My near (teaching) death experience

I’ve always prided myself on being prepared for lessons. This week though I found myself in a situation from which I was able to extricate myself relatively painlessly, with the help of an interactive white board (IWB), my DER laptop and some fast thinking.

For some reason I thought I had Year 9 Outdoor Recreation. I had a wizz bang lesson on golf ready to go as the kids walked in the room, but when one of them said “Golf…we’re doing that in Outdoor Recreation too..” I kinda knew something was off.

Quickly checking my timetable, I’d mistakenly prepared for Wednesday A, not Wednesday B (damn you, 2 week cycles!). No time to think about that now…how do I seamlessly transform from “Golf” to “Nutritional Analysis of Food Labels”.

First off, lets check the homework I set last week (Calculate your BMI, and critique the whole use of the BMI calculation and assessment process as a measure of obesity, as well as calculating Max Heart Rate (MHR) and Target Heart Rate zones for future PE lessons). While the kids that hadn’t finished this work were scrambling to get it done, I was scrambling to set up some work of my own.

In preparing a lesson on the energy balance and nutritional analysis earlier that week, I’d found this resource from the Heart Foundation. Once the kids had finished their homework and we had discussed and debriefed the issues (and some had some very interesting things to say about the validity of the BMI as a measurement tool!) I put the PDF up on the IWB and had the class focus on the energy balance information. They made some notes in their exercise books, which gave me time to set up the next bit.

Analysing food labels is a cool interactive way for kids to “get” what kilojoules and the energy balance is all about. Half the time kids don’t relate to the concept of energy intake  and then what it takes to expend that energy. Thus, a little bit of looking at food labels often crystallises their thoughts on food intake and the amount of activity they need to do to stay healthy.

“Who’s got a food packet in their bags?” I ask the class while they are note taking. “Something with nutritional information” I add when half a dozen sandwiches are offered. Eventually one kid gives me a 20g pack of rice crackers (those tasteless things that look like tiny shiny pillows), with the nutritional information table on the back.

I read the label out to the class, focussing on the kilojoule count (around 300kJ). I related this to the energy balance information that they  had just noted (“this is energy in”), and then posed the question “How long would it take to burn this off?”. Snorts of derision were heard with comments like “about 2 minutes sir”.

“OK” I said, “Let’s see”

I then pulled this website up on the IWB that calculates energy expenditure per hour  for a variety of physical activities. I said “Lets see how much work you have to do to burn these suckers off”. I selected “Computer Games” as the activity, put in my weight as the example, and used the duration of one hour. The calculator announced  that I would burn 13kJ/hour.

Simple maths (with a kids calculator!) told us that to burn off the 300kJ in the rice crackers playing computer games (300kJ divided by the 13kJ per hour ) would take about 23 hours. The looks on the kid’s faces were priceless!

Homework: Collect labels from food items that would make up a meal for you (McDonalds meals, for instance). Add up the kilojoules, visit the site, work out how long you’d have to do a particular activity to burn it off and then write an account of your investigation.

Bell rings, kids leave saying “What are you going to look at?”, “this will be cool” … thank you and good night!

Now, while I’m the first to admit that it might not tick all the boxes when it comes to deep knowledge and understanding, I was glad I had the technology around me to do something like this. In my old days pre tech, I could have had a perilous hour to negotiate, with not as much happening. Oh…and I’ll make sure I read my timetable a bit more closely from now on.

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