Archive for August, 2011

Thoughts on Classroom Management from a Seasoned PE Teacher

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

This last Wednesday we hosted a webinar on Classroom Management Strategies for Physical Education (if you didn’t watch it Click Here to view the recording) and had over 700 people participate.

One of the great things about sharing strategies and techniques with so many passionate educators is that we sometimes hear back from other teachers that wish to share their own ideas. We recently received an email from one attendee who had some advice on what’s worked for her in the past, and we wanted to share them with you.

The thoughts/strategies below are from Karen Bagby, a Physical Education Teacher at Garner Elementary in North Liberty, Iowa:

  • The “when before what” is critical.  This is one of those teaching tips a new student teacher learns fast!
  • Instead of sending out a letter to all parents in my school, I put a blurb in the first school-wide newsletter.
  • I emphasize that when disciplining a child, talk and treat them as “if a parent is standing right beside that child”.  Makes you really think about what you are doing and saying.
  • I do utilize a “behavior ticket” for that “new student” who doesn’t yet quite have the expectations mastered.  The child fills out the ticket and what happened, as well as the teacher, and then I “file it” in my office.   I tell the student I will keep it as long as things improve.  If not, I will send it home and confer with the parents.  Have only had to do 2 over many years and neither went home.
  • A child who has continual “challenges” has a secret signal with me (could be just eye contact with me touching my ear lobe).  That lets the student know he needs to settle down or remember expectations.
  • The teacher needs to be upbeat and have a great attitude and BELIEVE in what he/she is teaching!  Kids are motivated by our enthusiasm and daily attitudes.  Also, music is a HUGE motivator!!!!  I play music with almost every lesson…..
  • Plan modifications ahead of time for your special needs students.  They deserve success at their level.  Also, get their input ahead of time for suggestions for up and coming lessons…..
  • Concerning time-outs, I do this, too.  But, I do NOT go over to the student.  He/she must come to me and tell me he/she is ready to get back into the activity.  That way, I am not giving the student any attention for negative behavior.  Should he/she choose to remain “out” for the remainder of the class period, we do chat before dismissal.  My system:  first infraction is a warning, 2nd is a time-out, 3rd is time-out for the class period (our classes are 25min.).  should it happen often, a behavior ticket goes into place.  Any physical contact, principal involvement – zero tolerance.
  • I have a “reward system” I have used for years and years.  Super effective.  Class calendars and traveling trophies.  At the end of each class, the class signals (0,1, or 2) with their fingers how we did following our guidelines.  If great, a 2 goes on their calendar.  After the “calendar” is completed (would take a month with all 2’s to fill it), it comes down and a new one goes up.  A trophy goes to the classroom teacher’s desk for a week.  I actually travel about 12 trophies!  Kids will live up to your expectations and want to please!  At the end of the year, 2 classes (1 for 3-6 and 1 from K-2), those who got the most stamps on their calendars, get a “pe party of favorite activities, a healthy snack, school-wide recognition, and certificates for home!
  • I never use drinks as a reward.  They all should always get them, in my opinion, when they need one (which is at the end of class).  Instead, kids love to please and I have come up with many, many hand/body “gives” (such as the sprinkler, motorcycle, firecracker, etc. to celebrate accomplishments/showing great behavior/kindness that happen throughout each lesson.
  • I also like to challenge kids at the beginning of lessons to such as let’s see how many of you can say 3 nice things to 3 different people?  How many of you can share the balls with others?  How many different friends can you  untag during the course of this game?  Then, recognize those you did with a show of hands and a hand jive!  Sometimes, I have kids point to those who helped them out.  Always, with partner activities, they do high-fives and or friendly knuckles,  or the like…

SPARK Names GeoMotion Group Newest Recommended Resource!

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

SPARK is proud to announce a partnership with GeoMotion Group, a leading fitness and learning company based in Orlando, Florida.

GeoMotion Group, now a SPARK “Recommended Resource”, was founded in 2002 by Dr. Debby Mitchell, Ed.D., a retired Associate Professor at the University of Central Florida. Dr. Mitchell started GeoMotion because of her passion to get children more physically active while learning.

Dr. Mitchell adds, “As a former teacher of pre-service physical educators, I utilized the SPARK program and recommended it to practicing teachers.  It is an outstanding program and we are very excited to form a partnership.”

GeoMotion Group provides fun, safe and easy methods and products to encourage learning, physical activity and fitness. GeoFitness, Dance and Learnercise products are movement-based products and curriculum that are developmentally appropriate, easy to use, and cost effective to increase fitness and academic achievement.

