Archive for September, 2010

Integrating Technology: Authentic Assessment in Physical Education

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

How do you assess your students?  Do you measure effort by their attendance, participation, behavior, or whether or not they dress out?  Why not use assessment tools that accurately measure student involvement and physical activity levels?

Using technology in physical education can be a powerful motivational and evaluative tool.  Don’t miss our upcoming webinar “Integrating Technology: Authentic Assessment in Physical Education” if you want to learn how to incorporate authentic assessment using pedometers, heart rate monitors and iPads to measure student progress.

Attendees will learn:

  • Benefits of using technology in physical education
  • Examples of technology currently being used in schools
  • Sample assessments for measuring student progress
  • Where to look for funding to add technology to your program

When: Wednesday, October 13th at 3pm Pacific, 6pm Eastern

Who: Grades PreK-12 teachers and administrators, PE specialists, after school and early childhood teachers and staff

Duration: 45 minutes

Cost: Free!

Registration: Click Here to register

Back to School with the Food Pyramid!

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

With all the attention kids’ health is getting these days, it’s no wonder that the Food Pyramid (Improved American Food Guide Pyramid) we all know was deemed insufficient. In 2005 the United States Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A) released the modified MyPyramid version, which incorporates moderation, stresses significantly more activity, and removes the hierarchical connotation of the previous version.


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The new version of the USDA – approved food pyramid includes the following breakdown of daily servings based on a 2,000-calorie diet (adult):

Grains: 6 Ounces
Vegetables: 2.5 Cups
Fruits: 2 Cups
Milk: 3 Cups
Meat and Beans: 5.5 Ounces
Oils (From Fish, Vegetables and Nuts): Consume in moderation
Exercise: Children should be physically active for at least 60 minutes most days of the week.

Let’s face it, the Lunchables and Fruit Roll Ups may be easy and convenient, but they are far from nutritious. Some classic stand-by options of your youth just will not cut it for your kids. The key to healthy school lunches is thinking ahead. Pack lunches the night before, and get your kids to help so they can tell you what they like to eat. Here are a few great lunch items that will energize your kids, without leaving them hungry for more!

Meal #1

  • Avocado and Turkey on Whole Grain Bread
  • Apple
  • String Cheese and Crackers
  • Peanuts and M&M’s
  • 100% Juice box


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Meal #2

  • Chicken Salad with Dried Cranberries and Walnuts in Whole Grain Pita
  • Banana
  • Yogurt
  • Natural Fruit Snacks
  • Flavored Water


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Meal #3

  • Almond Butter and Natural Honey on Wheat Bread
  • Baby Carrots
  • Celery Sticks with Low Fat Cream Cheese and Raisins
  • 2 Small Homemade Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 2% Milk


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Meal #4

  • Wheat Bagel with Lean Roast Beef, Lettuce, Tomato, and Mustard
  • Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries
  • Shelled Pistachios, Cashews and Almonds
  • 2% Milk


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Meal #5

  • Peanut Butter and Chunky Jelly on 12-Grain Bread
  • Fruit “kabob”: Pineapple, Watermelon, Cantaloupe, Grapes, Strawberries
  • All-Natural Crackers or Popcorn
  • 2% Chocolate Milk


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Each of these lunches provides a healthy portion of the different food groups, without compromising flavor. Whenever adding condiments, be sure to do so in moderation, and only if they ask for it. Consider a “treat” once a week such as Goldfish Crackers, or a Hershey’s Chocolate Kiss to keep your kids satisfied! Remember to listen to your kids when they tell you what they like or do not like for lunch so you can be sure they are eating it all!

Things to avoid

While it may be easy to buy packaged and processed items in bulk from your local Costco or Sam’s Club, many those foods do not add up to a nutritious lunch. Here are a few snacks to avoid, or supply only in moderation.

Flavored Chips and Snacks

Be it corn or potato, these fried and baked snacks are normally loaded with MSG, and a number of artificial additives your kids can’t even pronounce. If you’re looking for a little crunch with a flavor punch, try all-natural alternatives. Crackers, veggie straws, and natural popcorn can provide just enough flavor and crunch to satisfy your kids’ cravings without harming their bodies or draining them of energy.

Pre-packaged Meals

There is nothing easier in the world than handing your kid a pre-packaged Lunchable or other brand of lunch item. They’re happy, and you can check another item off of your early morning to-do list. However, not only are these items often over twice the cost of a bagged lunch, they pack hardly any nutritional value. If you cannot feasibly cut them out of the lunch rotation, try to save them for rare and special occasions, such as field trips.

Tuna Fish

As much as we hate to admit it, our kids will worry about what other kids think. Smelly options such as tuna fish can make their lunch boxes smell, and attract unwanted attention. If they hate certain food items because of the way they smell, they will probably throw them away and just eat their snacks. Listen to your kids when packing healthy lunches!

