Pictured above: Kwanita, April, and Merle wait their turn in line while Nicholas bowls with the Wii. These students are in Nancy Hudson's class at NAMS.
Nancy Hudson wanted something different for her students at New Albany Middle School. “I wanted something that was a challenge for my students and something that would help them improve their social and motor skills,” she said.
Hudson had read an article about senior citizens using the Wii and thought it could be both fun and beneficial for her students. Wii is the popular game console system made by Nintendo.
The students use the Wii each morning as part of their physical education programming. Hudson’s students are also involved in more traditional physical education activities such as basketball, dodge ball, jump rope, running, and walking.
“The Wii has improved our regular physical education activities because it motivates them when they become tired of gym PE,” said Hudson. “It has made the students more active.”
There are a variety of games and activities the students play such as Wii Sports that includes tennis, bowling, baseball, and golf; Big Brain Academy, consisting of computation, identification, and memorization activities; and Carnival Games are the typical games you would play at carnivals and fairs.
Wii Fit is used for a portion of Hudson’s physical education class and includes strength training, balance games, and aerobics.
Students in Hudson’s class are always ready to play and exercise with the Wii. “I like bowling when I knock the pins down and make a strike, said Kwanita. “I love the penguin game, cause I eat fish,” said Nicholas, referring to the Wii Fit game that promotes balancing skills.
Besides the extra physical activity the students receive, Hudson says that the benefits are numerous. “It has taught the class to share and take turns. It has also improved hand-eye coordination and balance.”
Hudson also uses the game system for rewards with her students. Good behavior earns the students extra Wii privileges in the afternoons.
The game system was purchased with money made from “The Dawg Bowl”, a school based enterprise where Hudson’s students make money by preparing casseroles, desserts, and tea for teachers at New Albany Middle School.
According to Hudson, many schools from across the nation are using the Wii in their physical education and special education classes. Administrators in the school district are pleased that students are participating in physical activities with excitement and the teachers are seeing great social and physical outcomes.
The opportunity to participate in this type of activity sounds like what typical teenagers are into at the middle school, so what is the big deal? “The big deal is none of the students in this setting are typical teenagers,” said Kelly Coltharp, Director of Special Services for New Albany Schools.
Coltharp noted that these students are learning to navigate in a high tech world even though they are hearing impaired, autistic, intellectually challenged and multi-impaired. “They are developing social and cognitive skills while having fun. Learning new skills is a major task for these students so anytime you can make learning fun, I'm for it."
New Albany Middle School Principal Lecia Stubblefield says that they are always looking for ways to increase the students' development at New Albany Middle School.
“This is the result of great teachers like Mrs. Hudson who are willing to step out of the box to locate creative ways to assure that all students get the physical activity they need,” Stubblefield said. “This is another step toward reaching our goal of becoming the best middle school in Mississippi."
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