Maggie Voedisch’s penchant for keeping kids’ feet moving has spread to Prospect Elementary School with proven academic, as well as physical, benefits.

Voedisch, Mansfield City Schools’ adapted physical education teacher, secured a Gorman Family Foundation grant that allowed her to acquire 30 stationary bicycle pedaling units for students to use while they read. That’s five units for each of Prospect’s second- and third-grade classrooms.

Studies have shown that children’s concentration and reading skills improve while their feet are moving. “The stationary pedaling units provide physical exercise while helping students to focus,” Voedisch said.

Prospect second-grade teacher Heather Dillon has five of the units in her classroom. “I’m all about whatever helps kids learn,” Dillon said. “I allow flexible seating in our classroom, including exercise balls and camp chairs. I want kids to feel comfortable and I think pedaling will help with their reading.”

Voedisch first introduced the stationary pedals at Sherman Elementary School two years ago.

Scott Ertl, a former counselor at Marvin Ward Elementary School in Winston-Salem, N.C., was an early proponent of pedaling. He began experimenting with stationary bikes at the school in 2009, which he called “active learning,” at first as a way to prevent disciplinary problems. “Active learning gives kids an opportunity to release extra energy, anxiety and frustration in a positive and appropriate way. Otherwise, they resort to inappropriate and negative ways to get movement,” he said in an earlier newspaper interview. “For example, kids will break their pencil to get up and sharpen it. They’ll ask to use the bathroom or get a drink of water five or 10 times a day.”

As stationary pedaling became more widely used, Ertl discovered that reading proficiency scores improved.

Clemson University professor psychology professor June J. Pilcher also is a proponent of methods such as stationary pedaling. “One of my goals is to make it more efficient for students to study,” Pilcher has said in published reports. “Psychology-based research is increasingly clear: Humans learn best when they are moving…”

For several years Voedisch has had Sherman Elementary students pedaling outdoors too. Her Pedaling for Your Future program in May is a five-week bicycle skills and safety unit in which second-graders learn basic riding skills, balance, steering and traffic awareness. Third-graders participate in an eight-mile bicycle ride on the B&O Trail.

In the photo above, second-graders in Heather Dillon’s classroom at Prospect Elementary School read while using stationary bicycle pedals.

Source, Photo: Mansfield City Schools

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