September 12, 2016

Exercise Equipment in the Classroom

By Nicholas Relle, McGowen Elementary, McKinney ISD

I wanted to give the students the ability to move instead of being stationary in the classroom.  As an adult, I have problems sitting still in an hour-long faculty meeting; I can’t imagine sitting the entire day learning.  With the help of HZS funding we were able to purchase 18 under the desk pedals and 22 exercise balls.  The idea was to give students the ability to be active while also learning in their classroom.

The pedals were distributed amongst our 3rd-5th grade classes.  Each class was given a set, unless they had a class set of exercise balls.  One set was given to our resource classroom.  The pedals have been the biggest hit with our students.  I passed them out after school one day while tutoring was going on, and immediately the students wanted to try them.  For some students it has helped with focusing because it allows for an energy release while learning.  As a PE teacher, I love them because they allow for exercise throughout the day, or you have stationary bodies.  The teachers have talked about the benefits that the pedals have brought to the classrooms.  I have seen first hand how they help because after hearing how well they worked, I purchased one to have at home for my son to use while working on schoolwork.

Exercise balls are used throughout our building, 15 were placed out in the beginning of the year.  With funding we were able to purchase 22 more (a full class set).  They had worked in a small setting, and we wanted to try them out a large group setting.  At first it was a novelty thing, something to bounce on, but then the kids started to understand the benefit of having the exercise ball.  They have worked so well, the chairs have been completely removed from the classroom.  None of the students want a regular chair, and the height of one table had to be changed so that the exercise balls would fit.   I became completely sold on the exercise balls as chairs when a few students showed up to school with their own exercise ball, and teachers began buying a set of 4 for their own class (some getting one for themselves as well).

The biggest success of the exercise equipment in the classroom has been staff buy in.  They are the ones on the front lines with these students everyday and they see the benefits.  If it is going to help a child learn and keep them active at the same time we have to be willing to provide the materials.