Students Report Getting Motivational Messages From Home During School Day
By including parents on the email that his students receive following every workout wearing the IHT ZONE heart rate monitor, Great Valley High School (Pa.) PE teacher Dustin Kasper created a group of advocates helping him push students to give their best effort in class.
“I hear from kids during the day,” Kasper said. “One said she got a text from her mom after class and mom was asking what happened and telling her she ‘needed to step it up a notch.’”
The emails provide objective feedback about the student’s performance that day in class. Kasper said having the detail for both students and parents has been a welcome change to the way teachers previously assessed student performance in PE classes and how he did it in his personal fitness class.
“Wouldn’t you want to know exactly how you were doing as opposed to how the teacher thinks you are doing?” Kasper said. “When you take a math test, if you get 45 out of 50 questions right, wouldn’t you want to know what you didn’t do right? Do you want the teacher to tell you, ‘well, I think you got 45 out of 50 correct,’? This shows them the fruits of their labor. It’s a great resource.”
Getting His Own Parent Feedback
And to think, Kasper almost didn’t decide to include parents on the summary emails. When he began using the IHT ZONE with his students, Kasper sent home a written notice so parents would understand why he added heart rate monitors to his program and how he planned to utilize the heart rate data.
“I just want to be transparent with them about what we’re doing,” he said.
Parents never had questions following his letter, and as he prepared to send the letter home again this year, he followed the advice of one of his graduate school professors.
“One of my professors was really adamant that we get comfortable with making videos to explain things to parents,” Kasper said. “So I sent a video explaining what we do, the benefits of the monitors, etc., thanking parents for the money to purchase the monitors, and I showed them an image of the after-workout report.”
After getting no response to his letters prior to the 2019-20 year, feedback to his video came almost instantly.
“I got some immediate feedback that way,” he said. “Some said they wished they’d had that when they were students. Others were glad to know that students could reflect on their workout. Not one piece of negative feedback.”
Still, Kasper didn’t learn the extent of their interest in the monitors until the annual Parent’s Night. He talked about the post-session emails and said he didn’t want to clog their inboxes with emails they might not read. Their response set him straight.
“It was unanimous, and they all said it with the same voice,” he said. “‘Put our email address down, we want to see this.’ It’s a big reminder to me…don’t assume, just ask the question.”
- Minutes spent exercising at an elevated heart rate
- How much time students spend in each heart rate zone
- Confirmation that the student met their Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity (MVPA) goal for the day
- Graph showing the student’s heart rate throughout the session
Getting Students Back to Being Active
Kasper began using the heart rate monitors with his students four years ago and has seen their impact on students each year. The direct feedback helps students understand exactly how hard they need to work to get in their target heart rate zones.
This year, however, brought a new challenge. Kasper elected not to use the heart rate monitors last year with heightened precautions in place regarding social distancing and using shared devices. Without the devices to help students focus on goals, teaching proved challenging.
“We weren’t able to use the ZONES last year and it broke my heart,” he said. “We did the best we could last year but it was an ugly year. They were about as active as we could legally and physically get them.”
With fewer restrictions, Kasper knew he would bring the heart rate monitors back this year. Using the technology would motivate the students to make up for their lost learning time. Post-session emails reinforce what they feel while exercising in class.
“The impact of last year was that we had no idea of quality or lack thereof with their workout,” Kasper said. “This year, they very much know. How do you define moderate or vigorous? This puts it right there for them. They see when they are in each zone.”
When the year began, students struggled to get there despite telling Kasper they were working hard.
“Coming back, they didn’t know how to quantify what constituted a good workout,” Kasper said. “They would think walking from one building to the next was a good warm-up. It was really difficult understanding the difference between perception and reality. They see what they have to do to get their heart rate into the target zone areas and they get the feedback on what it takes.”
Thriving with Combination of Real Time and Post-Session Feedback
The response Kasper’s seen from his students has been uplifting. Not only are students working to make their individual goals, they care about how their classmates are doing.
How bought in?
“I was talking with a student who chose to ride a bike and was struggling to pedal hard enough to stay in his target zone,” Kasper said. “His concern wasn’t whether he was going to make his goal. He wanted to know if he was going to keep the class from making its goal.”
That makes the teacher smile.
“The kids are excited about what they are doing,” he said. “I’ve never seen them come alive like that with excitement when they see the feedback that they made their goal or the class made its goal. This is very motivational, and the students are bought in.”