Overlake Elementary School

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Teachers honored for teaching health and fitness to students

“These three teachers are doing amazing things to teach their students overall wellness and to provide opportunities for their students to move throughout the day to help students focus and be healthier,” said Melaena Toohey, Live Fit Tooele County coalition chairperson.

Each teacher received a $100 gift card and a balloon bouquet as part of the Wellness in the Classroom contest. Each quarter, teachers submit summaries of how they approach teaching health and fitness. Nine teachers submitted information during the second quarter. Judges are unaware of the names of who submitted the information.

Reynolds begins each school day with some sort of fitness video that wakes up her students’ minds and bodies. At 10 a.m. they have a healthy snack to help keep their minds sharp until their late lunch hour at 12:30 p.m., according to information submitted for the contest. During morning recess, students run 1/4 to a 1/2 mile to get ready for the school’s one-mile run at the end of the year. Reynolds has made a commitment this year to incorporate more movement within the day by having students respond to questions with stomps, claps, jumps, and standing up and down. The students wrote and debated if fast food was good for them to eat. They also have been talking about healthy foods, the minerals in food and why their bodies need minerals. This ties into their science core, according to a review of Reynolds’ health teaching routine.

Parker incorporates movement into her students’ class work, according to information she submitted. For example, spelling practice is completed in groups of three with tossing a beanbag while spelling the words. Transition times consist of students moving and dancing at their desks to upbeat music, and a full body rock, paper, scissor game. Her students enjoy these because they only have one recess in the day and this gives them small releases throughout the day.

Knight promotes wellness in her classroom by letting students have a healthy mid-morning snack, she said. This has opened up many conversations about what qualifies as “healthy” food and why or why not.

“It’s amazing how many students  think fruit snacks are good for them” Knight said.

She has found that students use this knowledge to make healthier choices at lunchtime. She also promotes wellness by having her students participate in brain breaks every afternoon and when she senses that the students are in need of an energizer. She said students enjoy singing and doing the actions to “The Princess Pat,” “Joe and the Button Factory” and taking turns leading “Do As I’m Doing.” Some of their favorite media brain breaks are “The Side Shuffle,” “Oh, a Milkshake,” and dancing along to the Just Dance videos on YouTube. Knight said brain breaks take a few minutes, but the reward is healthier, more focused and happier students.

(Photos courtesy of Melaena Toohey, Live Fit Tooele County coalition chairperson)

Source: Tooele Transcript Bulletin