Originially published by the Valley Town Crier

Posted Aug. 19, 2013 at 12:01 AM
Updated Aug 19, 2013 at 8:47 AM

McAllen-Logo-2C-BlackFFCC00In today’s high-tech world, educators are always looking for ways of empowering students to become self-motivated in managing their physical fitness goals. McAllen ISD is taking bold steps in that direction.In order to bring measurement and motivation to physical education, the district has begun deploying Interactive Health Technology’s (IHT) “Spirit System” — an innovative digital heart rate assessment and curriculum system. On August 28, McAllen PE teachers will meet with IHT founder Jen Ohlson to take their PE training to the next level and learn how to use the Spirit System awarded to them through a PEP (Physical Education Program) grant.

This wireless technology allows teachers and students to objectively assess performance in PE every day. Students and their parents receive immediate feedback on their mobile phone at the end of class.

By introducing digital heart rate monitoring into PE, McAllen ISD is pioneering the newest technology for objectively assessing how student’s bodies use energy and how their heart rates respond to different workout intensities. The web based software stores, captures and delivers each student’s daily report, day-by-day, and year-by-year creating a personal fitness portfolio.

By the time students graduate from high school, they will have years of their entire fitness history in one place. Complementing this data and technology, IHT offers an innovative physical education curriculum called “PE3- PE for the Mind, Body, Spirit” which connects and strengthens all areas of a student’s life physically, mentally, spiritually and physiologically. The PE3 curriculum seeks to encourage students to continue an active lifestyle beyond the classroom and to bring topics such as healthy eating to the family dinner table.

“IHT represents part of the district’s continuing effort to provide avenues to maintain and improve student health,” McAllen ISD PE and Health Coordinator Mario Reyna said. “Students feel at home with technology and this will merge the two together.”
In 2012, McAllen ISD earned a 3-year, $1.9 million federal grant known as a PEP Grant. The district is one of just three in the state and 56 nationwide to receive such a grant. Funds from this grant will go toward IHT.

Students, teachers, and parents each benefit from the philosophy of physical education inspiring a healthy lifestyle. By simplifying and streamlining classroom management for teachers and giving students tangible, immediate and long-term data, the IHT Spirit System enhances the overall PE experience for everyone involved.