Top lessons motivate students through creativity, PE technology
From frisbee to circuit-based fitness, physical educators are using PE technology to teach students the long-term value of heart rate training in a variety of ways.
“Part of our goal is to expose students to as many different activities and fitness exercises with the hope that it will transfer outside of the classroom and promote lifelong fitness,” said Kelly Spreen, a P.E. teacher at Shelburne Community School (Vermont) and the co-creator of one of the winning IHT Spirit Video Challenge lessons, “Fun, F.I.T.T.ness and Forever Strong.”
Along with Spreen’s winning lesson, other IHT Spirit Video Challenge lessons include:
- Fit for Life Tabata Circuit, Steve Boone
- Distance Running Lesson, Kelly Rich and Meghan Enos
- Fun Frisbee Fitness, Andy Pulling
For the Fit for Life Tabata he created for students at Lunenburg (Mass.) High School, Boone reinforces what students are learning by incorporating PE technology. Students, both high schoolers during the day and adults in the evening wear IHT Zone wrist heart rate monitors during their lessons and receive individualized reports detailing how much time they spent exercising in the target heart rate zone.
“It has been an unbelievable motivational thing for them,” Boone said of the heart rate monitors. “It pushed them. They check out their results after class. They have competitions between each other. A lot of time I have husbands and wives competing against each other and seeing who works out the hardest, who burns the most calories, making sure they get into the yellow and red zones and stay there. If they aren’t there, you’ll see them working harder.”
Boone’s customizable Tabata circuit works equally well for his high school students and his adult education students, who meet in the evenings.
“I try to incorporate [all] types of exercises in the Tabata workout,” he said. “It changes. It’s very fluid, and it’s all based on what the students want to get out of it.”
With his teens and adult students, Boone takes his cues from participants to modify the stations during each session. If adults want to work on certain fitness elements, he adds those stations. If a new station works particularly well with students during the school day, Boone might add it to the adult Tabata.
“A lot of the stuff I do with the adults in the night program are exercises that we tried during the day with the students,” he said. “If it goes well during the day, we’ll use that workout tonight and see how it works with the adults.”
Spreen’s lesson, created with colleagues Craig MacDerment, Mary Nelson and Jude Olson, tasks students with working together to complete a multi-faceted fitness circuit. While students strive to complete as many repetitions at each station as the can, the circuit also serves as a valuable tool to help students find exercises they could potentially continue into adulthood.
“Part of our goal is to expose students to as many different activities and fitness exercises with the hope that it will transfer outside of the classroom and promote lifelong fitness,” Spreen said. “Starting in kindergarten and going through eighth grade, what are the things that we can be doing so that students can find what works for them so they can be physically active for life?”
Currently, Spreen and MacDerment teach students to measure heart rate manually. They plan to add PE technology to measure heart rate in the fall.
At Portland (Mich.) High School, Andy Pulling modified a backyard frisbee game to include heart rate-raising running in his winning Lesson. Instead of Kan Jam’s original target concept, which doesn’t require much exercise, Pulling added 30-second circuits where students throw frisbees at targets and then sprint to change positions with partners.
“They just eat it up and don’t realize how hard they are working,” he said. “As a teacher I push them a little bit harder because I know they’re enjoying this activity. At the end of it, they’re sweating, they’re laughing, they’re enjoying it.”
Teachers Kelly Rich and Meghan Enos designed a running unit that introduces their John T. Nichols Middle School students to distance running on the trails adjacent to schools. Measuring heart rate has become an integral part of their program as well. They hope to add IHT’s PE technology in the new school year.
The teachers aren’t trying to create the next crop of marathoners. They want students to see the long-term health benefits of running to maintain their fitness level.
“We’re trying to get more life-long activities in our classes,” Enos said. “We want to help them find their niche, find activities they can participate in on their own time and develop more active lifestyles.”