Archive for March, 2011

2011 PEP Grant Update & Helpful Tips

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

As we wait for the 2011 PEP Grant competition to be announces here are a few tips to help you prepare.

Update 3/29/11: Applications for the 2011 PEP Grant announced! Click Here for the application.

  • Review last year’s guidelines: Rumor has it that very little will change for this year’s competition. However, be sure you understand that they COULD change. We don’t recommend completing an entire application based on last year’s grant. However, we do recommend that you prepare for all aspects of last year’s guidelines.  Click here to check out the guidelines:
  • Know and understand what you are required measure.  The federal government required detailed and accurate reporting by winning applicants.  Be sure to address each of the required measures in your objectives as well as your evaluations.
  • Go for the bonus points!  Be sure to include a well-outlined plan for collecting BMI data.  Your superintendent will need to be on board and signatures will be required.  However, this could be the difference between a winning grant and an application that almost wins. Likewise, gather your programming partners, like other health organizations, your food service staff or local youth organizations.  A written and signed collaborative agreement can also score you much need bonus points.
  • This last tip continues to be critical to winning PEP Grants: Know your needs and be able to prove them through documentation and assessment information. In your application, clearly outline where your program can improve and how PEP funding will make those improvements. Prove that you’ve done your homework by utilizing available assessment tools like the School Health Index, PECAT and HECAT. Always address local, state and national standards.

Hopefully you’ve prepared up to this point, and already have much of the information you need to craft your winning application.  SPARK knows and understands what it takes to be a part of a winning PEP Grant proposal.  To date, more than 100 PEP grants have been awarded to organizations that chose to implement SPARK curriculum/training and equipment!

Contact a SPARK representative for a free cost proposal and for help writing SPARK into your grant submission. We want to make it easy for you to implement SPARK and improve the quality and quantity of PE/PA at your site(s).

Big Ideas for Small Spaces

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Whether it be inclement weather or the usual activity area is unavailable, this teaching tip is for those times when the only choice of space for physical education is a classroom or other small area. We understand teaching physical activity in a limited space is a challenge. Consider yourself a teaching marvel if you can create a movement environment that is safe, active, and fun under such conditions. When this happens, it is easy to get discouraged and just show a movie, provide a writing assignment or give students give free time.  But there are still opportunities to keep students active in less than ideal conditions.

Keep your eyes open for places and times that might better accommodate you. Can you use the cafeteria in the morning, or toward the end of the day? Can you borrow the gym or music room during an off period? Can you set up stations along 2 hallways, and stand at the corner so you can monitor both? If your only choice is having to make it work in a small space, remember the goal is to provide a dose of much needed movement in a safe manner.  Go over indoor PE expectations with your students. Just as if you were managing a class outside, the same SPARK teaching tips apply (established stop signal, concise directions with “when before what,” etc.).

Once you have found your space attempt to adapt or modify activities within the unit you are teaching. If that is not possible try the fun and active Space Savers and other lessons from the SPARK Limited Space Unit. The key is to be creative, flexible, and have fun!

2011 AAHPERD National Convention in San Diego

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

All of us at SPARK are very excited the 2011 AAHPERD National Conference is in San Diego this year! Make sure to visit the SPARK booth to see the latest and greatest, and you won’t want to miss these presentations:

1. Exergame Workshop: Oceans of Opportunities Active Games 4 Better Health:

Presented by: Aaron Hart

Tuesday, March 29, 2011: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM

Hilton Bayfront: Sapphire Ballroom CDGH

2. Are You Floating or Sinking on Lake Wellness?

Presented by: Julie Frank and Vickie James

Wednesday, March 30, 2011: 8:15 AM-10:00 AM

Convention Center: Room 29A

3. Your P.E.T. Project – Physical Education Technology

Presented by: Aaron Hart

Friday, April 1, 2011: 8:45 AM-10:00 AM

Convention Center: Ballroom 20D

4. Aristotle said, “Philosophize AND Exercise”

Presented by: Julie Green, John Hichwa, Aaron Hart and Paul Rosengard

Friday, April 1, 2011: 10:15 AM-12:15 PM

Convention Center: Ballroom 20A

5. Wanna be a Tech-guru but Can’t Turn on Your Computer?

Presented by: Paul Rosengard, Patty Lanier, John Hichwa and Aaron Hart

Saturday, April 2, 2011: 10:15-11:30AM

Convention Center: Ballroom 20A

6. Physical Education’s Role in Public Health: A 20-Year Retrospective

Presented by: James Sallis and Thom McKenzie

Friday, April 1, 2011: 4:00 PM-5:15 PM

Convention Center: Room 26B

We hope to see YOU in SPARK’s hometown!

300 Florida Middle Schools Implement SPARK

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

The Florida Department of Health has partnered with the Florida Department of Education to bring SPARK Middle School Physical Education (MS PE) to 300 Middle Schools throughout the state.

Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “Communities Putting Prevention to Work” (CPPW) Cooperative Agreement, the Florida Middle School Physical Activity Project (MSPAP) is designed to implement sustainable research and standards-based physical education in all public Florida middle schools.

Florida Middle School sites will be some of the first schools ever to be trained in the new 2011 SPARK MS PE Program. Each site will receive research-based SPARK curriculum, training and equipment, as well as SPARK’s lifetime follow-up support.

