Archive for the ‘PE teachers’ Category

PhysEdSummit 2015

Monday, August 17th, 2015

Dear Colleagues,

I want to share a personal experience with you.  This weekend, I stepped out of my comfort zone to present online at the #PhysEdSummit 3.0.  It was scary yet exciting all at the same time. The core team is so knowledgeable and helpful, and they really did put me at ease to present. There is a wide audience of passionate health and physical education professionals in the world presenting and willing to give their time, resources, and friendship to help move physical education forward.  While the conference was live on Saturday, the good work will continue long after!

We know the brain carries out four functions:  gathering information (sensory cortex), making meaning of information (back integrative cortex), creating new ideas from these meanings (front integrative cortex), and acting on those ideas (motor cortex) (Zull, 2003.)

So, here is how you can continue to be involved and keep the learning from the conference alive all year.  Visit the website and gather information!  Process it!  Then create new ideas on how you can use the information in your class or school; and finally, act …  Practice using the ideas as well as share the information.  Share the resources with your colleagues, administrators, superintendents, professors, friends, coaches and parents.  Maybe highlight one presentation each month all year long!  Regardless of how you do it, get involved and share your new concepts and ideas.  Then, present next year in the conference.

SPARK also has free resources to utilize, like our free webinars, free professional development app (free and paid content provided), the SPARK scope and sequence and completed alignment to national and state standards.  Visit us soon for a look!

Yours for Healthy Active Children,

Dr. Kymm Ballard

SPARK Executive Director

About the #PhysEdSummit

The #PhysEdSummit is a FREE online conference put on by PE professionals for PE professionals.

Mission: To provide digital professional learning opportunities for physical education professionals by sharing, discussing, and reflecting on best practices.

#PhysEdSummit 3.0 | August 15, 2015

Let’s Go Back to School with SPARKecademy!

Monday, August 10th, 2015

SPARK has a great new resource for teachers looking for ways to earn professional development credit hours.  As a physical education teacher, it can be difficult to find opportunities for professional development that apply to your content area.  I am sure you been forced to sit through countless hours of language arts and math workshops just to fill the time because districts rarely provide any kind of continuing education for their physical education/health teachers.

Here is where SPARK would like to help fill the void.  We hear what teachers are saying and we know the limitations of finding where/when to get your PD credit hours.  That is why we have created SPARKecademy.  Here you can earn your credit hours anytime, anywhere that you want. Sit on your couch, jump on in the middle of the night, even view it on your phone or tablet when you are running errands. is a web-based platform that provides an innovative menu of online courses for K-12 physical education teachers and health professionals. Courses include SPARK K-12 PE Workshops, timely topic monthly webinars, SPARK mini-units, podcasts, and technology/equipment tutorials.  We are building our library to provide resources for all 5 of our program areas; Physical Education, After School, Early Childhood, Classroom Activity & Recess, and Coordinated School Health.

Users receive a certificate of completion for each course and can track their professional development hours earned for the online courses as well as in-person sessions at SPARK workshops, and conference presentations.  Sign up your entire district and you can identify courses for your staff to take while being able to track and document their completed courses.  Sign up for your free account today! Go to or download the SPARKecademy app from the App Store or Google Play Store.

Learn more about SPARKecademy!

SPARK hosted a live webinar on August 19th to preview the resources available on the SPARKecademy website and learn how to set up your free account.

Click Here to view the recording of this free webinar.

More questions? Contact us at visit or contact us at


Recap: 2015 SPARK Institutes

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

Thank you to all 2015 Institute attendees!

Over 360 participants attended the SPARK Institutes in San Diego this summer.  We hosted two NEW Institutes – SPARKabc’s (Classroom Activity & Recess) and PE Technology.  The new Institutes were a big hit!  Thanks to everyone who attended these new trainings.

Here are the group shots for each Institute – stay tuned for 2016 Institute dates to be announced later this fall.


Early Childhood Institute 2015

After School Institute 2015

After School Institute 2015

PE Technology Institute 2015

PE Technology Institute 2015

SPARKabc's Institute 2015

SPARKabc's Institute 2015

K-6 Level 2 Institute 2015

K-6 Level 2 Institute 2015

K-2 PE Institute 2015

K-2 PE Institute 2015

3-6 PE Institute 2015

3-6 PE Institute 2015

Middle School PE Institute 2015

Middle School PE Institute 2015

High School PE Institute 2015

High School PE Institute 2015

5 Ways to Improve YOUR Health Before Summer

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

by Paul Rosengard

Spring is a time for renewal, and as the green leaves emerge and the weather improves we’re more motivated to be active outdoors.  So how do we press “Play” again after a long winter on “Pause?”  Here are 5 tips I hope you’ll find helpful:

1.  Goal Setting: If you are among the many millions of people who are currently doing very little or nothing in terms of weekly physical activity, you’ll likely benefit from setting a few goals.  Make an appointment with yourself and schedule movement into your life.  You wouldn’t miss a doctor’s appointment right?  So don’t miss that 15 min. you’ve set aside to walk around the block and back.  Every little bit counts – in fact studies have shown that being active in three, 10-minute increments provides nearly the same health benefits as a 30 min. session.

