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Monday, May 23, 2022

Build Better Behavior with Running

Perhaps you’ve had this happen to you as a kid, or maybe to one of your own children: after forgetting to complete your homework or throwing a little tantrum in the classroom, you were denied recess time. Instead of enjoying recess time, you were forced to sit quietly at your desk and complete schoolwork. 

It’s quite a common practice for teachers and administrators to deal with unruly behavior.  In fact, a 2006 study from the CDC confirmed that a whopping 81.5 percent of elementary schools allowed faculty to exclude students from recess as a form of punishment.This probably stems from the misconception that kids running around during recess rewards the student for improper behavior. 

However, this disciplinary method is counterproductive—and can cause even more difficulties in the classroom. To see fewer of these issues, get kids running. You read that right, and to be clear, we are not suggesting using running as a form of punishment. 

It makes sense. The more kids exercise and run, the more energy they burn—allowing them to reenter the classroom with a fresher, calmer mindset. In 2010, researchers conducted a study on elementary school children, comparing kids’ behavior in class on recess and non-recess days. Without a doubt, the students were more on task and less fidgety during the recess days. Jarrett and her colleagues also noted all the children with ADD benefited from the exercise. 2 

Additionally, a separate study in 2019 examined student behavior in the classroom after implementing a run club program. The results showed that classroom behavior significantly improved after participating in the run club—the results were a difference that was “not seen prior to the start of the program.” The researchers went on to conclude that physical activity can decrease disruptive activity in the classroom. 

This isn’t surprising. Our customers have repeated this since the 1990s. A Mileage Club during recess reduces playground hassles and allows kids to run off their energy so they can settle down and more effectively learn. 

Besides getting much-needed exercise and physical activity, run clubs also promote social interaction between peers, provide brain breaks after studying long and hard, and encourage kids to get creative and use their imaginations. But above all else, be reassured that a fun and engaging run club like Mileage Club also helps kids rein in their emotions and behavioral outbreaks. 

If you aren’t running yet, don’t you think your school could benefit to improve in this area? 


Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Top 10 Benefits of School Run Clubs

If you’re looking for a way to keep your kids engaged at school, participate in physical activity, and have fun while doing so, look no further than run clubs. They’re proven to work—just ask the 20,000+ schools around the world who offer run clubs. Kids aren’t the only ones who can benefit from a run club, either; it extends beyond to the teachers, volunteers, parents, and the community too! Though there are many, here are the top ten benefits/reasons to implement a school run club today.  

 

1.  Avoid Playground Hassles

Any recess monitor can attest that a variety of issues can stem from unstructured time spent on playgrounds. Children need close supervision during recess to avoid accidents and behavioral problems. After all, kids are just learning how to share, play nice, and get along with others. However, run clubs directly decrease playground troubles by releasing children’s energy and boosting moods. Though some incidents can’t be completely removed (kids will be kids!), run clubs help ensure recess stays a beneficial activity for children—and less of a hassle for teachers. 


2.  Reduce Childhood Obesity

Obesity can cause several health risks for children, both as children and later in life. Back in 2017–2018, a staggering total of 14.4 million children in the US were obese. To break it down even further, 13.4% of those children were 2-5 year-olds, while 20.3% were 6-11 year-olds. Run clubs help target and prevent obesity for elementary school children by encouraging regular exercise whenever possible—before class, after class, or during school through brain breaks, recess, and Physical Education.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic only worsened childhood obesity concerns. With fewer opportunities for regular exercise during this time, all BMI categories except underweight experienced significant weight rate increases. For severely obese children, they gained an average of 7.3 pounds over a 6-month period, compared to a weight gain of 2.7 pounds for healthy children. To reverse this negative trend, teachers are increasingly utilizing run clubs because of all the benefits. In fact, Fitness Finder’s Mileage Club® schools ran more than 7 million miles in the 2019–2020 school year despite the start of the pandemic. 


3.  Goal Setting

Run clubs allow children to track their achievements and earn rewards, which encourages them to strive for more. Mileage Club® uses an app called EZ Scan®; it tracks kids’ laps and collects data to keep them updated on how they’re doing. Most importantly, EZ Scan® allows teachers to set goals that are achievable for all students, whether they consider themselves to be active or not. This makes it easy for kids to recognize that they can do this and anything else they set their minds to, which is a great attribute to carry with them as they grow older. 


