Students Reinforce Essential Fitness Skills Through PE Reflection
Flipped Classroom Strategy Paired With Post-Workout Reflection Increases Student Mastery of Successful Exercise Habits
Two years ago, Oskaloosa (Iowa) Middle School PE teacher Betsy Luck flipped the script on her seventh and eighth-grade students. Luck challenged them to take the lead in developing exercise programs that enabled them to meet daily goals for time spent exercising at an elevated heart rate.
Instead of lecturing students on the benefits of an upcoming PE unit, she had students research and master the lesson for homework. While she stood ready to answer questions the next day, she wanted students to demonstrate the type of worked they’d utilize to meet the goal for minutes of exercise in the target heart rate zone.
Students Master Fitness Skills with Flipped Classroom Learning
“We’ve been doing our flipped Wednesdays for several years now,” Luck said. “They can make all the choices in the world that they want to, it’s up to them to create a workout that will help them reach their goal.”
As she saw when she introduced the program, students benefit from the freedom to create their own workouts. Based on each day’s goal, students learn which types of exercise will help them achieve the goal. Sometimes they don’t make the best choice, but that’s part of the education process Luck wants students to experience.
“It helps them realize things,” Luck said. “Last year I had some boys decide they wanted to do a yoga workout because they didn’t want to do as much that day.”
“Last year I had some boys decide they wanted to do a yoga workout because they didn’t want to do as much that day.”
While a yoga workout has its benefits, it’s not a workout designed to elevate heart rate. On a day where students needed to spend 25 minutes exercising at a moderate to vigorous level, the yoga workout left the students short of their goal. Lesson learned, Luck said.
“We also talked about trying to find a day where they can do a yoga workout and why that type of workout is positive for you,” she said.
Fitness Skill Reinforcement Through Post-PE Reflection
Last year, Luck added another layer of skill reinforcement. She began having her students write down their thoughts following each class. By requiring them to record a reflection after a workout, Luck gives students a fourth opportunity to understand what took place during the workout while adding an academic element to her program as well. Students also get feedback through:
- the IHT ZONE wrist heart rate monitors they wear during class;
- a first look at their heart rate graph as they return the ZONE at the end of class; and
- the Spirit System detailed heart rate report emailed to students and parents when students return the ZONE.
Luck’s students do their reflection separately. They can also choose to record their thoughts in the Spirit System by replying to the workout summary email they receive automatically once they return their ZONE monitors.
“This puts it back on them to share what they are thinking about in class,” she said. “Part of it is how much time they spent in the zone and what the goal was. If they made the goal, what did they do in class to help them be successful? If they did not, what can they do differently next time?”
Sometimes students need time to come to a conclusion following a workout. Other times they know right away what worked or didn’t work for them on a certain day. Those, Luck says, are immediate benefits of student reflection.
“One of the things I always chuckle about and share happened last year,” Luck said. “We were playing floor hockey and somebody didn’t meet the goal. So we ask, ‘what are you going to do next time?’ and her response was, ‘not play goalie.’ She had it figured out really quick that when she’s playing goalie, she’s not going to move as much so she’s not going to get her heart rate up. That was her ‘boom’ moment.”
So we ask, ‘what are you going to do next time?’ and her response was, ‘not play goalie.’ She had it figured out really quick that when she’s playing goalie, she’s not going to move as much so she’s not going to get her heart rate up.
Those ‘boom’ moments have become more frequent as students learn to maximize their effort and work to meet daily goals.
“Sometimes it takes some finagling, but they realize the things they need to do to meet the goals,” Luck said. “‘I’m going to run the entire warm-up instead of walking here and there.’”
And while that helps students achieve a short-term goal of earning all of their heart rate points during a given PE class, they see the bigger picture as well, Luck said. The fitness skills students master as middle schoolers will help them develop active, healthy lifestyles as adults.
“They are understanding what it means to have their heart rate go up and what it takes to keep it there,” she said. “We want them thinking about what they are doing on a daily basis and how often they should be doing those things.”