Goal setting should first involve specific days and times for activity.  Write it in your calendar; for example:  Wed. from noon-12:15.  Once you have a specific day and time in mind, write down what you plan to do.  Walk, ride a bike, swim, weight train, garden!  All movement is good movement and it all counts.  As you become consistent – moving a little (10 min.) to a lot (60 min.) almost every day of the week, then consider goals to increase your intensity over time so your heart rate is elevated (Are you breathing harder?  Can you feel your heart beating faster?) during some of your activity sessions.  Goals should be challenging, specific, and realistic. Can you set a physical activity goal that meets those parameters?  Give it a try!

2.  Start slowly: Everyone, young and old, should begin an activity program slowly, allowing our body’s time to acclimate to the change in frequency, intensity, time, and type of exercise (FITT principle).  For example, 6 months ago you were running 4-5 miles outside.  Then, winter arrived and you were confined to the great indoors, now using a treadmill or elliptical for your cardio workout.  Fast forward to Spring — you don’t want to throw open the door and hit the dusty trail!  Instead, re-start your running program slowly.  A good rule of thumb (or in this case, foot) is to begin at about 25%.  If you were doing an hour on the treadmill, try jogging for 15 min. – after an appropriate warm-up of course.  Gradually add 5 min. each run (as long as you’re feeling good and your body is cooperating) until you’re at or near the level you were before.

3.  Cross-Train: A lot of people lock in to the one thing they do, and their bodies lock in right with them.  Certainly, we need to do cardio for heart health and resistance training for skeletal health and muscle exertion.  So is a run every 2nd or 3rd day and a weight-training workout 2-3x a week the ideal?  It’s DARN great and if you’re doing it congrats!  And, let’s also think variety.  Mix up your cardio, different running routes (more hills, less hills) and different paces (how about some sprints once a week?).  If you’re in a health club or gym pushing weight on machines around, how bout mixing in some free weight exercises?  Try a TRX system?  Do a day of just body weight/resistance exercises?  It’s easy to get into a rut and keep repeating the same exercises at the same weight, same number of repetitions, in the same sequence.  Try not doing the same workout twice! Your body will respond differently too.  And don’t forget Yoga, Pilates, Body Pump and Zumba classes.  Videos available to check out at a library close to you too!  We have so many different and fun ways to be active and stay healthy and fit.  Viva la difference!

4.  Social Support: While some people are motivated and able to stay consistent with their exercise regimens, most of us benefit from being active with a friend.  If you’re one of these folks, recruit a workout buddy! When there’s someone else counting on you to carpool to a health club, or meet you at a trail for a jog, or rendezvous at a park to shoot some baskets or play tennis or just a game of catch, there’s a much better chance you won’t cancel your activity time.  Plus, you’ll have someone to give you feedback, spot you when you’re bench pressing, and maybe even encouraging you to try something new and different.

5.  Have Fun! As you become more active more opportunities will open up for you.  When was the last time (if ever) you played table tennis?  Badminton?  Pickleball?  These and other activities might be offered at a recreation center not far away.  Check out their schedules and see if there’s a class or league you can participate in and if it looks interesting and fun, sign up!  If you’re a member of a health club or gym, when was the last time you looked at their class schedule?  What about that spinning class you walk past from time to time?  Whatever you do to move, we know that if it’s fun you’ll want to do it more often.

I hope these 5 tips were helpful and you’ll become healthier and happier by making physical activity happen in your life!

Paul Scout 1

Early Childhood Teaching Tips: Physical Activity and Readiness Skills

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Connecting movement with readiness skills during physical activity plays an important role in the preschool environment.

To create an environment which integrates school readiness and physical activity, incorporate the following:


Use manipulatives of various basic colors.

Tips for Teaching Physical Activity and Readiness Skills


Use spot markers, hoops, and parachutes for circle recognition. Use ribbon hoops, scarves, and ropes to form shapes.


Provide opportunities to identify and use a variety of relationships with objects (e.g.; near/far, over/ under, on/off, around/through).


Body Part Identification

Provide opportunities to identify and use a various body parts.



Set up manipulatives in various patterns (i.e.,red, blue, red, blue or red-blue-blue, red-blue-blue) for children to identify basic patterns.


Use art to reinforce knowledge of colors, pathways, relationships, shapes, and sizes learned during physical activity.

Listening Skills

Provide opportunities to develop listening skills (i.e., start and stop signals, simple cues, and multi-step instructions).

For a sample SPARK physical activity lesson plan incorporating school readiness, Click Here.



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

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 Update 07/10: Physical Education and the iPad

Monday, July 19th, 2010

New Dynamic Rubric for iPad:

It’s mid-summer and although we’re not trying to get you back to school too soon, we do want you to be prepared when the time comes. So, we’ve added the first of our new iPad features for a handful of 3-6 Instructional Units. Check out our new Dynamic Rubrics and Class Roster templates.

Each Rubric and Roster template is given in XLS format and has been designed to look great and function well on iPad and laptops alike. Currently, we’ve posted these tools in the following units (3-6 Instructional Media Library): Aerobic Games, Chasing & Fleeing, Group Fitness, and Racquets & Paddles.

