Archive for the ‘Physical Education News’ Category


Childhood Obesity Crisis: An Update

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

Childhood Obesity Crisis: An Update

The Continuing High Cost of Doing Nothing

By Dr. Stan Bassin

Obesity is a modern health problem that impacts the modern world. Globally, more than 1 billion adults and 17.6 million children are estimated to be overweight (World Health Organization, 2009) and increasing. The proportional distribution of overweight around the world tends to vary with the developmental state of different countries. In developing nations, characterized by low standards of living and high population growth, underweight seems to be more prevalent than overweight. As countries modernize and begin to shift toward improved socioeconomic conditions, the wealthier portion of the population experiences an increase in the prevalence of high body mass index (BMI, the measure generally used as the indicator for obesity), while the poorer remain thin or underweight as a result of differing amounts of energy usage for tasks like transportation, and different levels of food accessibility and quality.

Further economic development results in another BMI shift, with the wealthy population receiving better nutrition and education which decreases BMI levels of the wealthy, as compared to members of the lower classes who experience an increased prevalence of high BMI (World Health Organization, 2009). The World Health Organization cites various obesity-associated health problems, many of which can be treated with an increase in physical activity. These include high blood pressure, stroke and other cardiovascular problems; insulin resistance and abnormal glucose metabolism; sleep apnea, which can lead to neurocognitive defects (Dietz, 1998); and orthopedic ailments (World Health Organization, 2004). Other consequences include menstrual irregularities, as well as mental and emotional health problems. Overweight youth may have an elevated risk of developing asthma (Strong et al, 2005), and obesity is often associated with a reduction in deep breathing, narrowing of airways, shortness of breath and increased wheezing (Lucas, 2005).

The Cost of obesity related diseases is listed below in the Major United States Cities.

Childhood Obesity Crisis: An Update

Source: Gallup

Unfortunately according to Ladabaum, in the latest Study from Stanford School of Medicine 2014, we are not over eating but we are under exercising.

So, what can we do about this crisis?

There is not one simple way to solve the childhood obesity crisis, and many solutions are needed.  One solution is to get kids moving in school, since children spend a significant amount of time in the school setting (see Childhood Obesity: Quality Physical Education as a Solution video to learn more).  Evidence-based physical education programs like SPARK can help increase youth physical activity during the school day.  In addition, quality before/after school programs, integrated classroom physical activity breaks, and recess can provide additional opportunities for physical activity in school.

SPARK has continuously demonstrated it can elevate the rate of youth physical activity through its evidence-based and field-tested materials and training programs.  To learn more about evidence-based, quality physical education as a solution to the childhood obesity crisis, click here.  And, do your part by advocating for quality physical education and physical activity programs in your school.

Dr. Stanley Bassin

University of California, Irvine

Clinical Professor

Preventive Cardiology

SPARK celebrates 25! Reflection from Dr. Jim Sallis

Monday, July 21st, 2014

SPARK celebrates 25!

By Jim Sallis

It’s exhilarating to celebrate the 25th year of SPARK. In 1989 we had big ambitions for our new NIH grant. We wanted to define what health-related physical education is, comprehensively evaluate a program that we designed to meet that vision, and then encourage schools to adopt the program so kids could be healthier. I could not have imagined where those ideas have led by 2014. I am very proud to be part of the SPARK story, because SPARK has improved the physical activity, health, and quality of life for millions children and adolescents over the past 25 years.

The research teams worked hard on the SPARK and M-SPAN studies that produced the original curricula, training, and support model and materials. But there are numerous successful research programs that never have any impact in people’s lives. What makes SPARK different is the staff, led by Paul Rosengard. Paul and the staff not only share the vision of improving children’s health through physical activity, but they have built an organization that brings the joy of SPARK to about 1.5 million young people every day. I use “joy” of SPARK deliberately, because the first data we collected in a pilot study were enjoyment ratings of SPARK PE classes. We were pleased that the fifth graders chose “smiley faces” almost all the time for all the class activities. Delivering fun has been our job at SPARK ever since.

At 25, SPARK as an organization is now an adult. The staff have high level skills and are dedicated to doing a great job at customer service. We have created a national network of trainers, and the feedback from staff development sessions continues to be consistently enthusiastic. We take responsibility for updating, expanding, and improving programs and products. Like most young adults, SPARK is a sophisticated user of technology. Our video group has produced hundreds of videos that help instructors deliver great physical activity programs. All materials are now available online. I am amazed that teachers now can take all of SPARK out on the field with iPads. That is a real revolution in physical education. SPARK is even doing some traveling, growing rapidly in India and China. I’m confident SPARK will continue to evolve and innovate so we can get better at delivering great instruction to teachers and great physical activity to students.

