Fort Lupton (Colo.) Middle School teacher Lindsay Yost uses P.E. heart rate monitors to maximize the effort her students put forth during activity breaks in her health classroom.
The once-and-future physical education teacher and mountain biking champion gets her health students up for several activity breaks and active-learning sessions during her 42-minute class period. Yost uses a variety of tools to make sure students take any opportunity to maintain or even improve their fitness levels.
“I’ve missed being active,” she said, sensitive to what students feel after being in a classroom period after period. “It’s interesting, too. My own fitness levels have declined because I’m in the classroom all day.”
So Yost makes sure her students experience some activity in her class. Taking the school student council’s philosophy to heart, Yost uses several tools to get students moving:
- Fit Sticks
- IHT Zone wrist heart rate monitors
Students, she said, have always enjoyed the activity breaks and active lessons, but the recent addition of the heart rate monitors has boosted student engagement to new levels.
“My experience from when I used to be in a gym as the P.E. teacher to now as a health teacher, I have been telling my former partner, who’s now an assistant principal at the school, because whenever him and I taught PE at the same time, I told him that the buy-in and effort levels are 180 degrees different,” she said. “The kids are understanding.”
Yost gets students moving a variety of ways, mostly in quick bursts of activity designed to get heart rates up quickly and briefly – similar to a high intensity interval training workout – before moving to the next part of her lesson. Fit Sticks, purchased through the school’s Fuel Up to Play 60 initiative, allows students to choose an activity that the class participates in, making the most of the space beside their desks.
“For instance, one minute of doing scissor jumps, throwing a crumpled-up piece of paper 10 times with each arm, 20 side-to-side skier jumps, lunging side to side, walk like a monkey for one minute, freeze dance until the music stops,” she said.
The teacher utilizes music as a motivator as well.
“I use music in my classroom all the time,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if I’m using it during physical activity or as a timer to say you have three minutes to write on a specific topic. If we do a one minute break, we’ll stop the music after one minute and they have to do that activity the entire time. Sometimes, we’ll even do a quick line dance that is pretty popular. I’ll pull up the video and we’ll follow along and do the dance.”
While students surely benefit from every bit of activity they get in Yost’s class, the biggest benefit, she says, comes from learning the value of a heart rate monitor and what it teaches everyone about their workout.
“The kids having this technology so young is very exciting,” Yost said. “They’ll be able to take that knowledge and use it as an adult. Whether they are trying to run a 5K or cycling or doing triathlons or playing a pickup basketball game, whatever it may be, as an adult, having the knowledge and the desire to know how a heart rate monitor works will be a huge skill set that they can carry on with them.”