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Amanda Auffrey Brittany Tremblett Kathryn Jennings

Amanda Auffrey

Brittany Tremblett

Kathryn Jennings

INTRODUCTION

Living in Canada presents a unique problem for elementary school children when it comes to getting significant exercise and fresh air during school hours when it is

considered too cold to go outside. Specifically, children do not go outside for the

morning recess, lunch break or afternoon recess when the temperature reaches -20 degrees or colder. As a consequence, elementary students stay in their classrooms,

the halls or other designated areas to play or sit and wait for the bell to ring. They have no opportunity to exercise and play freely. Prolonged cold snaps see children

inside sometimes for more than a week at a time, reducing their physical outlet to a

40- minute physical education class twice a week.

The authors believe that this has a major impact on the physical health of children and their ability to learn in the classroom because of a lack of opportunity to move around

and be active. The following action research project will examine the extent to which a

structured Exer-break in the classroom will have an impact on the children in terms of

offering them a physical outlet to reduce internal 'built up energy' as well as increasing their ability to focus on classroom tasks after their physical break.

RESEARCH QUESTION

Do children have an increased ability to focus on their class work immediately following a 5 minutes Exerbreak activity conducted in their classroom measuring attentiveness over

four sessions?

following a 5 minutes Exerbreak activity conducted in their classroom measuring attentiveness over four sessions?
following a 5 minutes Exerbreak activity conducted in their classroom measuring attentiveness over four sessions?

SUMMARY OF LITERATURE REVIEW

Caitlin Lees, MD, MA; Jessica Hopkins, MD, MHSc found that physical activity does

not have any negative impact on cognition even when curriculum time is used for activities.

Jacob Sattelmair and John J. Ratey found that younger students are more likely to take advantage of breaks.

Eric Jensen has found that Exerbreaks should not replace Physical Education, however they should be included in regular lessons.

Diane Watson, Regan L. Mandryk, and Kevin G. Stanley implemented an exer-game

in a middle school class after discovering an average of only 7% of children and

youth aged children were receiving the recommended amount of physical activity.

The research showed that students not only retained more knowledge of the subject they were learning about in the exer-game, but they enjoyed the learning experience more than traditional forms of teaching overall.

Yue Gao, Kathrin M., Gerling, Regan L. Mandryk, Kevin G. Stanley launched an

experiment that had elementary classrooms incorporate exerbreaks into their daily

routines in order to decrease student sedentary behaviours. After the exergames, teachers reported that students seemed reenergized and ready to learn, being more relaxed with less behavioural problems."

DESCRIPTION OF THE RESEARCH PROCESS

This research project took place at Magnetic Hill Public School in Moncton, New

Brunswick, Canada. The students comprised a grade four English-speaking class of twenty- two children. The classroom is a regular sized elementary school class. This will be the setting used for the Exerbreaks. The children have not been told why the Exerbreaks are

occurring so as to not bias the research. The Exerbreaks will be routinely executed once in the morning and once in the afternoon. This research project will occur at the same times

for four consecutive Fridays. The teacher has requested that they occur at 11am as these

appear to her to be the times when the children may benefit the most from having the exercise.

As mentioned in the research, the most effective Exerbreaks allow children to quickly move from their classroom work into the Exerbreak and then back to their classroom work. The goal is to minimize the interruption as much as possible and to offer a seamless shift from activity to work.

The researcher came into the classroom at the agreed upon times and asked the children to get out of their chairs quickly and quietly for the activity. The researcher led them in the five - minute activity. At the end of the activity, the children were asked to go back to their desks and resume their work.

DATA COLLECTION

To measure the impact of Exerbreaks, the following data collection instruments will be administered:

I. The teacher will be given a Questionnaire to fill out prior to the activity and approximately 10-15 minutes after the activity.

II. The children will be given a questionnaire on the third day of the Exerbreak. This questionnaire will give them the opportunity to circle pictures that best describe how they are physically feeling and circle words to 'measure' their feeling and focus states prior to the Exerbreaks and approximately 10-15 minutes after the activity.

III. The researchers will conduct audio-only interviews with the students and ask them open-ended

questions about what they thought of the Exerbreaks and whether they felt it had an impact on

them.

IV. With permission from one parent, one classroom student will be interviewed on video for feedback on the Exerbreaks.

IV. With permission from one parent, one classroom student will be interviewed on video for feedback
IV. With permission from one parent, one classroom student will be interviewed on video for feedback

DATA ANALYSIS

Although not an academically formal research design, the researchers will analyze the data in the following ways.

1. Questionnaires will be tallied, compiled and presented so as to determine the strength and weaknesses of the

teacher and the students’ responses to the questions

before and after the Exerbreaks.

2. Student interviews will be analyzed for the verbal content and a qualitative report will be compiled and presented

2. Student interviews will be analyzed for the verbal content and a qualitative report will be
2. Student interviews will be analyzed for the verbal content and a qualitative report will be

TEACHER RESULTS

Please circle which statement best reflects how your students are are working at their desk.

a)

All students are very focused, sitting still and working quietly on task at their desks.

b)

Most students are sitting still working quietly at their desks.

c)

Some students are working at their desks but moving around in their chairs and looking around the room.

d)

Most students are at their desks but moving around in their seats, fidgeting and doing

very little work.

e)

The majority of the students are not working on their work and are moving around in their seats.

f)

Students are not doing any class work and are engaging in behaviour to disrupt others.

