Dashboard Automatically Compiles Students’ Heart Rate Data from IHT ZONE Monitors into Easy-to-Use Format
An all-in-one dashboard helps IDEA Public Schools Physical Education and Health Curriculum Manager Eren Kirksey see exactly how his large network of students – and teachers – are making the most of their opportunities for physical activity.
The dashboard collects data from every IDEA teacher who uses the IHT ZONE heart rate monitor during their PE classes and sorts it according to different metrics. Kirksey sees how active students in each teacher’s class have been. The report shows and ranks teachers according to:
- Total number of minutes of Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity (MVPA) logged by each teacher’s students;
- Percentage of class time that students exercised in target heart rate zones;
- Total number of sessions run (days all class sections used heart rate monitors);
- Calories burned by students in all classes.
The teachers work daily with data at the class level, but they are also very aware of the totals and what they say about their individual programs.
Assessing Teacher Performance in Addition to Student Achievement
“This is how I get graded,” Dominic Cameron, a teacher at the IDEA Najim Academy in San Antonio (Texas) said. “I love this. The data that IHT provides keeps me from just rolling the ball out and wondering about everything. These kids are active. They burn a lot of calories and are staying fit.”
Improving student fitness is every teacher’s first goal. Based on the metrics that Kirksey wants to prioritize, he can see which teachers help students achieve the most important metric: minutes of MVPA.
“For us, each student has a goal of 1,200 minutes of MVPA for the year, and 75% of all of our classes have to hit that number,” Cameron said. “If you do it, you’re proficient (as a teacher). If you get 95% (across) all your classes, then you’re up to level 5.”
For much of the first semester, what Cameron’s students achieved ranked him among the most successful teachers in IDEA’s network. His students had achieved the second-most minutes of MVPA, had the 4th highest percentage of time spent exercising in the MVPA zones, and burned the eighth most calories.
IDEA Recognizes Student Achievement
“PE isn’t easy,” Cameron said. “We have to work. Kids are getting more information about being healthy. They put on this little (heart rate monitor) and now they want to be healthier. They get to that yellow or red zone. If we didn’t have these, I don’t think these kids would be as healthy as they are.”
Along with the heart rate monitors pushing students to meet their daily MVPA goals, IDEA Harlingen (Texas) Academy PE teacher Luis Guardiola explains that students – like teachers – have semester goals as well. While a student achieving 1,200 MVPA minutes makes a teacher proficient, it makes the student a “Fitness Ambassador.” That, the teacher says, is an honor every one of his scholars aspires to earn, just as they try to achieve similar honors in accelerated reading (Royal Readers, students who read more than 1 million words during the year) and math (Hot Spot, students who complete 300 lessons by the end of the year).
On his gym walls, Guardiola keeps progress boards where students can track their journey to 1,200 MVPA minutes.
“We have one-on-one conversations, and they have their trackers on the wall,” he said. “They know what they achieved and they update their board by coloring in their progress.
“They understand 600 minutes in each semester will get them there,” he said. “Their goal is to become a Fitness Ambassador here at IDEA. We have celebrations throughout the year if they are on track or if they’ve already reached it. I think we have 138 Fitness Ambassadors in PE already.”
Connecting Physical Activity with Academic Readiness
While his academy students – Cameron’s 2nd through 5th grade students regularly wear the IHT ZONE monitors -- aren’t focused on how their performance affects Cameron’s ranking, they already understand the importance of staying healthy. Real-time feedback from the heart rate monitors telling them if they are exercising in the proper heart rate zone provides a great start.
Cameron adds to that with discussions about making good choices about eating healthy foods.
“They understand the feedback,” he said. “They take it. Now when I’m talking to them, we talk about eating healthy. They know the consequences of bad choices.”
Along with healthy eating, Cameron talks with students about how exercise can help wake up their brains and help them achieve high grades in their core classes such as math and reading.
“They are learning how activity helps them,” he said. “I tell them that if they’re about to take a test, they should stand up and do 20 jumping jacks to get their blood flowing. Because that blood flowing brings oxygen to the brain and now you’ll think better for that test.”
Sharing Rankings with Students
Guardiola keeps his students informed of where they stand in the overall rankings. Just as much as the heart rate monitors push students to achieve their individual goals, students also want to say their class – or teacher’s classes – are the best across the network.
“I share the data with them every Monday,” Guardiola said. “That helps because they want to stay number one.”
For the first half of the 2023-24 school year, Guardiola’s classes did burn the most calories across the network while also ranking in the top 10 for total MVPA minutes.
Guardiola said a key to his students’ success is that they understand that he is invested in their success. The old saying that says “if they don’t know that you care, they don’t care what you know” rings very true for the veteran teacher.
“It’s really about investing,” he said. “You take the time to invest in kids so they know. I make the time to meet with them one-on-one. We talk about ‘this is where you’re at and this is where you should be.’ Whether you’re invested in them or not, they’ll see that.”
Creating Programs that Push Students to Succeed
Guardiola and Cameron reinforce their investment in their students by creating programs that encourage students to give their best effort. Both stay away from team sports such as basketball or volleyball and focus on activities that everyone can master.
“We do circuit training with 5 exercises,” Cameron said. “We’ve focused on cardio. We’ve focused on muscular endurance. It’s 45 seconds of hard work and 15 seconds of rest. Then we move on to a drill I call 17s, where they have to go from line to line 17 times and they have a minute and 30 seconds to do it. They can make it if they really push themselves.”
Guardiola prefers to focus on what he calls non-traditional sports. His students love badminton, ultimate frisbee, indoor hockey and other games he finds through research.
Both teachers also incorporate elements of the FitnessGram® testing into their regular class activities.
“Our exercise routine is pretty intense,” Guardiola said. “Every FitnessGram® component is incorporated within our routine so we do year-round training for that. And the kids pick it all up pretty quickly.”
And with 100 students at a time, Guardiola is also key on structured activities such as circuit training.
“We have 8-10 stations and we have 10 students at each station – steppers, hula hoops, jump ropes,” Guardiola explained. “And they are on point.”
About the IDEA Dashboard
Kirksey came to IHT with a vision for viewing all of IDEA’s data in one place. IHT’s team worked to create a process that provided him with the data he needed, and he created a document that allows him to view and sort it according to his desired metrics. Subsequent updates allow the data to update automatically, making sure Kirksey has the latest information when he needs it.
Soon, all IHT customers will be able to create dashboards based on Kirksey’s idea.
“IHT learns from our customers and we work hard at creating innovation that meets the needs of educators,” Jen Ohlson, co-founder and CEO said. “IDEA is blazing a trail and has built a model program by optimizing IHT’s complete heart rate solution. In turn, they have inspired and helped us improve our products and services for all customers.”
To learn more about IDEA’s dashboard, click here.