If you walked into Greenville Elementary school’s gym the day of their inaugural Academic Intramurals, you would think you were walking into an indoor playground, especially when seeing the excitement and enthusiasm of the students, but it was instead, a new and creative way for learning to take place at the school.
On Dec. 17, students in the 3rd, 4th and 5th grades were grouped into teams with names such as Hercules, Orion and Scorpius and competed in games that involved balloons, basketballs and relay races.
Greenville Elementary School Principal Barbara Pettiford created the Intramural games, combining recreation with education, that resulted in a fun way for students to learn.
I was working on my doctorate in Educational Leadership, and was asked to create an activity that would spark the interest of struggling students in reading,” said Pettiford. “Most research states that struggling readers are not motivated, so I decided to join low-organized relays with learning vocabulary and foundational reading skills to make learning fun. I used this activity in 2001 at Eighth Street Middle School in Tifton, Ga. and the students fell in love with it. The students at Greenville were just as excited. Academic Intramurals also sparks healthy competition between students, teachers, and parents and encourages students to study and retain the content in their long term memory.”
School Superintendent Doug Brown, who was present to watch the academic amusement, thought the Intramurals were a great idea and stated, “It’s a mix of fun and learning; that’s what it should be.”
Science, Math, Language Arts and Social Studies questions were shown to students after they successfully relayed from one end of the gym to the other, where they would answer the question for team points, but not before participating in a fun activity first. Students dug for their shoes that had been piled in the center of the gym floor and put them back on before running to answer a Social Studies question in the Shoe-Find Relay;
Crawled backwards on their hands and feet to answer Language Arts questions in the Crab Walk; Lined up as a team and passed off a basketball over their head or under their legs in the Over and Under Science game; and ran with a balloon to the center of the gym, popping their balloon by sitting on it in the Math Balloon Burst.
Pettiford said GES plans to review again, using the Academic Intramurals, right before the FSA (Florida Standard Assessment Test) in March.