4.  Excitement/Engagement

When something is engaging and fun, kids will be more willing to participate—that’s what run clubs are all about! We want kids to enjoy exercise and have fun in this collaborative atmosphere, which is why school run clubs offer awards and incentives for achieving their goals.

"A study based in Canada from the 1990s found that adding rewards to their run club increased participation from children by 50%."

Recent studies have replicated that result.  For Mileage Club, we incentivize kids to participate by rewarding Toe Tokens—charms that come in a variety of colors and styles that kids love to display because of their hard work. Teachers that we’ve worked with agree that rewards keep kids motivated. They say that the kids are excited to run and can’t wait to do so!



5.  Reduce Sitting Time

Ever heard that sitting is the new smoking? While the phrase was originally coined to call out the sedentary lifestyle of adults through their desk jobs, driving, and TV watching, it’s applicable to children now as well. Between school and home, children are spending 60% of their day seated! Although seemingly harmless, sitting for extended periods of time can be quite harmful. For young girls who sit uninterrupted for just three hours, it can cause a major reduction in their vascular function (the body’s ability to carry blood through the veins and arteries). Because of these consequences, it’s important to get kids up and moving. 


6.  Brain Breaks

Run clubs provide children with the brain breaks necessary to divert their energy to a fun, stress-free activity, allowing them to reenter the classroom with their full attention. With shorter attention spans, kids need these short breaks to recoup back to the task at hand. In 2016, psychologist Karrie Godwin measured students’ attentiveness over the course of a class period. The results? Kids spent a quarter of the time distracted, meaning that shorter, bite-sized lessons with brain breaks in-between better help kids focus on their lessons and their teacher. Plus, the study promoted other benefits that brain breaks provide, such as decreased stress, an increase in productivity and brain function, and more opportunities for kids to socialize with each other. Run clubs achieve all three of these benefits, giving kids a healthy break with other students and placing them back into the classroom refreshed and ready to learn!  


7.  Learning Readiness

It’s undeniable that physical activity in a child’s day increases their ability to learn, and especially improves attention and memory. For example, one such study showed that physical fitness improved academic performance, and expressly called for schools to dedicate time in the day for gym and recess rather than scrapping those for more class time. As noted in the previous paragraph, physical activity only improves kids’ brain function by giving them an enjoyable outlet. Kids often bounce off the walls, so allowing them that time to burn off some extra energy means they can come back into the classroom with a better mindset. 


8. Habit Formation

Run clubs help children form healthy habits. In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear lays out a four-step pattern to create habits that improve your health: 

    • Cue—the trigger for a behavior
    • Craving—the motivation behind wanting to do the habit
    • Response—the performed habit
    • Reward—the end goal

Run clubs follow a similar framework by making regular physical activity part of a child’s routine and providing them with a tangible reward, like Toe Tokens®, at the end. With this in place, children are already well on their way to creating healthy habits that are easy to continue later in life! We highly recommend reading chapter three of Clear’s book, which contains more information on habit formation, to apply these principles to your own plans.

 

9. Goal-Oriented Social Activity 

Sharon Hoover, a co-director of the University of Maryland-based National Center for School Mental Health, made it clear that schools “need to invest now in the mental health and well-being of our kids in a broad and comprehensive way—not just for children with learning disabilities and diagnosed mental health conditions, but for all students.” Run clubs are a great way to provide beneficial tasks to your more social students. They can lean into their communication and empathy strengths while they walk and talk with their peers. They can still achieve their goals and encourage the other kids to do the same. Run clubs are also easily adjusted to practice social-distancing guidelines; kids can still gain the benefits while maintaining safety for themselves and others!



10. Be Everyone’s Favorite Teacher

Obviously! Kids love it.  You’ll be changing their lives—and the lives of their parents and the community—for the better. With this fun group dynamic, you’ll be everyone’s favorite teacher. 

    

We could keep going with all the pros, but take this as your sign to implement school run clubs for your own community—for all the kids, teachers, volunteers, and parents who could benefit from this opportunity. Start today! 


Wednesday, March 9, 2022

The Truth About the Powerful Impact of Teachers

We all want to make a difference for our community and our children. That’s why we teach, lead, and coach—be that in the classroom, on the stage, or on the field.

As educators, we create opportunities for our kids. We make space for them to use their creativity to express themselves or challenge them to learn new ideas and new ways of thinking. 

We encourage them with “Yes you can!” and “Keep going, you’re doing great!” as they try harder, learn to self-regulate, breakthrough their glass ceilings, and gain more confidence.

