Seattle schools infuse academics into P.E. classes

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by TERESA YUAN / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @TeresaYuan

KING5.com

Posted on March 12, 2013 at 7:42 AM

WEST SEATTLE -- Seattle Public Schools are working to keep students active while they learn by incorporating academics into gym class.

“P.E.'s changed dramatically in the last 10 years; it's no longer survival of the fittest," said Lori Dunn, from SPS Physical Education & Health Division.

A new study by the U.S. Department of Human and Health Services found only 29 percent of high school kids participate in 60 minutes or more of physical activity a day. Thirty-eight percent of boys met activity guidelines, while just 19 percent of girls did. The federal government says schools are the key to get students moving.

At Roxhill Elementary School in West Seattle, P.E. Instructor Chellie LaFayette infuses academics into gym class.

Her students learn about geography while traversing a rock wall. Each colored rock represents a mountain. Students also learn about physics while bouncing balls to experience Newton's "Law of Motion."

"Anytime you can make a connection with a student with something in their real life, like in high school how many times do you hear students say, when am I ever going to use this again?" said LaFayette. "Being able to help them make that connection that this is how you're going to use this is critical."

LaFayette also combines human anatomy class with basketball lessons. Every time a student sinks a basketball shot, they pick up a flash card with the name of a bone and match it up with a skeleton hanging in the gym.

Some critics worry that pushing academics into P.E. class could defeat its primary purpose. Seattle educators disagree.     

"Actually 70 percent of our kids are not athletes so we're looking at infusing in the community those skills so they can be active and an academic focus is embedded in our programs,” said Dunn.

Parents can also play a big role in boosting their child's activity. For example, walking is the most common way to meet federal exercise guidelines.

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