Having a ball

Gross gets ‘Bright Idea’ in Hamlet classroom

By Ashley Ratliff-Haynes
Communications Specialist, Pee Dee Electric

HAMLET — How do you define a bright idea?

We all have them from time-to-time. Some ideas actually turn into successful business ventures or works of art. Sometimes though, people use their ideas to help others and that’s when what seems like a simple idea, actually turns into a bright idea.

Sharyl Wheeler Gross had a bright idea and well, let’s just say her idea has kids bouncing their way to improved test scores, better focus and alertness in class, not to mention improved coordination, balance and posture.

Photo by Sharyl Wheeler Gross

Photo by Sharyl Wheeler Gross

Gross teaches math and science to third graders at Monroe Avenue Elementary school in Hamlet. As part of a pilot project funded by Pee Dee Electric’s Bright Ideas Educational Grant program, Gross replaced the traditional chairs in her classroom with stability balls, also known as Pilate balls.

Gross based her idea to make the switch from chairs to balls based on research that suggest students using stability balls instead of traditional chairs have substantially increased time on task and assignments and exhibit improved in-seat behaviors.

“Our bodies are built to move, yet our teaching strategies insist on children sitting for long periods of time,” Gross said.

Combine that with the fact that many schools are reducing physical education classes, shortening breaks and reducing physical activities within school; it stands to reason that there may be a correlation between student attentiveness and a lack of physical activity.

Gross introduced the stability balls into her classroom slowly, teaching her students how to sit properly on the balls and of course, discussing the rules associated with using the stability balls in class. Students were required to complete a week long training session and afterwards, prove that they would use the stability ‘seat’ responsibility.

Photo by Sharyl Wheeler Gross

Photo by Sharyl Wheeler Gross

“The balls have been a huge hit with the students and the results have been amazing,” Gross said. “Because the stability balls accommodate the natural movement cycles that children experience, the students are able to move around and get rid of nervous energy while remaining focused on the lesson or task at hand.

In fact they are much more focused now than when they were sitting in a hard seat for hours at a time”.

This article first appeared in the June edition of Carolina Country, a publication of Pee Dee Electric. It is published here with permission.

 

Filed in: Business, Ellerbe/Norman, Hamlet, Latest Headlines, News

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