As long as our schools want children to be active and healthier, we will keep delivering the joy of SPARK.

Jim Sallis

http://sallis.ucsd.edu

James F. Sallis, Ph.D.

Distinguished Professor of Family and Preventive Medicine Chief,

Division of Behavioral Medicine. http://behavioralmedicine.ucsd.edu/

University of California, San Diego

SPARK Staff at ATM Dinner

SPARK staff celebrates 25 years at the Annual Trainers Meeting in June 2014

8 Healthy Summer Snacks for Kids

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Even when kids are out of school for the summer, families are still on the go. Planning healthy snacks is a smart way to keep everyone healthy, energized, and well rounded for summer activities. Take a look at this short list of smart and healthy summer snacks for kids:

Watermelon. This super fruit lives up to its name—it’s made up of 92% water. It is also jam-packed with beta carotene, vitamin C, and lycopene. Plus, kids love it!

Homemade trail mix. Avoid buying the pre-packaged kind that can come laden with extra salt and sugar. Opt for your own recipe that includes nuts, dried fruits and even some coconut.

Peaches. Not only are these sweet, juicy fruits in season, but they keep your potassium levels healthy. Try throwing a few peaches in your beach bag for a quick, refreshing treat that will also keep your kids hydrated.

Cucumbers. These cool vegetables are good at keeping kids cool too. Cucumbers are an excellent hydration source and the skin contains plenty of vitamin C. They may even prove helpful in treating sunburn. The skin of a cucumber contains caffeic acid, a skin-soothing agent.

Grapes. These fruits are perfect for growing bodies because they promote healthy bone development and have even been linked to improved dental health. Whether green, red, or purple, grapes are sweet, easy to pack, and a summer favorite for kids. For an even more refreshing take, freeze them first.

Blueberries. Summer is an excellent season for berries of all kinds, including this super antioxidant. Aside from its cancer-prevention properties, blueberries are known to boost immunity because of their high levels of vitamin C, zinc, iron, and selenium. Try organic wild blueberries for added antioxidant benefits.

Homemade popsicles. There are countless ways to make popsicles at home, as long as you have a blender and popsicle molds. Even the popsicles in the grocery store that claim to be made from “real fruit” usually have additives and preservatives, so skip those and opt for a healthier, homemade version instead. Besides, your kids will love helping you make them.

Kiwi fruit. This tangy fruit is a kid favorite and usually pretty easy to find in the summer months. One piece of kiwi fruit actually contains higher levels of vitamin C than an orange, and just as much potassium as a banana. For kids with respiratory issues, kiwi fruit has been shown to improve shortness of breath and chronic cough.

What healthy snacks do you always have ready for your family to eat in the summer?

Happy 25th Anniversary to SPARK!

Monday, May 19th, 2014

How can SPARK be 25 when I’m only 39??

But it’s true!  In June, 1989 a couple of “relatively young” Professors from San Diego State University, Drs. Jim Sallis and Thom McKenzie, received a large award from NIH (National Institutes of Health) to create, implement, and evaluate an elementary school physical education program that could maximize health and behavior related outcomes, and eventually (if successful) become a nationwide model.  Project SPARK (Sports, Play, and Active Recreation for Kids) was born 25 years ago.

As they say, the rest is history.  Today, after many more research and special projects from Early Childhood through University levels, SPARK is referred to as, “The most researched and field-tested physical education program in the world.”

While the data tells an impressive story about significant student outcomes in physical activity, fitness, motor/sport skills, academic achievement, enjoyment of PE, activity levels away from school, program sustainability and more, there are a few lesser known stories from the early years of SPARK.

Did you know?

