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Newtown Students Get Pumped For CMTs



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Newtown Students Get Pumped For CMTs

By Nancy K. Crevier

& Eliza Hallabeck

Building on recent research that links the benefits of exercise to learning, Hawley School gym teachers Doug Michlovitz and Bridget McSweeney have introduced a pre-Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) exercise and relaxation program to Hawley fourth grade students this spring.

“The CMT is one of the more important things we do for assessment,” said Mr Michlovitz, Friday morning, March 11, as he welcomed two of Hawley’s four fourth grade classes into the gymnasium. “Research is showing us that exercise delivers oxygen and glucose to the brain, which should help with focusing on the test,” he said.

Hawley’s program joins other efforts in the school district to help prepare students for the CMTs by providing a chance for exercise.

Last year Newtown Middle School began offering a program before school for students that has since become the school’s “Zero Hour Physical Education” course overseen by physical education teacher Matthew Memoli. The Zero Hour Physical Education course had its first run-through during CMT administration last year, and Mr Memoli said there was a noticeable difference in student preparedness for the test. Now students can sign up for the program, which runs Monday through Friday from 6:40 until 7:20 am, by speaking to one of the school’s physical education teachers.

According to information provided to Mr Michlovitz and Ms McSweeney at Hawley by PE4life, a national nonprofit organization “dedicated to developing a country of active and healthy children and youth by increasing access to quality physical education,” exercise increases the flow of oxygen, glucose, and other key nutrients to the brain, with an improvement in mental focus and concentration. Memory problems, fatigue, and sluggishness can be side effects of low oxygen levels to the brain.

Two of the classes met in Hawley’s gymnasium for ten minutes of light jogging and stretching, and two classes met in the multipurpose room of the school for ten minutes of yoga during the first week of testing, Mr Michlovitz said, before returning to the classrooms and the intensive CMT testing period. The classes “flip-flopped” the week of March 14, as fourth graders resumed testing.

“What we are doing is taking research and applying it, to see what the results are. We hope that it helps with performance on the tests,” said Mr Michlovitz.

Reed Intermediate School also brought a yoga program started at the school four years ago during CMT administration back for this year’s CMT testing period. Reed’s yoga program also begins before the normal school day at the school and runs for approximately 25 minutes.

Other schools in Newtown reported not offering designated exercise programs to help students prepare for either the CMTs or for the school day. At Sandy Hook School, Principal Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung said individual classroom teachers use “energizers,” smaller exercises, throughout the day to keep kids ready to learn. Many teachers, Ms Hochsprung says, also use these at-the-desk or in-a-circle exercises before and after administering the CMTs. Head O’ Meadow also reported individual teachers have the choice to have students perform small exercises before the CMTs begin.

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