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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Brain Gains, Kevin Renzo


CBC news, home of Canada's latest World, Entertainment and Business news ran the story of Brain Gains. Brain Gains is a program that strived to get unruly students, students who have had extreme difficulty succeeding educationally, to do well in school. Taken place in City Park Collegiate Schools in Saskatoon Canada, students have went from school to school to finally arrive at Saskatoon, a place where they can finally feel comfortable and safe. The news piece was very interesting, especially from my point of view, I learned a lot after reading and viewing the story. I always knew exercise and physical activity for the body, soul and mind but I never knew the science behind it. With all of the endorphins, the hippocampus, brain cells expanding it really opens your eyes. I always knew Physical Education is important but now I know as a future physical educator I have a responsibility to my students. I was upset during the video when they took you into the physical education class and talked about how the students were not really moving and getting the exercise they need to stimulate their minds. Rather, the students got their exercise in the classroom, with treadmills and other machines. Personally, in my Physical Education I will make sure of it to see that most if not all of my students are getting the exercise they need to stimulate their minds and be successful in their other classes. When I was in high school, my Physical Education class was the same way as the one in the video, kids standing around, not participating and it really bothers me, there is no reason why it should be like that.
The program was able to take students who have almost never succeeded in school, students who could barely read and write at grades 8 or 9, students who act out, curse at their instructors and completely flipped the table. The program took the students 180 degrees from disobedient kids to learners. I was not surprised because that is the beauty of exercise and activity, it is stimulating, exciting and allows for people to excel in other realms. The program is very similar to our NYS Standards because goals were set for the students. The students were expected to produce results and they did, and it is the same for Physical Education and it's standards.
BDNF is a protein known as Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, it helps to support the survival of existing neurons and encourage the growth and differentiation of new neurons and synapses. BDNF is active in the hippocampus, cortex and basal forebrain which are all areas vital to learning, memory and higher thinking. Physical Education is supposed to stimulate the BDNF and as a result students should be able to exceed in the classroom. BDNF is activated through exercise and activity, thus proving the importance of Physical Education in the classroom. There are two books that outline the benefits of exercise and learning, Sparks by John Ratey and The Kinesthetic Classroom by Traci Lengel and Mike Kuczala.
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