Elementary school students respond well to P.E. classes in Georgia

Toni Branson blows a whistle and the gym goes quiet.

The students -- fourth-graders at Reese Road Elementary -- know that means it's time to line up and practice their basketball skills -- dribbling, shooting or passing.

Every few minutes, Branson, the school's physical education teacher, blows her whistle again and the kids move to another part of the gym to work on a different skill. Setting up practice stations for the students works well, since she teaches two classes at once.

"They get a little bit of everything," Branson said, speaking over the echo of bouncing basketballs. "Everybody has something they like to do."

This is Branson's first year teaching P.E. in the district -- she teaches at Reese Road and Wesley Heights elementary schools. It is also the first year all the elementary schools have had P.E. classes for students, since the program was cut in 1996. It was reinstated this year; all third- and fifth-graders have physical education three times a week.

P.E. teachers at several elementary schools said the classes are going well and they have already seen a change in the students' behavior and fitness levels.

"It's been going great," said Chris Craft, P.E. teacher at Wynnton and Dimon Elementary schools. "A lot of the students are really excited." He said the kids like games where they can run around a lot, but they like the exercises, such as push-ups and sit-ups, too.

The program revolves around improving the students' motor skills and fitness levels. They might practice the skills needed for a sport, like chest passes in basketball, instead of playing a game.

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