The Virgin Islands Department of Education 2019 State Teacher of the Year Kerra Samuel is the recipient of a grant to introduce the “Walking Classroom” program to her fourth, fifth and sixth-grade students at the Pearl B. Larsen Elementary School.
Samuel, an intermediate computer lab teacher, recently wrote the grant to acquire the program in which students listen to academic content presented in the form of a podcast and heard through a device called a “Playaway.” It is an innovative tool that meets the needs of 21st-century students and accommodates many different learning styles.
“My students are excited about the program. Living in this wonderful climate year-round, students should be allowed to get out more—taking learning beyond the classroom. The beauty of it is, they are learning while getting exercise to fuel their body, mind, and soul!” said Samuel.
Samuel reached out to the Walking Classroom developer who informed her of grant opportunities available. Even with an extensive waiting list, the territory’s top teacher was selected almost immediately. She was granted a class set of 30 with other supporting equipment.
Students take brisk 20-minute walks as a class while listening to the same custom-written, kid-friendly podcast that comes preloaded on their audio device, called the WalkKit. Each podcast begins with a brief health literacy message and includes a character value woven throughout the narrative. The lesson plans and quizzes in the available Teacher’s Guide help educators effectively discuss and review the podcast material.
Samuel’s sixth-grade class uses the devices twice weekly. The program also encourages independent learning. However, Samuel administers quizzes after walks to ensure the students have fully grasped the material.
Aligned to state standards, the podcast topics are appropriate for students in grades 3–8. The complete program WalkKit audio devices are preloaded with 167 podcasts related to English language arts, social studies, science, and more. The STEM program includes 61 science-related topics.
The Walking Classroom is a national award-winning nonprofit education program that provides students and teachers with an innovative way to get exercise without sacrificing instructional time. It capitalizes on the favorable link between exercise and cognitive function where children improve their physical, mental, and academic health as they walk, listen, and learn.