PE assessment system to transform Bermuda’s fitness program

Oct. 14, 2016Bermuda

In 2014, Bermuda’s newly appointed Ministry Curriculum Officer for Physical Education & Health Arnold Manders faced a pair of daunting tasks.

The country’s academic director wanted Manders to make sure PE teachers were utilizing the FitnessGramⓇ software after a 2014 Royal Gazette article claimed that “seven in ten of Bermuda’s adults are overweight or obese.”

To meet his directive, Manders put together FitnessGram® training sessions for teachers and mandated that teachers:

Manders’ goal included using the software to demonstrate that three in five of Bermuda’s students would reach the healthy fitness zones by 2018.

Software challenges

Manders encountered difficulty getting things set up, particularly with the FitnessGram® software.

We were trying to upgrade our new system from [version] 9.3 to 15 and were struggling to get it done because of a change in FitnessGram®’s operation,” Manders said.

While searching for solutions to his FitnessGram® struggles, Manders discovered that IHT’s Spirit System software could measure the same fitness components the FitnessGram® software could. The discovery prompted a decision.

“We chose the Spirit System because it offers a lot more than just the fitness testing,” Manders said.

BermudaBermuda’s all-inclusive option

The Spirit System includes a number of key features, including:

  • class roster management
  • curriculum resources with lessons aligned to national standards
  • seamless recording of fitness test results, and
  • the ability to monitor and assess heart rate data from each individual class session.

With the Spirit System, Manders will have a more centralized curriculum and assess activities based on the U.S. PYFP. Manders helped develop a series of assessments called the Premier’s Youth Fitness Program. He then had teachers in Bermuda work with IHT’s Lois Mauch and Jen Reeves to see how the Spirit System managed the assessments.

“The Premier’s Youth Fitness Program is being launched as we speak,” Manders said. “The [Premier’s] YFP is a dual initiative between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education. The program’s sole purposes is to increase the physical activity of all of our kids in Bermuda.”

Manders said the Spirit System’s record-keeping will allow him to implement a consistent, standards-based grading system across all of the island’s schools.

This process will make grades have a meaning, allow us to control the grading practices, help teachers to adjust instruction and it teaches what quality looks like,” Manders said.

Increasing time for PE

Manders’ plan centers around increasing the amount of time each week Bermuda’s students spend in physical education.

“Primary schools only have 120 minutes of P.E. a week, middle school 120 minutes a week and high school students 220 minutes a week but only for a semester,” he explained. “This falls well below the recommended 60 minutes a day [as recommended by the American Heart Association]. So it is hoped that by implementing the PYFP that our students will be encouraged to do more outside of school and record/track their minutes of physical activity in and outside of school.”

The country’s initial orders of new adidas ZONE for IHT Spirit wrist heart rate monitors will be on site soon, and Manders is eager for his teachers to get up to speed quickly so the students can see the full benefit.

We are just in the implementation phase with the IHT Spirit System as we still have to train new teachers on how to use it and every P.E. teacher how to use the system with the heart rate monitors,” he said. “It is hoped that we will be able to run the system in full in 2017-18 school year.”

Manders has big plans for his country’s physical education program, and IHT is thrilled to support the efforts that will shape an entire country.







Olympic Champion Dick Fosbury delivers grand prize to PE class

Oct. 6, 2016

HSSD Superintendent Damian LaCroix, Dick Fosbury, Bay View PE teacher Kaitlyn Bloemer

On Friday, Sept. 30, track legend Dick Fosbury helped IHT celebrate an innovative group of physical education students at Bay View Middle School by delivering the grand prize from the IHT Spirit Video Challenge powered by adidas.

Fosbury delivered a classroom set of new adidas ZONE for IHT Spirit wrist heart rate monitors to Bay View teacher Kaitlyn Bloemer.  He then participated in PE classes after speaking to the entire school during a pep rally Friday morning. Watch a video recap of the pep rally and visit here

“It’s always very special to have an Olympic Gold Medalist, and one who’s so well-known that he’s left his legacy in his sport, [speak to our students],” said Bay View Principal Steve Meyers.

‘I have to do something different’

“When they raised the bar to 5 feet, 6 inches, I had never made that height before,” said Fosbury as he shared the story of how he developed the jumping style that now bears his name. “I thought, ‘I have to do something different.’”

To reach new heights, Fosbury used his engineering skills to innovate a new method for his jumps. The jump is officially named the “Fosbury Flop” after Fosbury cleared the bar by jumping back-first and flopping over the bar.

Fosbury used the skills that later led him to a career in engineering to develop a different style, one in which he jumped back-first and flopped over the bar. It worked, and the Fosbury Flop was born.

Like Fosbury’s flop, the Zone monitors represent our latest innovation to improve physical education. The wrist-based heart rate monitor allows students to see how hard they are exercising. The monitors change color based on the student’s heart rate zone, helping them understand what vigorous exercise feels like.

PE Technology

Bay View PE students with Dick Fosbury

The monitors bring heart rate monitor technology to PE. IHT’s Spirit System collects data from the Zone monitors to generate a visualization of each student’s individual workout session. The Spirit System allows teachers to assess PE performance, track success and measure achievement aligned with nationally defined standards.

“As we’ve integrated technology into math and social studies and other subject areas, [more people are understanding] the prominent place that it can play in our physical education programs,” said Meyers.  

Fosbury emphasized the importance of using technology to accumulate data in physical education.

“What’s really important today that I’ve learned is that it is critically important to have data to be able to monitor where your progress is,” he said.

Making memories

In conjunction with the Zone’s release, IHT and adidas conducted a Spirit Video Challenge last spring. Students and teachers submitted videos demonstrating how they raised the bar in their physical education classes. The grand prize included a classroom set of the new monitors in addition to three years of the IHT Spirit System software. The 60 videos entered in the contest generated 29,000 votes. And can we mention that the videos gained 63,000 plays as well? Bay View’s winning video had more than 4,000 views.

“Today was an awesome experience for our students to hear an incredible story,” said Damian LaCroix, the superintendent of schools at the Howard-Suamico School District. “It’s a story not only of athletic accomplishment but also the importance of academic accomplishment.

“I loved mathematics and I loved science,” Fosbury told the students. “I had to work at that.”  

Fosbury also answered questions from the student audience and posed for pictures with students,Fosbury teachers and administrators, many of which have been posted to Facebook and Twitter.

Congratulations Bay View. Thank you for raising the bar in PE.