  • Jim Sallis thought of the name SPARK and the acronym
  • The first SPARK logo was orange and black (scary!) and the colors were voted on by kids in the study
  • One of the original consultants on the first SPARK study was Dr. Bob Pangrazi.  And Bob came back and spent a couple weeks in San Diego with us during our M-SPAN (Middle School Physical Activity and Nutrition – funded by NIH) project that ran from 1996-2000.
  • Kecia Carrasco was Jim and Thom’s first hire, and Kecia is still with SPARK today, 25 years later!
  • BJ Williston worked on the pilot study from 1989-1990 and after a hiatus to work on other studies/projects, she came back to SPARK again about 10 years ago and is now a Lead Trainer.
  • I met my wife Wendy in 1990 when the intervention began and we were married in 1991.  She was one of the elementary classroom teachers at a school we were working with.
  • SPARK won the Governor’s Commendation Award from California Governor Pete Wilson in September 1993
  • The SPARK dissemination effort began in 1994 (20 years ago) and Poway Unified School District was the first to purchase SPARK
  • SPARK’s Director of Dissemination, Leticia Gonzalez, joined SPARK as a part-time employee after her freshman year at San Diego State and has never left!
  • We used to have two cartoon characters in the pages of our manuals – SPARKle and SPARKy!  They were pretty cute, some of us were sad when they grew up…
  • SPARK’s first “beyond the 50 U.S. states experience” was Saipan in 1995.  I led workshops for the elementary physical education teachers on the island and it was a great experience.  Ironically, we’re sending trainers back there again this month.
  • Jim pronounced me – decreed actually — Godfather of SPARK in 1995.  I have a plaque to prove it!  So, if you want a favor, you’ll need some cannoli…

Over more than two decades, all of us at SPARK have appreciated the opportunity to provide innovative instructional materials, effective teacher training, excellent follow up support, and content-matched equipment to thousands of physical educators and physical activity leaders across the globe.

Thank YOU.

Cheers to another 25 years!

Paul RosengardSpark yellow logo color

1993 Governors Award

SPARK’s Common Core Survival Guide (Part 2)

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

SPARK’s Common Core Survival Guide (Part 2)

Lesson planning to meet CCSS mandates with a focus on PE

By Aaron Hart (@nyaaronhart on Twitter)

Welcome to the second installment of our CCSS Survival Guide. As I mentioned in Part 1, it’s important to know and understand your district’s interpretation and guidelines for working toward Common Core Standards.

This week’s tip: Planning with Depth of Knowledge (DOK) on your mind.

If you would like a quick refresh on DOK you can visit Part 1 of this series.

Consistent with other CCSS concepts, lesson-planning structure is also nothing new. I’m sure most of you will recognize the lesson components I’m outlining as we review them. What I believe is important here is that we define each component in light of CCSS and speak the language of the standards, as well as other core subjects (remember PE is – or at least should be – a core subject).

As a resource, SPARK is providing a Standards-based Lesson Planner here to help you with your alignment.

Component 1: Standards Focus

There are two fields provided for this component of the planner, one for PE standards and one for Academic Standards. (We don’t label this section CCSS because each state is different and it is possible that one day CCSS will be a thing of the past.) This allows you to clearly define the standards that you’re working toward during your lesson. The space for PE standards is above and is larger than the academic standards because we’re PE teachers and as PE teachers, our focus should remain on OUR standards.

Component 2: Academic Language Focus

This field allows you enter key physical education vocabulary words that are the focus of the day’s lesson. These are the words that you’ll use, define, and model in order to increase your students’ depth of knowledge.

Component 3: Student Targets

AKA – objectives. This field provides four lines, enough room for 2 to 4 student learning targets. These statements should reflect DOK outcomes for the lesson and should also link directly back to the standards listed above. These targets will also provide structure and meaning to the assessment tools that you’ll select below. Well written targets are observable, measurable and developmentally appropriate.

Component 4: Assessment Tool Used

The main point of DOK is to provide a structure for preparing students to demonstrate their skill and understanding on a given assessment. So, this field is important. However, it’s also important to keep in mind that assessments do not need to result in an every-day grade, or be put on display for all to critique. Visual performance demonstrations, as well as group and individual discussion are appropriate Formative Assessments. This field allows you to clearly define the assessment opportunities that you’ll use to either guide or evaluate student DOK.

Component 5: Frontload the lesson with a “Hook”

Back in the old days we used to call this “Anticipatory Set.” This component provides a brief discussion topic or point that you’ll use in order to get the students curious about the day’s lesson. It’s where you’ll “hook” them in with something interesting and on topic. This can be done just before, during, or after your lesson ASAP.

Component 6: Selected Physical Activities (In Sequence)

Our planner provides space for three scaffolded activities. Depending on your lesson duration, you may need more or less than 3. If you need more and want to use our planner, simply fill out an additional PDF form for activities 4, 5, and so on.

The fields in this section provide room for the activity title, as well as a field for transition notes. The idea is that you’ll have your activity plans in addition to this planner on your iPad or clipboard. What’s important here is that selected activities build on one another, increasing the depth of knowledge presented and practiced.

Component 7: Debrief / Think About

This part of the lesson is one of the most important and is also one of the most often forgotten. In an effort to maximize activity time and teach proper fitness habits, I suggest that you have your students sit and stretch during the debrief. You can even model good stretching technique with your younger students while you discuss the day’s lesson.

