In 2014, Bermuda’s newly appointed Ministry Curriculum Officer for Physical Education & Health Arnold Manders faced a pair of daunting tasks.
The country’s academic director wanted Manders to make sure PE teachers were utilizing the FitnessGramⓇ software after a 2014 Royal Gazette article claimed that “seven in ten of Bermuda’s adults are overweight or obese.”
To meet his directive, Manders put together FitnessGram® training sessions for teachers and mandated that teachers:
- assess students on the elements of the U.S. President’s Youth Fitness Program;
- track assessments through FitnessGram® software.
Manders’ goal included using the software to demonstrate that three in five of Bermuda’s students would reach the healthy fitness zones by 2018.
Manders encountered difficulty getting things set up, particularly with the FitnessGram® software.
“We were trying to upgrade our new system from [version] 9.3 to 15 and were struggling to get it done because of a change in FitnessGram®’s operation,” Manders said.
While searching for solutions to his FitnessGram® struggles, Manders discovered that IHT’s Spirit System software could measure the same fitness components the FitnessGram® software could. The discovery prompted a decision.
“We chose the Spirit System because it offers a lot more than just the fitness testing,” Manders said.
The Spirit System includes a number of key features, including:
- class roster management
- curriculum resources with lessons aligned to national standards
- seamless recording of fitness test results, and
- the ability to monitor and assess heart rate data from each individual class session.
With the Spirit System, Manders will have a more centralized curriculum and assess activities based on the U.S. PYFP. Manders helped develop a series of assessments called the Premier’s Youth Fitness Program. He then had teachers in Bermuda work with IHT’s Lois Mauch and Jen Reeves to see how the Spirit System managed the assessments.
“The Premier’s Youth Fitness Program is being launched as we speak,” Manders said. “The [Premier’s] YFP is a dual initiative between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education. The program’s sole purposes is to increase the physical activity of all of our kids in Bermuda.”
Manders said the Spirit System’s record-keeping will allow him to implement a consistent, standards-based grading system across all of the island’s schools.
“This process will make grades have a meaning, allow us to control the grading practices, help teachers to adjust instruction and it teaches what quality looks like,” Manders said.
Increasing time for PE
Manders’ plan centers around increasing the amount of time each week Bermuda’s students spend in physical education.
“Primary schools only have 120 minutes of P.E. a week, middle school 120 minutes a week and high school students 220 minutes a week but only for a semester,” he explained. “This falls well below the recommended 60 minutes a day [as recommended by the American Heart Association]. So it is hoped that by implementing the PYFP that our students will be encouraged to do more outside of school and record/track their minutes of physical activity in and outside of school.”
The country’s initial orders of new IHT ZONE wrist heart rate monitors will be on site soon, and Manders is eager for his teachers to get up to speed quickly so the students can see the full benefit.
“We are just in the implementation phase with the IHT Spirit System as we still have to train new teachers on how to use it and every P.E. teacher how to use the system with the heart rate monitors,” he said. “It is hoped that we will be able to run the system in full in 2017-18 school year.”
Manders has big plans for his country’s physical education program, and IHT is thrilled to support the efforts that will shape an entire country.