The Walking Classroom (TWC), an innovative program giving young students the chance to listen and learn while taking a brisk walk, has been a hit among students and teachers at Lake Sybelia Elementary School, and as a result, will be expanded to two additional schools.
Founded by a North Carolina teacher who was looking for ways to add physical activity into the day without sacrificing instructional time, TWC was piloted locally in a fourth and fifth grade class at Lake Sybelia this year with grant support from the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF).
Because of its success, the program will be offered to all fourth and fifth grade classrooms at Lake Sybelia, and to all fourth and fifth grade classes at Aloma Elementary and Hungerford Elementary schools next year, with the support of a $37,170 WPHF grant. The expansion will enable an additional 22 classrooms with 440 students to participate.
Students participating in the program use ear buds to listen to an educational podcast while taking a 20-minute walk. The podcast content is aligned with the English Language Arts Common Core State Standards, and teachers receive a guide with lesson plans to help them discuss and review podcast material. Podcasts also include a brief health message at the beginning of every lesson.
The program, popular with students and teachers as well as administrators, also capitalizes on the growing body of research showing a favorable link between exercise and cognitive function.
Susan Maddox, Lake Sybelia Elementary fifth grade teacher who piloted the program, said the program has had a positive impact on her students.
“We walk right after lunch, and I do notice a change in my students’ motivation on the days we walk. I do not see that midafternoon slump that I sometimes see if we do not walk. They are more alert and energized for the afternoon.”
In addition, she said “some of my students with attention issues seem to do better on the comprehension quizzes for TWC than they normally do; all because, I believe, of the connection between body and mind.”
Click here for more information on The Walking Classroom.
The program also has gotten attention from local media. To view recent stories, click on the links below.