Originally published Jan. 6, 2017 in the Lancer Life Blog at James W. Parker Middle School in Edinboro, Penn.

JWPMS adds new PE technology to improve student fitness

Basketball, double dutch, dodgeball, sledding and … technology?

Introducing the 21st century physical education classroom.

James W. Parker Middle School (JWPMS) is engaging students through interactive technology to improve students’ cardiovascular fitness.

fitnessThrough the IHT Spirit System, students now have the opportunity to manage their individual health and fitness. The technology includes heart monitor watches, docking stations, PC’s to run the IHT Spirit system software and the software itself. The watches are intended to motivate students by instantly sending them an email with their heart rates throughout the period ensuring that they challenge themselves and hit specific heart zones.

“The investment is in our students. Our district and our HPE department believe that students should be exposed to a variety of opportunities throughout their educational experience,” said JWPMS physical education teacher Robert Santos. “It is part of what we call the ‘new’ PE.”

At the middle school, students are exposed to a blend of team sport activities, lifetime activities and non-traditional activities. Activities include sledding, castle ball, tchoukball, basketball, football, gymnastics and running.

“Within our diverse curriculum, emphasis is also put on cardiovascular fitness. These trackers provide us with even more insight into our health and training,” said JWPMS physical education teacher Luke Jahn.

The first step? Inspiring students through an artistic new room – thanks to a joint project between the health and physical education department and the art department.

A former storage room, the health and physical education department’s new Exercise Technology Room connects the middle school physical education curriculum with the IHT technology.

Seventh-grade art students participated in the collaboration by creating wall murals for a one-of-a-kind activity-themed design in their new room. The theme for the room is movement.

“Our hope, when designing this mural, was to entice students to get active and create a sense of excitement about physical education,” said JWPMS art teacher Christina Martin.

The first step was to design images based on units taught in physical education at JWPMS. Health and physical education teachers Heather Karns, Santos and Jahn, along with Martin, sketched ideas to kick-start the project. From there, students were recruited to help edit and sketch images, prep the room and paint.

Although many students were involved with the project, there was a main group of students who dedicated their time and came in during homeroom to make this project a reality. Those students include Lyric Shaw, Regan Luebbert, Bella Dorman, Sydney Farbotnik, Hannah Haddix, Zelie Maloney and Emily Moran, Kaitlyn Dubynskiy.

IHT isn’t the first piece of technology to be used within JWPMS’ physical education curriculum. In 2015, the teachers purchased an Xbox 360 4G Kinect with fitness, dance and sport-related games through the William and Mary Smith Grant. This system has been used for adaptive physical education classes and students with medical injuries that cannot participate in the regularly scheduled class. It is also incorporated into the middle school’s fitness-based physical education class.

“This is also a benefit to students with visual or hearing challenges because the watches use both colors and sounds to monitor heart zones,” Karns said. “We now have a true, interactive, cross curricular, room that will meet students at where they are.”

General McLane School District serves students in kindergarten through twelfth grade in Franklin, McKean and Washington Townships, as well as the borough of McKean and Edinboro. The District also serves tuition students throughout Erie County.

To learn more about General McLane School District, visit generalmclane.org.