SPARK is extremely excited to be a part of this project and have the opportunity to make a positive impact on the health and wellness of so many middle school students throughout the state of Florida!

For more information on MSPAP please contact Nichole Wilder at or (850) 245-0813 or Anna Holihan at or (850) 245-0881.

For more information on SPARK please visit

Help Save the PEP Grant!

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Each year, the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) awards millions of dollars to schools and community-based organizations to initiate, expand, and improve physical education programs.

Funding for PEP is in serious danger and could be eliminated. Although the most recent Federal budgets (which did not include money for PEP) were not approved, there is still a good chance the final budget will not include funds set aside for PEP .

What can you do to help save PEP?
  1. Click Here to Send a letter to Congress today & show your support
  2. Click Here to download the “I Support the PEP Grant” button image (see below) to use on Facebook,Twitter, on your website, in flyers, and anywhere else you can think of!

Click Here for more information on the 2011 PEP Grant…

Physical Educators: Team or Group… What do YOU Think?

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Forward by Paul Rosengard

Over the years, physical education has been inextricably linked with athletics and “assigned” its own, unique vernacular:

“Drop and give me 20!”  “You throw like a girl.” “Take another lap around the track.”  “Winners always watch Glee and losers tape Sportscenter.”  OK, I made that last one up – but it’s really just as silly and wrong as the previous three examples…

If you know SPARK, you may have recognized that we make a conscience effort to change the way we (physical educators) speak to their students.  We suggest using ahead or behind — instead of winner and loser.  Loops around a health circuit — instead of laps around a track.  Anything to separate today’s physical education, from the clichés associated with the “old” PE.

Recently, we started discussing whether it’s better to use the words group and groupmates, instead of team and teammates – even with high school age students.  Not surprisingly, we had some differing opinions, so I thought it would be good to solicit the opinions of others.  Joe Herzog made the time to share his thoughts and I am appreciative.  He graciously agreed to let SPARK print his words and they’re featured below.  Thanks for making the time to read it – and then let us know what YOU think? Agree or disagree? Let’s keep the conversation going in Facebook and Twitter as well…

Blog Article:

It was less difficult for me and my colleagues to divest ourselves of the term “team” because we restructured our curriculum making it greatly devoid of the traditional “team” games. The only “Team” game I played was “Ultimate Frisbee” and even then it was a four goaled game in which teams didn’t actually exist.  It was our goal to turn away from the traditional “team competition” concept and guide our students toward a more intrinsic, self motivated personal change “competition.” Working with inner-city kids who had huge allegiances to professional sports teams, it was at first a challenge, but as personal improvement, personal challenges, self-investigation and cooperatives became fun, challenging and introspective, we saw fundamental changes in attitudes and behaviors.

Thus we knew that it was possible to run a viable, successful program without being, or without essentially using “team” in any of the common concepts. We used “groups”, “families”, “buddies up” and “brothers ‘n sisters” with some co-ed groups. Actually all of our groups were co-ed and that as well made it somewhat easier to move away from the traditional team sport competition concept and go to dual and individual challenges and personal goals and improvement.

We did discuss, with our students, the difference between physical education and athletics; how and why they were different and why learning and developing specific skills and learning how to work together was of significant benefit to them IF they chose to participate in athletics. Something must have worked, because in the fourth year of our new school (from a 9th grade only to a 7-8 middle school) our athletic participation more than doubled.

We discussed with our students why cooperation worked better in the workplace than competition; that competition between businesses was a natural and often unspoken outcome in the fight to gain economic advantage, but that within the business itself, cooperative effort toward a common goal made for better products, a better working environment and a more successful business, which usually meant more profit and better working condition for workers.

Our philosophy was that a confident, knowledgeable student, at ease with who he/she was could move forward into intra-murals or into athletic competition and work well with others and not be afraid to make extra effort or not be afraid to fail because they recognize what those concepts meant in the whole process of health/fitness, challenge and successful group outcomes. The use of the term “team” in intra-murals is a natural outcome of the iconic status of team sports in the United States (and world wide, as well). Curiously we didn’t have much of an intra-mural program (mostly at lunch) because the vast majority of our kids either went out for a sport team or they were in the classroom after school being tutored, under going remediation, being counseled or they went directly home and had to baby sit younger siblings.

We tried to produce a program that was both physically and intellectually challenging to our kids, to provide them with a curriculum (and a fair amount of choice in activities–in a carefully constructed program) that they enjoyed and we made it as cross-curricular as we could so kids could connect P.E. with the classroom. That concept worked well because we had an admin. and a “classroom” teaching staff that bought into the concept.

Getting away from the team competition concept and the use of the term “team” in fairly short order was not difficult. It certainly served our program and our students (and the community at large, it seems) quite well. As our students bonded our suspension/expulsion, one of the highest in the district dropped to 3rd lowest and our attendance went from one of the worst to just short of the best (with crime in the neighborhood dropping significantly, at the same time.) I’m not suggesting we did all of this ourselves. There was a world of help and cooperation (there’s that word again) from a variety of on and off campus resources, but we think our philosophy provided the initial impetus to get it all started.


Joseph E. Herzog, Neurokinesiologist
Chair, Region 28, CAHPERD
Pres. Fresno Alliance for Phys. Educ./Athletics
Senior Advisor, Fit4learning
2010 CAHPERD Honor Award

“You can learn more about a person in an hour of play, than in an year of conversation.” Plato