Monroe High School (Wisc.) PE teacher Noel Herbst stayed connected with her summer school students using the IHT ZONE wrist heart rate monitor and the IHT Spirit mobile app.
“Because they weren’t coming in and working out with me at the school and not all of them have access to a fitness center or a gym, I was able to track that they were actually participating in the activity based on their heart rate with the activity I had listed for that day,” Herbst said.
The IHT ZONE heart rate monitor has been a staple of PE programs at both Monroe Middle School and Monroe High School since 2016, when John Ditter won a Carol White Pep Grant to purchase the monitors.
When Herbst first created her summer program, she envisioned a six-week, self-paced class, but she needed students to have the same accountability they have when attending class in her gym.
Herbst provided students with an IHT ZONE heart rate monitor and charger and had students download the IHT Spirit mobile app (free download from the Apple and Google stores).
Other than starting their IHT ZONES on their mobile phones, the class mirrors - albeit in a condensed 6-week window - the on-campus PE classes during the regular school year.
Herbst’s on-campus PE classes give students the ability to choose their activity, and summer class students enjoyed that same freedom. Herbst delivered weekly assignments and goals for total minutes of exercise, and students could choose how they met those goals. They’d login to the app, activate the heart rate monitor and choose their activity.
“It allowed them freedom based on their schedule during the summer,” Herbst said. “So, if they had to work all day Monday, they could do their Monday and Tuesday assignments together.”
Herbst liked the IHT Spirit mobile app’s functionality for the students.
“I love the mobile app because it makes it user-friendly for the kids,” she said. “They put the monitor on, it connects and it’s ready to go right away. I love the instant feedback that the kids get (from the IHT ZONE) so they can see where they are.”
Through the mobile app, Herbst had visibility to the students as they completed an assignment – or part of one. Just like they’d see after wearing the IHT ZONE in a classroom setting, both student and teacher get feedback detailing:
- Total time spent exercising
- Minutes of time spent in each heart rate zone
- Graph showing heart rate throughout the session
With that data, Herbst could provide feedback based on her expectations for each activity students could choose.
“I knew the activity and how long it would take to complete, and I knew the exercises, so I knew where their heart rate should be,” she said. “I was able to track that and could see exactly what their heart rate was for that activity. If I saw that a student’s heart rate for a specific activity was lower than I thought it should be, I contacted them.”
Herbst had to tailor her feedback differently than she would if she saw students in her gym during the school year, but the data gave her a place to start her conversation.
“The feedback was along the lines of ‘hey, did you really push yourself?’ or ‘did you not have a good day because based on the activity your heart rate should have been a little higher?’” she said.
Getting the Most of Her COVID-Driven Purchase
Like many school districts, Herbst and her Monroe High School turned to the IHT Spirit mobile app when the pandemic forced students into long periods of remote learning. Teachers in the district’s middle and high school had used the IHT ZONE heart rate monitors for years in their classes and found the mobile app a valuable tool in keeping students active – and connected – remotely.
To outfit students with the IHT ZONE heart rate monitors, they purchased individual chargers and made the monitor/charger combination part of the district’s 1:1 technology.
“When COVID hit, it was one of those things where we really need to see what the students are doing at home instead of them just filling out a worksheet,” Herbst said. “Here was some accountability. It was the one thing we could give them, and we had the accountability to show parents where their grade came from.”
For some students, having the IHT ZONE heart rate monitor and staying connected to Herbst provided key insights into the work they did while learning from home.
“For one individual, she was very limited in what she could do due to some health issues,” Herbst recalled. “For her, it was the walking part of it. That’s all she did every day. She went on a walk for 20 minutes and she saw where her heart rate was. I remember her and her mom talking to me about when they started receiving the reports showing her heart rate. They said over time, they could see – because she was walking every day – improvement in the heart rate. It was getting lower and lower each time. That was a neat thing to see.”
Beyond accountability, Herbst and colleagues use the data to give students objective feedback about how they move during class.
“We want them to see how their heart responds at one activity compared to another,” she said. “
Creating a Successful Summer School Program
Herbst’s summer PE class lasts six weeks. She said she originally designed the class as a vehicle for students to make up lost or missed PE credits, but she eventually opened it up to other students looking to get their credit so they could take other classes during the school year.
Along with a choice of activities, Herbst re-used equipment originally purchased to be sent home during the pandemic – mini bands and other small, personal exercise devices. She also dusted off some old videos to give students examples.
“During COVID, the other PE teacher and myself made videos using that equipment for them to follow along with,” Herbst said. “The kids liked it because it was different. It wasn’t 20 jumping jacks or 20 situps. It was different from what they’ve done. They loved being able to pick their level of challenge.“
For some students, working out remained a challenge, even for students who took the class to be able to exercise more privately. Once those students engaged with the technology and found assignments they could relate to, Herbst said they took off.
“I had one lady who is going to be a senior, and PE is not her thing,” Herbst said. “To be honest, when she signed up, I thought it may be the best class for her because its’ independent and no one was watching her. But for the first two weeks, I didn’t receive anything from her. She didn’t log into IHT. She didn’t submit any assignments.”
Nearly halfway through the class, Herbst finally reached the student and parent and found some common ground that provided the motivation the student needed to engage.
“I had weight training, yoga and dance as part of the activities for the students, and when I added the dance, a light bulb switched on,” Herbst said. “It was something that she loved to do. She started doing those workouts and even started getting ahead, doing the workout before I posted the assignments. She was doing two dance workouts a day, and that really picked up when she saw that her grade was changing.
“PE wasn’t her thing, but we found something that worked for her and that was the incentive she needed,” Herbst said.