Heart Rate Monitors Motivate Students of All Fitness Levels to Work Toward Goals
Using the IHT ZONE wrist heart rate monitors allows teachers to keep students of all fitness levels engaged in class.
Prior to analyzing student performance with heart rate monitors and IHT’s Spirit System assessment software, teachers could only make subjective assumptions about how hard each student worked during PE class. Students who appeared to be moving throughout class earned full credit while students who appeared to struggle often didn’t.
“The thing I have been so jazzed about is the sense of accomplishment that kids feel,” said Nancy Blake, a PE teacher at Goose Bay Elementary (Wasilla, Alaska). “Especially the kids who don’t always feel like they are the most successful ones in PE.”
- Real-time heart rate data displayed during class
- Heart rate report summarizing session
- Detailed report showing time spent in each student’s target heart rate zone
Based on that day’s lesson, teachers set a goal for how many minutes students should spend exercising in the moderate-to-vigorous heart rate zone. Because each student’s heart rate zones are specific to their fitness level, less fit students just as likely to reach their goals as more fit classmates.
“Many times some physed teachers assume that if a kid is not running they are not working hard,” said Jackie Clark, a veteran PE teacher at River Rock Intermediate School (Wisc). “In reality, an unfit child can be walking and still in their target heart rate zone.”
Blake said the students who struggle with fitness become more motivated when their efforts are rewarded.
“To see those kids who often times feel like they’re at the end of the bus when their skill or their fitness is concerned, all of a sudden they are the ones who are at the top when it comes to staying in the zone the whole time,” Blake said. “When they see they beat their [goal], the celebration is huge.”
More fit, athletic students also up their effort, even if they struggle through a few teachable moments first. Because they are starting from a higher fitness level than some classmates, they must work harder to stay in their target zones. Rather than competing against classmates to achieve goals, they only compete with themselves.
“It changes how hard they are working within their cardiovascular fitness,” Blake said.
A cross country runner in Clark’s class became discouraged because he struggled to meet his daily goal for minutes spent in the moderate to vigorous zones while other, less fit, students met their goals.
“We had a great conversation about how his heart is much stronger than his fellow student who wasn’t as fit and that fitness is not one size fits all and I challenged him to get in his zone the next class period,” Clark said. “That was all the motivation he needed. It was his ah-ha moment.”
Students manage their own effort by checking the monitors on their wrist. The ZONE displays both the heart rate reading and intensity level – yellow for moderate, red for vigorous – throughout the session. Students have learned to do whatever it takes to remain active enough to keep their heart rates in the target zone.
“They look for ways to build and maintain the moderate to vigorous activity level,” said Will Navis, PE teacher at Lincoln Elementary (St. Charles, Ill.). “Now, I’m starting to see people do more line jumps, jumping jacks, partner push-ups where they can keep their heart rate up higher than they have in the past. I’m seeing a change in what they are choosing to do so they keep their heart rate up higher.”
Fort Lupton (Colo.) Middle School health teacher Lindsay Yost agrees. Students have embraced the technology and picked up their effort.
“The kids are understanding,” she said. “They want to see it get into the yellow zone. Some of the kids are so into it, even though we were trying to stay in the yellow zone, they would let me know when they got into the red zone. They want to work much harder.”