The key to effective DOK debrief sessions is using DOK question stems. Again, this type of questioning and discussion is nothing new. However the DOK stems do provide a great starting point for planning a meaningful end to your lesson.

Again, here’s a link to SPARK’s Standards-based Lesson Planner.

Our CCSS alignment is an ongoing work in progress so please send us your feedback and questions. We’re all learning this together!

SPARK’s Paul Rosengard Receives Honor Award

Monday, April 7th, 2014

At this year’s annual CAHPERD (California Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance) SPARK researcher, co-author and Executive Director Paul Rosengard was presented with the CAHPERD Honor Award for his “Outstanding and noteworthy contributions to the advancement of physical education in California.”

“It was special to receive the award in front of a lot of friends and colleagues” Rosengard said.  “I thanked two my mentors Jim Sallis and Thom McKenzie, as well as everyone on our SPARK team.  I felt very humbled and grateful to the CAHPERD board for supporting my nomination.”

A few years ago, Rosengard received a “Past President’s Award” from CAHPERD when he was singled out by Dr. Robin Reese of Sacramento State University.

“Robin was a brilliant writer and teacher and helped many of us think differently about physical education content and instruction.  You might say she went against the grain — a quality I admire greatly – so I was particularly happy to be acknowledged by her.”

This June, SPARK will celebrate 25 years of research (N.I.H. funded in 1989) and 20 years of dissemination.  Read more about SPARK at www.sparkpe.org

Paul CAHPERD Award

Recess Implementation Ideas & Resources

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Part 2 of 2

BRecess Implementation Ideas & Resources y BJ Williston

SPARK K-12 Trainer & Curriculum Developer

Click Here to read Part 1 of this article.

After assessing your current recess program with the School Recess Report Card in the SPARK Recess Handbook (included in the SPARKabc’s program), prioritize the components targeted for improvement.  Priority goes to the components with the lowest scores on the report card.

It is then time to implement!

The SPARK Recess Program includes all sorts of components to improve your school’s recess.

Activity Areas

Divide your recess environment into 4 main activity areas:

  1. Playground Structure for unstructured free-play
  2. Group Games Area
  3. Individual and Partner Games/Activities Area
  4. A perimeter area for students to walk/jog around

There should also be space and resources for those students who aren’t able to participate due to illness/injury/etc.

Supervision

It is suggested that adults be the Recess Supervisors responsible for the overall procedures, set-up, and safety.   Student Game Leaders work with the Supervisors to distribute and collect equipment, set up activity areas, and serve as a liaison to communicate student concerns.  Once the program is up and running, students arrive at recess, choose from a variety of activities and follow recess expectations.

Both Supervisors and Game Leaders promote Character Matters, a social skills development program designed to identify, reinforce, and assess character education concepts in physical activity settings like PE and recess.  Concepts such as cooperation, respect, concern, leadership, and fair play are introduced at the beginning of the school year in all SPARK PE programs (K-12) and SPARK After School.

Activities

SPARK’s Recess Program offers a variety of activities for students to choose from. Individual/Partner activities include 2 and 4-Square, Hoop Stations, Jump Rope Stations, and Flying Disc Golf. Group games include 3-Catch and All-Run Kickball.

Maintenance

Recess Supervisors keep the program going by completing monthly Recess Action Plans, maintaining equipment, encouraging enthusiasm among the Student Game Leaders, and staying on top of the needs of the program.  Details for this maintenance are laid out in the Recess Handbook.

SPARKabc’s Recess Program can help your school get it all together to achieve all the benefits a fabulous recess program can bring!

Advocate for Recess

Want to advocate for better recess policies at your school? Take these 5 steps:

  1. Refine your own viewpoint about how children learn best.
  2. Spread the word: share proof about the significance of recess (see attachment for citations).
  3. Lobby for safe and properly maintained play areas in your school, neighborhood, and community.
  4. Get connected to local organizations that support recess.
  5. Stay informed with action alerts from local and national organizations such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

For more information on the SPARKabc’s Program and the SPARK Recess Program, go to www.sparkpe.org/abc or contact SPARK at 1-800-SPARK PE (772-7573).

The Importance of Recess

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Is it Recess Yet?

Part 1 of 2

The Importance of Recess By BJ Williston

SPARK K-12 Trainer & Curriculum Developer

Remember when you were little and someone asked you what your favorite class was?  If you were like me, you emphatically said “Recess!” It’s not that I didn’t like my “real” classes, it’s just that the freedom I got when that bell rang was so sweet I could taste it.

