In These Charleston, S.C., Schools, Children Are Seen, And Heard, And Always Active - CATEGORY Daily News: TITLE

The educational model is broken, Spurlock says, and the key to fixing it is applying some of the most basic principles of sport and exercise. Students in some Charleston area schools sit on desks that double as exercise equipment, they enroll in “advanced PE,” receive regular yoga instruction and visit specially equipped learning labs each week where the line between education and physical education disappears entirely.

“If you went to anybody who’s in education, you say PE versus instruction, they say instruction every time,” he says. “But what we’re trying to show is that more movement equals better grades, better behavior, better bodies.”

One recent morning at Charles Pinckney Elementary, 28 children, all ages 9 and 10, rolled through the door in a single file, bouncing and giggling as they plopped onto the tile floor.

“Welcome back to Active Brains,” said Bobby Sommers, their teacher for the next 50 minutes. “Today we’re going to review the rules, procedures and expectations for a successful year. Then we’ll also go over all the station equipment one more time and practice using it correctly, okay?”

It was still early in the school year, and the fourth-grade students were eager to begin their weekly session of Active Brains. Far from a traditional classroom and not quite PE,  it’s one of several initiatives in Charleston County schools that rely on exercise and movement to make students better learners.

The posters on the wall read “Fitness not sitness” and “Exercise grows brain cells,” and Sommers’s young audience is captive. The fourth-year teacher walked the students through 15 stations — including the exercise bikes, the stair-climber and the mini-basketball hoop — and drilled them in the academic task associated with each one, usually flash cards or some sort of math or spelling challenge.

Pinckney Elementary and Charleston County schools are particularly progressive in incorporating physical activity in classroom instruction. Study after study shows that exercise can play a major role in learning — effectively turning the brain on, keeping the motors turning and growing its capacity — but physical education has been trending downward, as many schools prioritize their needs in the face of academic demands and standardized testing. Many school districts have been de-emphasizing PE since No Child Left Behind was passed in 2001, says John Ratey, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and others even before that., News Around the world presents the latest information of national, regional, and international, politics, economics, sports, automotive, and lifestyle.

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