By Dave Yonkie
“Intelligence and skill can only function at the peak of capacity when the body is healthy and strong.”
~ John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States
Physical education is an important educational component in grades K-12. Research shows a strong correlation between physical fitness and improved academic success. Plus, healthy students have fewer absences and behavioral issues which also contribute to academic achievement. P.E. teachers strive to teach physical literacy. A physically literate student has the “motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to value, and take responsibility for a lifetime of physical activity.” (Whitehead, 2014)
For good health, SHAPE America and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend school age children spend at least sixty minutes per day engaged in some form of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA). P.E. teachers play an important role not only in helping students achieve these MVPA goals, but also in shaping the habits and attitudes that set them on a lifelong path of health enhancing physical activity.
Transforming the Learning Experience
JeffCo P.E. teachers are turning to wireless heart rate (HR) technology in their relentless quest to improve health and physical fitness outcomes for students. The use of wireless HR monitors is transforming the learning experience by giving students a voice in their own health and wellness journeys. HR monitors allow students to privately view “in-the-moment” biometric feedback to help them understand what is happening inside their body during exercise. The tracking and reporting capabilities of the system helps motivate them to take ownership of their physical activity time and intensity as they work toward realizing their personal goals for health and wellness.
The Student Experience
Wireless HR technology has been deployed in all JeffCo middle and high schools, and in a few elementary buildings. Students find the technology engaging and easy to understand; their reactions have been overwhelmingly positive! Said one 7th grade student, “I like wearing the heart rate monitors, because they motivate me to work toward a higher heart rate, so I don’t slack off.” In one survey of middle school teachers who are actively using the tool, teachers report 91% showed moderate-to-high levels of increases in the amount of time students spend in health enhancing heart rate zones.
Implications for Teaching & Learning
Beyond promoting increases in MVPA time, heart rate monitors provide a pathway for P.E. teachers to teach important curricular outcomes, including; goal driven fitness planning, and training principles such as resting, recovery and training heart rates, rates of perceived exertion, specificity, progression, overload, resistance and tedium to name a few.
HR technology is the most accurate and objective tool for measuring exercise intensity. Some teachers are using the technology to measure their effectiveness in helping students realize their fitness goals. System feedback and reporting capabilities can help teachers understand if they’re on the right path, or if adjustments in their planning and instruction are necessary. The level of detail in the reporting gives teachers the information they need to offer students a higher level of personalized support, regardless of their fitness level. The data generated through HR systems can help support a well crafted teacher growth goal.
School & Family Connections
Health and physical fitness outcomes are enhanced when schools, students and families work together. The reporting capabilities of HR systems allows teachers to share personalized, daily reports with students and parents that are simple and easy to understand. With just one “click” of a button each family can receive a student report containing information about the amount of time and level of intensity spent in health enhancing activity. These reports can provide a nice segue into conversations at the dinner table, or during school conferences!
The pandemic of the last two years has complicated the successful implementation of this amazing technology. Remote learning, initiative fatigue, teacher hesitancy and fear of spreading the Covid virus by sharing HR monitors have presented some challenges that will need to be overcome with some creative thinking, in order for this work to realize it’s full potential. Teachers continue to receive professional learning using small group, and direct one-to-one support. Teachers have access to District “in-house” expert trainers and dedicated vendor support. A semester-long MVPA Challenge has been started to incentivize more teachers to use their monitors. This contest recognizes teachers on a weekly basis for the number of sessions they post using the monitors, and for the highest average time their students spend in MVPA time.
P.E. teachers strive not only to give students the knowledge and competency, but the habits and attitudes to live a healthy, physically active lifestyle. HR Technology is a tool that can help teachers reach these goals. HR technology puts ownership of physical activity in the hands of students and provides opportunities for teachers to address important curricular outcomes. Working together, P.E. teachers, students and parents can help reach health & fitness outcomes that last a lifetime!
Heart Tech Plus (HTP) Customer Support
Heart Tech Plus (HTP) YouTube Channel
Dedicated HTP Contact - Brad Hull at: 877-456-3198, or email at: brad@HeartTechPlus.com
Interactive Health Technologies (IHT) Vimeo Tutorials
Interactive Health Technologies Website
Dedicated IHT Contact - Lois Mach at: 701-799-8432, or email at: Lois@ihtusa.com
P.E. Internal Website: The MVPA Challenge
SHAPE America Physical Activity Guidelines
Centers for Disease Control Physical Activity Guidelines for School Age Children
David.Yonkie@jeffco.k12.co.us - Curriculum & Instruction, K-12 P.E. Coordinator
Whitehead, M. (Ed.) (2010). Physical Literacy: Throughout the Lifecourse. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
Curriculum & Instruction