Last week I read an article which spoke about the decade-long study, by researchers at Bournemouth University, that found that allowing pupils to take off their shoes, as is custom in Scandinavia, helped them to engage better in class. I spoke to my class last week about this idea and they have been asking everyday if it was ‘the day’ that they could take their shoes off to complete a Big Write.
I have never had so many children eager to complete an extended piece of writing (the phrase blood from a stone fits well here.) They really couldn’t wait. So on Wednesday after lunch I got my class registered and then I gave them the option to take off their shoes – I didn’t think they would all want to take off their shoes and reveal stinky tootsies. However, all 30 of them whisked off their shoes in record time and had them lined up neatly against the wall (finally my OCD is rubbing off on them!) We spent a few minutes wriggling our feet and enjoying the feeling of our feet being free- the children were so excited that I too had removed my shoes. (Don’t worry I had sprayed my feet with fabreez during my lunch break didn’t want the children commenting on my smelly feet!)
We quickly moved on to the writing task which was linked to our topic of ‘Chocolate’ where the children had been given the following statement ‘The Cadbury brothers are considered by some to be the most influential chocolate makers in British history. Mrs M has said they are warm-hearted, industrious and ambitious. Do you agree?’ They needed to research, find the meanings of the words and then explain if they agreed or disagreed with the statement. I thought this was going to be tricky but they had found some great information using the iPads (yep I am still using them too!)
They did brilliantly.
I got home with my mountain of books to mark and instead of dread I found I was delighted with the quality and the quantity of work that they had produced. They had written some of the best pieces of ‘long writing’ they have ever completed for me. This was great especially when you consider they had eaten pizza with pasta for lunch and I was worried they would slip into that ‘Carb Coma’ that normally follows meals like that.
In short they ALL loved being shoe free. They were disappointed when they had to put on their shoes and lots of them have requested that every Big Write should be shoeless. I really can’t think of a reason for this not to be a regular thing in my classroom and I look forward to more great pieces of work from them! Maybe you could try it in your classes too.
Barefoot = Brilliant Work