When she began crafting what became her PE 3 curriculum – Physical Education for the Mind, Body and Spirit – IHT president and co-founder Jen Ohlson could only imagine the impact it might have on students across Texas and the country.“Our company started from the PE 3 curriculum inspired by students in dire need of social-emotional, physical and nutritional support,” Ohlson said. “There were students with BMIs over 40 who weren’t active, who weren’t going to play sports. We needed a way to reach them, to teach them how to improve their health.”State educators saw the benefits of a fresh approach to physical education – focusing on the mind and spirit as well as the body – right away. The Texas Education Agency made IHT’s PE 3 an official course in 2011. Schools continue to report student improvement across the board, and teachers continue to learn as much as their students.“Each year, the group of girls that comes into PE 3 is an amazing and inspiring group in their own different ways,” said Dowell (McKinney, Texas) Middle School girls athletic coordinator Juli Krepps. “We have created new ways to make the smallest workouts the best ones, how to self-motivate and motivate others and they took complete charge of our unit to teach the class new workouts created by each girl. They embraced all the meaning behind the class and the Spirit System.”
Students, families have embraced PE 3
Dowell has used the IHT Spirit System and PE 3 for four years. Each year, Krepps said, students latch on to different aspects of the program and make the most of it. She’s most impressed with how both students and parents have responded to receiving workout summaries each time the class used the heart-rate monitors.
“We found that the girls and parents truly enjoyed having the feedback in the emails and would push to get better and burn more calories the next day,” she said. “They were so encouraged and even joined into helping us find newer and better ways to turn normal activities into cardio activities, i.e. Cardio Bowling; one of our favorites.”
While it’s one thing to possess the information, PE 3 encourages the students and parents to study it and figure out how to take those lessons and apply them at home. That early understanding helped Dowell’s students form a close bond with their teachers. That understanding empowered them to work together to develop new workouts.
Curriculum advances with new IHT ZONE monitor
That has been the core of Ohlson’s PE 3 curriculum, which will undergo some enhancements as the technology continues to improve. This fall IHT rolls out the IHT ZONE, its new wrist-based monitor. To make sure teachers – and students – can make the most of the new devices, the PE 3 curriculum is being tweaked accordingly.
“The tool supports the curriculum, and we want to make sure teachers can optimize the technology using the curriculum,” Ohlson said. “It’s a new teacher framework to meet unique needs of each classroom. We want the teachers to understand how to use the technology correctly and mold it into the goals of their classroom, their school and their district.”
The Spirit System software continues to allow teachers to capture all kinds of data, not just heart-rate data from the chest or ZONE monitors.
“The ability to have the PE 3 curriculum housed in the Spirit System software, which also captures and reports all of the state-mandated Texas fitness testing, any other assessment and feedback loops for students and parents about their own effort and heartrate,” Ohlson said, remains a key feature.
Creating PE 3 for middle school teachers, students
And PE 3 will now speak directly to middle school teachers such as Krepps, who found a way to adapt a high school course to her students’ needs. Connecting with her students on levels beyond exercise – teaching ownership and encouraging the students be healthy in all aspects of their lives – remains a staple of the PE 3 curriculum. That, both Ohlson and Krepps hope, will continue to reach the students.
“We have shared goals, dreams, stories, aspirations and all the things needed in life to continue to find success in all that we set our hearts to do,” Krepps said. “Each group brings their own experiences, needs and goals, and desires to find the things in life that they will find success along with a motivation to continue a life-long love for staying healthy and active.”
Those are the stories that warm Ohlson’s heart as IHT moves forward.
“Teachers tell us that integrating our curriculum is why they got into teaching,” Ohlson said. “If you can bring other SEL, academic, physical and nutritional aspects in a seamless way that allows you to touch everything, you can touch every aspect of a child’s learning.”