First and Second-Grade Students Display Understanding of Healthy Heart-Rate-Raising Effort with Help of PE Heart Rate Monitors
Students at Goose Bay Elementary School (Wasilla, Alaska) are already mastering important fitness elements including exercising at an elevated heart rate.
Goose Bay PE teacher Nancy Blake introduced the IHT ZONE wrist heart rate monitor and Spirit System assessment software to her first and second-grade students at the beginning of the year. The early returns on her investment have surpassed her most optimistic expectations.
“They are learning how their body feels,” Blake said. “They are developing that self-awareness of their level of effort.”
One of the keys to success, Blake said, comes with the ZONE’s ability to show students how hard they are exercising by displaying the color of the heart rate zone that correlates to their effort level. The ZONE monitor displays the actual heart rate, a concept beyond most second-graders’ comprehension level, but it also lights up to make it easy for the young students to see where they are:
- blue indicates low-intensity exercise,
- yellow indicates students are working at a moderate intensity, and
- red indicates students are working at a vigorous intensity.
Blake’s tried to teach students about heart rate before but found older technology lacking. She’d been searching for a wrist-based heart rate monitor for years when she came across IHT at the 2016 SHAPE America convention. When she saw the ZONE, she knew that’s what she wanted for her students.
“We’ve done pedometers before,” she said. “This, for them to see the color, is what sold me on it. That color makes all the difference for young kids. They are learning what they feel when they are using the ZONE.”
PE Students Display Self-Motivation to Meet MVPA Fitness Goals
Blake’s students didn’t take long to show her she’d made a wise investment. Using the ZONE monitors in every PE class, students increased their effort while striving to hit their daily goal for time spent in the target heart rate zones. At the end of class, students are genuinely excited to have met their goal.
“The thing I have been so jazzed about,” Blake said, “is the sense of accomplishment that kids feel. Especially the kids who don’t always feel like they are the most successful ones in PE.”
The Spirit System uses each student’s heart rate to establish goals for time spent exercising at a moderate-to-vigorous level. The less-fit students who often can’t run as fast or finish timed tasks as quickly as more fit classmates now have the same chance to meet goals that are personalized to their ability.
“The kids that feel like they struggle sometimes, when they look at their heart rate monitor, they see that they are in the red,” Blake said. “They are so excited.”
Students pick up (or, wake up in Blake’s young classes) their ZONEs and immediately see their goal for the class. They get to work quickly and can gauge for themselves if they are working in their target heart rate zones. When they return the ZONE (Blake calls it putting the ZONE to bed) at the end of class, the feedback – and reaction – is immediate.
“When they put it to sleep and see that they beat that number, the celebration is huge,” Blake said. “To see those kids who often times feel like they’re at the end of the bus when their skill or their fitness is concerned, all of a sudden they are the ones who are at the top when it comes to staying in the zone the whole time.”
One student in particular has benefited from using the ZONE monitor during class. Early in the year, Blake noticed a new student struggling to fit in, always a little bit frustrated in class.
“We have this one kiddo who was new to our school,” Blake said. “She came in and was having a hard time with peers. She’s the kind of kid who always has a little grumble on her face. I don’t even really understand why.”
When the student put on the ZONE for the first time and saw her goal for that day’s class, something finally clicked.
“When these heart rate monitors came out, something changed,” Blake said. “She’s a kid who’s not super-fit, but she becomes so competitive on how many minutes she can get in the heart zone. She’s pushing herself so hard and it’s absolutely changed her affect in here. It’s changed everything in here.”
Because she sees most of her students for three years, Blake makes it her mission to attend as many parent-teacher conferences as she can. For her new student that recently found success, Blake printed a few of the heart rate reports out of the Spirit System and sought out her parents.
“I got to go to her conference and introduce myself to her parents,” Blake said. “I was able to print out a report – and I used the color printer which I never do – and show these parents how hard their daughter has been working in physical education. You would have thought their heads exploded. They were so excited to see that and I think it changed the way they view physical education.”
The students are motivated to meet their PE goals, and their success and enthusiasm has Blake excited to bring the ZONE to more students. She’ll introduce her kindergarten students to the technology in January, hoping they’ll pick up the skills as quickly as their older schoolmates.