How does physical activity affect motivation, behaviour and academic performance in the classroom?
For my PSIII Professional Inquiry Project (PIP), I ran intramural dodgeball at morning and afternoon recess for the grade four and five students. Because the students only have PE class twice a week for half an hour, I wanted to give the students a chance to participate in structured physical activity during the school day. Additionally, I created a small booklet of different Daily Physical Activities (DPA) to give to each teacher so they can easily incorporate physical activity into their everyday lessons.
My goal for this project was to increase motivation and behavior in the classroom. I selected this goal because I am very passionate about living an active lifestyle and active learning. I firmly believe that some sort of daily physical activity is necessary in order for students to reach their full potential. I expected that if my intramural program was successful in increasing student motivation and behavior, academic success would surely follow.
I started out by collaborating with the PE teacher and other grade 4/5 teachers to find a time that would work to run intramurals. Initially, I wanted to run them for a longer period of time and introduce the students to different sports. However, because dance troupe, basketball and running club all run during lunch recess or during the day, the 10 minute recesses were the only time available, and it ended up working just fine!
On top of intramurals, I also helped coach grade 4/5 basketball, went on a couple races with the running team and created a “DPA handbook” to give to all of the teachers. I split the handbook into 4 sections; DPA’s requiring no preparation, DPA’s requiring little preparation, active review games and helpful resources. As teachers, we are mandated by Alberta Education to incorporate 30 minutes of DPA into our classrooms each day. By providing the teachers with resources and a variety of DPA activities, I thought that it would be much easier and less time consuming to ensure the students are getting the activity they need.
Intramurals were a bit slow to start because the teachers weren't used to reminding their students to go to the gym and the students weren't used to participating in intramurals. However, once the students started coming more regularly, almost all of the grade 4 and 5 students would choose to participate and there were always students at my desk asking if we were doing dodgeball today.
I was very pleased with how my PIP turned out and happy to see the positive effects it had on the students. By keeping anecdotal notes, observing the students in my class and talking with other teachers, I was able to see how the students’ behavior and academic success changed after intramurals started. I quickly discovered that intramurals were a great motivator for almost all of my students, especially the ones who tended to act out more. After the students started regularly coming to dodgeball, they would monitor their own behavior and would ask me if they could come if they worked hard all class. It was so great to see the students taking ownership for their own behavior and recognizing when they were not working as well as they could. By the last couple of weeks of my practicum, I had multiple students at my desk every day. I even had other teachers tell me how they were able to use intramurals to motivate the students in their class.
Although I did not run this program long enough to really see a significant change in academic success, I did notice small changes in many students. Furthermore, I firmly believe that if students are motivated and on task in class, they will without a doubt have greater academic success than if they are unmotivated and off task. I hope that the teachers will continue to run the intramural program, because the students loved it and it clearly served as a motivator.
Jenna is from Calgary, but currently lives in Lethbridge. Her major is Native Education, with a minor in English Language Arts. She loves running, rock climbing and swimming. She completed her PS3 at Saipoyi Community School in Stand Off and hopes to get a job teaching abroad when she graduates.