Spark Learning Through Improved Fitness

Session D-1

We were inspired to undertake this project after reading the book Spark by Dr. John Ratey. In his book, students in Naperville, Illinois made learning gains right after increasing their fitness level and extra PE time. We wondered if we could achieve similar learning gains with special needs students by increasing their fitness level through elevating heart rate in PE class and adding some extra fitness time. In the past as student have come to my PE class, we would first do a warm up walk, then stretch, and then do a main movement activity. We wondered if changing their routine and activities to increase their heart rate levels, we could improve learning gains by using sight word levels to measure academic progress right after PE. We also compared heart rate data when students first walked during PE class compared to walking last to see if that impacted learning in the classroom. We recorded data using a handheld heart rate monitor with the goal of getting students in their optimal heart rate zone of between 126-172 beats per minute during PE. After PE students participated in daily sight word activities and were measured weekly and monthly for sight word gains. In summary we are excited to share the results of our study and hopefully make a difference in how educators use fitness to improve learning outcomes.

Participants will be able to:

  • Learn easy activities they can incorporate into their classroom
  • Learn ways to differentiate spelling assessments
  • Learn how these activities can improve their students’ fitness and academic skills.
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