South Park teacher keeps students active

Published 10:14 am Tuesday, November 3, 2015

If the body is asleep, the mind is asleep.

This is South Park Elementary fifth-grade math, science and social studies teacher Michael Gordon’s mantra. Keeping students active and engaged is Gordon’s way of keeping learning fun.

“We play paper basketball,” the 13-year educator said. “That’s the way we review for tests. They get to shoot paper into the trash basket, or sometimes we’ll even go outside and shoot a real basketball.”

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Gordon, who is in his sixth year at South Park, said it’s important to keep learning active and fun, a sentiment science backs.

“We play different games that get the kids up and moving to help get them engaged with their learning,” he said. “Studies show that movement helps the brain learn, remember and recall different activities.”

A glimpse into Gordon’s classroom may look a little different than the way most adults remember school. His students are often active participants in the lesson and work together to solve problems as a group.

“I let them be involved in the lesson and make sure they’re doing more than I’m doing,” he said. “They like to work in groups together.”

For Gordon, becoming a teacher just felt natural.

“I always loved teaching, and I like teaching any concept,” he said. “I also enjoy working with kids, so I combined the two.”

Gordon said he enjoys working with the fifth-grade students.

“They’re independent, yet they’re still young,” he said.

Gordon’s wife Heather Gordon is also his colleague. The two walk the halls of South Park together everyday where she is a third-grade teacher.

“We collaborate with ideas and we talk at home about different strategies even though we’re teaching different grade levels,” he said. “We enjoy bouncing ideas off of each other.”

Gordon said it also helps that his wife has had most of the same students in his class.

“She’s able to tell me a little bit about the weaknesses and strengths of students she’s had in the past,” he said.

Outside of school, Gordon enjoys practicing the martial art of Jiu-Jitsu at The Old Gym and spending time with his son, Ian Gordon, who is in eighth grade at the Academy of Innovation.