Life can be very stressful. Many of us are so happy to have jobs that we feel the need to be on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When we are not working more and more hours, we are on the Internet searching for the most current education practices to help us in our classrooms and school buildings.
Even a topic as conceptual as ethics can become a kinesthetic experience to help students get out of their seats and get the brain-blood flowing. Your students will thank you for thinking of ways to make learning fun and active, such as frequently using patterns of small- and large-group activity and asking students to scribe on flip charts, whiteboards, or smartboards (try to never be the only one standing!).
Signal to your students that you want to meet their needs and encourage their authentic input by asking them to come up with a more physical or active way to carry out an activity they've done before. This provides review and deepening understanding of concepts while innovating and building knowledge ... and having fun.
Nine years ago, I was talking with an elementary school principal about scheduling my university tutoring class in his school. Among my concerns was making sure that the children to be tutored did not have to miss recess. His question, "What recess?" was startling and sparked my journey to better understand the importance of how paying attention to the whole child is a sure way to help them to maximize their full potential as readers. Just what, I wondered, could I—a reading professor by profession with a personal fitness-training avocation—do to join the chorus of the many different agencies to address children's optimal wellness in an effort to ward off childhood obesity? The answer to this question culminated in a book I wrote entitled Literacy Lessons to Help Kids Get Fit and Healthy (Scholastic, 2010). In it, I offer several fitness literacy lessons, of which FitLit is a part.
Every child and adolescent needs a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Schools have a wonderful opportunity to help students meet that recommendation.
Those are the messages behind the Let's Move in School initiative, created and run by the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (AAHPERD). Let's Move in School is a public awareness and action initiative urging parents, principals, superintendents, and school boards to get involved in providing a comprehensive school physical activity program—with quality physical education as the foundation—so that young people will develop the skills and knowledge necessary for being physically active over a lifetime.
OK, so I am a gamer. Not that I have the time anymore, but I do venture now and again into a game, whether a first-person shooter or role-playing video game. I am also a big promoter of Game-Based Learning (GBL) and Gamification. To clarify, GBL is when games are used to balance the learning of subject matter through gameplay with specific learning outcomes in mind. Gamification is applying the concepts of game design to learning to engage in problem solving. Again, both are geared toward building student engagement and learning important content. GBL is one method that creates not only a great opportunity to engage students in content, but also an opportunity to keep them active.
Post submitted by Nora L. Howley, manager of Programs at the National Education Association Health Information Network (NEA HIN). She believes that a great public school is one where students and staff are healthy and safe, and she's gratified that her job allows her to help make healthier, safer schools a reality. Howley is a former preschool teacher who has taught students as young as two and as old as 85, and served as director of the School Health Project at the Council of Chief State School Officers and as interim executive director at Action for Healthy Kids. Contact Howley by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kids should move more at school. It sounds easy, but I hear from NEA members that they are not sure how to do it. It was not part of the training. To make sure that kids get the activity they need, we need to help educators with resources and training.
By the time students graduate from high school, they have spent thousands of hours in a classroom, most likely sitting. That's a lot of sitting. Integrating movement and physical activity in the classroom and across the school day gives children's bodies and minds the exercise they need to fuel the brain with oxygen, creates enthusiasm and energy, and maximizes learning during academic lessons.
This month's theme is about integrating movement across the school day. It's a theme that aims to look at not only why physical activity should be incorporated into and across the school day, but also how it can be.
Interestingly, yesterday's ASCD SmartBrief came out with the results of an Ed Pulse survey on which school health issue is of primary concern for schools and districts. The results showed physical activity and movement during the school day as a key concern among ASCD SmartBrief readers, second to bullying and other safety concerns. Just over 20 percent of respondents listed physical activity as their primary school health issue.
Despite the rumors, school improvement is hard. It's not about a single passionate leader. It's not about "fixing" teachers and teaching or parents and parenting. It's not about poverty. It's not about money. And it's not about standards. It's about all of them. And more.
In this column, I'll take on the real deal of school improvement—for all schools, not just certain kinds. And for all kids. Because it's not about quick fixes or checking off the instant strategy of the moment. It's about saying, "Yes, and...", not "Yes, but..." no matter what our circumstances are. It's about asking ourselves the best questions.
When I first started writing this column, I suggested to you that there is a set of questions that can be applied across each of the whole child tenets to guide actions in schools. For the healthy tenet, for instance, they look like this: