2014 Colorado Teacher of the Year Journey
As a Physical Education teacher I am a huge supporter of students taking time to be active. Not just walking form class to class or running around the playground for ten minutes but taking 60 minutes a day to get their heart rate up. There has been a lot of research that proves that if your students get even 30 minutes of rigorous activity, getting their heart rate up their brain function can be used more to its full potential. I remember growing up in elementary school in Bangkok Thailand and after the busses dropped us off at school we went straight to the playground, the older students hit the fields, courts or even just walked around. Classes did not start straight away; there was time to get our brains ready for the absorption of the knowledge we were going to learn that day. John Ratey wrote a book called SPARKS: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain and he made some key points that I would like to pass onto you.
· Inactivity is killing our brains, physically shriveling up.
· Exercise cues building blocks of learning in the brain; it affects mood, anxiety and attention, guards against stress and reverses aging.
· Physical activity sparks biological changes that encourage brain cells to bind to one another.
· Exercise provides an unparalleled stimulus, creating an environment in which the brain is ready, willing and able to learn.
Research shows that physical activity directly affects how the brain obtains information, we should use this knowledge to better prepare our students for our rigorous curriculum and teach the importance of staying active which is a lifelong skill. Around TCAP time I will have resources for your classroom to engage students in physical activity; these activities can take 5 minutes of your time or 20 minutes depending on what works for you and your students. A great example to get you started is called the brain cross over, trying to get students to use both sides of the brain for critical thinking. Have students stand up and while they are reciting multiplication facts or spelling vocabulary words have them alternate elbow to knee every time they say a letter or fact. For those of you who cannot wait for more look up Brain Breaks at www.emc.cmich.edu/BrainBreaks which is a great way to start.