Teachers Reinforce Key Fitness, Social-Emotional, Academic Competencies Using PE Assessment Software
Through metrics created in PE assessment software, teachers motivate students to improve their academic and social-emotional learning skills in addition to their physical fitness.
“The ultimate goal is to link fitness with academic performance,” explained Jenice Fagan, the lead PE teacher at Pine Middle School in Reno, Nev.
Fagan wants to replicate published studies that show students who engage in quality physical education – defined by PE that gets students exercising at an elevated heart rate for set amounts of time – return to their STEM classrooms in a higher state of academic readiness.
Students wear the IHT Zone wrist heart rate monitors to record exercise data during PE. They receive immediate feedback that helps them understand how they are exercising, enabling them to improve their effort and – by extension – their fitness. And they’re recognizing what high-quality exercise does for them in their academic classes.
“I have more energy in class to get more work done,” said Pine Middle School student Joseph Espinosa.
The next step, Fagan said, is linking improved fitness to academic progress. Using her IHT Spirit System software, Fagan can assess her students’ performance on any skill. For each of her classes, she uses the Spirit System Assessment Measures software to:
- Track fitness based on Presidential Youth Fitness Program’s FitnessGram® assessments to record student performance in those specific fitness tests;
- Track academic progress with assessments that record student performance on standardized tests in math and English.
At the end of the year, she can run detail reports for each student she hopes will show both fitness and academic progress trending in the right direction. At her mid-year evaluation, students appeared on track to improve both their fitness and academic scores.
“I’ve done a preliminary evaluation asking the math and English teachers how well my 30 kids are doing and the majority are saying that over 75 percent of them are doing better,” said Fagan.
Tracking Social-Emotional Learning Skills with PE Assessment Software
Teachers also use the Spirit System software to track Social-Emotional Learning progress. Mitchell (South Dakota) Middle School teacher Cheryl Miller created an assessment that enables her team of teachers to track student behaviors in each class while the Zone heart rate monitors collect data to assess their fitness progress.
Fitness remains a key element of Miller’s program, but she’s put an emphasis on reinforcing students’ social and behavioral skills because she’s found a direct relationship between classroom behavior and academic performance.
“It’s interesting that if I pull up a student’s social and emotional report and I see a student who is struggling in that area, nine times out of 10, they are struggling academically in my classroom,” Miller said. “It’s very easy to see the connection between the two.”
One of the five national standards that SHAPE America includes in developing well-rounded students focuses not on physical fitness itself but on the student’s ability to demonstrate appropriate social and behavioral skills. Standard 4 reads “the physically literate individual exhibits responsible personal and social behavior that respects self and others.”
Miller’s curriculum has always focused on behavioral elements in addition to fitness skills.
“We have standards for a reason,” she said. “Even if we weren’t grading it, we had to be accountable for it somehow. This helps us be accountable for that.”
Miller’s custom assessment takes two minutes to complete and gives parents and students a detailed look at specific data should teachers notice a pattern or parents wonder why students receive a certain grade.
“It’s very nice to able, with the click of a mouse, to pull up the report and give the parent a true picture of what’s going on in class,” Miller said. “We can detail what the behavior has been. Once the parent sees that some of these behaviors are happening, change happens very quickly. This has helped tremendously with parent engagement.”