Learning abstract math concepts – like how to make a histogram – certainly isn’t easy. But it’s often even harder for students to understand how histograms apply to the “real world,” and why they should even be learning about them in the first place.
This year Greenfield Hebrew Academy in Atlanta, Georgia has a foolproof response to that age-old student question of, “Yeah, but how does this relate to MY life?” The entire middle school is using Zamzee meters to try to move for a million minutes of activity. In math class the 7th and 8th graders are learning how to make histograms using movement data recorded by their Zamzee meters. These histograms are helping students understand how close the school is towards reaching its goal of a million minutes of moving, and how much different subsets of the student population have been moving.
By Sue Loubser, Director of Technology at Greenfield Hebrew Academy
This year at the Greenfield Hebrew Academy middle school in Atlanta, Georgia, we are taking on a very exciting project. We have 126 middle school students and 25 teachers wearing Zamzee meters all year as part of a school-wide project to jumpstart physical activity. We’ll be incorporating the data we collect from our Zamzees into our school curriculum to teach statistics, the Scientific Method and to even discuss contemporary applications of Jewish teachings. We call this project “A Million Minutes of Activity.”
The idea for A Million Minutes of Activity began brewing in my head last year. At the 2011 ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) conference, Dr. John Medina gave the keynote address called “Brain Rules for Education.” One of the things that he said – which stuck with me – was that exercise improves executive function in students, and can help students increase test scores. It needs to be cardiovascular exercise – and the effects can last into adulthood. In fact, this is Dr. John Medina’s “Brain Rule #1.” He lamented the fact that schools cut down on P.E. even though the benefits of exercise is proven.
Then, in November last year, I went to a presentation by Barry Joseph from Global Kids, who talked about badging systems. He whipped a Zamzee from his pocket as an example of a site that was both cool – and used badging to recognize milestones – and explained that he and his son were exercising together and that he was being motivated by the meter! I put two and two together and came up with the idea for “A Million Minutes of Activity.”
Our project is a cross curriculum Middle School project. Our primary goal is realistic – together we will try to be active for one million minutes. We believe having a common goal will help unite our students and will increase school spirit. Continue reading