Written by Lori Howe
When I began my journey of turning my classroom into an environment which encouraged movement, one of the first things I explored was exercise equipment. I had spoken with other teachers who had encouraged me to read the book “Spark” by John Ratey and also speak with a teacher by the name of Allison Cameron who at the time taught at City Park Collegiate in Saskatoon.
I read the book and was instantly interested in how much of a positive impact exercise can have on the brain. I then watched a documentary on CBC National called Brain Gains, which highlighted what Allison was doing in the school in regards to having students use exercise equipment (treadmills, bikes, elliptical etc. ) before getting down to work. This proved to have major impacts not only on their health and desire to be at school, but also on their academic success.
After visiting Allison at the school and seeing what she has accomplished I decided to start looking at how I could incorporate equipment into my own classroom on a smaller scale. Thanks to our school division ’ s amazing physical education consultant Greg Hatch, I was able to purchase 3 bikes for my classroom. This was the first initial step I made towards getting my students active and it was a huge success!
We tend to want our students who may have behavioural problems or struggle concentrating to benefit from things such as fidgets and in this case exercise equipment. We need to remember that ALL students can benefit from being more active, and therefore all the students in my classroom are on a schedule. This ensured no students were being centered out, students were not forced to go on the equipment, and all students had the opportunity for physical activity every day. Students are excited to get on the equipment and in turn are seeing the importance of their health and being active. I have noticed some of the students are able to focus more while on the equipment as well as after.
Many other schools are starting to incorporate more activity in any way that they can. Within our school we have students on bikes, treadmills, and mini trampolines, all of which have had positive impacts for the teachers and students. Please check out the pictures, videos and testimonials below about what having equipment in the classroom means to teachers and students.
“I found a picture of a pedal desk online and I was instantly intrigued! I did some research and found the company that sold them and decided I needed to have one. [When the bike arrived] It was mostly put together and only need the seats and table top attached. Everyone in the class wanted to try them out. I decided to rotate the students through the bikes giving everyone a chance to try one. Three students have the whole day to put on some miles and burn off some energy, while still working their minds and finishing their work. After a couple months, I have found that everyone still enjoys their day on the bike. Some students enjoy the activity but work just as well at their regular desks. I have also noticed that some students are able to concentrate for a longer period of time at the pedal desk then they are at the regular desk. I believe that the kinesthetic classroom will help improve students’ mood and mental health. We are all working together to improve our students physical health and well being! Pedal desks can help!” – Lori Howe, Pre Cam Community School
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