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Teaching P.E. to Digital Natives (Video) | Denver Public Schools
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Teaching P.E. to Digital Natives (Video)

Sep. 16, 2017
 
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A lot of people love that feeling of having worked out. Finding the time or motivation to work out on a daily basis? That’s another story for many.

So what inspires someone reluctant to exercise to actually work out? Many adults turn to their mobile phones – and exercise apps – for reminders and motivation.

Guess what? Students love those apps, too.

Enter Brian Hull, a physical education teacher at Bruce Randolph School who saw an opportunity to infuse the technology young people already embrace into an easy way for them to exercise – not only in PE class, but also at home.

“A lot of times physical education just gets a bad rap,” Hull said. “The teacher stands out there, rolls out the ball and has students play. I’m more into the modern approach where I want these kids to get something out of my classes.”

Hull begins classes with a warm-up using Sworkit, a mobile app that gives users a randomized exercise routine. He then shows animated .gif files to provide examples of best practices on how to best perform those exercises or techniques.

All the while, students wear technology that monitors their steps, heart rate and overall level of exercise. It’s done to both create friendly competition between students on who can work out the hardest, while also giving students a better understanding of how hard they should be striving to workout on their own time. Hull monitors heart rates and exercise levels throughout the class, encouraging students to keep moving while providing them with methods on how to keep their heart rate up.

“I want them to come in and exercise of course, but I want them to know why it’s important, what’s going on with the body, how they can relay what they learned in class to the outside world,” Hull said.

Students have embraced the technology as “cool” and “helpful,” which Hull has acquired for the Bruce Randolph School community by winning various grants.

“It’ll help me stick to being active, even after (PE class),” said Ahman Loggins, a 9th-grade student at Bruce Randolph School. “(Exercise) will be a part of my daily life even after I’m done (with high school).”

Exercise is a critical part of Denver Public Schools’ commitment to the Whole Child in Denver Plan 2020, supporting a student’s overall physical health and emotional well-being. Hull often hears from fellow teachers who tell him about the changes they’ve seen in students who struggle with issues outside of school or those who are fighting mental illness, such as anxiety and depression.

“When students are active, students show that they get better grades, perform better in class, have fewer behavioral incidents… and at a school like this where we’re highly impacted, I truly believe that PE is one of the best classes for these students,” he said. “I’m helping these students succeed, not only in school but outside of school in living a healthy lifestyle.”