is that it is not super competitive. They aren’t fighting against each other, they are fighting for each other to move. ”
4) Game: Tripod Flag Tag. Audra gathered the class together to review the directions for Tripod Flag tag*, a version of tag that requires students to complete two Balanced Tripod Transitions per side if they were tagged in order to get back into the game. Games can be a great tool for helping students practice specific movement skills, strengthen social bonds, and increase communication skills. But most importantly, games are about having fun. “We are building life-long movers because kids are excited about moving and they are remembering how fun it is to just move,” she shares. It was also powerful to see students moving outside, breathing in the fresh air and feeling the sun on their skin as they laughed and played.
*Note: we will be releasing more detailed directions to this game and two other versions of tag as part of our MovNat in Schools Teacher Appreciation Week celebration.
Audra’s application of MovNat is just one way to bring MovNat into a physical education class. There are many different ways to structure and implement Natural Movement in a school-based setting that also compliments pre-existing programs or curriculum. Audra suggests starting small, such as incorporating breathing and ground movement into the beginning of class or creating a 2-3 week mini unit. There are also cost-effective ways to build Natural Movement obstacles (think a 2×4 for balancing, a pull-up bar in the door frame, or rocks/logs for lifting) to create new movement opportunities for your students.
Are you a physical educator or educator (any discipline) who is looking to incorporate Natural Movement into your classes? We are in the final stages of developing our innovative MovNat in Schools program which will consist of a MovNat Certified Educator (MCE) certification for not only physical educators but educators across subject areas. Please visit the MovNat in Schools Page for more information and free resources that you can use with your students today!