Promoting School Wide Physical Literacy

Captain James Cook Elementary School Physical Activity SD039 School Level Elementary Vancouver Coastal Health Authority Public

We have a population of 360 students at our school.  Our school goal is to ensure that every student becomes physically literate, and continues to value healthy living through out their present and future years. We chose to focus on student leadership through the use of a student “Fit Club” that promotes healthy living. With the use of a student leadership group to promote healthy living, our school was able to accomplish a healthier school environment, that valued a healthy lifestyle, and at the same time strengthened the school community. Our student leaders ran healthy school events, met weekly, and led the school every Friday through fitness activities. The school community has enhanced its knowledge of physical literacy, due to the strong leadership of our student leaders. The inquiry process was a motivator for our students, and many are interested in now exploring the connections between the brain and physical movement.

We received an inquiry grant and an activity grant. Our Inquiry Question was- “will the use of student’s leaders to promote healthy living encourage positive healthy living changes in the school environment?”

The activity that we have chosen focuses on student leadership through the use of a student “Fit Club” that promotes healthy living. The learning intentions included creating students who are physically literate, and confident in making healthy living choices.  We promoted the use of our student leaders to encourage healthy living.  They ran “Fit Friday’s”, each week two leaders visited classes to promote healthy living messages.  Our equipment monitors encouraged physical activity at recess and lunch through the use of the equipment carts.  We brought in motivational speakers for our students, and brought in outside programs to encourage sport at our school.  We used our equipment carts, our fit leaders, our equipment leaders, the ABC FITT test, and survey analysis throughout the year to monitor school progress.  Our school worked in collaboration with the teachers, the administration, the students and the PAC.

With the use of surveys and physical assessment through the ABC FITT test an increase was seen in physical endurance, agility and balance at the end of the year. Also, students were more comfortable in participating in physical activity, learning about healthy living, and sharing ideas about increasing physical activity at school.  Students learned that sleep was an integral part to school success.   There was much discussion around feelings, moods and participation at school when individuals did not get enough sleep, compared to when they did.  They learned the value of outdoor play, compared to indoor play, and they were encouraged to share their experiences of play.  With a focus on physical literacy as something more than just fundamental movement skills, students were able to create connections between healthy eating, healthy exercise, healthy sleep, and healthy activity choice.  In the year end survey, many mentioned an increase in overall energy when they limited screen time, and went to sleep at an earlier bed time.  Professionally, I learned to encourage student based inquiry learning with a specific focus, and more can be accomplished when students are involved and work closely with peers.  They become more intrinsically motivated to succeed and learn more about the topic.  Students took ownership over physical literacy, and the teacher leaders acted as facilitators, and were able to lead the student population in the right direction.

Both of our activity and inquiry contributed to school connectedness.  Teachers were able to connect with more students through activities that were school wide.  Fit Friday’s brought the whole school together, and gave everyone a chance to get to know more people in our population.  Teachers also agreed to lead a different class on one of the Fit Friday’s, and some mentioned how they felt more of a school connectedness because they learned names of students they would otherwise not know.  So many more teachers are able to call students by name because our school was brought together a least once a week.  Also, with the encouragement of student leadership, teachers could rely on students to run stations, to follow instructions, and to encourage positive peer relationships.

 Working together as a whole school towards a common goal, providing workshops, outside influences, PAC, and sharing recent news results on Canadian children’s fitness helped us develop a strong community focus on physical literacy.  I learned that connecting to students, and giving responsibility and voice to each individual in the school that much more can be accomplished, and students are more likely to become intrinsically motivated. As a teacher, I will focus more on inquiry based learning, and student involvement.  I encourage others to create a strong leadership group of students in their own schools, and to give them the proper tools to succeed.  Next year, our school will be focusing on brain based learning, and the connection between the physical activity and student retention and attention.