The overall mission of this project is to provide a resource for elementary classroom teachers that will assist them in providing more physical activity opportunities for their students while in the classroom. The active learning ideas in Active Academics® are designed to incorporate movement with grade-appropriate standards in reading, language arts, math, and health. Ideas are also included that give students a short activity break any time during the day in the classroom.
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 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 addition, the WV Legislature passed a bill (House 2816: The Healthy WV Bill) that required children in the elementary schools to have at least 30 minutes of physical education at least 3 days a week. Many schools are relying on classroom teachers to help meet this requirement. While all lesson ideas in Active Academics® are intended to provide physical activity, some are also designated as those appropriate for teaching the standards in the physical education curriculum.
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). Once again, many schools throughout the state rely on the classroom teachers to meet this policy mandate. Active Academics® made a strong push to promote workshop opportunities to help teachers learn how to use the lesson ideas in their classroom to help meet Policy 2510 as well as continue to create an atmosphere of increased physical activity.
Development and Funding Support
Active Academics® was developed by Eloise Elliott, PhD, Concord University, 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.
Today, Active Academics® is supported through sponsorship and on-site advertising opportunities. Beginning in September of 2013, Active Academics® partnered with S&S Worldwide to offer incentives for new activity idea submission. In 2015, Active Academics® also partnered with US Games to help promote and deliver instructional workshops.