HATTIESBURG – (AP) Mississippi elementary and middle school teachers have a new tool to improve academic performance in the classroom.
The Mississippi Department of Education has launched a new campaign to help teachers incorporate physical activity into lesson plans. The “Move to Learn'' campaign is based on two academic studies that show a correlation between increased fitness and improved test scores, as well as fewer absences and fewer disciplinary incidents at school.
“The two studies, `Fitness Among Mississippi Students,' and `Increasing Fitness to Improve Academic Performance,' also showed this correlation applies across all socio-economic and demographic categories,'' said Anne Travis, chief executive officer of the Bower Foundation, in an email.
The Bower Foundation provided the funding to the Education Department for the “Move to Learn'' campaign.
The campaign provides teachers with videos and lesson plans they can access online that incorporate physical fitness into the classroom. The “Move to Learn'' website also includes examples of schools that are already using physical activity to improve academic performance.
“We started with a 13-minute video that highlights success stories in Mississippi schools that have incorporated physical activity into the day beyond physical education requirements,'' said Scott Clements, director of the Mississippi Office of Healthy Schools.
Clinton said MDE officials traveled the state looking for schools that were using physical activity in the classroom. In Clinton, they found a school where the children were dancing in the hallways. Tardiness went down at that school, Clements said.
The website includes 10 five-minute video segments – five for K-3 students and five for elementary and middle school students.
“The teacher can stream or download (these video segments) and do a video break,'' Clements said. “(The teacher) gets the kids moving and then they're better ready to learn.''
He said the campaign, with its emphasis on physical activity, addresses his concern about obesity in Mississippi students. Studies have shown that Mississippi has the most obese children of any state in the nation.
“That's the win-win piece of it,'' he said. “We feel like we're winning every way around on this thing. We're in the bottom in health and education. With this one project, we can address both at one time.''
Clements said MDE is getting the word out any way it can.
Officials are talking about the website at conferences, publicizing it when they go to school districts and sending out messages to teachers over the Internet.