Healthy Schools Oklahoma seeks to improve results in classroom
by TIM WILLERT
Stanley Hupfeld Academy students are constantly in motion. They even move when they review spelling words and math problems.
And that's a good thing as far as Principal Ruthie Rayner is concerned.
Rayner credits the Action Based Learning Lab provided by Healthy School Oklahoma for a drop in discipline referrals at the Oklahoma City charter school.
"The first year we saw a huge decline from the previous year, up to about 90 percent depending on the month," she said. "It was a remarkable change in our building.
"All kids need to move. We have a physical need to move, and so this allows that to happen."
Students in Macy Pryor's second-grade class visit the activity lab three times a week in addition to regularly scheduled recess and P.E. periods.
For about 20 minutes at a time, children balance on boards or pedal stationary bikes while studying schoolwork. Kids work in pairs for two minutes at each station and then move to a different lab activity. A piece of equipment that simulates snowboarding is a big hit.
"I really like it because it makes learning activities that could otherwise be boring interesting," Pryor said.
"They're doing it with each other, with a partner, so they're getting that social aspect. They're also getting the practice that they need while doing something fun and it activates their brain, so all kinds of good learning is going on."
Santana Bobo, 7, said he likes "everything" about the lab, particularly balancing on a beam shaped like a "figure eight."
Founded in 1997 by the Oklahoma County Medical Society, Healthy Schools Oklahoma promotes healthy lifestyle choices among children, families and school faculty by focusing on five areas: physical activity and fitness, nutrition education, tobacco use prevention, injury prevention and oral health education.
Healthy Schools partners with 65 Oklahoma schools, including several in the Edmond, Deer Creek, Mid-Del, Norman, Oklahoma City, Putnam City and Yukon school districts.
The Oklahoma City-based non-profit provides grants that pay for classroom equipment, evidence-based curriculum to help schools meet state and federal health and physical fitness standards, and professional development for teachers.
"The programs that we have implemented through Healthy Schools Oklahoma and the resources that Healthy Schools Oklahoma gives me as a teacher make my job so much easier," said Julie Dorf, who teaches physical education at Stanley Hupfeld.
"I feel on top of all the new material, all the new laws, all the new programs that our state and our nation are doing in P.E. and health."
Approximately 40 of those schools have Action Based Learning Labs, which teach academic concepts while incorporating kinesthetic movement in a lab setting.
"We're helping fill developmental gaps, just by the movements they're doing," said Dana Chambers, ABL coordinator for Healthy Schools Oklahoma. "But then when they're in here and they're moving, they're activating their brain so they're actually more ready to learn.
"On top of that, when they're layering the academics as they are in here, it helps with retention. Anything they're doing in here helps with retention. With these kids specifically, they're working on their spelling words."
Schools that utilize the labs showed improved spelling test scores, Chambers said.
"We have a lot of teachers that will schedule a lab session and then go take their spelling tests," she said. "So not only are the kids in there moving and have their brain nice and worked up and ready, but then they also have the retention of just practicing the skills."
Rayner, now in her eighth year at Stanley Hupfeld, started a breakfast club in the morning for several "high-energy" students who may come to work with "some outside baggage."
"We work out in the morning, before school starts," she said. "We talk about our goals for the day, not just academic but behavioral, as well. And we set goals and the next morning we review our goals. It's kind of a goal-setting club."
"When they meet their goals we have a celebration for that child, give them that recognition from the group. It's a way for them to start their day on a good note."
Oklahoma charter school sees dramatic results in behavior after implementing ‘Action Based Learning’ lab---
By Oklahoma News 4 KFORNEWS
A charter school has seen a dramatic decrease in bad behavior after adding an Action Based Learning, or ABL, lab to their school.
The primary purpose of the ABL lab is based on science. Research shows that physical activity and purposeful movement (combined with academics) can significantly increase academic achievement, and close learning gaps in students who are struggling with certain academic concepts. After implementing the ABL Lab, Stan Hupfeld found the benefits extend well beyond academic improvement.
“The room is set up to where there are stations for team partners. Students come together with their class and take brain breaks. Academics is tied to the brain breaks,” said Ruthie Rayner, the principal of Stan Hupfeld Academy.
Stan Hupfeld is one of 33 schools in Oklahoma with an ABL lab like the one Rayner described.
“The Action Based Learning for sure gets some energy out, and teachers love it because it is a place where they are moving and they’re getting energy out but they’re still focusing on some academic pieces,” Rayner said.
For example, the lab includes several youth fitness machines, with flip charts that allow the students to practice math facts, and review content while moving.
“There’s truly brain scans that are showing that, when students are moving, their brains are more engaged in learning,” said Dana Chambers, an ABL coordinator.
Stan Hupfeld opened their lab last year and, so far, the results have proven the system works in more ways than one.
“With the fidelity of using the lab, we started seeing our discipline data drop dramatically,” Rayner said.
For the month of December, for example, the year before last, there were 60 kids sent to the office for bad behavior. Last year, that number dropped to six.
“Getting students to move benefits not only their physical self but also their abilities in school. So, we are very excited to see our test scores come out this year,” Rayner said.
There are 67 schools in Oklahoma that use ABL in Oklahoma, and 33 of those have ABL labs.
The labs are funded through grants from Healthy Schools Oklahoma.