A super effective elasticity drill to get your class giggling

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In Day 1 of the Elasticity Challenge, we included the "I Dream of Jeannie" drill. (Now would be a good time to go watch it if you have not gotten caught up yet). Here's a way to extend this potent drill to a memorable and bonding group game:

One of the foreign concepts that students need to learn as early as possible is the Law of Inertia: "Objects in motion tend to stay in motion until acted upon by an outside force", and how it applies to the body flight of the follower: "Followers should continue the momentum they are led with until a new lead is applied".

The demo

In order to teach this concept in class, I demo by folding my arms in front of my chest, and Myles gives me a gentle push, sending my momentum across the room where students are patiently watching and listening. Myles continues narrating how the "Law" applies (while I continue following my Law of Inertia) hinting to the students that I will not stop myself as I approach, so they need to prepare to catch me and send me back safely.

There is about a 60% chance that the first student will understand the game quickly enough to respond, but I don't act offended when a student doesn't catch me. If they do catch me and rebound me back to Myles, we all cheer and Myles catches and redirects me back to someone else to continue like a big slow motion game of pinball or air hockey.

If they miss me, we all just have a laugh as I continue walking into the wall or furniture behind them. Then I'll scurry back to Myles and he'll send me off again to continue the game, explaining the expectations and responsibilities for following LOI and catching and absorbing momentum in compression. Every time someone redirects me with a nice gradual boing, I compliment them verbally with a big smile for positive reinforcement and peer modelling. The whole class cheers and is eager to be the next to receive me as the "ball".

Their turn

Now that we have demo'd the game, we give the students a chance to play, but in small groups to maximize the participation time and reps. They are always really excited about this. We just tell them to play pinball: elect someone to be the first "ball", and everyone passes them around the circle. You can leave them to play on their own now, and just circulate to call out reminders as you see them, on things like pitch, countering, bracing, and absorbing. Have them rotate who is the "ball" every 30-45 seconds so everyone gets a turn.

The benefits

The best thing about this drill is that it is experiential: you don't have to explain much because the kinesthetic experience does it for you. The "ball" learns that it feels better to maintain pitch and keep momentum going to get that bounce. The ""circle" automatically learns with each play how much effort it takes with which muscles in order to catch and absorb the ball.

The other best thing about this drill is that is FUN, so students don't even realize that they're learning. They're getting a chance to chat and giggle and experiment together as a team, which is great for building class culture. Be sure to pull out your camera and video this for your social media to show students smiling and laughing in class.

This concept drill will immediately help students understand their momentum rules and roles in general, but it's a great way to introduce the concept of compression before you introduce the Sugar Push! You'll find that followers are more committed in their compressions and leaders are more stable and absorbing in their redirects, which is the trickiest part of the pattern - and you didn't have to bore them with long technical explanations to get there.

Want more?

Good teachers are collectors, tinkerers, and experimenters. They hunt and gather for nuggets of tips and advice to scuttle home to their students in the hopes that it will entertain them and help them improve.

We know, because we are master collectors. We've tinkered with thousands of toys and experimented with every tool we can find. We keep the best, upgrade the rest, and share all of our wisdom in the Swing Literacy Teacher Development Programs.

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