The following is a guest article from Vanessa Burke. In her words: “Ever since I was knee-high, I’ve been incessantly talking and communicating with anyone who would even begin to listen to me. I guess not a lot has changed!” Feel free to encourage Vanessa to start using Twitter more by following her @BurkeVanessa.
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When I was in high school, I had a gym teacher who made us climb rope, do outdated calisthenics, and then shower together. We would also watch completely outdated videos about our growing bodies and then bash each other over the skulls with dodge balls. This didn’t occur in the 1970’s, it happened in the early 2000’s. After graduating, receiving pharmacy technician training, and finding a job at a sports rehabilitation center, I never used any of that information again in my life or career.
Today’s student population is much different than a decade ago. They are armed with an extensive knowledge of the Internet, smartphones equipped with the latest apps, and a thoroughly networked database of personal information via social networks. If a PE teacher today uses the same strategies, methods, and lesson plans as mine did, students would automatically dismiss them as outdated and obsolete. Here are ten advances in technology that can help students learn about health, nutrition, and exercise, while keeping them engaged with technology:
Fast Food Calories
An inevitable part of part of the junior high or high school diet is the inclusion of fast food. At this time in adolescence, students are going to start making food decisions for themselves without parental guidance. This smartphone application (iTunes link) gives detailed nutrition information about the country’s largest fast food chains so students can make smart choices after school is over.
Calorie Counter and Diet Tracker
This app has the calories of over one million foods in its database. It keeps track of what you eat on your desktop. It’s fully available offline for those who do not have a strong wi-fi connection on their mobile device.
The Campbell Soup Co. has teamed up with MyPyramid USA in order to create a new smartphone app that helps people eat more balanced meals. Instead of using the old food pyramid system, this app involves everyday choices and incorporates Campbell’s products into the mix.
Livestrong MyQuit Coach
Tobacco companies have been marketing their products to teens for decades now in order to get younger generations hooked on their products. Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong foundation has created a website and smartphone application that helps people design a plan to help them quit smoking by tracking daily consumption and budgetary alerts.
This website allows students to download MP3 workouts to their smartphone or iPod when they exercise without personal instruction. Programs range from cardio, yoga, strength, and pilates. There is also a specialized version of the program available for teenagers called iTeentrain.
Map My Run
Are you the coach of a cross-country team? A runner for fun? It’s never been easier to plan out your route or see where you’ve been thanks to Map My Run. If you are coaching a cross country, track, or other running intensive sports team, this app allows your student athletes to map their run course through GPS. They can then view it online and share it with each other through social media.
The Wi-Things Wi-Fi Body Scale makes tracking weight, body fat, and BMI an instant process. By stepping on the special scale, information is sent and stored into a computer program and smartphone app. Students looking to lose weight can use this scale in order to track their progress.
FourSquare is a popular social media site that allows users to check in and earn badges for their accomplishments. The Fitocracy website encourages the same type of activity, only in the gym. According to TechCrunch, this website allows users to track their own fitness goals, level up, and earn badges based on what goals they accomplish. It is gaining major buzz and it is still only in beta.
This one isn’t a website, it’s totally app-based. Available exclusively for Android and iPhone, JEFIT offers thousands of user-created strength training routines. It also offers a detailed anatomy of muscle groups in order for students to discover which exercises work which groups.
You can’t always make it outside for your run. Sometimes you need to hit the gym and hop / run on the treadmill. This app for the iPhone keeps track of the steps you take, calories burned, distance, and time spent while you are running inside or outside. If you are free-running and want the convenience of a treadmill this is the next best thing.
Updating standards and teaching methodology is an important part of any school’s curriculum. While some subjects like English, Math, and History can always use the same approaches, physical education is constantly evolving. In order to get students interested in the subject, you can’t rely on a game of dodgeball or corny health movies from decades past.