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Students Focus on Both Mind and Body

| Dr. Katie Klinger

Evidence-based research has convinced Lydia Trinidad, principal at Hawaii's Kualapu'u Elementary School, that in addition to concentrating on meeting the mandates of No Child Left Behind, she has to promote health awareness in her students and teach them that physical activity and proper nutrition are as important as academics. Current statistics reveal that by 2010, almost 50 percent of America's children will be obese. Research also shows that almost two-thirds of American children do little or no physical activity.

Kualapu'u is located in the town of the same name on Molokai, Hawaii's fifth-largest island, and because of the island's small population -- about 7,000 people -- many Hawaiians perceive it as isolated and as one of the few remaining hubs of native culture. About 370 children, 91 percent of them either Hawaiian or part Hawaiian, attend the school, and 75 percent of them receive free or reduced-cost lunches.

The school was in Adequate Yearly Progress restructuring status under NCLB, which means it was an underperforming school. However, the school's administrators, teachers, and students worked together to reverse this standing, and after two years, their hard work paid off. Recently, Kualapu'u received the status of unconditional good standing, the highest level a school can achieve. In addition to maintaining this hard-earned new academic excellence, the school's educators are now focused on improving the quality of their students' daily lives, and part of that focus is on fitness.

Last year, based on ten students, Kualapu'u established a baseline of an eight-minute mile for fifth and sixth graders. At the end of the 2007-08 school year, those ten students were able to complete a one-mile run/walk with no time limit. Kualapu'u wants to replicate that success this year with the other ninety fifth- and sixth-grade students; the goal of the project, called No Child Left with a Behind, is for all of them to be able to complete a no-time-limit one-mile run/walk. The physical education teacher will work with the other educators to encourage students to run or walk each day to help reach that goal.

Nike recently donated a hundred pairs of running shoes to the school in support of the fitness program. Because most students wear flip-flop sandals, known in Hawaii as slippers, the students will keep their running shoes at school, and they are responsible for caring for them.

How has your school addressed the rising rates of child obesity? What are some ways to use project learning to encourage exercise and healthy living for students? Please share your thoughts.

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Junk in, Junk out

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Our children need to understand that if they dont eat in the morning then it is hard to concentrate. This also applies to overeating and unhealthy eating. If they put junk into there system, then it wil roduce junk. It is imerative that the students understand theat healthy eating is essential for alertness and awareness. Activity of the mind and body go hand in hand aand as educator we are responsible for addressing this as well as our area of expertise.

Understanding the Mind and the Body

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I have learned over the years that the mind and body works hand in hand. It is easy to make students understand that when they dont eat, that it is hard to concentrate. We have to make them understand that overeating will have an adverse affect on their mind as well as their body. I must be understood that what goes in is equivelant to what comes out. If you put junk into your system then that produce junk in the form of thinking and classwork. Our school requires the students to take PE up through there junior year in high school. When I was a student we took gym through the 12th grade and we were required to take swimming as well. There ways an understanding that all students can not play football, basketball, tennis or volleyball, however, all students can participate in something. Walk, run, lift ways and just excersise your body so that you can excersise your mind in the classroom.

Sharing fitness benefits learning for all

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I teach high school English, but I have also taught electives in fitness and hip-hop dance. I find that regular exercise helps my energy level and ability to cope with the extremely stressful demands of teaching English. There is a noticeable elevation in mood following a workout, and students not only experience this, but studies show it improves their ability to learn. A study was conducted at University of Illinois that confirms this: "Physical Activity May Strengthen Children's Ability To Pay Attention" (ScienceDaily, April 2009).

Andrea (not verified)

I was shocked when I read the

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I was shocked when I read the statistics from this article. 50% of our students are obese! There is no excuse for that! In our school our students get only 30 minutes a week for physical education class. They get two 10 minute recess and a 25 minutes at lunch time for recess a day, but only 30 minutes a week for PE. I understand that academics are more inportant, but are they really? At this rate the students may not be around to use the education that we give them. We have to do something to bring down that percentage. I know for a fact that many of my students go home every night, eat a snack and sit in front of the television to watch tv or to play video games. This would be the main reason why children are not getting the needed exercise and it i feel it is partly the fault of the parents. We need to education the parents on this topic if we feel there is any hope in lower this statistic.

I am a third grade teacher and I do as many different activities to get the students out of their seats. For example, for our word wall words we do some type of movement for each word, such as jumping jacks as we spell the words. We also have two programs in the spring that teach the students about good eating habits. One is called Professor Popcorn. In this program a lady comes in and talks about the different food groups and gives recipes that are kid friendly. This gives them some healthy snacks that they can make on their own. The second program is a program through our hospital. A nurse comes into the classroom five times and talk to the students about eating healthy and what we put in our body that is bad for us. This program brings in many visual things for the students to see. For example, they had the students write down how many sodas they drink a day and then they had to measure out how much sugar they were putting into their bodies. It was a great way to show children how bad drinking many sodas a day can be... Well I have enjoyed this article and I hope children obsity becomes a topic that all parents and teachers take seriously because the children we are teaching today are our future!!!

Cristina Gomez (not verified)

Active Learning

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I also work with 3-5 year olds. I am a preschool teacher in an urban district. In a world where many children spend hours watching television, sitting in front of the computer, and playing video games I find it so important to get our children moving! This past year, I have taken up Yoga classes. Yoga has helped me in so many ways, mentally and physically. I find I am more focused and energized! This in turn has helped me be a more effective teacher.

