Bouncing Around The Room 

Rows of metal desks, hard chairs in perfect lines, with kids sitting at attention is what some may think of when they remember back to their elementary school years.That’s not what it looks like inside a first grade classroom in Rockport.”You have to have two feet on the ground at all times.””You’re not allowed to bounce too high””You can’t kick ’em, or throw ’em, or dribble ’em”Those are some of the rules students in Mrs. Starrett’s first grade class at Camden Rockport Elementary School have for their seats this year, The kids aren’t sitting in chairs, they’re on exercise balls.”Well if I’m doing math and I have too much energy, it’s easier to get some of the energy out,” said six year old Quinn Riordan.Quinn’s teacher Mrs. Jill Starrett said “I think for first grade children they’re much more focused and able, much more available to learn sitting on them because they can learn all the time and their core strength, they’re sitting up they’re focused and they like it.””In chairs, if you’re not comfortable, you have to move all around,” said first grader Elise Mahar. “But on the balls, if you have to scoot around you can just bounce.”So not only are their bodies active, their minds are too, according to the Knox County Let’s Go Coordinator, Adrienne Gallant. “This piece really fits into the one hour of physical activity. When you look back, see what the kids are doing, you’ve got kids bouncing, moving, you’ve got them shifting their weight constantly engaging their core, when kids are active they learn better, so we sort of get a two-fer, we get the physical activity as well as the increased learning.”Last year, the school only had enough balls for some of the kids in Mrs. Starrett’s class. Now, all 19 students have them, and she says she’ll never go back to hard classroom chairs. “For me as a classroom teacher, I would not be without them now, to do management and organizing a classroom and working for me there is no comparison. I would not be without the balls now, it’s just a different, they come in get their balls, they sit down and they start working.”Working their way to the answers, one bounce at a time.