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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Jeremy West - Brain Gains

(Click picture to go to video)

I. The website is from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is "Canada's Online Information Source," home of CBC News, Sports, Radio, and Entertainment. The video is part of The National, CBC's "nightly news and current affairs program." The news piece is about two schools -- City Park Collegiate in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada and Naperville Central High School in Naperville, Illinois, United States.

II. I thought the news piece was very interesting. I have heard that exercise was associated with learning, but I never seen or heard of actual studies that have been done. It is pretty amazing what exercise can do for you. Everyone knows that exercise is good for you physically, but I'm sure a lot of people don't know the psychological and emotional benefits that it brings. I was surprised how the two students that were featured in the news piece felt about it even though they come off as kids that would think they were too cool to participate in it. The increases in both of their education and behavior seem to be profound.

III. We probably don't hear anything about the physical education teacher being involved in the experiment because he/she is probably stuck in the old way of teaching physical education and only focuses on the students who want to participate instead of everyone in the class.

I will ensure that my physical education program will benefit both the students and the faculty of my school by teaching different units besides the traditional sports to make class fun and different to make the students excited and anxious about what they will be doing in class. By everyone in class participating, their heart rates will be up and will promote the release of nerve growth factors such as BDNF. This will release stress and enhance the students' ability to focus in their other classes.

IV. The main benefits of the program were improvement in behavior, attention, and school. The students improved a full grade level in reading, writing, and math. Barney improved 20% in reading and 400% in
comprehension. Dustin improved 25% in reading, 25% in math, and 30% in comprehension. I was somewhat surprised by the findings. Both of the students improved profoundly in certain subject areas. I would be interested to see how much students that have average scores in those areas would improve compared to these students.

These outcomes are similar to the New York State Physical Education Standards. Standard 1 states "Students will have the necessary knowledge and skills to establish and maintain physical fitness, participate in physical activity, and maintain personal health." In the news piece, the program was expanded to most of the students in grades 8 and 9 to 20 minutes of exercise 3 days per week. This satisfies Standard 1. Standard 2 states "Students will acquire knowledge and ability necessary to create and maintain a safe and healthy environment." This standard is touched on because the behavior of the students improved and most likely resulted in a safer and healthier environment. Standard 3 states "Students will understand and be able to manage their personal and community resources." Barney realized the benefits of the program and said he realized he was getting smarter resulting in him to rethink where he wanted to go in life. As a result, students would be more likely to continue exercising outside of school.

V. BDNF is a nerve growth factor that is released in the brain. It helps preserve and strengthen nerve cells as well as relieve stress. This relates to physical education and learning because BDNF is released during sustained aerobic exercise when the heart rate is between 65-75% of its maximum for at least 20 minutes. A physical education class should satisfy these requirements, and in return, nerve cells in the brain are strengthened and preserved resulting in better learning.

Two books that currently outline the benefits of exercise and learning are Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by Dr. John Ratey and The Kinesthetic Classroom: Teaching and Learning Through Movement by Traci Lengel and Mike Kuczala.

Part 1C - The goal for us as physical educators is to get our students to be recreationally competent in 6 activities and proficient in 3 activities in 3 different activity categories (6+3/3). There are 9 categories: team passing, net/wall, target, striking/fielding, aquatics, dance & aesthetic, outdoor, personal performance, and fitness. Learning Standard #1A states "Students will perform basic motor and manipulative skills. They will attain competency in a variety of physical activities and proficiency in a few select complex motor and sports activities." In my opinion, the recommended regent's level for this standard should be 90% of the senior class. I don't think it's very difficult to be competent in 6 activities. It is somewhat more difficult to be proficient in 3 activities. It's the fact that it has to be across 3 different categories that would make it a little difficult for some students. That is why I chose 90% instead of something higher. However, 90% is a very reasonable level. If students are taught various activities in each category throughout their entire high school career, students should be able to achieve this mark.

Learning Standard #1B states "Students will design personal fitness programs to improve cardiorespiratory endurance, flexibility, muscular strength, endurance, and body composition." In my opinion, the recommended regent's level for this standard should be 99% of the senior class. I would recommend 99% instead of 100% because that will only lead to failure. Throughout each students time in high school, they would all have taken not only physical education but health as well. After taking both of these classes, there really isn't any reason why students shouldn't be able to develop their own fitness program. They would learn about different activities they could incorporate into their program through physical education class and well as some health benefits, and health class would give them all the information they would need to know about health and fitness.
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