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Teacher: Deb Follrath who teaches at Ludington Area Schools in Ludington, MI. Deb Follrath can be contacted at dfollrath@thinkextreme.net.

Name of Best Practice: Fitness Walking Class

Rationale/Purpose of Event: To facilitate the development and maintenance of physical fitness by using fitness walking as the activity. To assist students in setting and achieving personal goals. Elective course for high school. 1 trimester, 1/2 credit.

Suggested Grade Level: 9-12

Materials Needed: Pedometers, Lung Spirometer, Body Composition Analyzer, Compasses, Walkie Talkies, Off-campus permission forms.

Fitness Walking Class

Each student is issued a pedometer to use during class and outside of class. Students chart their steps, distance, time, and comments from the daily walk. This is the "in-class" mileage. Each day we use a map for the class to follow. The class averages from 2-4 miles in a class period. 5 walkie-talkies are used in the group. We monitor each other by this method. There are 2 teacher assistants. One is positioned at a half way point with the group, the other is at "home base," back at the school. I am at the end of the line. They help with communication, directions and first aid if necessary. We walk within a 4 mile radius of the school. At times a bus drops us off at a designated location and the class walks back to the school.

Once a month we do a one and two mile test at our track. Before the term ends we also do a three mile test. I use time and improvements based on body composition for month tests, lung spiromenter readings and heart rate levels. Students have the opportunity to earn "homework mileage" in addition as well. Every morning they record their pedometer readings. The Teaching Assistants and myself are shown the amount and we reset the pedometers back to zero before we start the daily course. Inclement weather days are held inside the gym where we alternate walking patterns, perform to walking videos,do step-ups on steps. Every third week we walk in the pool. We also have a forest trail we use to hike. The class is instructed in orienteering and perform 2 activities with the compasses. Topics covered during the course include; biomechanics, safety, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, fluids and hiking. We invite special guests to walk with us. Parents, faculty and administrators join us at times.

One of the students favorite days is when we meet at a local restaurant to eat breakfast and then walk back to the school. A community service project we did was we collected mittens and socks for our local shelter and walked there to drop off. We also have walked to the local nursing home and sang Christmas Carols. Students were placed in small groups to make hiking-trail foods for a class taste test. One day is used at the computer lab to search sites on hiking and walking. We walk as a group, they are never allowed to walk more than 50' feet away. Their daily journals are reviewed each week.

Variations:

This Fitness Walking Class could be adapted in the junior high setting as well.

Teaching Suggestions/Tips:

Students are required to follow all traffic rules. The class crosses busy streets at the stop lights. No one is left behind or allowed to stray. Zero tolerance policy. There is usually a waiting list to enter this class. Students know they cannot ever walk behind me. We do not walk in bad weather. Snow does not stop us unless the wind is strong. Tennis shoes are required. Clothes must be comfortable. Students begin bringing fitness clothes after the first few days. They realize fitness walking is not leisure strolling. Students who do not participate are released to study hall after 2 times. Medicals can be made up after school or at our fitness center using the treadmill. Students may earn extra points when they have parents walk with them after school. Last fall 2003, the class walked 125 miles "in class" and several students accumulated 300 homework miles.

Students are awarded foot tokens and mileage tokens for every 50 miles. They look forward to receiving these tokens. At the end of the trimester, students are given a paper die-cut with their total mileage shape of a foot or shoe. I also put a large foot with the totals up in the hallway. School announcements, our school newspaper and our local newspaper is given the "walking highlights", all used for motivating the students.

Adaptations for Students with Disabilities:

A teacher aide comes with us on our courses. Students who cannot walk the entire course start out with us and use a specified "short cut" and are required to maintain a certain pace. Regular education students are also paired up 3 times during the course with a "walking buddy". The students talk while they walk with an "interview handout" which they interview their buddy. These interviews are shared with the entire class. We take pictures of the buddies and give them to the students. The adapted students are thrilled with their new friends.

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Posted on PEC: 4/14/2004 and has received 68 votes.

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Previous Comments:

Charles Frisinger

I am not a teacher nor a PE teacher but am encouraged to see someone incorporating walking into a PE curriculum. I have been an avid walker for considerable time and have attempted to start a walking program locally. I would love to organize this form of program to get local adults to participate but have never known how to organize it. Can I use this material? Thanks for the post.


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