Crooms Academy Builds Technology-Rich P.E. Curriculum

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In pushing for increased technology funding in schools, administrators seem more comfortable backing core subjects such as math and reading where the benefits are obvious. However, Crooms Academy of Information Technology (www.cait.scps.k12.fl.us), a magnet high school in Florida, is one of the few schools to realize the benefits of technology in another area that has faced drastic budget cuts - physical education.

“Math, science, reading, writing, technology and learning about cultural diversity are skills and lessons that are positively reinforced daily through a personal fitness course,” says Cindy Snyder, a P.E. and health teacher at Crooms Academy.

Realizing these benefits, Crooms Academy successfully created a technology-rich P.E. curriculum, which required overcoming various challenges along the way. For instance, while Crooms Academy had received a large technology grant, use of its funds was not specified for P.E. So, Snyder asked for and received her administrators’ support to dedicate technology funding to the P.E. program. This funding, along with two additional grants she applied for, helped Snyder overcome a major obstacle.

The other major challenge was how to make the students active. Equipped with laptops from the school, Crooms Academy students are constantly using technology campuswide. “These students would rather be in front of their computers than get up and be active,” says Snyder. Her solution was to make being active feel like a game rather than a chore, and using technology to do so didn’t hurt her cause.

The Crooms Academy P.E. curriculum uses a mix of stationary FX Cycles; Sony PlayStation with ATC Motor Cross; Dance Dance Revolution (DDR), a popular video game that directs players where to “dance” on an electronic floor pad; and pedometers and heart-rate monitors. To use the equipment, students first learn how to compute their stride length and heart-rate zone. They use this information along with a pedometer and heart-rate monitor to calculate the approximate number of calories burned in any activity. Students also use the FX Cycles with ATC Motor Cross or play DDR while wearing the heart-rate monitors. After these exercise sessions, students connect their monitors to a computer via infrared readers to graph their progress.

Using technology to get students to value becoming more physically active isn’t just a fun way for students to fulfill their P.E. requirement, says Snyder. “With the rising costs of health care, and obesity at epidemic proportions, schools and physical education curriculum are in a unique position to make a difference.” - Annamaria DiGiorgio

This article originally appeared in the 12/01/2004 issue of THE Journal.

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