Fit City Success: TISD teachers use grant to get creative in P.E.

TYLER (KYTX) -- A pair of Tyler P.E. teachers is finding creative ways to get their students moving thanks to a grant from the Tyler ISD Foundation.

It's an exercise routine that engages the students' at Andy Woods Elementary minds and bodies. The kids love their Geo Fitness mats because they're a lot like the Dance Revolution video game and they're working up a sweat when they are in P.E. class.

"It was such a blessing that the grant was able to provide a mat for each kid in the class," Ashley Phelps, P.E. teacher said. "They love to own that and they are going to prove what they can do on their own mat."

The first graders are loving the exercise. 

"Because you get to dance and watch some videos and copy them," Megan Lininger said. "It seems more like fun than a workout."  

Each student gets a mat that resembles a keypad. The program also comes with a video that gets their little feet dancing.

"They are able to do physical activities like jumping or hopping, leaping," Phelps said. "It also works on their transition. Being able to look at the video and transfer what the woman in the video just taught." 

"We walked around the mat, it told us to walk around and then we got down and we stopped and dropped," Daniel Gaston said.  

The students aren't just using the mat to get active. The teachers are also testing them on number recognition, as well as letter recognition.  

"One of the first things they did when they got their mat was we challenged them to take the number on their mat and add what equals five," Phelps said.

Phelps and Happi Byrne also challenged the students to tap out their name on the mat.  

"Under the numbers it has letters and we learn how the spell our names on it, you have to point to letters in our name," Megan said.  "It would be easier to write on paper, but finding it, I'd say that would be a little harder. Because I am really good at spelling my name. I can spell it 100 times on two papers."

And studies show aerobic exercise like this affects more than your child's physical health, it also improves their cognitive health and performance in the classroom.  

"Kids want to be challenged to prove what they know and not just that I can play basketball or run fast," Phelps said.

Now with the addition of these Geo Fitness mats, the students gym is their classroom.

The TISD P.E. teachers tell us, with their older students they're adding in technology. The students use their keypad to type out text messages.


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