Exercise: The Path to a Child’s Healthy Future

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

The obesity epidemic among youth today only continues to escalate. Due to the increase in modern technology, more forms of entertainment involve sitting rather than moving.  Children are exposed to more computers, video games, movies and television than ever before, which in turn decreases the overall time spent expending daily calories. The resulting weight gain among our youth heightens their risk for possible heart disease, cancer, diabetes and more. This makes it all the more important for children to start exercising as early as possible. Besides physical benefits, such as improved bone and muscle strength, exercise is also shown to also improve one’s emotional and psychological state.

Cherie with Learn to Swim Students

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By taking up physical exercise early in life, children have the advantage of a leaner, stronger figure, with lower risks of obesity. Running, bicycling, skating and swimming are several simple options that allow for aerobic activity, which improves overall heart strength. Stretching exercises will foster a student’s flexibility and improve the functioning of joints. Push-ups and pull-ups help build muscle strength, as well as weightlifting workouts at the school gym. Kids can get a head start in managing their physical health by choosing from a wide selection of exercise options, which will only prove more beneficial as they mature.

Youth Sports Day 2007 - 2

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Students spend the majority of their school day in the classroom with limited time for physical activity. As important as it is for children to be well-rounded on subjects that increase class performance, there is another type of education that is just as important for their overall well-being. Physical education is a chance for children to put down their pencils and have fun as they work toward staying fit. It can also be the ideal outlet kids need to let loose, while providing them with lifelong benefits unlike any other in their schedule.  Studies show that children who have physical outlets coupled with academics perform better in other areas of their life as well.


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More schools are sharing the responsibility to encourage student fitness with their enhanced physical education programs. For example, SPARK, a well established and award-winning public health organization, is combating obesity through providing educators with research-based physical activity programs for Pre-K – 12 grade students. SPARK focuses on assisting teachers with implementing school games related to aerobics, jogging, sports and more. Teachers receive curriculum, training and equipment that outlines how to get the most out of each physical activity that their classes participate in. Emphasis is placed on proper nutrition for students, as well as the positive effects activities have on academic performance.


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Schools that provide physical education for youth with an emphasis on the positive instill a lifelong motivation to stay fit.  The American Heart Association recommends that children engage in a minimum of one hour of physical activity per day, and schools can easily assist in meeting that goal by providing just half of that important time.  In addition, such classes help build teamwork among students and help participants find interests that they may choose to further pursue. It is important to note that studies have demonstrated that kids who are physically fit also perform better on standardized testing.

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To offer the best physical education possible, schools should provide quality equipment, safe facilities and trained supervision. Teachers must be aware of the best, new teaching methods available to maintain student interest and enthusiasm. Variations of traditional games, as well as creating new athletic diversions can be introduced on a vast scale depending on age level and ability.  Success and diversity are key to keeping the children involved. Skills developed during school activities may form the basis for additional physical pursuits. Most importantly, when schools make physical education a requirement for graduation, kids are guaranteed the chance to be exposed to a better sense of how to live a healthy lifestyle.


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Many parents look to enroll their children in after school activities and search for the option that best suits their son or daughter’s interests. One common question is how old a child should be before engaging in certain sports or exercise. Games like flag football, soccer and t-ball are usually appropriate starting at age four, whereas gymnastics is accommodating of all age groups. Competitive activities should be reserved for the older, extroverted child. Both individual and team sports allow for motor skill development as well as promote self esteem. Starting sports at an earlier age will decrease the childhood tendency toward sedentary activities inside the home when physical alternatives are not readily available.

Boys swimming

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Establishing lifelong healthy exercise habits begins in childhood. Lack of physical activity has been correlated with the ongoing surge in obesity, as well as the development of chronic health problems. On the contrary, involving youth in both physical education as well as extracurricular sports programs is associated with increased academic success, as well as psychological and physical well being. Educators and parents alike must set the example and offer appropriate, safe programs that encourage all children, regardless of ability.  The opportunity to strive towards a healthy future that includes exercise as part of the normal, daily routine will then be anticipated with ongoing enthusiasm amongst today’s youth.


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3 Nutrition Questions Answered…

Monday, September 13th, 2010
1. What are the best snacks for kids to help them sustain their energy levels all day?

The best snacks for sustaining energy levels are ones that combine complex carbohydrates from whole grains, fruits or vegetables, with some lean protein such as nuts or cheese, and a little bit of fat to enhance taste and satiety.

Healthy Kids Challenge Top 10 Healthy Snack Choices

  1. ½ cup fresh fruit – with low-fat yogurt dip
  2. ½ cup vegetables – with low-fat dressing dip
  3. 5 whole grain crackers – with salsa or bean dip
  4. 1 cup whole grain cereal – with 8 oz. skim milk
  5. 3 cups popcorn – with 1 oz. nuts (10 almonds or 15 peanuts)
  6. 1 oz. low-fat cheese – with 1 thin slice lean meat and whole grain roll
  7. 8 oz. fat-free flavored yogurt – with cut-up fresh fruit added
  8. 1/3 cup low-fat cottage cheese – with pineapple chunks
  9. 1 oz. nuts (10 almonds or 15 peanuts) – with ¼ cup raisins
  10. 1 Tbsp peanut butter – with celery sticks
2. Where do we go for quick, easy, and healthy recipes?

