Two years ago, Oskaloosa (Iowa) Middle School PE teacher Betsy Luck flipped her teaching philosophy and challenged her students to create lessons that helped them increase the time they spend exercising at an elevated heart rate.
Students studied various elements of workouts on their own and then demonstrated their mastery while Luck observed and made suggestions as necessary. Her “Flipped Wednesday” continues today with students continuing to develop the skills they’ll need to create fitness-enhancing workouts both during and away from school.
“I let the kids have the lead,” she said. “I make sure that the students have the prior knowledge to be able to create a workout that meets the correct criteria. I give them the goal for the day but allow them to choose how they are going to meet it.”
Luck’s seventh and eighth-grade students met the challenge when she first introduced it and continue to meet it early in the 2018-19 school year. On Flipped Wednesday, students wear IHT ZONE wrist heart rate monitors while creating workouts that:
- Focus on essential exercise skills
- Motivate students to exercise at an elevated heart rate
- Reach daily goals for minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA)
‘What does that workout need to look like to make it a good workout for yourself?’” Luck said. “We’re looking forward to adding more fitness-based options to help them achieve their own goals.”
Creating Workouts that Elevate Heart Rate
With the daily goal for minutes exercising in either the yellow (moderate) or red (vigorous) heart rate zones in mind – as seen on their ZONE heart rate monitors while exercising – students have the freedom to determine how they’ll reach their goal.
“We set up multiple pieces of equipment and allow the kids to make a choice as to what they want to be involved in,” she said. “Usually the equipment for the unit we’re doing right now is out as well as some other things, or they can go on a walk or a run. They have to choose the activity that’s going to help them get in the (target heart rate zone) during the class period.”
Students don’t always choose workouts that achieve their goals, but Luck said they almost always figure out what happened and what they need to do to achieve their goal in their next session. The self-analysis takes place during a mandatory reflection period following each class.
Frequent Reflection on PE Lessons
Luck’s students reinforce the value of the lessons they create by reflecting on them on a regular basis. Once students receive their workout summary email from the Spirit System, they compare the results to what they thought they’d accomplish with the session.
“It helps them realize things,” she said. “Last year I had some boys decide they wanted to do a yoga workout, and they didn’t reach their heart rate zone goal for the day. They reflected on that and concluded that they aren’t going to do a flexibility/yoga workout when they need to get 25 minutes in (a yellow or red heart rate zone).”
Luck reads each student’s reflection to see who needs additional guidance. With her older students, though, the reflection has served as a confirmation of what makes an effective workout.
“This puts it back on them to share what they are thinking about in class,” she said. “They are understanding what it means to have their heart rate go up and what it takes to keep it there. That’s our big goal: that life-long learning and being able to take this out into the real world if I’m a young adult.”