Archive for July, 2017


6 Strategies for PE Teachers to Stay Inspired Over Summer

Thursday, July 27th, 2017

PE teachers

Summer break isn’t just a great opportunity for your students to relax, enjoy some sunshine, and come back to the classroom feeling refreshed. Summer is also a great time for you, the teacher, to discover new and effective ways of expanding your skills, updating your lesson plans, and acquiring resources for the year ahead.

It’s hard to understate the importance of a good physical education program. In an era where children are becoming progressively less active, today’s physical educators need to be constantly searching for new ways to get youngsters involved in healthy habits. From attending conferences to earning a new certification, we’ll cover 6 inspiring ways that you can prepare for the new school year.

1. Pinpoint Areas to Improve

The first step in upgrading your PE program involves looking back over the previous school year and considering both your accomplishments and challenges. Chances are you’ll find at least a few lesson plans that need improvement. While these plans might only need a little tweaking to meet with the modern standards of active education, consider looking into new resources and tools that you can use to upgrade the experience for your students.

While you’re researching resources, try to go beyond the lesson and think about other ways you can promote a healthier lifestyle for the children you teach. For instance, could you get parents involved and ask them to follow up with PE concepts at home?

2. Head to Conferences

Conferences, workshops, and networking events are still some of the best places for educators to expand their knowledge and make some crucial connections. During a conference, you could learn all about the latest health and fitness regulations in your area, and discover new ideas to get students moving.

Beyond the seminars and classes that might be available to teachers, you’ll also be able to build your knowledge through the conversations you have with other educators, who may even be able to give you some advice on where you can improve your lesson plans.

3. Watch TED Talks

TED talks aren’t just for scientists. Technology, Entertainment, and Design videos are an incredible resource for PE teachers who want to expand their knowledge and learn about the latest developments in the educational space. These talks come from teachers, CEOs, and even athletes, all sharing their insights into physical education.

One particularly good TED talk titled, “Run, Jump, Learn! How Exercise can Transform our Schools,” covers how exercise can raise test scores, reduce problems with behavior, and upgrade student wellbeing. This talk by Dr. John Ratey could give you the inspiration you need not only to enhance PE classes, but also to create a culture of physical health throughout your school.

4. Develop New Skills

Though PE teachers may be eager to learn new skills, it’s difficult to find the time for training in between classes and lesson plans. The summer represents the perfect opportunity for accessing new knowledge and skills, which will help upgrade your classroom environment.

You could read books about how to improve your teaching methods. Alternatively, you could learn about new activities you can then introduce into the classroom. You might also consider upgrading your knowledge of yoga, or learning about the different games played around the world.

5. Earn a New Certification

The best way to take your understanding of a new skill even further is to earn a new certification. PE teachers can use the free time they have during the summer to expand their own education and improve their resume. For instance, you might consider becoming a SPARK certified instructor.

Certified instructors with SPARK get the opportunity to engage in a short, yet effective period of intensive training, designed to improve early childhood lesson programs. After 12 hours of training, successful candidates are eligible for a graduate credit straight from San Diego State University.

6. Stay Informed

It’s safe to say that the world of education is constantly changing. As scientists and researchers discover new facts about the way children learn and the importance of physical activity in combination with cognition, it’s likely that the PE landscape will evolve too. The best way for educators to stay ahead of the curve is to make sure that they’re always reading the latest case studies, white papers, and articles in their industry.

The more you learn about the changing state of physical education, the more you can adapt your lesson plans accordingly. You can even collaborate with other teachers in your school to create an education plan that combines movement and academics more effectively.

Be Inspired this Summer

Summer is a great time for PE teachers to explore their skills, update their lesson plans, and expand their knowledge. In fact, every fall should be an opportunity to return to your school with more information than you had when you left for the summer break.

For more inspiration, check out our exciting lesson plans.

Updated Standards in Online SPARK Manuals

Friday, July 7th, 2017

SPARK_burst_graphic

One hallmark of the SPARK K-12 Physical Education programs is the alignment with National and State Physical Education standards. These standards help guide the planning, implementation, and assessment of student learning. With expectations mapped out, teachers can focus on learning targets designed to enhance student learning. By using a standards-based program, teachers can plan focused lessons to meet specific needs of students.

