Originally published Nov. 2, 2018 in the Fairmont Sentinel.
By Brooke Wohlrabe
The Physical Education department at the Fairmont Elementary School recently got a set of heart monitors that students will wear during physical education (P.E.) and Fit and Well classes. The four teachers in the department, Haley Loerts, Don Waletich, Derek Spear and Allison Klassen, recently received some training on how to use the monitors and they plan to implement them into classes in the next few weeks.
“Right now we’re planning on using them in the K-2 side because we only have one set,” Loerts said, going on to explain that one set consists of 28 monitors.
Loerts is the Fit and Well teacher for grades K-6 at the Fairmont Elementary School. Fit and Well is a class that was added to the school about six years ago. As it says in its name, the class focuses on the components of fitness and wellness.
“Our hope is to eventually have them in K-6, but we will have to add an additional two sets to make that happen,” Loerts said.
The company the monitors are from Interactive Health Technologies (IHT) and the monitor style is the IHT ZONE. IHT specializes in monitors for physical education classes.
Students wear the monitor on their wrist and it tracks where their heart rate is at throughout the class period. There are different zones that students can be in. The low or “blue” zone means students aren’t moving quite as much. The moderate or “yellow” zone means they’re moving more and doing some cardio and then the vigorous or “red” zone shows they’ve been running quite a lot and their heart rate is picking up.
Loerts said the hope is to get them implemented in every class period.
Waletich teaches P.E. for grades K-2, while Spear teaches P.E. for grades 3-6. Klassen teaches a developmental adaptive P.E. class. All of their classes will eventually utilize the monitors.
“The system is pretty advanced but the kids can keep track of what zone they’re in on the monitor so if we give them a goal they can see if they reach it. It’s good for personal assessment of their activity level as well,” Loerts said.
The money for the monitors came out of the school’s general fund. Loerts said it was about $4,500 for a classroom set.
“We’ve been talking about getting this for quite a few years. Technology is becoming such a big thing and we’re trying to get that technology into the Phy Ed department. It costs quite a lot of money so it’s taken a while to get it but the opportunities we have with this are great and it gives us more concrete data on each kid and their fitness levels,” Loerts said.
Lorerts said they’ve been looking at grants in order to get more monitors and have applied to a few but haven’t gotten any yet. She said they’re continuing to look at ways to get the funds.
The monitors will be able to work with existing programs the department has. In the past, grades 3-6 have used a program called Fitnessgram that is a comprehensive fitness assessment for youth. Loerts said the new monitors will be able to link to that program so that the teachers won’t need to input the data because the monitor will put it in for them.
“The monitors can graph everything. The students will be put in the system in kindergarten and will stay in there through sixth grade,” Loerts said.
The monitors are numbered and each student will be assigned a number that they’ll use each class period. The teacher will then click on what class they’re in and can then access data for each student.
“Our goal as a department is always to keep them as active as possible for the time that we have them in class because we don’t get to see them every day. We want to make sure that they’re moving and active for as long as possible so this will be a great way for us to get some hard data on whether our lessons are following through with that,” Loerts explained.
The teachers in the department are excited about the opportunities the monitors will bring and hope to start using them before Thanksgiving.
“For us teachers, we can track which lessons have the most activity levels and then we can see if we need to adjust any lessons to make them more active. It will be good for us for improving our curriculum,” Loerts said.