What is balance? How do we use it? When I asked students these questions, the following chart was created. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised by their thoughts and connections. I think they were also surprised by the many activities that require balance. But, as with any concept, we may be able to define it and give examples, but can we always apply it? Students were asked "Why are we learning about balance?" The most frequent answer was "So we can stay active and be STRONG"! I love that they are making the connection that everything we do has a purpose and that purpose is to BE STRONG IN EVERY WAY!
Check out this website for an informative description of balance and it's importance for efficient fundamental movement.
Also on the list, students connected what they are learning about nutrition. Often I wonder if students are truly connecting all that we are learning in the gym to what we are learning during our wellness time. This poster proves they are! :)
I use the analogy that our bodies are like a car. We need to fuel and maintain it appropriately if we want it to efficiently get us to where we need to go. Students are learning to identify foods in each food group, how to read food labels, and what foods would be best for a balanced meal. We have also identified various foods as Go, Slow, and Woah!
In the gym, this week, students had the opportunity to explore and create various games and obstacle courses to challenge their balance through the use of hoops, cones, hurdles, mats, balance beams and boards, as well as scooters. The following pictures are just a little glimpse into our week of creativity, challenge, and teamwork that will hopefully inspire them to continue to find FUN and SUCCESS in movement!
Each day I am amazed at the progress students are making not just in their physical abilities but more importantly, in my opinion, their CONFIDENCE IN MOVEMENT! Children are taking risks, trying new skills, and even accepting failure when first, second, and even seventh attempts fail. By allowing children to explore movement without judgement, they are more apt to try. Just as the following image states, "kids simply have fun figuring out how their bodies work and realize on their own the best ways to achieve physical goals." If I had a dime for every time a student comes to me and says "Mrs. Torrance watch this..." I wish I could capture it all.
These videos are just a snapshot of demonstrating confidence in movement and determination to master a task.
They are experiencing them.
Yes, you read the heading correctly. I am not teaching skills. I have not instructed how to dribble, kick, or toss a ball. I have not taught how to jump a rope, roll on a mat, or even how to catch objects. Many in my profession as well as readers of this post may be confused and even appalled at this confession. But, my students ARE LEARNING how to dribble, kick, and toss balls. They are learning how to roll on a mat and catch objects. They are even learning what happens to their body and brain when they are active. Even better than all of that- They are learning how to take risks, fail, and try again. They are learning that they can succeed and what effort it takes to get there. THEY ARE LEARNING HOW TO FIND FUN IN PHYSICAL ACTIVITY!
But how? I AM NOT TEACHING!
THEY are EXPLORING! THEY are TEACHING each other.
I am GUIDING and what I would like to think...INSPIRING them.
As Aristotle stated,...we learn by doing. I want children to DISCOVER how their body moves and what strategies they need to employ to be physically successful. I believe giving children opportunities to be physically active in a safe, judgement free zone with support and guidance to develop their skills will do much more to foster an understanding and appreciation for physical activity.
Many may see this video as just kids jumping rope. I see this video of students trying a new strategy and finding success. We all know jumping rope improves cardiovascular health. But, when children jump and specifically jump rope, they are strengthing bones, muscles, and their BRAIN! Jumping rope activates both sides of our brain for improved concentration and learning, balance, coordination, and rhythm-all of which help to develop and improve mathematical reasoning, problem solving, and IMAGINATION just to name a few.
When students juggle they are developing eye-hand coordination, improving concentration, and even strengthening fine motor skills. Therefore this skill extends beyond the gym to help students improve academically as they are better able to track print, concentrate during instruction, and even utilize strong fine motor skills when writing.
Please rest assured students are learning skills. But, I will be honest, I am more excited that they are finding THEIR STRONG and developing an appreciation for physical activity. Neither of which can be taught but are crucial for developing a foundation for living a healthy, fit, and ACTIVE lifestyle for LIFE!
Yesterday, I ran the Indianapolis Monumental Half-Marathon and I always feel blessed every time I step to the start line. Running is not easy and I am certainly not a natural. I actually did not start running until about 8 years ago, so I always say-"age is just a number and you are never too old to start something new." ;)
As I step into my corral at any race, one of the first things I do is scan those around me and pause in a brief moment of awe of the various sizes, shapes, and ages of the mass of runners. Yesterday, my eye was caught by a mother and who I would perceive as her young son. They were reviewing their plan incase they would become separated during the run. The boy could not have been older than 12. That was my first moment of awe. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE seeing kids participating. When he turned around, I could read the back of his shirt..."It doesn't get easier, you just get STRONGER." What a POWERFUL MESSAGE and one that resonates with me personally and my mission.
We look to tasks whether it be exercise, writing a paper, resisting temptations, or learning vocabulary words and want them to be easy. But, we forget that when we face those challenging tasks or situations with a determined mind, PURPOSE, commitment to give our best effort, and a willingness to sweat/change and even fail a few times, only then will it SEEM EASIER because we are ACTUALLY STRONGER! We can be STRONG IN EVERY WAY!
P.S. I don't think it was coincidence that I had the pleasure of being passed a few times along the way by this young boy. He must have known just the right moments I needed a little reminder that NOTHING EASY will make us STRONGER!