SPARK understands that teachers use a variety of standards – district, state or national standards – so a one-size-fits-all methodology doesn’t serve everyone’s diverse needs. Though possible, we also know it’s not efficient to sort through an exhaustive list of standards. To that end, we have flipped our standards alignment around to list the grade level outcomes so that you can now match the outcomes with your specific set of standards.

By listing the outcomes – divided into the three categories of Movement and Skills; Fitness; and Social and Personal – you can see that the lesson you are teaching is aligning with the standards you are looking to address in the day’s lesson. Now you are in the driver’s seat to choose the lessons that meet your specific standards!

The revised lessons with outcomes are available online today at SPARKfamily.org with your SPARK K-2, 3-6, Middle School, or High School PE subscription!

If you are not a current SPARKfamily member, you will receive 3-year access to the digital content when you purchase a SPARK PE curriculum set.

Summer Treats to Beat the Heat: 6 Healthy Snacks Your Kids Will Love

Wednesday, July 5th, 2017

kids eating healthy and refreshing juice popsicles

The summer heat can be tough to deal with, especially for kids who are running around in the hot sun all day. Coupling cool snacks with healthy treats can require a bit of creativity, but it’s not impossible to encourage healthy eating over the summer break. To help your kids cool down and stay hydrated, consider these six healthy snacks that are great on hot summer days.

Fruit Salad

Fruit salad is one of the easiest recipes to prepare during the summer. All it takes is some chilled mixed fruit, and it’s perfect for breakfast, lunch or a snack. There are practically no limits to fruit salad, whether you want to pair melon, strawberries and grapes together or even throw in a bit of chopped papaya, kiwi, blueberry or oranges. Toss in a bit of lemon juice to keep the fruit from browning, or add a bit of orange juice for extra flavor.

Frozen Juice Pops

Popsicles are a staple for hot summer days to help you cool down, but they’re usually packed with sugar. The healthy alternative is frozen juice pops. Simply blend your favorite fruits or vegetables together in a food processor, pour the liquid mixture into popsicle molds, and freeze. Not only does this cut out the added sugar, but these types of pops are full of other healthy nutrients — and your kids won’t know the difference.

Pineapple Sorbet

Another frozen treat that will help your kids cool down is this healthy sorbet recipe. Start with one pineapple and scoop out the flesh, placing it in a blender. Add two tablespoons of agave or maple syrup, one cup of water, and the juice from one lemon. Blend until smooth, and then freeze. Once frozen, let the mixture thaw slightly, and then blend it again until you reach a sorbet-like consistency. That’s it! For extra fun, you can serve the sorbet in a half of the pineapple shell. It’s a tasty chilled treat your kids will love.

Guacamole

Guacamole is an avocado dip that is packed with nutrients. It’s made by mashing avocados and combining them with lemon juice, chopped red onions, garlic, salt, black pepper and diced tomatoes. You can use it as a dip with whole grain corn chips, as a spread on sandwiches and wraps, or mixed with cooked egg yolks as an alternative to mayonnaise when making deviled eggs.

Potato Salad

Potato salad is a great way to pack vegetables into your diet during the summer. Because it’s so tasty, easy and nutritious, it’s perfect for family summer potlucks and barbecues. There are tons of potato salad recipes you can turn to, and many people are lucky enough to have a secret family recipe they use. Even if you’ve never made your own potato salad before, with potatoes, celery, onion and eggs, you just can’t go wrong.

Chicken Wraps

The great thing about wraps is that there are endless delicious and healthy combinations. A basic wrap starts with a tortilla, lettuce, cheese and chicken, with additional fillings such as onion, tomato, bell peppers and avocado. To make it even healthier, opt for high-fiber tortillas, spinach tortillas or whole grain tortillas. Try experimenting with hummus, spinach, cucumbers, corn and beans as you please. You can even swap out the chicken for other lean meats, fish, or vegetarian alternatives.

Getting your kids interested in healthy eating this summer doesn’t have to be hard work. With these summer recipes, your kids will be able to cool off while filling their bellies with something healthy and delicious.

What’s your go-to healthy summer snack?