The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • Front.cheers
    MACEE BEERS joins other Fayette Elementary School students for the annual Mini-Cheer performance during the half-time break at the basketball game.
  • Family.3.wide
    CHILDREN at Stair District Library’s Family Story Time toss scarves into the air during an activity. The evening program provided a mix of stories, songs, dancing, crafts and snacks Monday evening. The program is offered at 5:30 p.m. every Monday for five more weeks. The program is designed for three to five year olds and their family.
  • Front.newpaper.2
    THE INTERVIEW—Evelyn Joughin (right) records the interaction with an iPad while Jack Varga, next to her, asks questions of Morenci Elementary School principal Gail Frey. Morenci senior Sam Cool (standing) listens. Cool serves as the editor for the newspaper written by members of Mrs. Barrett’s second grade class.
  • Front.code.2
    WRITING CODE—Brock Christle (left), a Morenci fifth grade student, takes a look at the progress being made by fourth grader Anthony Lewis. Libby Rorick, a sixth grade student, is next in a line of girls trying out the coding tutorials. This year marked Morenci’s second year of participation in the Hour of Code project.
  • Front.skelton.vigil
    MORENCI’S three Skelton brothers were remembered with both tears and laughter last week during a candlelight vigil at Wakefield Park. Several people came out of the crowd to give their recollection of the boys who have now been missing for five years.
  • Front.gym.new
    REMIE RYAN (left) tries to dodge the foam wand held by Hayden Bays during physical education class at Morenci Elementary School. In the background, Lauryn Dominique and Brooklyn Williams stay clear of the tag. Second grade students were working on cardiovascular health on the first day back from vacation. For the record, Safety Tag is a very difficult sport to photograph.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.

Gorham Fayette P.E. teacher Todd Mitchell: Researching exercise step-by-step

Written by David Green.

By JEFF PICKELL

Where are all the kids?

Gorham Fayette elementary school physical education teacher Todd Mitchell has a strong hunch.

When he was his students’ age, he headed home after school, changed into his play clothes, then went back outside again. These days, said Mitchell, students seem more apt to park themselves in front of the TV, video game console, computer or any combination thereof, rather than engaging in healthy outdoor fun.back

Since kids aren’t as physically active outside of school as they used to be, Mitchell sought to maximize the exercise they get in his classroom. He even made a study out of it.

Mitchell is one of seven Gorham Fayette elementary school teachers who is nearing completion of a correspondence master’s degree program through Marygrove College in Detroit.

As part of the 18-month program, teachers were required to identify one area of concern in their classroom, devise strategies to address and alleviate that concern, and compile data to determine whether the strategies were effective.

Mitchell had to be inventive when it came to gathering data. His strategies for increasing physical activity involved both creating more time for exercise and providing more motivation to do so.

Measuring how much time he was saving with new classroom management options could be achieved with a basic stop watch, but it was harder to put a number on just how much exercise students were getting.

He decided to use pedometers—bottle cap-size devices that measure the amount of footsteps a student takes—to provide the data.

In the beginning, the pedometers themselves were enough to get students jumping an extra jack or two.

“At first, the kids thought they were really neat and would move around just to have a high number at the end of class,” Mitchell said. He gave the students three weeks to grow accustomed to wearing the devices, recording the number of steps each student took during a given gym class.

Then, he observed how the fifth grade class responded to the promise of rewards. Students who achieved progressively higher step counts each day had a sticker placed next to their name on a poster board. The sticker was more than enough to motivate students to move around more during class.clipped

“They made a game of it,” he said. “They were competing against themselves and against their classmates.”

It was competition between classes that proved most effective in keeping students on the move.

Mrs. Rufenacht’s and Mrs. Morr’s third grade classes were also given a three-week period to adjust to wearing the pedometers. The students were then told the two classes were competing for the highest total step count.

From the first day of the three-week experiment, step counts jumped substantially—as much as 20 to 30 percent, Mitchell said. Students moved even when they didn’t have to.

For example, students who were tagged out during a game of color tag would jump up and down and walk around as they waited for the next game to begin.

“Usually, they just stand around,” Mitchell said.

However, he acknowledged that constant competition isn’t a good thing for elementary school kids, so he also focused on refining the management of his classroom to save time.

Previously, students would arrive for gym class, stand for attendance, perform warm-up exercises, then stand in line for equipment.

Now, Mitchell sets the equipment in hula hoops near where the students warm up and he conducts attendance as students exercise. He found the adjustments saved about 30 seconds at the beginning and end of class.

In addition to Mitchell, six other teachers—Beth Fruchey, Beth Morr, Jessica Burgermeister, Ruby Leininger, Kylie Rufenacht and Amy Herman—are close to completing the Marygrove College master’s program. For brief descriptions of their projects, visit statelineobserver.com.

    – March 7, 2007 

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