Promoting Health and Learning through Gaga Ball.

Promoting Health and Learning through Gaga Ball.

Posted by Kristie Shield on

Most educators know that students who participate in physical activity during lunch breaks come back to the classroom more alert and ready to learn than those who are simply ‘hang out’ with their friends or spend time gazing at their device. Many studies1 have shown the benefits of physically active breaks on student learning, as well as the general health rewards of the activity itself.

Some benefits of physical activity happen right after a session of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Benefits include improved thinking or cognition for children 6 to 14 years of age2.

How physical activity impacts High School students.

In High School, physical activity has an impact on cognitive skills such as concentration and attention, and it also enhances classroom attitudes and behaviours3.

The research indicates that organising moderate exercise during breaks will help the students’ attention levels and cognitive performance in the classroom. Good things to promote! The problem for busy teachers is that they need a break as well. Consequently with the exception of competitive sports training, there is not much enthusiasm for teacher- led recreational activity during the lunch intervals.

Some students amuse themselves with games such as the ubiquitous handball which spring up in many paved areas of the school grounds. However, there have not been many other options until now. Now there is a new option for a learning-enhancing lunchtime activity:

Gaga Ball!

 

What is Gaga Ball?

Gaga Ball is an enjoyable, active game that students of all ages can participate in without close supervision. The game has such simple ‘rules’ that it is easy to play even for the student who are not active in other ways and is proving itself amazingly popular with students - and Teachers!

Gaga Ball is a fast paced, high-energy activity which is played in an octagonal pit. The more players the better! Described as a kinder, gentler version of dodge ball, the game is played with a soft foam ball, and combines the skills of dodging, striking the ball, running, and jumping, while trying to hit opponents with a ball below the knees. Players need to keep moving to avoid getting hit by the ball.

Fun and easy, everyone gets a serious workout in a very short time.

The Timing is Right for Gaga Ball

In recent years, many students have turned away from physical activity in the break periods through absorption with their mobile phone, with all the attendant issues that come with those devices 4.

Gail, an experienced High School teacher has strong opinion about a return to more active breaks. “I notice the difference,” she said “When students run about and are active in the breaks, they run off all their pent-up exuberance. They come back to the class energised and ready to pay attention. When they spend time on their phone it’s a different kind of energy, more gossipy and socially focused. It takes them much longer to settle down and pay attention.”

Now that most Australian schools are moving to ban phone use at school, there is a vacuum to fill. None of us want students to become bored and restless during the breaks. That is certainly not conducive to learning. Gaga Ball may be at least a part of the solution to this potential problem.

 

 

1 Pontifex, M. B., Saliba, B. J., Raine, L. B., Picchietti, D. L., & Hillman, C. H. (2013). Exercise improves behavioural, neurocognitive, and scholastic performance in children with ADHD. Journal of Pediatrics, 162 (3): 543–551. doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2012.08.036.

2 Physical Activity for America Guidelines 22nd Edition.

3https://www.literacyplanet.com/blog/how-physical-activity-affects-schoolperformance/#:~:text=According%20to%20the%20US%20Center,components%20of%20improved%20academic%20performance.

4 The effects of smartphone addiction on learning: A meta-analysis Oluwafemi J. Sunday a   b , Olusola 2021. Adesope a , Patricia L. Maarhuis b Science Direct 2021.

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