Archive for September, 2017

Does Your Physical Education Program Meet Federal Guidelines? [QUIZ]

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

Are you a witness to fitness at your school? Take our quiz to see if you clear the hurdle.

SportFIT 201

Monday, September 11th, 2017

Group of young girls spinning on bicycles in gym

By: Dr. Derek J. Mohr & Dr. J. Scott Townsend, Appalachian State University

Welcome back! In our last blog, SportFIT 101, we provided an overview of SportFIT, which is SPARK’s High School PE high intensity, sport-like training program located on In this blog, we will showcase the SportFIT unit by sharing resources and tips to help you successfully implement this unit in your own program.

SportFIT Unit Overview

To foster an experience that is authentic, personally meaningful and fun, the SportFIT unit is formatted like a season. The season sequence is outlined below:


  • Personal Best: Presidential Youth Fitness Program health-related fitness pre-assessment
  • Fun-day-mentals Jigsaw: Students learn and teach each other functional fitness moves


  • Basic Training: five lessons, each with exercises to master and a workout to perform
  • Create Your Own: Students design their own SportFIT workouts
  • Adventure Race: SportFIT teams cooperate to complete a series of fitness challenges


  • SPARK Event: Culminating experience designed to bring the unit to a festive end

SportFIT Resources

Like all SPARK HS units, SportFIT is comprised of user-friendly activity plans, instructional materials and assessments. SportFIT addresses SHAPE National PE Standards 1-5.

  1. Activity Plans

SPARK SportFIT Activity Plans follow a step-by-step process to ensure students and teachers are successful. For example, Basic Training Activity Plans include four steps:

Step 1. ASAP. Students begin the day by completing previously mastered functional fitness moves as an Active Soon As Possible warm-up.
Step 2. Basic Training. Students practice, master and assess one another on the day’s exercises.
Step 3. SportFIT Workout Challenge. Students complete a workout using one of three formats: How many? How fast? How heavy?

  1. Instructional Materials

SPARK provides all necessary resources to support the successful implementation of activity plans.

1. Content Cards. Provides pictures and cues for each exercise.
2. Practice Plans. Includes sequential learning tasks and teaching tips for student coaches.

  1. Authentic Assessment

Multiple authentic assessments are provided in the SportFIT unit. An example of one such assessment is the SportFIT Performance Log. As part of daily practice during Basic Training, students are challenged to master the assigned primary exercise (PX), using the log to evaluate form, safety and etiquette. In addition, students calculate an estimated 1-repetition maximum weight for the PX. This assessment process engages students and makes learning more personally meaningful.

SportFIT Teaching Tips

Use the tips below to promote movement competence and confidence in SportFIT, giving students yet another great option for leading an active lifestyle.

  • Maximize Activity. Avoid waiting time by staging teams at different exercise stations.
  • Safety is Critical! Monitor students at all times to ensure safety cues are followed.
  • Technique is Key! Require students to use lighter weights until they master technique.
  • Modify Exercises. Match activities to students’ fitness levels and increase difficulty as students progress.

Get Equipped

Share Your Knowledge

Have you taught a unit similar to SportFIT? What’s your experience? Any tips or hints you could share? Post a response below and let us know!

Current SPARKfamily members with High School access can find the new SportFIT unit under High School Web-Based Units. If you are not a current SPARKfamily member, you will receive 3-year access to the digital content when you purchase a SPARK High School curriculum set.

7 Tips for Getting the Most Out of a Small PE Class

Thursday, September 7th, 2017

small PE class

Managing a big PE class can be tough, but dealing with a smaller one presents its own unique set of obstacles. How do you scale down your lesson plan and adapt your approach if you find yourself teaching a divided class or move to a less-crowded school?

Fortunately, the challenges of lesson planning for a small PE class are greatly outweighed by the advantages for your students. Read on to discover why you should cherish a smaller class size, and how you can turn it to your advantage with exciting activities.

Small Classes, Big Benefits

A lower student-to-teacher ratio reduces the amount of class time lost to tasks like taking attendance and transitioning between activities, which can cost students as much as 21% of their in-class time.

With fewer classmates, each student gets more opportunities to practice activities and refine their skills, while spending less time standing around waiting for their next turn. The luxury of extra time with each student allows teachers to devote their energies to individualized instruction, enabling students to master skills faster and with reduced risk of injury.

If you’re used to teaching PE to larger classes, these 7 tips will help you ensure big fun with a small group:

1. Keep Up the Activities


Maximize time by getting your students involved in the traditionally non-active parts of the class. Try turning attendance into a challenge by asking students to jump on the spot until their names are called. You can also make setting up the next activity into a game of its own, so none of your PE lesson goes to waste.

