Purpose

The overall mission of this program is to provide a web-based resource for elementary K-8 classroom teachers that will assist them in providing more physical activity opportunities for their students while in the classroom and during recess or other break times. The active learning ideas in Active Academics® are designed to incorporate movement with grade-appropriate standards in reading, language arts, math, health, and physical education. Ideas are also included that give students a short activity break any time during the day in the classroom. Recently added are activities that are suitable to be done at home, and also ideas for adapted physical activity.

Background

Recent recommendations from NASPE, IOM, and the CDC agree that children should be physically active at least 60 minutes a day on most days of the week.  Since children spend much of their day in the school environment, physical activity opportunities need to be provided throughout the school day.

There is also compelling evidence that children learn better when they are more active.  Schools that reduced academic time and increased physical education time showed consistently higher math scores.  The evidence also supports the idea that intense physical activity programs have positive effects on academic achievement, including increased concentration; improved mathematics, reading, and writing test scores, and reduced disruptive behavior.

In April of 2016, the WV Department of Education passed Policy 2510 requiring all students in grades kindergarten through 8th grade to have 30 additional minutes of physical activity every day (in addition to the regular physical education requirements). Like many school districts across the country, WV needs the help of classroom teachers to meet the policy mandate, and to take an active role in promoting physical activity throughout the school day. Active Academics® provides lesson ideas for helping teachers to do just that. In addition, Active Academics® provides workshop opportunities to help teachers learn how to use the lesson ideas in their classroom to create an atmosphere of increased physical activity.

Development and Funding Support

Active Academics® was created by Eloise Elliott, PhD, and colleagues through funds provided by the Cardiovascular Health Program in the WV Bureau for Public Health as part of a grant from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) (2005-2006). Experts in the field were used to review the content and functionality of the website, and a pilot was conducted with classroom teachers in Mercer County, WV. The website is an ongoing project, with a built-in mechanism to allow teachers to continually submit lesson ideas that will be reviewed by a panel of experts, and then placed on the website, if approved. Criteria for approval include 1) developmentally and instructionally appropriate practices, 2) meeting standards in subject areas/grade levels indicated, and 3) duration of less than 10 minutes.

Continued support for the project was provided by the WV Bureau for Public Health - Osteoporosis / Arthritis Program from 2006-2007. Beginning in September of 2013, Active Academics® partnered with S&S Worldwide to offer incentives for new activity idea submission. In 2015, Active AcademicsĀ®® also partnered with US Games to help promote and deliver instructional workshops. Currently, Active Academics® is supported through grants and sponsorships.