Archived News | Return to News Center

January 28, 2011

Cutting-edge workshop tells teachers to integrate students' minds and bodies

Can a student really learn mathematics or improve their vocabulary while also learning fitness and motor skills? According to recent research, the answer is a definitive "yes."

That was the message delivered to several northeast Louisiana educators on Monday, Jan. 24, who attended a cutting-edge health literacy workshop at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

Called the Fab 5 LIT FIT program, the two-day workshop provided physical educators and classroom teachers an opportunity to collaborate so that health, fitness and literacy content can be taught to young students, engaging both mind and body.

Following welcoming comments from ULM President Nick J. Bruno and ULM College of Education and Human Development Dean Sandra Lemoine, the creators of Fab 5 LIT FIT directed a workshop filled with reading and physical education teachers from Ouachita, Monroe, Caldwell, Lincoln, Richland Parishes.

ULM student teachers from curriculum and instruction also attended the workshop.

Fab 5 LIT FIT Creators Lisa Vance and Emily Sobczuk, two National Board Certified teachers from Washington state, designed the curriculum with young, active students in mind.

Monday's workshop kicked off with a brain-storming session between physical education and classroom teachers, who shared cross curricular activities they have already implemented in their respective schools.

"It's important that we start a collaboration of ideas," said ULM Professor of Kinesiology Wilson Campbell. "We're trying to get teachers to think outside the box, to get kids excited about learning."

Campbell said research indicates that movement for most young children is their preferred mode of learning.

Movement increases blood vessels that allow for the delivery of oxygen, water and glucose "brain food" to the brain, which cannot help but optimize the brain's performance, he said.

For support, Campbell pointed to a study of fifth grade students presented at a 2010 American Heart Association conference in which scientists analyzed the body mass index percentiles, fitness levels and standardized academic test scores of 725 fifth grade students in West Virginia.

"The study participants split into four groups of students," Campbell explained.

"First, there were those who were in high physical fitness levels in fifth grade and remained so in seventh grade; second, there were those who were fit in fifth grade but had lost their fitness by seventh grade; third, there were those who were not fit in fifth grade but were physically fit by seventh grade; and finally, those not physically fit at the beginning of the study, in fifth grade, nor at the end of the study, in seventh grade."

Campbell said research indicated that the children who had the best average scores in standardized tests in reading, math, science and social studies were fit both at the start and end of the study, while the next best group, academically, in all four subjects, was made up of children who were not fit in fifth grade but had become fit by seventh grade.

"The children who had lost their fitness levels between fifth and seventh grades were third in academic performance. Children who were not physically fit in either the fifth or seventh grades had the lowest academic performance," Campbell said.

The take-home message from this study?

"We want our kids to be fit as long as possible and it will show in their academic performance," said Campbell. "If children are having fun while they are learning, that is what really matters."

Dr. Lucy Shackelford and Living Well Foundation sponsored the ULM workshop.

PLEASE NOTE: Some links and e-mail addresses in these archived news stories may no longer work, and some content may include events which are no longer relevent, or reference individuals and/or organizations no longer associated with ULM.