Thursday, April 06, 2006

Fairmont State University students who are studying to become elementary school physical education teachers are already looking familiar to students at Nutter Fort Elementary School.

The prospective teachers are the"stars" in 10-minute fitness videos being used at the school as part of a working collaboration between Kristi Kiefer, an FSU physical education assistant professor, and Nutter Fort physical education teacher Lois Gilmore. Kiefer's students received class credit for making the videos, and Gilmore was able to use them to incorporate into the curriculum the extra minutes of physical education now required for West Virginia's elementary school students.

"I really liked making the exercise videos for the children," FSU student Anna Jackson said. "It was really rewarding and I'm glad Mrs. Kiefer gave me the opportunity to do this activity. It was an awesome and exciting learning experience!"

Gilmore decided to work the required additional 50 minutes of physical education per week into the curriculum by breaking the extra time down into 10-minute segments each morning. Kiefer assigned her students the task of producing 10-minute videos last fall.

"Last semester I paired students up resulting in nine different videos," Kiefer said. "They were required to design a 10-minute fitness video appropriate for elementary children. It had to include age-appropriate music and developmentally appropriate motor activities. Because they had to present this in a format in front of a camera, they also had to be very animated."

The students she has this semester are keeping the project going and have been in the process of videotaping the new set of videos, which will also be used at Nutter Fort.

"It turned out to be a win-win situation," Kiefer said, "because my students are gaining experience in developing age-appropriate programs, and the Nutter Fort students are benefiting by getting exercise routines that are created just for them."

Gilmore agreed that the project is mutually beneficial for both sets of students.

"The videos have come in very handy. The kids enjoy them and they are a lifesaver for me," she said.

The fitness program at the school was one of seven commendations the school received during a recent visit to the school by a team from the state Department of Education.

"In 29 years I don't ever remember them commenting on physical education," Gilmore said. "Being a Fairmont State graduate, it's nice being in a partnership with Fairmont State."

Dr. Carolyn Crislip-Tacy, Fairmont State Professor of Physical Education and Department of Health and Human Performance Chair, said it is important to support faculty members who are doing activities that are above and beyond typical course work.

"The fact that the assignment benefits children is a plus and it shows FSU faculty members are responsive to the changing requirements the public school teachers face, such as the new state mandates," Crislip-Tacy said.