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Teacher: Brad Flaig who teaches at Belle Grove Elementary in Pasadena, MD. Brad Flaig can be contacted at

Name of Best Practice: The Heart Beats Competition

Rationale/Purpose of Event: The HB competition establishes a quick and competitive warm up for the entire school to participate in. The students learn to work as a team and encourage one another to perform their best in this timed lap running exercise in an effort to win "The Golden Boot Trophy". Heart Beats Competition Picture

Suggested Grade Level: 3-5

Materials Needed: Music Player Stop Watch Master Class Lists Pencil Spray Painted Old Shoes to make into trophy. Bulletin Board with Teachers names to place class lap score for school to see. Heart Beats Competition Picture

The Heart Beats Competition

At the beginning of the year students will begin the Heart Beats competition. Start by explaining exercise, aerobic fitness, and how the heart beats competition will get your heart beating.

Students will compete as a class in a school-wide competition to win the Golden Boot Trophy and the bragging rights of course.
The teacher should create a track to run that will remain the same for each class for the entire year. Do not allow one class to use a smaller track than another class because they will ultimately score better. Just because third graders are essentially facing the fifth graders does not mean they are at a disadvantage. In fact, during my classes this past year the third grade dominated.

I prefer to use a square, because my gym is fabricated that way. On the corners of the square I put four separate cones that match the colors of my four squads where I sit my students when they enter class. During the heart beats warm up I disregard taking role, because when I collect scores I will see who is an isn't attending, and immediately have students "Go to their corners". When the music goes on they all run "safely" the same direction around the track to avoid injuries. Every time they pass the cone they began their run as they score one lap. When the music goes off, students stop where they are and sit down. Students are not awarded half laps, even if they are two steps from the cone it does not count as an extra lap. My advice to them is to improve next time. While students are sitting down I go down my master list and ask what they scored for the day. They know that after they give me their score they are permitted to get a drink of water and return to their squads. When all the scores are collected the students will be sitting/standing jogging in place in their squads prepared to move on.

At the end of the week when all students have run their competition I add up the scores for each class separately and add them to their total. Throughout the year I continue to add to their score.

The teacher will establish a time for the students to run and how often. I start the students out easy when they return to school from the summer break because they are "not surprisingly" out-of-shape. A good starter time is 1 minute. As the school year goes on I slowly increase the time around 15 seconds every time we compete with a maximum time of no more than 3 minutes. I allow the students to do the competition about once every two weeks so they don't get burned out of it.

Common Problems
1. Students shoes will be untied, or they have not changed into their shoes yet. When this happens I start the class. They are expected to be ready. In the future they will prepare quicker. In the meantime, they go inside the track (to avoid being run-over) and tie their shoes as fast as possible and enter safely when ready.
2. Excused from class- Award that student the class average for laps.
3. Absent from school or unprepared (improper footwear unless you have a shoe loaner box), counts as a ZERO score for that day. You'd be surprised how much a winning class of students wants to attend school on PE days.
4. Lazy Classmates- generally there will always be lazy students. Peer pressure and proper teacher monitoring can be enough motivation to at least have that particular student walking.
5. Forgotten or False Scores- Single handily the biggest problem with this practice. Students always feel the need to cheat their way to victory, especially at this age. This is an opportunity for the teacher to negate this behavior. This can be done a few ways:
A- I have partners count one another at the beginning of the year and their scores must match.
B- I count randomly two students. If their scores do not match my count they receive a vocal zero. This will and should happen until the kids decide against cheating.
6. Different Size classes- Class sizes range. I always make sure to increase small classes to the size of larger class size I have by adding "Ghost Members". If the largest class has 26 students and the smallest has 21 than I would add 5 ghost members to the small class who score what the average student would run to ensure a fair competition.

The entire warm up and data collection should take no more than 5 or 6 minutes. Generally the students really enjoy this competition and they really put out their best effort to score big. It allows students who are not so athletically gifted to become vital and gives everyone a fun competitive spirit. They encourage one another and always anticipate their scores. At the end of the year, near field day, I award the Golden Boot Trophy to the school champions.

Heart Beats Competition Picture


Teacher can reduce or increase the time.
Different tracks can be used, smaller or larger, indoor or outdoor.
Large class sizes you may have to alter how you monitor how your students count.

Teaching Suggestions/Tips:

Make sure only to have the competition during weeks where all classess can run. "Not during testing, half weeks, field trips etc."

Recognize the classrooms ranking each week to keep students interested.

Set intermediate class goals to progress and give the students a sense of achievement.

Have students run in the same direction around a designated track. I set up a square and divide my class to the four corners to start to avoid pile ups.

Have students who are not able to participate that day count those who are running to ensure accurate scores are kept.

Adaptations for Students with Disabilities:

Teacher could create a seperate track, which is smaller or larger.
Change upon discretion.

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Posted on PEC: 2/21/2013 and has received 55 votes.

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And Credit to Colleen Whilldin at Bogue Sound In NC for this idea. (Sweat Wall)

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