And it is in those moments- you make a difference. And let me emphasize that point.  You DO make a difference!


Creating Opportunities is Making a Difference


You made a positive impact when you opened doors for them that they would have otherwise walked past, missing the chance to feel supported and gain confidence in newfound skills. 

“The average child in our nation spends about 6.64 hours at school, every day for 180 days a year.” 

According to https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/sass/tables/sass0708_035_s1s.asp, the average child in our nation spends about 6.64 hours at school every day for 180 days a year. That equates to kids being at school with us for about half of the calendar year. This is not counting after-school care or extracurricular activities!

For this reason, you are one of the people who have the opportunity to open new doors for our kids. To create new environments, help them experience new territories, and encourage growth; where they are in, they can succeed and overcome challenges.


A Real-Life Story of a Man Who Is Accomplishing Great Things



Nathan Martin
is a man most of you don’t know, but he has accomplished great things and is right here in Jackson, MI. Nathan finished eighth at the NYC Marathon this year.  But two years ago, he did even more. 

According to a Runner’s World article featuring Martin, Nathan crossed the finish line of the 2020 Marathon Project in 2:11:05. Not only did he improve on his 2:14:34 personal best at the COVID-adjusted race in Chandler, Arizona, but it is at this race where he became the fastest U.S.-born African American marathoner in history. 

Being able to use the record to either impact kids or give somebody some person to look at and say, "Hey, he's achieved that. I can too,”

"The outreach of people congratulating me or saying how awesome they thought it was that I broke the record, I'm like, WOW, maybe I'm not thinking about things correctly. Maybe I need to really figure out what this record means to me," Martin told Runner's World. "Being able to use the record to either impact kids or give somebody some person to look at and say, "Hey, he's achieved that. I can too," was really awesome... Hopefully, I can continue to be someone who can inspire people". 

How an Opportunity at School Changed His Life


In middle school, after running a required timed mile, a coach suggested that Nathan go out for the cross-country team. 

This is the kind of thing coaches do every day at school. Teachers of all stripes encourage children to pursue or try something they show some interest and aptitude for. That simple comment made a difference in the trajectory of Nathan’s life.

Nathan feels blessed by the opportunities running has provided for him. You might think that winning the Olympics would be his biggest goal, but his greatest desire is to help the kids he coaches at the local high school become better runners and better people. 


How A New Trajectory is Changing a Community


Nathan is now the one creating opportunities for students as a coach and substitute teacher.  His knowledge and skills make him an inspiration to his team and a great resource.  His attitude, compassion, and empathy make him a leader that kids want to follow.  

The full impact of his presence in the Jackson District Schools is not known yet, but it is certainly noticed by parents and administrators who are paying attention.  More importantly, it is noticed by the students. Their lives will be affected by this coach and teacher, Nathan Martin, in big or small ways.


How You Make a Difference


Nathan’s story reminds us of the power of people and the impact of intentional connection and care. Who can measure the value of creating a new friend, finding a special interest, or overcoming fear by trying something that seems difficult?  The opportunity to grow is presented daily.

Successful goal completion is one way you provide opportunities that build confidence and teach patience.  It all starts with presenting new doors to them, encouraging them to step forward through the ones that excite them and try the ones they are uncertain about. 

So continue to create opportunities and encourage kids to participate. Make it fun, make it challenging. Reach out and suggest new options for their sake. It makes all the difference.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Three Reasons We Do Things The Hard Way

 



“When we’re accustomed to doing things the hard way it’s like being blinded by the glare coming off the water”--Greg McKeown in “Effortless: Make It Easier to Do What Matters Most”

 Does the glare blind you? Do you keep up the same routine tasks because you can’t quite see the big picture?  

 As instructors responsible for teaching our youth, we want to do things the right way. Most of us have not thought about it, but in the book quoted above, the author claims that we are confusing “the hard way” with “the right way.”  

 Why do we do that?


 These three misconceptions, or illusions our brains like to believe, give us a glimpse at the underlying causes.



