Brain Joins Brawn in Hood Gym Classes

Physical education is classroom education at the Gilbert H. Hood Middle School. In the May 28 School Board meeting, Hood gym teachers David and Amera Brown gave a presentation on how they integrate classroom subjects with physical education, in order to have the most well-rounded students possible.
Principal Austin Garofalo said that the Browns integrated curriculum by bringing “core subjects” – math, reading, science and social studies – into the gym. “The students are encouraged to push themselves, to give their personal best,” Garofalo said.

But the Browns also focus on the soft skills, he added. “What’s important is how students treat each other – there’s an emphasis on kindness, a strong work ethic and empathy,” he said. The Browns integrate the three R’s – and the two S’s – in a number of ways, David Brown said. This year in seventh grade, they used map skills in a physical education class. The children had a soccer ball printed with a map of the world and a worksheet, he said, and carried out a number of PE tasks while refreshing their geography skills.

Seventh-grader Patrick Hanlon said, “It was a fun way to use our map skills, and also try to win a game.” Eighth grade had a math emphasis, with an “odd” and “even” team. When the dice rolled, they had to perform a math function, then the odd team got to chase the even team and vice versa. “It’s a fun way to figure out math problems and have phys ed,” student Sara Muller said.

Sixth-grade focused on language arts, with spelling relay races and a white board with markers. “It was fun,” student Jeffrey Mize said. “You had to be fast and smart at the same time.” At the end of the session, they got to create new words with the words they spelled. The Browns have also incorporated music and science lessons into their gym classes, David Brown said.

To a question from board member Dan McKenna, all three children said they enjoyed the fusing of classwork with gym. It’s important, David Brown said, because exercise and the mind go together. “If you keep a healthy body and good muscle tone, it will lift your mood, ward off depression, and help the brain age gracefully. It will defeat mental loss and dementia,” Brown said. Board member Ken Linehan proved it when he asked Jeffrey, “How many words did your group make?” “Twenty-two,” Jeffrey said proudly.

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