NEWS Walnut Valley Unified School District
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 880 S. Lemon Avenue
January 27, 2015 Walnut, CA 91789
Kelli Gile, Office of Community Resources
(909)595-1261 ext. 31204
Read & Ride
South Pointe students cycle as they learn
WALNUT, CA—South Pointe Middle School special education teacher Nakia Brener was looking for a way to help her 6th-8th grade students improve their reading skills.
She noticed that they didn’t seem engaged during the 30 minutes of Accelerated Reading each morning.
“They would often pretend to read or do other things,” Brener noted.
A light went off after reading an article shared by her principal in October about integrating kinesthetic learning in the classroom.
A school back East was helping students increase reading scores with exercise bikes they use while they read.
This tactile-learning style takes place by students carrying out a physical activity.
Brener was inspired when physical education teachers at her school began having students “read and ride” on workout bikes.
As a former P.E. teacher, she knew movement would help her kids.
“I’m always thinking of ways to keep them alert, awake, and thinking. So I thought I’d try it!”
Some schools had actually converted classrooms with bicycle chairs – she knew that would be too expensive.
Brener found a simpler solution - stationary pedals that tuck under the desks. She needed 20 – one for each student.
She also ordered three balance balls and three specialized seat cushions for the class.
She wrote grants to Donors Choose and the Walnut Valley Educational Foundation that funded the $800 project.
Many of her students take an adaptive P.E. class and aren’t able to use a standard bike. These new tools would provide the same learning benefits and a chance for some additional physical activity.
On January 7, the kids opened up the boxes of equipment.
“You’d think it was Christmas here – they loved it!” Brener exclaimed.
For the past two weeks, students have been eager to peddle as they learn.
Brener reports “they’ve been peddling away and reading!”
Each student peddles at a different pace – some slow and deliberate, others steady, fast, or even backwards.
“I like it because it keeps my mind going,” said 7th grader Tyler Lewis.
“And I feel like I’m getting fit!”
“It’s fast! I think I read more with the pedals,” added 6th grader Jaren Ni.
Richard Evans tried the balance ball for the first time and liked it.
“It’s good for stretching and supporting your back. I’ll bet one day Mrs. Brener will have the whole class into a fitness room!”
Each day, the specialized academic instruction class begins with 15 minutes of Accelerated Reading (AR) reading followed by 15 minutes of the computerized Language Live component for phonics and reading foundations.
“We haven’t had them long enough to see how it improve reading, but I will say the kids are much more likely to be reading. And they know they can only use the foot peddles if they’re reading,” Brener said.
When Brener wanted to gage how much her students were reading she asked how many pages they completed after the timed reading.
They all reported over 25 pages.
“I think that’s the most you’ve read in 15 minutes ever!” she exclaimed.
“Look, I read 3o”, one 7th grader said proudly holding up his book.
When she asked students if they felt like they read more than they usually do - they answered with a unanimous “more!”
Kinesthetic learning can be especially helpful for students diagnosed with an attention deficit disorder.
Brener has come up with additional options to meet their needs and help her kids keep moving as they learn.
“I’m trying to give them different outlets,” Brener said.
Students can wiggle their feet on a simple resistance band attached to at the bottom of a chair.
If they’d rather stand up, one desk in the classroom has been raised to accommodate that learning style.
In just two weeks, the new pedal bikes have become popular around campus.
Fellow special education teachers have asked Brener to borrow a couple for their students.
“South Pointe is really a good school for integrating movement and learning!” Brener added.
“It is just another amazing example of doing whatever it takes to ensure the success of our students!” said Principal Susan Arzola.
South Pointe Middle School special education students have begun reading and riding using stationary pedals to improve reading skills.
Teacher Nakia Brener wrote a grant for stationary pedals, balance balls and cushions for her classroom. They are utilizing the new equipment to improve reading skills.