This month, I introduced the students to ABC fitness circuits as another way to put a little fun in EXERCISE-Not to mention the vocabulary and spelling opportunities! I decided to make it a daily challenge and give them another tool to be creative with physical activity outside of the gym. I often tell them, "think outside the box." Who says exercise has to be done in a gym or with equipment? The Fitness Challenge has been posted on Canvas, our Student Learning Management System, for my 3rd and 4th grade students. They are encouraged to get their entire family in on the challenge! Be on the look out for a challenge EACH MONTH! They are already asking for it and they WILL RECEIVE!
I believe in the power of setting intentions prior to the start of the day and/or class. When we set intentions, we are more likely to make choices that support them. Therefore, students are asked to set their intention for their effort before entering the gym. This simple act reminds them that they hold the power and responsibility for learning and becoming "stronger" in every way. Unfortunately, we all know that sometimes our choices and behaviors may go astray as we approach a challenge or peer pressure. By setting our intention, sometimes a simple reminder of it is all that is necessary to get us back on track.
Just like setting our intention before we enter the gym, we must reflect as we exit. Students often hear may say- "Honest reflections are the only way we get stronger." As we know honesty with others is important but we often forget about the importance being honest with ourselves. If we know we can give more but tell ourselves we gave "High 5-Excellent" effort, we are limiting what we truly can do and become.
Giving students the opportunity and encouragement to self-reflect is another way of empowering them to take charge of their learning and well-being.
We often want tasks to be easy and look to find immediate success. But, as neuroscientists are learning, it's actually the challenges we face and the mistakes we make that grow our brain. Our brains are like muscles and it is through challenges and mistakes that we get stronger. So, instead of keeping tasks easy, setting goals that we know we can achieve, and staying in our "comfort zone", we try hard tasks, understand that when at first we don't succeed we continue to TRY and we will become STRONGER for doing so and achieve SUCCESS.
Students were reminded that many famous people experienced FAILURE multiple times before they found SUCCESS. And even then, they continued to do more and be more!
We kicked off the month of September with setting our goals for Jog-a-Thon. As with any goal, it was important to identify and reflect on PURPOSE. Purpose is what drives determination and will to achieve. I introduced goal setting to the students by sharing my personal goal for September and the plan I had set out to follow. I shared my PURPOSE for running and how my bracelets are my SIMPLE reminder. Students had inquired how they could get one and it was an "ah ha" moment!
SET YOUR GOAL with PURPOSE, MAKE A PLAN, DO YOUR VERY BEST, and NEVER GIVE UP!
Why not provide that SIMPLE reminder to them just as I use?!
We began by discussing the purpose for Jog-a-Thon and understanding that the more we worked to reach our individual lap goals, the more our school would benefit. We also learned a lot about what it takes to build up our "ENDURANCE" and "CARDIOVASCULAR FITNESS" to reach such a goal. Throughout the process, students learned what it takes to set a goal, make a plan, work hard to follow the plan, and reflect on the final outcome. Unfortunately our Jog-a-Thon day did not go off without any hitches, but they all took it in 'stride' and stayed true to their goal with the understanding of its PURPOSE! Another SUCCESSFUL Jog-a-Thon in the books and students were awarded a GREEN BRACELET as their reminder to SET GOALS with PURPOSE, MAKE A PLAN, ALWAYS DO YOUR VERY BEST, and NEVER, EVER, GIVE UP!
Wellness is the FOUNDATION that supports student growth.
Recently, I asked my 3rd and 4th grade students what they believed WELLNESS meant. What did they think of when they heard I was their "WELLNESS" teacher? Not surprisingly, they answered "physical education", "gym", "p.e.", "healthy", "feeling well"...Next, I showed them similar slides to the pictures above with the headings: SOCIAL, PHYSICAL, INTELLECTUAL, NUTRITIONAL, and EMOTIONAL. I then asked them what they believed each slide meant and how it related to wellness. The responses were insightful. Kids get it! "We need to be social with friends and be happy", "Social is being with others", "Physical is exercise", "Physical is in the gym and playground", "Intellectual sounds like intelligence", "The lightbulb is our thoughts", "Nutrition is what we eat", "I think of plants", "Emotional is how we feel", "If we are grumpy we don't want to do anything", "We can accomplish more when we have a positive mindset"... I don't think they had made the connections prior to our discussion, but I do believe bringing it to the forefront and engaging in the conversation, was a "lightbulb" moment that brightened their understanding of why we are discussing such topics as "being self-aware, demonstrating teamwork/sportsmanship, taking responsibility, possessing an optimistic attitude, making nutritious choices, and setting goals..." We are on a mission to be STRONG and through Wellness, we have a SPINE that binds us all together for the strength we need to live physically active, healthy lifestyles !
When students were asked what came to their mind when they heard the word 'GOAL', a common theme emerged- a DREAM. While delving deeper, students often responded with "Something I WISH I could do" or "something I HOPE to achieve". As I pondered their responses, I wanted to emphasize with them that NOTHING is out of their reach if they BELIEVE and begin PLANNING how to get there. We can not simply wish and hope to achieve, but we have to take ACTION. This is where I believe DREAMS and GOALS are different, yet connected. Just like Michael Jordan in this video, he was practicing and showed determination and a will to keep trying. Students also recognized that he was young, just like them, when he shared with his dad what he wanted to do in his future. Students were reminded that they are never too young to dream about what they one day may become as long as they BELIEVE they can and SET GOALS to get there. Goals are like stepping stones to our dreams. We take them one at a time. As I share with students, every goal, no matter how small is an important step on our journey to reaching our dream.