One rainy school day, I decided to show my children some of the yoga positions I have learned. I couldn't believe how fast they picked it up and loved it! Throughout the year, I taught my students different positions, such as "the Downward Dog", "Tree pose", and "Warrior". I found pictures of children doing these yoga poses and pasted them on cards so as I say the name of the yoga pose I also show them the picture. This helped a lot. I noticed the children focusing more on doing the poses correctly and in fact, they were becoming more flexible. Whether or not they continue to do yoga, I strongly believe I instilled the value of caring of your body. As teachers, we are one of the best role models a student can have. This should motivate us to be the best we can be!

Fiona Grimes (not verified)

Active Reading Groups

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I am also working on my Masters in Education and working as a substitute teacher in Georgia. I have had the students put on little plays, while we are doing our reading groups. We usually have the class divided into four separate groups. While three of the groups are reading quietly, I will take the fourth group and give each student a part to read. We have a huge box of hats, and each student picks a hat to wear that represents the part given to him/her. We do get too loud sometimes, usually because the students are laughing at each other. I encourage them to try out "different voices" when they are reading, this makes it fun and keeps them interested. Although they are not breaking a sweat, they are being more active than if they just sat at the desk. In the article, titled Brain Research and Education: Fad or Foundation?, the author Wolfe says, "As important as brain research is, we want to be certain that we don't ignore the research from other fields such as behavioral and cognitive psychology and educational research" (Wolfe Fall, 2003, p.6). This simply means that there are a variety of interactive instruction strategies we can use that when applied over the more traditional methods, tend to show higher math and reading scores.

Kamiel DeToye (not verified)

I am a runner, a coach, and a

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I am a runner, a coach, and a teacher. I am extremely happy to hear that Nike took part in helping your school by donating those shoes.
Active learning is crucial at the level I teach at. I work with young 3,4, and 5 year olds who are full of energy. They learn best through doing and as research has shown "learning is a matter of making connections between brain cells and that our students' experiences have shaped their brains" (Wolfe). The experience that those children participated in is hopefully a learning expereince that will stick with them through out their life. What they learned would not have been as nearly as fun without the real experience.
Article: Wolfe, P. (2003, Fall). Brain-compatible learning: Fad or foundation?

Brandy (not verified)

An option to increase fitness in schools

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Thanks for the helpful links. Being a PE teacher, I know the importance of physical activity in students. It sure would be helpful if all the teachers helped to encourage students to be more active. I lead a running club before school once a week for each grade. I teach elementary school PE and even the students who can not run the entire time come and try their best. It helps me build stronger relationships with the students also. Running club works for my school, I bet if a classroom teacher offered to come early or stay late one day per week to exercise with the students it would make an impact on those students. It is fun and encouraging for the student and they will love you for taking the time to have fun outside of school.

mindy (not verified)

Jamie- "Active Learning"

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Making Reading groups physically active
I am currently working on my Masters in Education and working as a substitute teacher in Corning NY. It is tricky to find some sort of physical activity students can take part in during reading groups. One activity that gets students on their feet and moving during reading groups is putting on a play. I have seen this done by another teacher who teaches first grade. She uses a separate space in their classroom away from quiet reading groups to put on these plays. It does take some monitoring and teaching students how to work together without getting too loud. Even though it takes some effort from you, it is worth it because you will witness your students get so excited about dressing up and reading their script during these plays. I know that this might not seem like a lot of physical activity, however it involves more activity than paper and pencil work. Also, it involves the use of multimodal instruction which is a highly effective way of teaching. As part of my coursework, I have read an article titled Brain Research and Education: Fad or Foundation?. In the article Wolfe (2003, Fall) explains “Since memories are reconstructed, the more ways students have the information represented in the brain (through seeing, hearing, being involved with, etc.), the more pathways they have for reconstructing, the richer the memory.” By engaging your students in active learning, you are representing information in many different ways. As a result your students will be more likely recall what they have learned.
Article: Wolfe, P. (2003, Fall). Brain-compatible learning: Fad or foundation?

mindy (not verified)

Making Reading groups physically active

Was this helpful?
0

I am currently working on my Masters in Education and working as a substitute teacher in Corning NY. It is tricky to find some sort of physical activity students can take part in during reading groups. One activity that gets students on their feet and moving during reading groups is putting on a play. I have seen this done by another teacher who teaches first grade. She uses a separate space in their classroom away from quiet reading groups to put on these plays. It does take some monitoring and teaching students how to work together without getting too loud. Even though it takes some effort from you, it is worth it because you will witness your students get so excited about dressing up and reading their script during these plays. I know that this might not seem like a lot of physical activity, however it involves more activity than paper and pencil work. Also, it involves the use of multimodal instruction which is a highly effective way of teaching. As part of my coursework, I have read an article titled Brain Research and Education: Fad or Foundation?. In the article Wolfe (2003, Fall) explains “Since memories are reconstructed, the more ways students have the information represented in the brain (through seeing, hearing, being involved with, etc.), the more pathways they have for reconstructing, the richer the memory.” By engaging your students in active learning, you are representing information in many different ways. As a result your students will be more likely recall what they have learned.
Article: Wolfe, P. (2003, Fall). Brain-compatible learning: Fad or foundation?

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Dr. Katie Klinger STEM & Digital Equity Grantwriter & Education Technology Integration Expert

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