Scores

Week 1:

February 20 2015:

Before - C After - B

Week 2:

February 27 2015:

Before - C After - C (March break excitement biased results)

Week 3:

March 13 2015:

Before - D After - C

STUDENT RESULTS

20 15 10 5 0 Calm Before
20
15
10
5
0
Calm
Before

Fidgety

No Focus

After

Calm20 15 10 5 0 Calm Before Fidgety No Focus After Fidgety No Focus Mar 13

Fidgety20 15 10 5 0 Calm Before Fidgety No Focus After Calm No Focus Mar 13

No Focus10 5 0 Calm Before Fidgety No Focus After Calm Fidgety Mar 13 Before C=18 F=4

Mar 13 Before C=18 F=4 O=0 After C= 20 F=2 O=0

Legend

I feel calm and am working quietly

I feel like I would like to move my body and am not too focused on my work I can’t focus on my work and need to get up and move

STUDENT’S REACTIONS TO EXERBREAKS Student 1 Student 2 Student 3

STUDENT’S REACTIONS TO EXERBREAKS

Student 1STUDENT’S REACTIONS TO EXERBREAKS Student 2 Student 3

Student 2STUDENT’S REACTIONS TO EXERBREAKS Student 1 Student 3

Student 3STUDENT’S REACTIONS TO EXERBREAKS Student 1 Student 2

RESULTS/DISCUSSION

Exer-breaks are a viable and positive activity to incorporate into the classroom learning environment.

Exer-breaks project was welcomed and encouraged by the grade four class and teachers who participated in it.

ALL children were interested in participating; participation was one hundred

percent each time.

Children appeared to be more focused and able to sit in their seats more calmly after an Exer-break than before.

Data was collected from the teacher on all four occasions.

their seats more calmly after an Exer-break than before. • Data was collected from the teacher
their seats more calmly after an Exer-break than before. • Data was collected from the teacher

RESULTS/DISCUSSION

The teacher filled out a questionnaire rating the level of focus and restlessness observed in the children approximately 15 minutes prior to the arrival of the Team member. She filled out the questionnaire 15 minutes after the Exer-break scoring whether of not there were any

observable changes in the students.

Overall, the teacher observed a difference in the behaviour and focus of the children (see slide 9 graph) after they had participated in the Exer- break.

Two children with special needs : one with Down Syndrome and the

other with severe brain damage. Both girls participated and appeared to enjoy the exercise.

Inability of children to go outside due to the cold winters in Canada has a huge impact on the lack of available physical outlets during the school

hours. Having the opportunity to become physical for a few minutes

seems to help students settle and focus better on their work.

CONCLUSION

1. It is not possible to make conclusive statements from this project due to its preliminary and exploratory nature.

2. Observation as well as teacher and student responses that Exer-

breaks offer a viable and constructive method for students in terms

of helping them to focus better on the work at hand as well as to offer a creative and healthy option for students to use in the classroom on a regular basis.

3. Highly recommended that more research be conducted on the

usefulness of Exer-breaks in the classroom.

4. Undertaking a research project involving additional variables such as grade level, time of day, gender, number of participants, student

types, and other variables considered important to this research will

give administrators and policy makers the data necessary to

determine its effectiveness in a classroom setting.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The authors propose an action plan that includes, but it not limited to,

the following recommendations:

1. Determine interest in such a study (make connections with principals, superintendents, district and provincial policy makers)

2. Investigate possible funding sources for such a study

3. Examine previous research designs for feasibility of a study

4. Propose a district Pilot project involving student volunteers to administer Exer-breaks in targeted elementary schools throughout the province

5. Examine parallel initiatives such as the 'Smart Bike' for its impact in the

classroom.

throughout the province 5. Examine parallel initiatives such as the 'Smart Bike' for its impact in
throughout the province 5. Examine parallel initiatives such as the 'Smart Bike' for its impact in

APPENDIX

APPENDIX
APPENDIX

TEAM REFLECTION

Conducting an Action Research project has been an exciting assignment. As a team, we worked really well together and distributed tasks evenly and meaningful as a group. We learned a tremendous amount while going through this project. It involved a great deal of planning, organization, and

attentiveness over the five-week period. The choice of topic was a relatively easy one for us; however,

the decisions surrounding implementation and data collection were more of a challenge. Specifically,

we had to make many decisions regarding basic research design such as what grade levels, what types of exerbreaks, what times of day, etc. among many other considerations while setting up this project. We were fortunate to have one team member run the actual exerbreak while on school Observations and this made data collection relatively straightforward. Results and analysis were ultimately of a preliminary nature; however, this opened up a series of future questions and forms of inquiry worth of pursuit.

Action Research, from our perspective, offers teachers a wonderful opportunity to explore ideas and thoughts they may have about an aspect of teaching which they may want to investigate further. We believe that other teachers and administrative staff would support these endeavours because they serve to add value and dimension to the school community without costing any monetary value or detracting from the curriculum itself.

With regards to our particular action research project on Exerbreaks, we would love to see this

concept explored in further depth. For example, it would be exciting to see this project explored further

in all elementary schools in the district. This would give us much more data to determine its effectiveness. Further, we wonder if the actual project assignment given in this course could be streamlined for future years to explore some of these topics in further depth. This would accomplish digging deeper into the topic, offering subject matter for future Crandall students to explore and creating an informal research base from which to draw from when making proposals and policy recommendations to the District. In conclusion, we thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to undertake

action research as it was a multi-dimensional project that tapped into different aspects of learning

and gave us a very creative way to explore our topic.