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Springfield, IL 62704
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Ridgely fifth graders combine learning, exercise in The Walking Classroom

May 19, 2015

Ridgely Elementary School fifth grade teacher Glenda Cassens has found a way for students to gain deeper knowledge in reading, social studies and science, all while getting a healthy dose of physical activity.

Cassens received a grant for The Walking Classroom program, which provides each student an MP3 player pre-loaded with a year's worth of standards-aligned audio content. Students walk, listen and learn for 15 minutes, three to four times a week.

“This has enriched the classroom and has been a motivating experience for the students and the teacher,” said Ridgely Principal Ken Gilmore.

The podcasts are directly aligned to fourth and fifth grade English Language Arts Common Core State Standards and with the District’s social studies curriculum. Most podcasts last about 15 minutes, and each podcast is supported by an extensive lesson plan which includes a comprehension quiz.

The Walking Classroom is a program developed by Laura Fenn, M.S. Ed, for her fifth grade classroom as a response to the lack of opportunities for student activity during the school day. She noticed a correlation between academic performance and physical activity, so she came up with a way to get students to exercise without sacrificing instructional time. The Walk, Listen and Learn program was an instant success in her classroom. Her students’ attitudes about exercise improved, as did their end-of-grade achievement scores, with her struggling students making the most noticeable gains.