ChildsWork News May 29, 2012: Get Up and Move…or Click!

May 29, 2012

ChildsWork News May 29, 2012: Get Up and Move…or Click!

Good morning CW Readers! I hope, like me, you all had a restful and family-filled holiday weekend. This morning, I wanted to take the opportunity to share two interesting stories with you. The first is about a really important topic, physical education in schools. A recent study from Sweden tracked 200 school age children over the course of nine years. The goal of this study was to gauge the impact of an expanded physical education curriculum on overall academic achievement. In an age that sees more and more PE programs being cut for lack of budget or a more comprehensive approach towards “testable” subjects, the change that was seen in school performance, especially among males, is one we cannot ignore. Further, I would argue that an expanded study that looked at the positive impact that PE classes has on children with ADHD or other behavioral difficulties would show a positive correlation between physical activity (getting out that pent-up energy) and attentiveness in class. What are your feelings? Next, I want to share a really wonderful story about a teacher and her social network. As educators we know the intense pressures that districts face each year when it comes to finances. However, we also understand the need for continuing education for ourselves. Conferences such as the one held by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) which takes place this year in San Diego from June 24-27, are important steps in bringing teachers up to par with 21st century technology needs in the classrooms. A blog I follow, written by Jessica Johnston, a woman I have never met, mentioned this conference some time ago. Jessica, who teaches in Brenham, TX, wanted to go to this conference but has neither the personal funds nor the district funds to do so. So she entered a contest sponsored by TeachersFirst that would pay for her admission to the conference along with providing her $500 for other expenses. Then she posted it on her blog. What happened next is a testament to how a professional circle in the 21st century is far more than those in your own school or district, even your own state. When we work together with other connected and passionate colleagues we can work to help ourselves and our students. Read Jessica’s story below (and vote for her too!) More Physical Education in Schools Leads to Better Grades More physical education in schools leads to better motor skills and it can also sharpen students’ learning ability. This is shown by Assistant Professor Ingegerd Ericsson at Malmö University in a unique study where she followed more than two hundred schoolchildren for nine years in Malmö in southern Sweden. The differences are especially clear among boys. “The differences are significant between children who underwent expanded teaching in physical education and children who had regular instruction,” says Ingegerd Ericsson. Ingegerd Ericsson monitored three cohorts of children in grades 1-3 at Ängslätt School and Sundsbro School in Bunkeflostrand in Malmö. She compared the development of children in an intervention group that received scheduled physical education five days a week, plus extra motor training, with the development of a control group. For nine years Ingegerd Ericsson registered motor-skills observations, such as balance and coordination, in a total of 220 students. She also compared their results on diagnostic tests in grade 2 and their final grades in grade 9. Now she has compiled the report, which shows that:
  • 96 percent of the intervention group compared to 89 percent in the control group achieved the goals of compulsory school and were eligible to go on to upper-secondary school.  It is primarily the boys’ achievements—with 96 percent vs. 83 percent—that lies behind this outcome. Moreover, the boys in the intervention group had significantly higher grades in Swedish, English, Mathematics, and PE and health than the boys in the control group.
  • In grade 9, 93 percent of the students in the intervention group evinced good motor skills compared to 53 percent in the control group.
The study is unique. There are no previous findings that statistically show the effects and impact of an intervention over so many years. The reliability of the findings is further enhanced by the homogenity in the groups under investigation: the children are the same age, go to the same school, and have parents with comparable education, income, and interest in physical activity. “Physical education has been pared down from three lessons a week to one or two. We scientifically confirm here that daily timetabled physical education and adapted motor skills training not only improves motor skills but also school achievement. With more physical education and health considerably more students attain passing grades,” says Ingegerd Ericsson. Professor Magnus Karlsson at the Orthopedic Clinic at the Scania University Hospital is co-author of the study. Magnus Karlsson has previously shown that daily physical education in Bunkeflostrand schools has an excellent effect on the development of the skeleton and muscles, and that children who were most physically active had the least tendency to develop overweight and risk factors for cardiovascular disease. I Get by with a Little Help from My Friends – The Power of a PLN By Jessica Johnston, the Ed Tech Chic I am passionate.  I am competitive.  I am driven.  And...I was having a really hard time accepting that I was losing the opportunity to go to ISTE this year! So what happens... I have some friends...some peeps from my PLN...step in, pick me up and go to bat for me.  The craziest part?!  I have never met most of these people in person!  W-O-W.  You want to talk about the power of your professional learning network!? Check this out... People like Amy Mayer, Sandy Kendall, and Jason Markey retweeted my request for votes last week.  What happened then?!  I SOARED to first place in voting and then slowly got comfy in second place.  Works for me.  The top two go, so I'm in! Unfortunately, I found myself in third place a few days ago after exhausting all of my efforts to gain votes (this is a tough race!) and I tried to come to terms with not getting to attend this awesome conference.  (Really hard for me!) BUT NEVER FEAR!  Today, Karen Bolotin, who I have NEVER EVEN MET (but LOVE her blog!) AGAIN retweeted my plea for votes (she had already done this last week!) and even went one step further... Karen not only got Martin Burrett (ICT Magic) to tweet out my cause...HE MADE A VOTING BADGE TO PUT ON HIS SITE!  WHATWHAT?!?!  Check out the badge in my right sidebar.  Yeah!  Someone I DON'T EVEN KNOW made that.  For me.  To get votes for me to attend a conference.  SAY WHAT?! And THEN, Robyn Farmer, an amazing photographer friend and former educator, approached me and said "How about we have a drawing for a $25 Starbucks card if people go vote for you?!  I'll post it on my blog!  Everyone loves Starbucks!"  I have been reading the comments people have left on her blog and I am blown away.  I have been moved to tears!  Complete strangers are supporting my cause. Powerful. So, when you find yourself wondering "Does a PLN really work?" or your teachers ask "What can a PLN really do for me and my students?" remind them of me.  Win or lose, there are people out there who care about me and my teachers and my students and my district.  I get by with a little help from my friends!



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