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Surrounded by shelves full of colorful books and desks in neat rows, Ivan and Diego – rambunctious, curly-headed twins—plop down on balance balls and light up as they talk about their fifth-grade G.O.A.L. classroom in Bloomington.
“The first thing I do in the morning is look to see if a machine is open,” says Ivan, one of the twins. “They definitely help me learn, and it gets the blood pumping to my brain.”
His brother, Diego, agrees, saying the equipment helps him focus. “I think some people like to fiddle with things when they’re at their desk … when you go to the equipment, all you bring with you is the stuff you need for the assignment,” Diego explains.
Ivan adds, “You don’t really need to fiddle with other things because you’re moving your legs.”
This is a big change from more traditional classrooms, and it’s especially helpful for those seemingly endless school days.
“When our school day changed from the shortest school day in Indiana to the longest, the kids became very antsy, fidgety, restless and just plain-old tired. I thought that if we’re going to be having this extended day then we need to get the kids up and moving, get that blood flowing and get more oxygen to the brain,” says Wendy Tamborrino, a Binford Elementary fifth-grade teacher. “Here we are three years later, and now I have the equipment in the room, and it has been just the most amazing transformation.”
“I’m really excited about these G.O.A.L. classrooms because they’re another opportunity to help our kids be healthier … Physical activity can be great for both the body and the mind. It can reduce the risk of childhood obesity, reducing the risk of health problems for children now and in the future. It can also help with anxiety and depression,” said James Laughlin, MD.
Tamborrino uses her class’s G.O.A.L. equipment as an enhancement to her teaching. The students notice the difference.
“When I’m at my desk, it’s hard to keep focused on the teachers,” says Ivan. “My mind drifts … but if I go on the equipment, my mind is just focused and not just drifting around.”
While Ivan and Diego may prefer the bike and strider desks, other students may do better with the standing desk or balance balls during lessons. As Tamborrino says, “Finding the right motion that works best for each student can maximize and increase their stamina for learning.”
The teacher continues, “ … it almost calms and focuses them, I think because it’s unique and it’s a special privilege. They hold themselves up a little straighter, and when their body is in the proper position, they’re ready to learn. This equipment does this for them.”
Many students in Indiana spend their school days sitting for hours at a time with little physical activity. Being this still for almost eight hours a day isn’t healthy. Childhood obesity rates are up while children are missing out on almost a week’s worth of activity by spending most of their time from Monday to Friday at school or doing homework.
Recess, P.E. and after-school activities may help some students, but they’re not enough to break this trend of unhealthiness, so some area teachers have been trying a new approach. With new, high-quality equipment, these teachers are incorporating active learning into their classrooms, now known as G.O.A.L. classrooms.
G.O.A.L. classrooms promote active learning by adding physical activity to the educational environment. The goal is to promote lifelong healthy habits for the students and make the healthy choice the easy choice.
G.O.A.L. classrooms incorporate the use of stability balls, standing desks, pedal desks, strider desks and resistance bands in order to keep the children’s bodies moving along with their minds.
Fifteen fifth-grade classrooms in schools throughout the Monroe County Community and Richland-Bean Blossom School Corporations were selected as G.O.A.L. classrooms.
Close to 400 students will reap the benefits of participating in a G.O.A.L. Classroom. There are about 25 kids per classroom, and some classrooms will rotate, impacting multiple groups of students.
The active learning classroom equipment was purchased with proceeds from the 100 Men Who Cook event, the Bloomington Hospital Foundation and Old National Bank.
Call the G.O.A.L. program director at 812.353.5040 for more information about the program.
Featured Riley Physicians provider seeing children in the South Central Region:
James Laughlin, MD