Here’s a list of Healthy Kids Challenge favorites online.  Each of these is a Partner in Health with HKC.  You can count on all of them to offer a variety of healthy recipes, affordable family meal ideas, and even “kid friendly” recipes sections, too!

Cooking Light – Includes categories such as “quick and easy” and “kid friendly” and access to the magazine’s recipe list.

Cabot – In addition to recipes, the Healthy Eating section includes recipe makeovers and cooking with kids tips.

Del Monte Recipes & Tools – Kid friendly recipes are simple to make and the “Meals Under $10” are healthy and tasty, too.

Mission – Look for “Family Meals Under $10” and “Fiesta Favorites” for a healthy spin on traditional tortilla fare.

3. Why is it important to eat whole grains and limit saturated fat?

A healthy diet including fiber from whole grains is important because whole grains help reduce blood cholesterol levels and may help with weight management.  The fiber in whole grains helps provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories.  A food with 5 grams or more per serving is high in fiber.

It is important to limit saturated fat, which is solid fat, because it tends to raise LDL “bad” cholesterol levels, increasing your risk for heart disease. Limit solid fats like butter, stick margarine, or shortening. Instead, choose oils, which are more heart healthy, and in small amounts are a healthy choice.  Choose fat from fish, nuts, and vegetable oils more often. For more information, visit

Cheerleaders are Athletes – Politicians are Athletic Supporters

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Oh we Californians. We’re proud to talk about our beautiful beaches, mountains, deserts and diversity, but when the topic turns to politics, we deflate like a leaky balloon.

That’s because when you google “budget crisis,” you see a big picture of the Golden State with a black hole where Sacramento used to be. California was in terrible economic shape BEFORE the great recession hit. We even heard our Governor talk about closing state parks, selling the Del Mar Fairgrounds and racetrack, and other extreme measures to make up for the revenue shortfall. California is beyond broke, we’re in debt, big debt, all the way up to the top of our surfboards.

You know the cycle. Budget woes affect schools, school budgets effect teachers and students, and if your image is the one on the bottom of the educational totem pole (read, you’re a physical education teacher) you have to tolerate yet another battery of low blows to your professional mid-section. I’m embarassed to say, that a local, former Assembly-person, Mary Salas, was the ringleader for one of the worst physical education inspired ideas since picking teams for dodgeball. She drafted and tried to pass a bill (AB 351) that would allow high school students to take band, ROTC, cheerleading, et. al, in lieu of their PE requirement.

This concept was popular with some parents and students, who unfortunately, don’t know the difference between today’s physical education (a standards-based, progressive, sequential, and evaluated course of study) and physical activity. And it became painfully obvious Ms. Salas and her staff didn’t either. Either that or the idea of upsetting some influential parents was just too hard a stand to take. I personally spoke on the phone with one of her assistants, and while he listened to reason, I was quite certain his boss’s mind was made up.

My argument? Students are physically active (at times) in band, ROTC, and cheerleading, of course; but to draw a parallel to those programs and today’s physical education is simply wrong. It’s the equivalent of allowing students to take band instead of Math (after all, in band they march in formation, count the number of instruments?) or ROTC instead of Science (wait, guns are made of metals and consist of elements don’t they?) or cheerleading instead of English (but our students read and write routines, why would we make them read AGAIN for English class?). You get the idea.

Now look, we all love giving students choices, and ROTC, band, and cheerleading in and of themselves, should absolutely be a part of every high school’s program. There is no disrespect or devaluation here, I believe ALL learning and moving opportunities are important. It’s more an apples to oranges approach when you talk about equivalent substitutes. So while I agree 100% with Patrick Henry High students Dickerson and Szabo (Aug. 15, 2010 “Cheerleading isn’t physical? Get real.”) that cheerleaders are athletes and should receive the same support and opportunities as other athletes, I’m saying, athletics is to physical education as math is to science.

And, with the CA high school PE requirement already limited to freshman year — and one more before graduation — presenting more “opt out options” represents a move in the wrong direction. Students need MORE quality physical education daily; not less. Fortunately, Michelle Obama understands the link between childhood obesity and our rising high care costs.

So, what happened to the Salas bill? Logic and reason prevailed. The bill was killed. And what happened to Mary Salas? Let’s just say, good luck Juan Vargas.

Well, California is a great place to live. We still have our budget crisis, our crazy politicians, a Governor who has trouble pronouncing our state, but that’s OK. When cornered, our people pull together, fight the madness, and do what’s best for our kids. Let’s all hope we have a few parks and pennies to leave them when our latest financial mess is behind us.

-Paul Rosengard