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Gym classes reinforce testing

Kathy HeicherVail, CO Colorado
EVE RHES Gym Class 2 DT 2-12-07
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GYPSUM – It’s not your father’s gym class anymore.Students in Robert Ellsworth’s physical education class at Red Hill Elementary School in Gypsum do the sorts of things you expect kids to do in gym. They run, laugh, and play hard. But intertwined with the exercise and games, they’re also absorbing a science lesson. In the last few minutes of class, they grab pencils and note books, and reinforce that lesson and hone their writing skills by scribbling down a few sentences describing what they just did. In fact, the gym class is reinforcing knowledge and skills that will help the students with their Colorado Student Assessment Program tests, also known as the CSAPs.And the kids appear to be quite happy with the entire process.”It’s fun. It’s working out. It’s a different way of doing things,” Ellsworth says. The gym teacher has discovered that the writing element of the program is helpful to him, also. By reviewing the comments the kids have written, he can figure out whether they are understanding the lessons.

“It tells me what they are learning; or maybe that I need to re-do my teaching,” Ellsworth says. The program also reinforces the school goal of “Do it on your own, in writing, consistently.”Second through fifth grades participate in the program. The lessons that are imparted appear to be painless.On a recent Monday afternoon, third graders who had spent the morning taking CSAP tests streamed happily into the gym. Clearly, they know the routine. They run and grab jump ropes, while Ellsworth loads singer Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ La Vida Loca” into the CD player. After a few warm-up exercises, the kids sit quietly while Ellsworth explains the routine for the day. Some key words, such as “muscle cells,” “fat cells”, and “carotid artery” are written on a dry-erase board.Then the fun begins. The kids move into a fast-paced game of “muscle power,” that involves hula-hoop “hearts” filled with bean bag “muscle cells” and Nerf ball “fat cells.” While happy children run madly about the gym moving the bean bags and balls, they’re actually learning an important physiology lesson.That exercise is followed by a spirited game of “shipwreck.” To succeed at this game, students have to work in teams to craft a boat out of scooters, mats, and small plastic cones. Then the teams wheel their boats wildly around the gym, while the designated “captain” fires Nerf balls at other ships.”They don’t even know they’re exercising,” observes Ellsworth.When Ellsworth calls an end to the game, the students grab their pencils and notebooks and sit down on the floor.

Ellsworth reviews the day’s lesson, emphasizing a few key concepts, and offering a few sample sentences. Then he gives three minutes to write a few sentences. The gym falls quiet. Ellsworth offers some friendly writing coaching while the kids write.”Can a person tell what you did today by what they read in your story?” he asks.Like the CSAPs, there’s a time limit for the exercise. The kid’s stories, sprinkled with talk about heart rates, muscle and fat, indicate the science lesson is indeed being reinforced.The kids turn in their papers, then head back to the classroom, relaxed, refreshed, and with a little new knowledge.Lessons learnedHere’s what a few of the kids at Red Hill Elementary School wrote about their gym class:



Today in physical education I learned to use team work. I also learned about fat cells and muscles. In addition, I learned that muscle cells are better than fat cells.Taylor Hermosillo, Grade 2In P.E. today I learned that I need to get my heart rate up. I also know where my Adam’s apple is. In addition, I learned that muscles are heavier than fat. I also learned that we need space.Aidan Sokup, Grade 2I learned in physical education today that we played muscle power that you have to eliminate the fat. And that my heart rate was 10 in 6 seconds and if I add a 0 to that, it is 100.Dora Aguilar, Grade 2

In physical education today when I played muscle power we had 10 muscle cells and one fat cell. I also played shipwreck. When I played it we didn’t get our cone knocked over. I love physical education.Shalee Mullarkey, Grade 3Today in physical education, I learned to feel my heart rate. I also learned about keeping a team together. In addition, I learned that P.E. is cool.Kaylene Richardson, Grade 3


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