  1. There is a subconscious belief that doing things the right way means hard work and long work hours. Given that basic assumption, we never consider the idea that we can get the same outcome (which is the goal, right?) with much less effort.
  2. Another way the brain tricks us is the idea that “we can’t afford to” do something that would make life easier. This belief ignores the vital idea that our time is valuable. The hours we spend grinding it out week after week have a cost. Could you choose to use your budget in a way that allows you to spend where you don’t think you can? Or would it be worth going to a few local businesses and asking for help, in exchange for a sponsorship, maybe? Or even worth spending less on that daily latte? We tend to see everything as either/or, and usually, many options allow us to reach our goal.
  3. Finally, changing the way we do something requires us to learn new technology (assuming this is the opportunity to make things easier). You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. There are tons of solutions involving tech that can streamline your activities. Still, any tech we are unfamiliar with feels intimidating. However, all good apps and programs have lots of information on the web (Google?), in their knowledgebase of articles, and often have customer service that will walk you through getting past the unknowns. Good companies want to help you succeed, take advantage of the framework they make available.

If we aren’t thoughtful and purposeful, our brain will keep telling us to do things “the hard way.”

 

 What tasks or processes take up too much of your time that you could streamline?

Thursday, February 18, 2021

A Reading Teachers' Motivational Tool


An Interview with Tina Slater, a Special Education Teacher


Name:
Tina Slater
Position Title: Special Education Teacher
Grades: Fourth and Fifth Grades
School Name: Onsted Elementary School
Years Teaching: 27 years
Current Subjects: Reading, Math and Writing




How do you use tokens from Fitness Finders in your reading classroom?

In my reading resource classroom, students are awarded tokens after reading a leveled chapter book. Students are reading their chapter book 10-15 minutes each day so it can take 8-12 days to complete a book. During reading, the student and I talk about the text and I listen to them read. When the book is complete, we meet to talk about the book and their reading success. During this time I present a token to commemorate their accomplishment. 

 

How do you choose which tokens to use?

When selecting the token to award, I try to match the token with the book the student has just completed. I have a variety of animals, and objects to choose from. When students completed a book about Knights, I awarded them a key and a compass — which were two important objects from the Knights Quest. They were thrilled! Sometimes it can be more difficult to make a match - in those cases I may use the question mark token and make a connection with the predictions students made during reading or their use expression when reading aloud. 

 

How do you distribute tokens?

Tokens are presented by me to students in a private ceremony. I actually make a big deal when presenting the token and make a mini speech calling out the achievements the students made while reading the book and making connections between their reading success and the token. I am conferencing (video) with the student, but I am aware that others (family members) are listening. I try to call out as many positive reading behaviors as possible.

 

How do students display their tokens?

Students wear their tokens on lanyards during reading class (the laces from Fitness Finders). Each student selected their lanyard and the links (Lacelink) from the variety of colors and patterns Fitness Finders offers. When students aren’t wearing their necklaces they are displayed on hooks near our bookshelves. 

 


 

 Do you have a favorite token? 

I love all of the ANIMALS! Our school mascot is the wildcat — so all of the cats and paws are a hit with my students. 

 

 How has this changed your classroom environment or impacted student motivation? 

Rewarding tokens has brought a bit more fun and provided a visual that represents student success.  I love it when I hear a student say, “I can’t believe I have read this much,” as they are putting on their necklace before class.

 

Can you share any stories or quotes from students while using tokens in your class?   

5th grader Emma said, “When we get rewarded with tokens, it just makes us want to read more and work harder. It makes everything more fun!”

 

Do you have any plans specifically for reading month?

During Reading Month, students will be earning double tokens and we will be celebrating Wildcats Read with drawings for extra tokens. I’ll also be taking pictures of students reading while wearing their token necklaces to send home with their progress reports in mid-March.

 

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

❄️Treat Your Students To Their Own Run Through the Snow! ❄️



In honor of our  "Race With The Sled Dogs Program", we asked Coach White from Orion Elementary in Anchorage, what it’s like to operate a run club for students in Alaska. Here is what she said...


Do students run outside in the snow or inside the school?

We run outside in the snow. Getting fresh air is important, especially during the long, cold, dark winter months. On Dec 21st, Winter Solstice, which is the shortest day of the year, we typically only have 6 hours of daylight here in Anchorage. The sun doesn't rise until about 10am and sets by 4pm. Further north in the Arctic Circle, they have several weeks where the sun doesn't rise above the horizon at all!

How cold does it get? 

I've seen it as cold as -20 here in Anchorage. Further north in Fairbanks it is common for it to reach -40 in the winter. Our typical winter temp is about 20 degrees for a high and in the teens or single digits overnight.

Do you use EZ Scan to scan laps? Does the tablet work when it is really cold outside? 

Yes, we use EZ Scan to keep track of our mileage during the running season. We keep our iPads inside the entryway in the window sill facing out so that kids can scan through the window after each lap and the iPads stay nice and warm!"


Interview Date: 2019