In the past year, experts and practitioners in the field, whole child partners, and ASCD staff have shared their stories, ideas, and resources to help you ensure that each child, in each community, is healthy, engaged, supported, and challenged and is college-, career-, and citizenship-ready. These are the top 10 posts you read in 2011.
In fact, the reason given why many of these schools are adding "enrichment classes" into recess time is because they have been pushed out of the daily schedule by academic cuts. And this is even though there have been countless studies showing and editorials discussing the benefits of play, whether it be for physical health, social and emotional health, all of the above, and even academic development.
Post submitted by Monica A.F. Lounsbery, PhD, and Thomas L. McKenzie, PhD. Lounsbery is a professor and director of the Physical Activity Policy Research Program, Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition Sciences, at the University of Nevada–Las Vegas. McKenzie is a former school physical education and health teacher, coach, and administrator. He is emeritus professor of exercise and nutritional sciences at San Diego State University and has authored or co-authored over 200 papers and developed numerous assessment and curricular materials.
Physical education (PE) is one of the few settings where children, particularly those from socioeconomically disadvantaged families, can accrue substantial amounts of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and learn important generalizable movement and behavioral skills to help them lead a physically active lifestyle.
Since the No Child Left Behind Act has been in place, most school policymakers recognize that there have been dramatic decreases in the amount of PE time students are provided per week. However, many school principals probably don't disclose that the remaining PE time is often compromised.
Ensuring a high-quality physical education program is important. Equally important is ensuring that students are active across the school day and not just in gym class. Research shows that kids who are physically active are not only healthier, but also likely to perform better academically; and short activity breaks during the school day can improve concentration and behavior and enhance learning.
In short, school-based physical activity is valuable exercise. It aids cognitive development; increases engagement and motivation; and is essential to keeping kids healthy and engaged, as well as safe, supported, and challenged. In November we looked at new ways to encourage movement and how schools are bringing physical activity out of the gym and into the classroom.
Post submitted by Monica A.F. Lounsbery, PhD, professor and director of the Physical Activity Policy Research Program, Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition Sciences, at the University of Nevada–Las Vegas.
Schools, through recess, physical education, and other programs, provide opportunities for children to accrue their recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity. Of these settings, physical education is perhaps the most important because it is a required part of the education curriculum and provides the only opportunity some children have to engage in vigorous activity and learn movement skills that will last a lifetime. Participating in physical activity during recess is voluntary, but nonetheless many children are active during it, especially when it is held outdoors.
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 email@example.com.
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.