Walk, Climb, Learn

Connecticut Magnet School Integrates Curriculum to Maximize Learning

At 8:30 a.m., students and parents meet every day University of Hartford Magnet School for a morning walk.

During the 30-minute session, they socialize and exert themselves before moving on to immerse themselves in their academic day.

It helps get students ready for the mental focus they need and fifth grader Jenna Roman, of Bloomfield, loves it.

"I get to start my day here, walking and I get to talk to my friends, let the talking out and when I get to class, I can not talk and just learn," she said.

The school's curriculum is based on Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences, which integrates kinesthetic and interpersonal skills with traditional linguistics and mathematics.

Half the students live in Hartford. The rest come from about a half-dozen towns south and west of the city, such as Wethersfield and Avon.

Mark Bissonnette, of Hartford, has had two daughters go through the Magnet School. He tries to join them everyday for the morning walk.

"There's molding and modeling going on around here,” Bissonnette said. “The kids get to interact with other kids they normally wouldn't get a chance to."

Then there are activities including push-ups to the music of "the Macarena," which build strength. During the soothing "Brain Dance," the students uses their eyes to follow their hands across the horizon, getting them focused for what's to come in the classroom.

In gym class, which they call "Bodily Kinesthetics," they integrate other areas of learning, including language and math.

The activities mix words and math. Before students can proceed up a climbing wall, they must answer questions.

"We might be doing multiplication facts with bouncing the ball or jumping rope or working on the rhythm of a poem," teacher Beth Phelps said.

Phelps said research shows students perform better academically on tests and in the classroom if they're more active during the day.

"It also lets them make connections that I never even thought about. They come to class and make the connections now,” Phelps said.

They're connections they'll carry with them for the rest of their lives.

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