By introducing technology-proficient students to wrist-worn PE heart rate monitors, teachers see engagement levels – and fitness results – soar.
“Any time you can use a piece of technology to meet a kid at their level, it’s phenomenal,” said Doug Hallberg, the 2017 SHAPE America Middle School P.E. Teacher of the Year. “I understand that it’s just a tool and what I do goes beyond the tool, but it’s a tool that lets me connect with a kid.”
“We have to meet young people where they are and technology integration is critical, but the key is using technology in an authentic manner, not just “yeah I use technology because someone told me to use it,” he said. “[We must ask] the question, how does this technology purposely fit into what I’m trying to accomplish in creating a quality PE program?”
By connecting with his students over technology use, Hallberg – and his P.E. colleagues across the country – helps speed up the development of proper habits that can shape a student’s journey to lifelong fitness.
“[Heart rate technology] makes it easier to connect with students, and that’s really all I care about,” he said. “My ability to have conversations with my kids about where they are and how they can manage/improve their own health and well-being.”
Those conversations about self-managing their fitness are getting through. Teachers report that students who wear devices such as IHT Zone PE heart rate monitors during their classes show many of the traits that Hallberg wants to see. The students demonstrate:
- Increased motivation in daily class sessions,
- Ability to set exercise goals and achieve them, and
- A greater understanding of the benefits from exercising at an elevated heart rate.
Two years ago, Woodford County Middle School student Justin Lehmkuhler conducted a research project during his physical education class using PE heart rate monitors. While he discovered some important trends about his classmates, he also learned some key lessons about his own exercise habits. A track star at his school, he used the heart rate data pulled from his workouts to determine exactly how hard he has to push himself to get into his target heart rate zone.
“Being a track athlete and being as fit as I am, it showed me how much I actually have to work to get into that zone,” he said. “I can’t just take it light and train light if I want to improve.”
He hopes the classmates who participated in his research study got the same message.
“That’s what I want because that will help them in the long run in their life. If they don’t use it but know it anyway, that would be good too because that means they accepted the idea,” he said. “‘For that moment, this is actually helping me.’”
That’s exactly the lesson Hallberg hopes each student takes with them when they leave his class and progress toward graduation.
“[If they are learning this], then I know they’ve truly learned the most valuable thing I can teach them, and that’s perceived exertion,” he said. “That’s far more important than how high a basketball hoop is off the ground and how to make a foul shot. That ultimately is what I think this tool allows us to do. If my students are picking that up at 11 or 12, then I think they’re ahead of the game.”
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