Starting a New Year with GoNoodle: Get Kids Moving!

GoNoodle, a site referenced in our Materials page, is a great way for teachers to add movement to their classrooms with minimal planning and effort. By creating a free account, teachers can access a wide variety of videos to support classroom physical activity. If you previously used GoNoodle, simply create a new class to get this new academic year off with a running start! This year, GoNoodle is also offering free downloadable postcards, name tags, and other paraphernalia to “GoNoodle” your classroom.

For more information or to set up/access your GoNoodle account:

Educating Students on the Why of Classroom Physical Activity

I had the opportunity this week to conduct a professional development for classroom teachers about classroom physical activity. At the conclusion of the session, one teacher came up to ask a question:

“How can I get kids active in the classroom when the principal may come in at any moment and ask them what they’re doing and why?”

This is a common principal strategy to assess and evaluate – can students communicate the learning objective in the midst of completion? In classroom physical activity, as with any lesson, it is important that students are aware of purpose. While physical activity in the classroom should be fun and most students will enjoy it, the class culture should be one where physical activity is simply another component of the academic curriculum.

Setting the foundation for classroom physical activities is critical for management during and after movement. This foundation should include providing clear expectations for student behavior as well as the support for activity as a mechanism to improve learning preparedness. The age of the student will dictate the depth of this discussion, as younger students are not developmentally ready to learn about the physiology of the association. Instead, the idea that physical activity can help you think and can get the wiggles out may be appropriate. But even upper elementary students can be shown the image of the brain scans from the study conducted by Dr. Hillman and colleagues in 2009 that shows the impact of physical activity versus seated time (the color version better demonstrates differences).

Having the “why” conversation with students prepares them, not only to manage their physical activity behavior, but to articulate the purpose of classroom movement to aid in learning and achievement…garnering principal support for implementation.

Technology and Child Development

As teachers, we must prepare our students to be successful on the job market and technology is an important component. But the access that children today have to technology, and the high levels of screen time, may be detrimental to both motor and social skill development while increasing unhealthy sedentary time. Utilizing technology in a healthy, educational manner in the classroom is critical, as is understanding both the pros and cons of technology use. Read more here in an article on the Impact of Technology on Children’s Development with quotes from Dr. Gabbard and Dr. Liew of Texas A&M University.

New Data on Childhood Obesity Prevalence Trends

An article published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported that prevalence of obesity in American youth aged 2 to 19 is over 22%. There has been a general increase in childhood obesity over the past 30 years, with differing levels of change based upon age group. Current levels suggest that continued interventions are needed to address weight among children. Furthermore, programs that target prevention of unhealthy weight gain and promotion of health and physical activity are critical.

Link to JAMA article.

Let’s Be Like Tennessee

As of July 2, 2016, Tennessee law mandates that students in grades K-1 get 225 minutes of physical activity per week while in school and that students in grade 2-6 get 160 minutes of weekly activity. This is an increase from the previous 90 minutes of required physical activity per week, a mark that will continue in grade 7-12. The Tennessee Department of Education acknowledges it will be difficult to ‘find’ time for physical activity during the school day, but recognizes that the benefit to cognition, behavior, and academic performance has the potential to outweigh any barriers.

The research supports Tennessee’s decision. So let’s all be like Tennessee…and get kids moving!

See more about Tennessee’s policy on our “In the News” page.

An Old Article, Newly Discovered

An article by the Association for Childhood Education International entitled “Childhood Obesity and Testing: What Teachers Can Do” was shared on the site in 2009. This piece, now 7 years old, offers a relatively concise overview of the relationship between obesity and academic performance for an educator who is seeking information. Citations throughout the article provide support for the five strategies proposed to address the issue at school. Although it doesn’t fit into the other sections of this website as it is not technically research, or news, or a resource, it is worthy of its own blog post…happy reading!

View the article here.

UNICEF Kid Power…Promoting Activity and Charity

The UNICEF Kid Power Band is a partnership between UNICEF, Star Wars, and Target, and offers kids the chance to “unlock” food for malnourished children through activity. The idea combines the need for physical activity engagement among children in developed countries and the need for food for children in developing countries. One might hope that funds to feed malnourished children would be provided regardless of corresponding activity levels if the funds are available, but this concept does provide motivation to individuals with the band…and teaches children about giving to others. For more information, see the UNICEF Kid Power site. There is also a 44 second video to promote the program and to encourage kids to get active!


More Recess…for ALL Students!

Recently, several schools across the country have increased the quantity of recess that early elementary students receive (see our In the News page). Preliminary qualitative results suggest that extended or additional recess breaks facilitate an improvement in students’ focus in the class. This is consistent with empirical research that supports a connection between physical activity and time on task in the classroom. However, this research would further support offering more recess minutes to students of all grade levels. One can hypothesize that schools are hesitant to adopt this practice in standardized testing grades, but studies show that adding physical activity time is not detrimental to academic performance. As such, teachers and administrators are encouraged to consider how to increase physical activity and recess time across elementary school. Let’s get kids moving!

Update: Video link about the increased recess program (Jan. 18, 2016)

Standing Desks at the White House

The White House has requested $700,000 in funds for standing desks, prompting a social media debate about the cost-benefit analysis of standing desks. This article offers several of the benefits of standing instead of sitting at work, including links to relevant evidence, while this article includes both support and public backlash for the idea. Perhaps purposefully, in three articles including this one, there are accompanying photos of President Obama standing behind the seated desk in the Oval Office.

Considering the “no press is bad press” cliche, this White House proposal is furthering the discussion on the detrimental health impact of a sedentary lifestyle and promoting activity. Let’s take a stand!

obama on the phone in the oval office