Here’s the quick-tips version on how they work:
(Numbers App is required for iPad)

  1. Visit and download a Dynamic Rubric and Class Roster.
  2. Open the files in Microsoft Excel or Apple Numbers.
  3. Type student names into the Class Roster for quick cut-and-paste into each rubric. See tabs along the bottom of the spreadsheet for 8 separate classes.
  4. Save the rubric in an organized Rubrics folder.
  5. After names are entered into your rubric, connect iPad, select your iPad device in iTunes and select the Apps tab.
  6. Click on the Numbers App, then click “Add…” below the Numbers Documents listing.
  7. Choose the rubric you’d like to work with and click open.
  8. Sync your iPad and you’re ready to work!

Look for detailed iPad tutorials this Fall in the SPARKfamily .org Resource Center.

Enjoy the rest of the summer. We’re looking forward to serving you in the 2010-11 school year!

Aaron Hart
Development Director

Four SPARK Schools Win National Award for Healthy Schools

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Each year, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation awards  the Healthy Schools Program National Recognition Award to schools around the country that have reached an important benchmark in improving the learning and working environments of students and staff.

By making significant changes in the areas of healthy eating, physical activity and staff wellness, these schools have joined a growing movement of committed individuals and organizations that are working to combat childhood obesity and foster healthier communities

This year, four schools were awarded because they implemented a SPARK program in their school!

Wilkerson Elementary School – El Monte, California

Wilkerson Elementary School has made student health a priority. They started by upgrading their physical education program by providing SPARK training for all the classroom teachers. This was supported by the purchase of new physical education equipment that would encourage teachers to implement active participation and non-competitive activities as part of physical education. The next step was to provide awareness of the value of healthy food choices, introducing students to new fruits and vegetables and the “Caught Eating Healthy” campaign which provided rewards to students that selected healthier options in the cafeteria.

North Beach Elementary School – Miami Beach, Florida

The PE department made significant changes to its curriculum this year. It was one of 40 pilot schools in the county selected to adopt and train teachers in the SPARK program of inclusive, easy to learn PE activities. In support of this change, the PTA granted the PE department $6,700 to purchase new equipment to be used for the SPARK program. Members of the school’s student wellness council came up with a way to put a healthy spin on the traditional career week this year: they invited local health and wellness experts, including speakers from the Pritikin Longevity Center, Miami Heat Basketball Team and the Coast Guard, to lead discussions and conduct hands-on demonstrations for the students, staff and community.

Cortada Elementary School – El Monte, California

Teachers were trained in the SPARK program and began incorporating more structured, active play during physical education classes. The school participates in the annual Walk to School Day as well as the California Nutrition Network which provides healthy recipes in English and Spanish. The Harvest of the Month program provides classrooms with produce for students to sample as well as materials for incorporating the food into lessons. They also offer a Guest Chef program where teachers can sign up to have a chef come in to make something special with the produce, which everyone has enjoyed.

Le Gore Elementary School – El Monte, California

Le Gore started by looking at their physical education program. After providing training in the SPARK program, the teachers are energized about PE and what was once only playtime for students has become a true physical education program. The school wellness council meets during the school site council every two months; together they plan and coordinate other activities to benefit students. By working together, they have made other significant improvements at Le Gore including replacing traditional chocolate and candy fundraisers with healthier alternatives.

Congratulations to these schools and all the others that won! You should be proud of your accomplishments and thank you for helping fight childhood obesity in this country!


Rage Against the Political Machine

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

SPARK was born and bred in California, and while we’re proud of our beautiful beaches, mountains, deserts and diversity, 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. CA was in terrible economic shape BEFORE the great recession hit. Now, our Governor is actually talking about closing state parks, selling the Del Mar Fairgrounds and racetrack, and other extreme measures to make up for the revenue shortfall. CA is beyond broke which connotates no money to spend — 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 physical education (PE), and politicians begin writing non-sensical legislation. I”m embarassed to say, that a local, San Diego based Assembly-person, Mary Salas, was the ringleader for one of the worst PE 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, (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 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 of 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 and ROTC, of course, but to draw a parallel to those programs and physical education is simply wrong. It’s the equivalent of allowing students to take band instead of Math (afterall, they march in formation, count the number of instruments) or ROTC instead of Science (guns are made of metals and consist of elements) or cheerleading instead of English (students read and write routines). You get the idea.

Now look, we all love giving students choices, and ROTC and band 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.

And, with the CA high school PE requirement already limited to freshman year — and one more before graduationpresenting more “opt out options” represents a move in the wrong direction. Students need MORE quality PE, daily; not less.

Fortunately, physical educators around the state, including Arleen Hammerschmidt, Joe Herzog, Kim Butler, Ashley Wirth, Bruce Bettey, and countless others, rallied with organizations (including SPARK and CAHPERD) to fight this bill and it’s backers.

However, in the end, logic and reason prevailed. The bill was killed — DOA! A true victory for physical education and physical educators — and our supporters in health, and other related fields.

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 and 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