From pre-school to active seniors – GeoMotion Group offers a variety of programming including:

  • Nutrition Education
  • Active Learning with Learnercise for early childhood
  • Children’s Choreography, Integrated Academics and Games
  • Hip Hop, Partner and Latin Dance
  • Cardiovascular Activities including Aerobics & Kickboxing
  • Functional Integrated Training and Fitness circuits
  • Athletic – including Speed and Agility, Plyometrics (GeoMetrix) and Sport Specific Training
  • Fitness after Fifty

Click Here to browse or purchase our featured GeoMotion products.

For more information on GeoMotion please visit

What is Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Program?

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

let's-moveThe First Lady, Michelle Obama, decided to use her influential position to help create and promote a program that could potentially take a massive step in the right direction for controlling the childhood obesity epidemic. The “Let’s Move” program has the First Lady, pop stars, large corporations, healthcare providers, and most importantly, schools all supporting the cause. Let’s Move encourages a healthier diet in and out of school, better food labeling, and increased daily physical activity for children.

Let’s Move strives to get the entire community involved to promote a healthy lifestyle and fun physical activities including being active in the community, in school, and with family. The combination of healthy food choices and physical activity is what Task Force on Childhood Obesity has stated as the best strategy for tackling the epidemic.

Let’s Move – 5 Simple Steps

  1. Move Everyday: A minimum of 60 total minutes of physical activity per day for every single kid will get them moving in the right direction. They will feel better, be less stressed, more attentive in school, and get a better night sleep, all because of one hour of physical activity.
  2. Try a New Fruit or Veggie: There are thousands of fruits and vegetables available that most kids have never tried. Fruits and veggies are vital for a healthy diet and kids can have more fun eating them by trying new things. Let the child come grocery shopping and pick out their own fruits and veggies to try, turning a healthy lifestyle into something fun for them. Challenge the kids to make the most colorful salad possible which will increase the amount of nutrients they will get from it.
  3. Drink Lots of Water: Stop stocking the house with soda and increase the consumption of water. Only purchase 100% real fruit juice. If the kids want something similar to a soda then add a splash of juice into some sparkling water.
  4. Do Jumping Jacks to Break up TV Time: The statistics for how much television kids watch per day is sickening but is also a good opportunity to make some big changes. TV has a lot of negative side effects, but those can be stymied by doing jumping jacks during commercial breaks and in between shows. Same thing goes for kids that spend all day on the computer, have them run up and down the stairs, do sit-ups or push-ups, stretch, or come up with their own physical activities to break up the time in front of a computer screen.
  5. Help Make Dinner: Plan the daily dinner menu with the kids and have them help decide and do the shopping with you. If it is a made into a fun experience that they have control over, they will not just learn about making healthy choices, they will be excited to do so.

Staying Active

  • With the Family: The family has the largest influence on the child’s lifestyle and could easily plan a fun active hobby or daily activity that kids will be excited to do when they come home from school. A few ideas include giving the kids toys that promote moving such as balls, kites, and jump ropes, encourage kids to join a sports team, create a family park day a few days per week, and even make some house rules like no sitting still during TV commercials.
  • At School: Schools have an amazing opportunity to both teach the kids about the importance of physical activity and also let the kids be active with all of their friends. The most effective way to promote activity at school is through a strong P.E. program where 50% of the class time is spent doing vigorous activity. The programs should have a variety of options for kids and should be a fun environment rather than a forced exercise regime. They will burn twice the calories when they are having fun and are more likely to transfer over the daily school activity habits into their lifestyle.
  • In the Community: The entire community should get involved in helping to reduce childhood obesity. The community could dedicate some funds to building and improving parks and playgrounds, creating safe trails for kids, and getting the kids involved in outdoor environmental programs.

SPARK: Countering Childhood Obesity Since 1989

SPARK is a research-based organization that disseminates evidence-based Physical Education, After School, Early Childhood, and Coordinated School Health programs to teachers and recreation leaders serving Pre-K through 12th grade students.
Each SPARK program strives to foster environmental and behavioral change by providing a coordinated package of highly active curriculum, on-site teacher training, extensive follow-up support, and content-matched equipment.
Since 1989, SPARK has provided curriculum, training, and consultation to over 100,000 teachers and youth leaders, representing many thousands of schools, organizations, and agencies worldwide.
On our website, you can download sample lesson plans, find grant opportunities for YOUR program, and register for FREE educational webinars and monthly eNewsletters.

photo courtesy of: Amanda Bossard/Medill News Service

9 Physical Activities You Can Do With Your Children to Keep them Healthy

Friday, August 12th, 2011

children playing outside

Teaching your kids the benefits of living a healthy and active lifestyle is extremely important for both their current and future health. But, as any parent knows, it can sometimes be quite a challenge. Forcing kids to participate in activities they don’t enjoy can cause them to rebel and despise the exact principals you are trying to teach them. Instead, focus on planning fun physical activities that the kids will love doing for even many hours per day. There are hundreds of fun options that will get kids interested in physical activity and exercise; you just have to get motivated to join them in the process.

