The following is a press release issued by the Ukiah Unified School District:
Frank Zeek Elementary has been awarded a grant from The Walking Classroom Institute, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, to offer “Walk, Listen, and Learn” activities for 4th through 6th-grade students. Students take walks as a class during the Walking Classroom while all listening to the same lesson on headphones. After the walking lesson, teachers and students discuss what they learned. Frank Zeek 6th-Grade teacher Kimberly Scriven applied for the grant in collaboration with Frank Zeek Physical Education teacher John Pinon and their school site council.
“I am so proud of Ms. Scriven and thankful for all of the hard work she put into landing this amazing grant for our students. Her class will benefit in many ways. Their physical health and well-being will improve as well as academic achievement,” said Dara Brown, Frank Zeek Elementary Principal.
The Walking Classroom program is simple: Students take brisk 20-minute walks as a class while all listening to the same custom-written, kid-friendly podcast on headphones through a mobile app. Each podcast lesson begins with a brief health message, and the curriculum always includes a positive character value woven throughout the narrative. Lesson plans and quizzes in the teacher’s guide help educators discuss and review the podcast material.
“As a lifetime athlete, I have always had a passion for sports, movement, and nutrition. I believe strongly that growing children benefit from following basic healthy living tenets: eat well, exercise, get plenty of sleep, limit screen time, and practice self-care. All of these are addressed in The Walking Classroom curriculum, and I am very excited to provide this to my students,” said Frank Zeek 6th-Grade teacher Kimberly Scriven.
The Walking Classroom curriculum is aligned with the standards-based curriculum students are studying in their regular class. A Frank Zeek 6th-Grader stated, “We were learning all about the weather and science with Ms. Scriven, and then we learned about meteorologists when we walked.”
In addition to the apparent health benefits of walking, students return to the classroom in better moods, are more focused, and are more likely to engage in post-walk discussions. “Kids love the fact that they’re getting out of the classroom. What they don’t often realize is how much they’re learning and how much that fresh air and exercise is improving their health,” says CEO and program creator Laura Fenn.
Frank Zeek’s 6th-Grade students had good things to say about their experience with walking and learning. “You can really learn a lot more about different things from class while you walk,” said one. Another added, “I like the one about bacteria.” A 5th-grader said the walking classroom was “Amazing! We do learn a lot about American history. It’s like a time machine from the past.”
The award-winning Walking Classroom Institute is a nonprofit organization developed in 2011 by Laura Fenn, M.S. Ed, for her fifth-grade classroom to create physical activity opportunities for her students during the school day. Fenn, an educator for over 15 years, noticed a direct correlation between her students’ academic performance and their amount of physical activity. She saw a need and came up with a way for her students to get the exercise they desperately needed without sacrificing instructional time, and the walking classroom was born.
Ukiah Unified Superintendent Deb Kubin said, “What a great way to improve physical health and learn at the same time! Thank you, Frank Zeek 6th-Grade teacher Kimberly Scriven, for your hard work getting this grant and your dedication to the health and well-being of our students.”