Three Tooele County School District teachers earned recognition during the school year’s first term for promoting health and wellness with their students as part of the Live Fit Tooele County Wellness in the Classroom contest.
Winners were Hannah Philpot at Scholar Academy, Brandi Richman at Overlake Elementary and Diane Schofield at Sterling Elementary.
Twenty teachers submitted entries for the contest.
Wellness in the Classroom is a contest that encourages elementary teachers to implement various health initiatives with their students throughout the school day to promote overall student wellness.
Schools participating in the program include Bonneville Academy, Grantsville High, Grantsville Elementary, Middle Canyon Elementary, Northlake Elementary, Overlake Elementary, Rose Springs Elementary, Scholar Academy, Sterling Elementary and Vernon Elementary.
“Incorporating fitness into the classroom is one of my favorite parts of the day,” Philpot said. “Little items that get kids up and on their feet are our ‘brain breaks,’ which involve dancing to an online Go Noodle activity.
“I also like to simply reposition them throughout the day, moving from their seat to the carpet to do an interactive Smartboard activity,” Philpot added. “Just the process of getting up and down helps them clear their minds for the next activity.”
Philpot said her students also have life-sized number lines where they can jump to any variety of groups (3, 4, 5) to physically demonstrate multiplication.
“For example, I will ask, ‘How many times can we fit a group of 4 into 20?’ They have to jump by 4 until we get to 20 and when we count the jumps, we understand that 4 times 5 equals 20,” she said.
Philpot said that near the end of the day when they have about an hour of school left and are either wound-up or tuckered-out, she finds that getting her students outside to walk or run around the perimeter of the school property is a great release and reset for them.
“Although we don’t do it every day, I try and incorporate it on a regular basis, especially because the students request it,” Philpot said. “I also limit the amount of sugar provided to the students in my class. Though we may do the occasional Oreo Moon project, I don’t regularly reward my students with sugar as it has such a detrimental effect on learning.”
Schofield started out the year by teaching her class a lot about “brain breaks” or “energizers.”
“Now they have their favorites and they beg to do them,” Schofield said. “I want to keep their brains alive and energized so that when they leave my classroom, they have more than just academic skills. They have skills to live a more healthy lifestyle.
“I also went on a trip to Washington State to my high school class reunion,” she added. “I promised my students I would bring them back something from my trip, so I brought them all back a big red juicy Washington State Apple. I enjoyed sharing stories with my students about growing up in Washington State, where they grow several varieties of apples, that are a good snack for them. Then we did a unit on apples, that included how many fruits and vegetables they should include in their daily diet.”
She said she wanted her Halloween party to be more than a bowl full of sugar.
“When I sent my note home for snack donations, I included: vegetable dip, cucumbers, baby carrots, crackers, cherry tomatoes, pretzels, caramel dip, apple slices, and popcorn to the traditional cookies and candy,” she said. “I feel that I have a perfect opportunity to teach my students about eating healthy and choosing snacks that are good and good for them, too!”
Richman said she has a class of students this year that needs movement in every aspect of their education.
“They cannot learn while sitting still, so this year I have incorporated a lot of movement into our day to encourage wellness and focus on student learning,” Richman said. “We assign gestures to the things we need to memorize so that students can act them out to remember them. I give the students points for using bigger and bolder gestures, and they try to earn more points than me each day to earn rewards.”
Richman’s students also do yoga, and guided meditation or brain gym each day to activate their focus and give them the proper mindset for learning.
“We are also using a program called ‘Step Express’ to help students connect physical activity and social studies,” she said. “The students are really getting into keeping track of their physical activity, and this is a great way for them to learn that their actions can make a difference, as ‘Step Express’ gives students a chance to compete for P.E. equipment that could benefit our whole school.
“We are also learning about fueling a healthy body,” she added. “We have an amazing parent who has been sending bananas to class each week. Students who are hungry can help themselves to a banana at any time. I never thought this would matter, but my students are more focused and less likely to call home before lunch due to an upset tummy.”
Live Fit in the Classroom also includes indoor morning walking before school begins during the winter months, incentive programs to promote walking/biking to school, after-school physical fitness programs and active recess programs.
The program also teaches students the correct rules of popular playground games, brain-breaks throughout the school day, painting active colorful stencils on the playground blacktop to encourage more movement/play, healthy snacking programs and healthier vending machines for secondary schools.
To learn more about any of these initiatives, visit livefittc.org or contact any of the schools listed above.