1. Tag Games: Classic games that kids get into often have some sort of tag component. From basic freeze tag, sardines, to the basic hide and go seek. Just freeze tag will get your kids running more in one game than they normally would all week long. The more people you get involved the better, so invite the entire neighborhood.

2. Organizing games with friends: Even if your kids play organized sports, it is still fun for them to have a pickup game with all of their family and friends. Call up your family friends and organize a weekly football, baseball, or soccer game where all ages can get their daily activity plus more. You will realize how good of a workout it is once your pickup games have lasted 2-3 hours and you are exhausted.

3. Geocaching (Hiking): Hiking is a great way for the family to get outdoors and exercise. When you go on a hike, you don’t even realize how much of a workout it is until you are back at home later in the day and your entire body is sore. To make it more fun for kids, buy a GPS and join a geocaching club that hides small caches for people to find. Sometimes the hike can take an hour and sometimes it may take six; there are fun geocaching hikes for all ages and athletic abilities.

4. Water Sports: If you live near the beach or a lake, that could be one of the most exciting ways for your kids to stay fit while doing something they love. It could be surfing, body boarding, swimming, skim boarding, inner tubing, or just playing around with their friends on the beach. There are plenty of opportunities to get in shape at the beach.

5. Bike Riding: An obvious choice that is often overlooked is just to grab the bikes and head out on a nice ride as an entire family. Set some goals such as a distance, time, or destination to make it new and exciting every time.

6. Play Frisbee: People forget how much fun playing Frisbee is and the physical benefits from tossing around a disc. You can get a game of ultimate Frisbee going, head to a disc golf course, or just throw it around amongst the family. Either way, you are guaranteed to get some exercise.

7. Wide Games: There are many versions of wide games that usually involve a treasure hunt, seizure of a treasure, or land conquering games. Kids can create their own unique version or stick with classics like cops and robbers. Games like these that they can play in the community will get everyone involved and always be a lot of fun while simultaneously providing some exercise.

8. Indoor Active Toys: Just because winter has ruined the great outdoors for your family doesn’t mean you don’t still need to be physically active every day. Pick up some things like hula hoops, jump ropes, twister, mini trampoline, or Dance Dance Revolution. Even some modern video games are created to get the entire family active indoors.

9. Racing: The most basic human instinct is still a ton of fun for kids. You can run, bike ride, roller blade, skateboard, or whatever it is that is most fun for the people involved. The goal is simple, get from the starting line to the finish line before everyone else. Make some prizes for the winners and get kids racing against each other for fun. They won’t even realize you are tricking them into running on a daily basis.

9 Physical Activities You Can Do With Your Children to Keep them Healthy

“Grades Grate on Me”: Thoughts on Assigning Grades for Physical Education

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

If you want to make some tough, grizzled, veteran physical educators cower like puppies, just ask them, “How do you assign grades?”

For many, grading continues to be a mystery unsolved.  Why?  Because good grading is based on obtaining evidence!  Prove it counselor – “Tell me why my sweet little Brittany got a “C” in PE. “

So, you see where we’re going here.  Now, let’s consider a few variables related to grading:

1. Report cards: Have you ever seen two the same?  Every district has their own format, style, parameters and protocols for grading.  Some allow one grade for physical education (e.g., Scholarship??  Does that even apply to our profession?) while others have two and add citizenship.  But there are many variations on this theme.

2. Mission statement: Does your department have one?  If not, Click Here for a helpful article on why you need one and how to begin drafting it Everything you do should align with your mission statement, including your system for assigning grades.

3. Standards: Do you use National Standards; or does your state have PE standards; or even your district?  If you’re using a standards-based approach to instruction, then your grading is based on how/what your students achieve and/or their progress towards those standards.  Assessment is a critical component to demonstrate student learning of a standard(s).  Then, selecting the activities that will help them improve their fitness, skills, and movement related knowledge so they will be successful when assessed.  So, mystery solved!  Change your sequence to this easy 1, 2, 3.  And let’s play a little baseball while we review:

  • First Base:  Lead with the Standard.  What do you want your students to know and be able to do at the end of their (e.g., 3rd grade year)?
  • Second Base:  Select your Assessment.  What tool and/or style will you use to demonstrate student achievement/progress toward that standard?
  • Third Base:  Choose a sequenced pathway of lessons to develop the movement skills they need to be successful.
  • Bring it Home:  Develop a grading system that converts assessment scores to a numeric value, then to a letter grade.