2. Provide Personalized Instruction


A smaller class affords you more time to spend with each student. Consider assessing each child in advance to determine what they can do. This way, you can ensure personalized instruction, more suitable goals, and a better student-teacher relationship, which will boost engagement in PE classes.

3. Teach the Finer Points


Personal instruction is one of the best ways to teach mastery of a skill, while also encouraging kids to take responsibility for their own learning. Teach physical literacy and coach each student to fluency in a way that speaks to them as individuals. Not everyone needs to learn the same activity at the same time or pace – nor do they have to in a smaller and more flexible class.

4. Create Appropriate Teams


If your focus is on skill development, partner students of comparable abilities together so they can both learn from your feedback and coach each other. Shy students can be teamed up with consistent workout buddies to help them stay engaged and overcome any reluctance they might feel in a larger class. With a smaller class, you can get to know your students better and find out what works best for them.

5. Promote Cooperative Learning


Let your students work together to increase their self-confidence among other more specific skills. Simple games in which participants collaborate to accomplish tasks, like folding a tarp into various shapes, teach teamwork, cooperation, and problem-solving. What’s more, they’re ideal for smaller classes and limited space.

6. Scale Down Games


Many games designed for big groups can be easily pared down for smaller classes. Basketball, soccer, volleyball, and other sports are easily scalable and can take advantage of smaller spaces and limited equipment. Instead of defending two separate hoops or nets, for example, have both teams attempt to score on the same one. This turns a standard game into one of quick transition and possession.

7. Develop Knowledge Circuits


Set up a series of activity stations that each feature a unique task where movement to the next station is contingent on the completion of the objective. These stations can cover a variety of topics, including fitness, research, or skill development. Students can share knowledge and develop leadership skills, while helping one another complete the tasks as a group before advancing to the next challenge.

At SPARK, we work hard to create the best research-based physical education programs for kids from pre-K through grade 12. Discover our PE lesson plans for all ages and class sizes now.

SportFIT 101

Monday, September 4th, 2017

Three fit and beautiful young women lifting weights in a fitness club. Focus on the first girl in front.

By: Dr. J. Scott Townsend & Dr. Derek J. Mohr, Appalachian State University

SportFIT 101 is the first installment of a two-part blog series highlighting the latest SPARK High School web-unit: SportFIT.

Sport of Fitness

What would you get if you combined the best aspects of sport with the best aspects of fitness-based activities? You would get SportFIT!

SportFIT is SPARK’s high intensity, sport-like training program designed to improve each participant’s overall fitness. SportFIT relies on the unique characteristics of sport to motivate participants to fully engage in fitness-based activities, making the experience more authentic, personally meaningful and fun. For example, the SportFIT unit is configured like a sport season with pre- in- and post-phases, participants are called “athletes” and are part of a team, workouts are formatted as individualized, formal competitions, and the season ends with a festive culminating event to celebrate each athlete’s progress.

SportFIT Focus

In SportFIT, athletes address a wide range of fitness including:

  • Health-related: aerobic fitness, muscle endurance, strength and flexibility.
  • Skill-related: skill or task-specific fitness such as power, speed, balance, agility, etc.
  • Functional: daily-living fitness to perform activities like bending and lifting without fatigue.

SportFIT Workouts

Individualized workouts in SportFIT follow one of three formats:

  • How Many? A series of exercises is repeated as many times as possible in a set amount of time.
  • How Fast? Defined sets and reps of multiple exercises are completed as quickly as possible.
  • How Heavy? Defined sets and reps of one exercise using heaviest weight possible while maintaining proper form is completed.

Types of Exercises

SportFIT workouts include any or all of these types of exercises:

  • Cardio: performed for extended time; rope jump, running, cycling, rowing, etc.
  • Bodyweight: uses own weight for resistance; push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, lunges, etc.
  • Weight-based: uses equipment for resistance; kettlebells, medicine balls, dumbbells, etc.

Get Your FIT On!

Stay tuned for SportFIT 201, where we will showcase the SPARK HS SportFIT unit, sharing strategies and resources to help you successfully implement this unit in your own program.

Share Your Experience!

What are your experiences using or participating in the sport of fitness? What advice would you give to someone who is planning to implement this type of unit for the first time? Post a response below and let us know!

Current SPARKfamily members with High School access can find the new SportFIT unit under High School Web-Based Units. If you are not a current SPARKfamily member, you will receive 3-year access to the digital content when you purchase a SPARK High School curriculum set.