Physical and mental fitness of students
One of my primary research interests is the effect of fitness and cardiovascular activity on learning. There are a couple of fantastic news items to share on this topic…
Researchers at the University of Illinois have found a positive link between physical activity and attention and physical activity and academic achievement in children. Children in this study were better able to pay attention and performed better on academic tests after bouts of physical exercise. Particularly in reading comprehension, students tested performed a full grade level better after exercise. The study has prompted some curricular recommendations: integrating physical activity into lessons, daily outdoor recess, and 150 minutes of physical education per week at the elementary level and 225 minutes at the secondary level.
** This Chicago Tribune story briefly reports on some of the potential pedagogical practices teachers can use to integrate movement into their teaching practices to stimulate learning, a theory that is perhaps being studied most extensively in the Naperville school district outside Chicago and with a program called PE4life:
Emerging research suggests that incorporating physical movement in the classroom improves student focus and attention. As a result, teachers are trying everything from standing desks to exercise stability balls instead of chairs. Those who keep chairs often encourage two- or three-minute bursts of fitness in the classroom during the day.
I first learned about these news stories via the ASCD SmartBrief, a daily compilation of some of the top stories in K-12 education. The service is free and I highly recommend that anyone interested in education policy sign-up to get the daily briefing.