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River Heights students kept active during remote learning

Like Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod, the École River Heights School's phys-ed department knows how to "keep fit and have fun."

Manitoba students in Grades 7 to 12 moved to remote learning for a two-week period from Jan. 4 to 15.

With their junior high students learning from home, River Heights phys-ed teachers Sheena Gordon, Sean Cruickshank and Maya Diaz-Hammond set about creating two Body Break-style videos per day.

The videos were then posted on Google Classroom, so River Heights students could join their teachers in a variety of workouts and healthy living activities.

"We had a 15-minute phys-ed block in the mornings and a 15-minute block in the afternoons, so we were thinking, 'How do we get as much across to the students as possible?'" Gordon said.

"We came up with the video idea knowing that we had to teach every single student in the school at the exact same time. We weren't able to do a live Google Meet for everybody all at once, because there's a 100 person limit. So, we had a Google Meet running just in case students needed us, but also a video that they could reference at any time. If they didn't have time in that 15-minute window, they could do it later because they still had access to it."

With the morning videos, Gordon said the focus was on workouts and getting students' bodies moving.

"We varied the style of workout every single day," Gordon said. "Once they were done the workout, we asked students to comment on Google Classroom about how they did, how it felt, and how many rounds and repetitions they did."

In the afternoons, the phys-ed videos focused on mindfulness and outdoor or unique physical activity.

"The afternoons always started with a five-minute mindful breathing piece," Gordon said. "The second portion was an activity or something they could potentially do in the community. For one challenge, we asked students to go for a 10-minute walk and collect as many street signs as possible. Then they would report to us the street signs they saw."

Other outdoor or unique activities included skating on an outdoor rink, cross country skiing and a Tik Tok-style dance video. Diaz-Hammond, who is also the dance instructor at River Heights, led the dance video, while Gordon and Cruickshank did their best to keep up.

"I'm not a dancer, so it was hard, but now that I did it, I feel like I really accomplished something," Gordon said.


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