Mrs. Norgaard’s 3rd graders were determined to find ways to increase their physical activity during the school day. After her students wrote a persuasive essay to the principal suggesting improvements that could be made at school, Mrs. Norgaard, a marathon runner herself, took the lesson one step further by challenging her students to virtually “walk” across the United States.
With collaborative funding from the SCEF Educator Innovation Fund and the Sequoia Healthcare District, Mrs. Norgaard purchased Fitbits for each of her students to help track and motivate them to take a virtual journey together. The class decided to walk from San Carlos to Edmonston, Canada, just across the Maine border. Students wore Fitbit trackers at all times throughout the school day. With a set goal to reach, the students problem-solved and invented ways to increase their activity each day. Anytime students sat for more than 30 minutes they would stand up to take some steps. The class agreed to eat their snacks at their desks before recess, so playtime was entirely dedicated to physical activity, and they moved as much as possible during P.E. The Fitbit Challenge not only motivated students to be active, it also provided meaningful data to integrate into math, writing and geography lessons. Students added their steps taken daily, converted them to miles and input them into a Google spreadsheet. Students did not use the online Fitbit website but recorded all their information manually. They used Google Maps to find the most direct walking route across the United States, and they tracked the distances logged each week on a large United States map hung in the classroom. Mrs. Norgaard’s Fitbit Challenge benefitted her students both physically and academically, and, perhaps just as importantly, it taught them the value of setting a goal and working hard to achieve it, one step at a time.
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