Originally published Feb. 28, 2018 in the Times-Republican.
By Nicki Boliver, Contributing Writer
When I last wrote a column for Inside Education, I was teaching physical education at the middle school level. I’m now teaching at the elementary level. Making the switch has forced me to modify my teaching methods from working with seventh and eighth graders, to now working with K-4 students. What a change it has been! However, no matter what level I’m teaching, one question still remains the same — how can I motivate my students to embrace a healthy lifestyle?
Providing an atmosphere that is motivating, positive and one that safely encourages risk-taking, is a challenge physical educators face daily. Using the technology of heart rate monitors has helped me overcome the challenge. Heart rate monitors are empowering students to self-manage and take ownership for their health and well-being through technology. It’s no secret that we all work harder on something we have ownership in. So we began giving students ownership in P.E. through individualized heart rate monitors and it’s had a huge impact on motivation and participation.
Students check out the devices at the beginning of class. The face of the device, worn like a watch, displays heart rate. Lights around the watch face flash blue, yellow and red to signify whether the wearer is achieving their target heart rate. Blue signifies low intensity, yellow is moderate — and that’s where we want them for a majority of class time. The red zone is vigorous and users shouldn’t stay in the red level for a prolonged amount of time. When students return devices at the end of class, their data is pulled up on the computer. Teachers then analyze the data. They are then able to gauge each student’s individual performance based on that day’s goal for time spent exercising at an elevated heart rate.
My kids get really excited about seeing if they’re “in the zone” the whole time. It motivates and excites them and I’m even more excited that it prepares my students for a lifetime of fitness. Mission accomplished! The devices teach them what it feels like to hit their target heart rate. Therefore, they won’t always need to wear them while they are being physically active. In addition, students are learning about the intensity of their workouts, and we as P.E. teachers, are using that information to make the most of their limited activity time.
Nicki Boliver is a physical education teacher at Rogers Elementary School in Marshalltown. She uses the IHT Zone wrist heart rate monitors with her P.E. classes.