Students who plan individual PE workouts work harder to achieve daily goals and improve their cardiovascular fitness.
“You give them this choice to do what they want to do and they are out there working,” said Dallas New Tech High School PE teacher Kelly McClennon.
As her students progress through her PE program, McClennon encourages students to develop their own exercise programs. The buy-in, she says, helps further personalize PE for each student, creating individual PE workouts that allow them to focus on skills they want to improve upon and measure their own success.
“What I found was actually giving them the choice and letting them plan their own workout, they actually were always reaching and exceeding their goals,” she said.
McClennon’s students wear the IHT Zone wrist heart rate monitors during class. Goals are not based on how many repetitions of a particular exercise students can perform but how many minutes they can spend exercising in their target heart rate zones.
“A lot of those goals were based on what they wanted to see on their heart-rate data,” she explained. Through her curriculum, which carries over into the student-develop lesson plans, McClennon emphasizes the overall health benefits of exercising in the target heart rate zone, which is based on a percentage of the student’s maximum heart rate (MHR).
“To be able to see their data, to see what they are accomplishing, it makes my job easier,” McClennon said. “You can look at the data and see if you really did push yourself. It’s exciting to see kids getting excited about taking PE. We want every kid to be active, want every kid to feel included.”
Teachers start including students in the lesson planning as early as elementary school. In their Tabata-style workout, PE teachers Matt Carpenter and Sarah Harding allow their Klem North Elementary School students design a circuit that focuses on skills they want to improve upon.
“We give them a lot of freedom to put together the type of routine they think they need to work on,” Carpenter said. “If kids feel like they need to work on muscular strength, they can do push-ups in their Tabata. If they want to work on more agility stuff, they can do an agility activity in that workout.”
The young Klem North students aren’t ready to fully create their own individual PE workouts, but teachers allow them to help design Tabata workouts they can complete in just four quick minutes at the beginning of each class. The teachers point out several benefits to opening most classes with the Tabata:
- An interval workout can be as productive as an endurance workout in a fraction of the time
- Students work together to complete each station
- If an exercise doesn’t fit a particular student, he’ll quickly be onto the next station
Despite their students’ relatively young age, both Carpenter and Harding want students to get an early sense of ownership in constructing a health-enhancing fitness program. The greater the sense of student investment, they said, the greater the chance students will continue with the program and create their own individual PE workouts.
“Our focus, our job, is to get the elementary kids to love activity and love being fit,” Carpenter said. “We want the kids to understand why we’re doing the things we do and give them that freedom to develop routines. Some of the kids really buy into it.”