Exercise + Learning = Better Test Scores

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Children running; image http://www.flickr.com/photos/emeryjl/Combining exercise and school work may boost kids’ ability to learn, according to a new study.

Researchers looked at students in grades 1 to 6 in a school in South Carolina where students often didn’t do well on tests. They increased the children’s gym classes from 40 minutes a week to 40 minutes a day and changed their exercise programs so the kids were doing exercise and learning at the same time.

For instance, the kids in grades 1 and 2 hopped through ladders while naming the colours on each rung. Or they crawled across the floor, recognizing and calling out different shapes.

Some of the older kids used exercise equipment with a TV screen. A grade 6 student might use a treadmill while watching a geography lesson in which he “ran” through the scene. Other kids climbed a rock wall that had numbers on it. As they climbed, they did math problems.

The researchers looked at the kids’ test scores before the new exercise program and afterwards. There was a big difference! The children performed a lot better on tests after they started doing the new exercises. About 13 per cent more students reached their academic goals after they started the program than they had the year before.

The researchers aren’t sure why kids who did exercise while learning did better on their tests. It could be because it made them enjoy school more, so they were more interested and more alert. Or there could be other reasons. In any case, it seems that learning while moving could help kids learn.

The study was done by researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina Children’s Hospital in the US.

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Many adults want to help children learn. A study, like the one mentioned in today’s article, can help adults decide the best way for students to use their time at school. Describe the types of things and activities you would include in a school you designed. Make sure to explain why your school would achieve the goal of helping children to learn.

Reading Prompt
When you answered the question above, did you create a picture in your mind and then describe it? When we make pictures in our mind like this, it is called visualization, and it can be very helpful when trying to answer questions. Share with a classmate a time when you used visualization to answer a question or remember something.

Primary & Junior
Identify a variety of reading comprehension strategies and use them appropriately before, during, and after reading to understand texts
(use visualization to clarify details) (OME, Reading: 1.3).

Intermediate
Identify a variety of reading comprehension strategies and use them appropriately before, during, and after reading to understand increasingly complex texts (OME, Reading: 1.3).

Grammar Feature: Contractions
A contraction is a word made by joining two words together and  replacing specific letters with an apostrophe ( ’ ). For example, the word, “aren’t” in the sentence below is a contraction because it is two words (are + not) and because it replaces the letter “o” with an apostrophe.

The researchers aren’t sure why kids who did exercise while learning did better on their tests.

Write the contraction for the following words.

should not _________________            can not _____________________

did not ____________________            have not ____________________

they have __________________           who are _____________________

let us _____________________             must not ____________________