Over the last year I have had the opportunity to listen to Dr Graham Dodd and his almost mantra about the importance of human motion on brain and body development. His research and life time interest in this topic are quite motivational. There is also more data and articles coming out about the importance of movement and the issue of ‘sitness’ as the current epidemic of sickness and I have been alarmed at the idea that me (who I consider to be somewhat athletic) could have limited health benefits from the training I do as I then tend to sit for periods of time at a screen – rather than moving around for most of the day (which is important).
At YIS, each faculty member is part of a Professional Development project of their choice. We meet in small like-minded groups to discuss our project and relevant progress but the topic is up to us. I will write about this process in a different post. This year I have been interested in doing a small Action Research project using the focus of Motion within the school day. I am still trying to really narrow down my focus, but ultimately I think what I want to know is how much our students are moving from the time they arrive at school to the time they leave at the end of the day.
Other data that could be interesting to consider may be:
- Do different populations of the student body have vastly different data (does a 6 year old have the same number motion or steps as a 12 or 17 year old?)
- Do different genders have different data? If so, what could this suggest? (my bias here is the we have one playground and it seems dominated by male students in the MS and HS but equally used by both genders in the ES – is this true?)
- Do teachers move as much as students?
- When do our students move the most? Are there periods of the day where they are sitting for longer than 60 (need to think about this number) minutes? Why?
I am interested in knowing about this for several reasons. I want to consider some areas for discussion at our school such as:
- if our students in certain populations are sitting for long periods of time – do we need to make active changes – eg. teacher practices or change in furniture to accommodate things like standing desks to encourage movement while working?
- could we utilise areas like our Hallways to encourage incidental movement – hopscotch tiles, lines to follow, creative shapes for movement ideas? etc (there is an interesting article here about these ideas and Chris Fen-Mac‘s change at his school too)
- Do we need to offer ideas on Brain Science and Brain promotional practices (or Brain Breaks/boosts) for our staff as part of PD?
- Could we advocate for more PE time for certain populations of the school? Or work with classroom teachers to offer them time in a PE space with their class (many classroom teachers are reluctant to take their class outside to run around outside of PE)
- Could we look at providing some pull-out PE time to those kids who really need it? (Andy Dutton has shared a lot of his work on this at APPEC, it would be great to consider this more carefully at YIS)
- Are we providing enough opportunity at our school for students to get the number of steps they need each day? We have a smallish campus, are we getting that magic number of steps? If so, great! If not, what could we do to see more motion from our kids?
- Ultimately better brains are academically more successful – this is information that is not new to us anymore. Dr Dodd has lots of studies that he quotes energetically and we as PE teachers need to advocate this in our schools not just about movement and health but about brain development and academic growth = student learning. I also feel that this is so important for us as teachers too – we need to move too – this is important as we get into the rhythm of our jobs, to ensure we can and do move enough in our work places.
I am interested in chatting to anyone who has done any work in this area or who can offer any resources or people they know I could chat to. I am keen to also see if people have used specific devices (such as Garmins or Fitbits) which offer data such as number of total steps/ distance as well as a break down of data over the course of a day (checking motion over each hour so you can use that data more specifically as well). I look forward and of course welcome any ideas for data collection or focus or discussion points as well.