4. Example: I began teaching future teachers how to teach physical education at UCSD (University of California, San Diego) in 1996 and continued for 11 years.  When I developed my syllabus, I created a grading scale that reflected my philosophy and was as objective as possible.  The course was lecture and lab, but I placed heavy emphasis on the lab and moving – a lot.  At its core, not that dissimilar to a physical education class at any level.  Here’s the section of the syllabus that pertains to grading:


Attire:  To ensure student safety, proper activity shoes (non-scuff, rubber-soled, and firmly attached to the foot) must be worn during activity periods.  Comfortable and loose fitting clothing (shorts and casual shirt, warm-up suits, sweat suits) are mandatory.  For religious or medical reasons, safe, loose fitting slacks may be worn.

Food and drink:  It is recommended that students drink liquids prior to class and bring water to class.  For student safety, chewing gum or consuming food and/or beverages is not permitted during class.

Participation:  As class sessions involve laboratory experiences that cannot be replicated, attendance and active participation are imperative.  Students are expected to:  attend each lecture and lab (and stay for the duration), arrive on time and dressed for movement (see “Attire”), and be ready and willing to participate in class discussions and activities.  Students should arrive to class with appropriate materials to take detailed notes.

Each class meeting, students may earn up to 5 points. Students earn 2.0 points for coming to class on time (by 10:35am), 2.0 points for their active participation and/or staying the entire session, and 1 point for wearing athletic shoes and proper clothing for physical activity.  It is each student’s responsibility to sign in and out each session.

Students with excessive absences (3 or more) will fail the course.

Assignments:  Students are expected to complete assignments on time.

a.  Two papers worth 25 points each:  22 = content; 3 = grammar/spelling/typo’s.

b.  Two school observation papers worth 25 points each:  22 = content; = 3 grammar/spelling/typo’s.

c.  Two peer teach days worth 25 points each.

Assignments are due when asked for during class.  Reports turned in after this request (but during class that day) will have 10% of the possible points deducted.  Assignments not submitted until the beginning of the next class will lose 20%.  No assignment will be accepted more than one class period late.

d.  A comprehensive portfolio of work will be due near the end of the quarter. The portfolio should consist of all handouts, assignments, student work, *article reflections and **key points writing tasks. The portfolio is worth up to 50 points.

e.  **Key Points Writing:  Students are responsible to write their thoughts on the most important content and instructional strategies presented in class.  This process assists each student in organizing notes and helps create a study guide for examinations.  This assignment must be typed and should not exceed 1 page double-spaced.

f. *Article Reflection:  Each week an article will be provided for students to read/summarize.  This 1/2 page/typed reflection on the article’s content should specifically mention what value the article has in terms of practical application for either students or parents.

Test:  There will be one examination, (pop quizzes for extra points may be given) scheduled during finals week.  It is the student’s responsibility to contact the instructor to make up the final examination due to absence.


The grading scale in TEP 109 is based upon a point system.  A total of 300 points is possible.

Grading scale:

90-100% = A =                    270-300  (270-275 = A-; 290-300 = A+)

80-89% = B =                      240-269  (240-245 = B-; 260-269 = B+)

70-79% = C =                      210-239  (210-215 = C-; 230-239 = C+)

60-69% = D =                      180-209  (180-185 = D-; 200-209 = D+)

Below 60% = F =               below 180

Grading parameters:

Participation:                     50 points (5 per class meeting)

School observations:      50 points (25 each)

Peer teaching:                   50 points (25 each)

Papers (2):                          50 points (25 each)

Portfolio:                             50 points

Final examination:           50 points

Total:                                    300 points possible

So what do you see?  No negative points.  All points are positive even those related to class attendance, timely arrival, appropriate dress, etc.  Students earn them or they don’t.

They know all along exactly how they’re doing in class.  Students earn their points, at the end they’re totaled, and a grade has been earned.  I could say, “I don’t assign grades, I just add the points YOU earn.”

Of course, not all the components of this example will work for you.  However, consider the concepts, and if you like them, how might you make them applicable for your classes?  Your students?

Now if a parent comes to you and asks, “Why did my Brittany receive a “C” in PE?  You’ve got your answer ready.