RUN TO READ AND WRITE FUN RUN: PART 1
KidsRunning.Com Classroom Event by Carol Goodrow
Family Fun Run
Photos by Leon's Dad, Joey's Dad, Eric G.'s Mom, and Carol Goodrow
These children have been taught to read and write with systematic phonics. The following describes why and how we developed our end of the year fun run.
PURPOSE: I'm hoping this feature will be a source of inspiration for teachers who have thought about starting classroom running programs or having classroom fun runs. Anyone can do it and be successful, as long as the program fits the needs of the particular classroom population, community setting, and school curriculum, for which it's designed. This will be a multi-part feature which highlights the dynamics behind my classroom running program and fun run.
HISTORY: I started running in the winter of 1995. By the fall of that year I was running with my first grade class. At that time, I hadn't read the research on childhood obesity. Percent of Children (ages 6-11) who are overweight-13% (1999) (CDC)
I wasn't into 'healthy snacking' and I didn't even realize that physical education wasn't mandated in all schools. Daily enrollment in physical education classes dropped from 42 percent to 25 percent among high school students between 1991 and 1995 (CDC)
I just loved to run and I wanted to share my love of running with my schoolchildren.
INTEGRATING RUNNING WITH THE CURRICULUM
That first year the kids and I put running into every aspect of our curriculum. We collected running numbers and hung them from our ceiling, then used them for math. We wrote thank-you notes to the runners as our introduction to letter writing skills. We put pins in a map showing where the runners lived. This was how we studied geography and map skills.
The next year we created a home exercise program. Kids ran at home with their families. We tabulated the mileage from the home program on a daily basis and tracked the cumulative mileage by moving cutout kids across a huge 100 mile ultramarathon bulletin board. We had designed our route in the fashion of the famous Western States ultra and created kid-friendly milestones such as "Lollipop Town". We also put our data on a cutout 'sneaker' graph which we used to practice our graphing skills.
We completed our chart by the 100th day of school and displayed it in our all purpose room with all the other 100th day projects. It certainly was different than the other displays. Our Log-a-Mile program is a direct offshoot of this original mileage program. Our Run the Seasons program is another running program we eventually used for a 100th day of school display in another school year.
And we ran. I can't remember if we ran every day or just most days, but I do remember that we wrote in our journals after each run. Journal writing became my favorite part of integrating running with the curriculum, for up until that time, writing was one of the most difficult subjects for me to teach.
Of course some kids naturally take to writing. They use their own 'invented' spelling, which with teaching and maturity begins to more closely approximate real spelling. Many are not hesitant to translate their thoughts to paper, but others hold back and all but refuse to put a word down. It's often hard to determine if they don't understand what to do, are reluctant to show their thoughts, can't bear the thought of spelling a word wrong, or just aren't comfortable with the 'open ended nature' of writing.
In any event, a 'reluctant writer' in the early grades is a challenge that a teacher must deal with.
However, with the running journals it was different. Once they realized what was expected of them, their writing began to flow. They started with writing, "I had fun!" but soon added observations of the weather, how their bodies felt, descriptions of our running routes and eventually added expression and voice. I can still remember Ellen's entry and use of upper and lower case lettering, "NOTHING HAS CHANGED except, NO RUNNING on the gravel and NO PICKING UP the gravel. I ran two laps and on the last lap I picked a daisy. I'm so excited, it's just two more days till Run, Spot, Run!"
Journal writing was something they looked forward to and their journals became their portfolios.
RUN, SPOT, RUN!
We always had a fun run at the end of the school year. The first few years we called it "Run, Spot, Run!" Our inspiration came from a photo of Charles Yoakum finishing the Vermont City Marathon wearing a Dalmatian singlet. He designed our first T-shirt, with a standing Dalmatian wearing a number 4.
A race director from Pennsylvania sent us free medals. They had the name of his race on them but we cherished them just like they were meant for us. We invited our families and ran a mile on our field. It was a success.
In some ways NOTHING HAS CHANGED, but in other ways everything has changed. I still run with my kids, but only once a week. Our school now has a recess lap program 4 times a week and all the kids also have gym twice a week.
I no longer integrate running into all aspects of the curriculum because I don't teach the whole curriculum anymore. I now teach second grade resource room and mainly deal with language arts and math. But we write in our running journals, use our running numbers for a giant number line, still have a family fun run, and have a classroom healthy snack program.
We don't have "Run, Spot, Run!" anymore. This year we held a new event and named it "Run to Read and Write!"
RUN TO READ AND WRITE PHOTOS AND MORE
Part 2: 2002 | Part 3: Running Programs, We're all winners!
THANKS TO OUR FUN RUN SPONSORS:
The Hartford Courant | Reebok | RUNNER'S WORLD | USATF | The Vernon Collision Center, Vernon, CT
Thanks to Sarah from my class of 2000 for the running number design and thanks to Bryan Hoddle of hoddlespeak.homestead.com for the fitness quotes and statistics.