you're reading...
Education, Excellence, Governance, Leadership, Workplace

Successful Students Hit Gym, Then the Books

Educators believe exercise improves academic performance

Transcript PBS Newshour    11 Feb 2011

JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight: teacher-driven success stories in the classroom. That’s the focus of tonight’s edition of the PBS program “Need to Know.”

This excerpt tells the story of an academic transformation that began with a gym teacher.

The correspondent is Jon Meacham.

JON MEACHAM: At Naperville Central, a public high school of nearly 3,000 students, educators believe exercise will not only get kids fit, but will improve learning and academic performance.

And they’re putting that idea into practice for a group of students who struggle in reading and in math. At 7:45 a.m., these freshmen and sophomores start the day in the gym.

MAN: Get your heart rate up.

JON MEACHAM: The key is to get their heart rates up right before their most difficult classes.

NADLENE ALNASS, student: Right now, I’m riding the bike to get at least 20 minutes in the zone.

MAN: The whole goal is to get them at 145 to 185 beats per minute for their heart rate.

JON MEACHAM: Once Nadlene Alnass has hit her target heart rate zone, she heads to a class to improve reading comprehension.

TEACHER: Here is an example of a text-to-world connection. And this is what you will be doing in your journals.

JON MEACHAM: Then comes pre-algebra.

TEACHER: Let’s look at number 21. You cross-reduce with the…

NADLENE ALNASS: I like gym in the morning, how, like, it refreshes me. Like, I don’t doze off a lot. So, I focus more on to the teacher, more on the lessons, more on everything.

PAUL ZIENTARSKI, retired physical education coordinator: Hello. Hello.

JON MEACHAM: Paul Zientarski is the brains behind the program. He was the physical education coordinator here for 26 years. He says some teachers were skeptical when he first came up with the idea.

PAUL ZIENTARSKI: They were afraid that the kids would be so hyped up coming out of P.E. going into the next class that they wouldn’t be able to teach them well. So, yes, skeptical, absolutely. They thought we were weird.

JON MEACHAM: But in the six years since the program began, the results speak for themselves. On average, kids who signed up for physical education directly before reading comprehension read half-a-year ahead of those who opted out of the exercise program.

And in math, the improvements were even more dramatic. Students with the benefit of P.E. before pre-algebra consistently did better, improving two to four times more than their peers on standardized tests.

It is something that Zientarski thinks other educators need to know about.

PAUL ZIENTARSKI: People are dropping P.E. because test scores are — are failing. That’s not the approach. That’s — that’s the exact opposite of what you need to do to be successful.

JON MEACHAM: And he’s not just talking about that group of students. When it comes to academics, the district of Naperville is one of the best in the state. Zientarski believes one of the key reasons is that all kids here take a fitness-based P.E. program. And now he’s trying to spread that idea to other schools.

JUDY WOODRUFF: “Need to Know” airs tonight on most PBS stations.

Full article & Story Video here



About steveblizard

Steve Blizard commenced his financial planning career in 1988 from a background of life insurance broking, a field in which he still works. He is a member of the Financial Planning Association and the Responsible Investment Association. His experience ranges from administration of Superannuation to advice regarding insurance, retirement, remuneration and investment planning. Steve is an accredited Remuneration Consultant, specialising in salary packaging. He is a columnist for the Swan Magazine and the WA Business News


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: