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May 29 2020


Dennis Wang

Since stay-at-home measures were introduced earlier this year, the Beijing City International School (BCIS) community have been asking themselves: "how can we stay fit and healthy while indoors during the coronavirus?". In their Physical Education (PE) classes, our Grade 3 and 5 students set out to answer this question in two projects.

Grade 3 students' Body Systems unit took on new life when PE teacher David Cooney saw an opportunity for students to share their knowledge to benefit others in a global crisis. This unit was transformed with a project-based learning focus into student-led projects to share wellness routines and activities with the local and online community during the coronavirus outbreak.

By engaging students in a global issue, students were motivated and excited to investigate different elements of wellness and share practices that reflect their own needs or wants in current circumstances, helping others in the process.

Each student chose a body system, such as the immune, respiratory and nervous systems, and linked it to up to two or three wellness areas they had personal experience with during their time at home. Students then selected activities they use themselves to keep their chosen body system healthy. Mr Cooney, always keen to encourage student-led learning, helped the students organize a wellness website committee that coordinated the posting of student projects onto his fitness website.

Whilst this unit pushed students to expand and deepen their knowledge of body systems and health, the project-based learning approach was also great experience for these students as they will go on to their Personal Trainer unit in Grade 4 and guide wellness sessions in Grade 5.

Grade 5 students have also been active in other ways! From the start of the outbreak Grade 5 students were working out together online using activities from their Health and Fitness unit. During these sessions, Mr Cooney introduced Tabata, a style of high-intensity interval training that lasts four minutes. This caught the imagination of students as a great way to get a good workout in quickly and with minimal equipment. Students then designed their own Tabata workouts and were set to lead wellness sessions in-school for staff and students after the Chinese New Year holiday – but this was unable to happen due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Mr Cooney approached two students with the conundrum of having these great student workouts without an outlet to share them with others, suggesting they could be gathered together in a book. The two students, Helen and Crystal immediately jumped at this opportunity, emailing all Grade 5 teachers asking them to forward on all student workouts and began to compile the workouts into an online "book". With much painstaking creative design work from the two students and Zoom meetings with Mr Cooney, the online book was completed and shared online to encourage children and adults alike to get moving whilst staying at home!

Both of these projects showcase students' passion for sharing their knowledge and promoting activity at home during these unusual and challenging times. Mr Cooney, who always encourages his students to take action, was proud to see his students not only do workouts but create their own and go on to find ways to share them with the community.

Click here to visit the Grade 3 wellness website and click here to access the Grade 5 Tabata workout online "book"!