Lynnhaven Middle School students have a new format for learning health education. By removing desks from the classroom, physical and health education teachers Loren Dragon and Mark Kinzel are challenging students to get on their feet and engage in activities.
“We implement creative lessons for students to learn traditional health content in a way that meets their learning targets but also increases their time engaging in moderate to vigorous physical activity,” states Dragon.
While students use suspension trainers, elliptical machines, weights and other exercise equipment, they also learn how these movements affect their bodies. Dragon and Kinzel gained these resources through a Virginia Beach Education Foundation (VBEF) schoolwide grant underwritten by Optima Health.
“This year all VBCPS middle school health and physical education departments are implementing a blended format for our current curriculum,” said Dragon. “As a department, we identified a need and began looking for resources to meet it. We often hear stories and see images via social media about the great work that the VBEF does to meet the needs of students through innovative projects; it seemed like a perfect fit.”
In one class, students completed a circuit of activities; each time greeted with a question, “Is this exercise aerobic and anaerobic?” After each student finished a circuit, the group came together in the center of the room for a class wrap-up and cool-down session.
“Jogging is aerobic, but jogging faster can move your body into an anaerobic phase,” Kinzel said to the class. “By quickly increasing the intensity, you are moving your body from aerobic to anaerobic. The more work you perform aerobically, the more efficient you are. Prolonged aerobic training produces muscular adaptations that improve oxygen transport to the muscles and increases energy production and use.”
Kinzel added, “In short, I’m telling you this: It’s not what you do; it’s how you do it.”
The reaction to the new instruction format has been positive.
“I have noticed this class making a difference in student’s lives,” reported Dragon. “We see our students excelling in the blended format and then bring back stories of how they are getting their families and community members involved in increased physical activity as well.”
Kinzel said, “We have seen not only an increase in individual activity levels, but also a connection to something greater; the team concept. One motto we often use is to focus on ‘being the best for the team, not the best on the team.’ This format allows for students to use and develop their talent, be it social, intellectual, or sport-based, to their group or team as they learn.”
Both teachers hope their students take these lessons to heart.
“It is imperative for our youth to develop not only these skills, but also lifestyle habits that will allow them to live longer than our generation and help solve real-world issues,” said Kinzel. “If they feel good about themselves and can work as an active member of the team, then we believe it will transfer to making positive contributions to their community.”