Physical Education Teacher Ryan Acuff knows the power of goals and devices to motivate students at Eagleton Elementary School.
Currently, students are using new pedometers to keep track of their steps, which Acuff is charting. The goal: 20,000 steps based on the average recordings of each note over a period of 20 minutes per week.
State law now requires elementary school students to attend a minimum of 60 minutes of physical education per week, which resulted in Blount County Schools hiring three more teachers to fully cover their 14 elementary schools.
At Eagleton Elementary, individual classes attend physical education and once a week the entire class level has a 20-minute session together. With 80 students at the same time, Acuff plans various activities for the “unstructured” time.
The Walking Challenge originated from PE teacher Leesa Taylor, who spoke about her plans for a Walk Across America Challenge during an educational session.
Acuff, who has an educational degree, structured the Eagleton Level Challenge to ask when each class hits the 20,000 level goal, rather than which one it hits first.
He wants students to focus on being competitive with themselves rather than just being the first to achieve a goal. “It’s about hitting yesterday, not hitting others,” he said.
The step counters also offer a way to integrate math lessons into training time. For example, when a young student first said, “I have 2 million steps,” Acuff was able to explain that the actual number was 2,000.
It also recognizes the mental benefits students get from their physical activity. “Kids are challenged harder than ever in the classroom, so I want to maximize their wobble time,” said Acuff.
In the next round he can introduce yoga during these 20 minutes.
Acuff didn’t bother to write a grant for the pedometers and simply paid for them out of pocket when school started. “I wanted to come back with my right foot,” he said.
He has received funding for hurdles and other equipment from DonorsChoose.org and has a much bigger goal in mind. Acuff is determined that the Eagleton Elementary have a rock-climbing wall by the end of the school year, a goal that will require about $ 5,000 to $ 6,000.