The choices seemed endless.  Sometimes I’d play kickball with a big group and other times I’d play marbles or jacks with a friend or I’d jump rope.  I remember there were several months when I was obsessed with mastering a few tricks on the bars, so that is all I did.  I grew up in Hawaii, and I remember needing help getting down whenever my muumuu got twisted around the bar.  After it rained real hard, we couldn’t wait to chase baby frogs across the field.  It was a smorgasbord of outdoor fun and I got to choose depending on my mood not once but twice a day. It was heaven.

Sadly, today’s elementary school kids don’t have it so good.  Recess has been on the proverbial chopping block in the past decade due to budget cuts and the pinhole focus on academic standardized test scores. The powers that be have decided recess just isn’t important enough to keep.  Well, I for one hope to shout that it is extremely valuable and worth fighting for. I’m not the only one, and more and more folks are causing a fuss to reverse this alarming trend.

Here are just a few of the issues in a nutshell:

  • School-aged children need about 60 minutes of physical activity a day for myriad reasons, including heart health, decreasing risk of overweight/obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and various types of cancer to name just a few.
  • Kids can get this 60 minutes of PA in a multitude of ways including before and after school activities, physical education class, activity during their classroom time, and recess.
  • Only 6 states require PE in all grades K-12.  Almost half of US students don’t receive any PE in an average week.
  • All students don’t have the resources to be involved in before and after school structured physical activity, and many kids don’t live in an environment conducive to unstructured physical activity during their free time.  Neighborhoods are unwalkable, and parks are too few and far between.  For these kids, recess is even more important to get them to the 60 minute goal.
  • Only 9 states require recess be given to elementary school students. Yikes!

We all instinctively know that recess is not just fun, but important for all kids to have on a daily basis. Knowing is one thing, however it sure helps recess’s case that The American Academy of Pediatrics has come out with a strong opinion promoting recess.  They consider recess a necessary break from the demands of school and in their policy statement in January 2013, they concluded that “minimizing or eliminating recess can negatively affect academic achievement, as growing evidence links recess to improved physical health, social skills and cognitive development.” So, there you have it: Recess is important for everyone.

Research conducted on recess and its benefits has found that students with at least 15 minutes of recess daily behaved better than their peers who did not have recess (Baros, Silver, & Stein, 2009).  So, clearly taking it away from children with poor behavior in class is not what the doctor ordered.  The benefits of recess range from increased physical activity to help children reach 60 minutes each day to the social and emotional learning they get from play.

Children learn teamwork, cooperation, empathy, fair play, and how to make adaptations to include all students.  What do they do when they disagree?  Do they need an adult there to help them clear it up? Most of the time, no.  They learn conflict resolution skills to work things out on their own. Skills they can take with them and use in their life outside of school.  Oh, and then there’s the benefit that the powers that be seem to be most interested in: improvements in academic scores.  There are myriad studies correlating fitness and physical activity with higher academic scores.  That’s always a nice feather in the benefits cap.

So, if everyone is saying recess is important, let’s be sure to keep it in schools and to make it the best it can be.  How do you do that?  SPARK can help. SPARK now has a Recess Component as part of the SPARKabc’s Program.  It was written to help school staff get and stay organized, promote health-enhancing PA, and promote positive social interaction in a semi-structured environment.  It’s got the whole package from an evaluation of your ho-hum or worse yet, dangerous and chaotic recess to all the tools you need to make it a recess your school is proud of.

The first step is to assess your current program.  SPARKabc’s Program offers a School Recess Report Card designed to provide you and your committee a starting point for assessing the quantity and quality of your present recess.

The 5 components measured are:

  • Time and Frequency
  • Effectiveness
  • Supervisors
  • Facilities and Equipment
  • Formal Policies

After measuring these (with a committee including representatives from recess supervisors, PE staff, administration, parents, and classroom teachers) prioritize the components targeted for improvement. Priority goes to the components with the lowest scores on the report card.  It is then time to implement!

See Part 2 of this blog for implementation ideas & resources.

Holiday Pinwheels Recipe from Healthy Kids Challenge

Sunday, December 8th, 2013

Our partners at Healthy Kids Challenge have shared one of their favorite healthy holiday recipes with us, so we’re sharing it with you!  Enjoy!

Take the Healthy Holiday Challenge: Help kids set a goal to choose healthy snacks during the holiday season, and join them in meeting the challenge!

How?SPARK Vegetables Dec 2013

1. Refresh your minds…
about why it’s important to choose healthy holiday snacks.

Utilize these printable tips to help get you started:

Curb Impulsive Holiday Snacking and

Explore What Influences Holiday Food Choices

2. Energize your bodies…
with this recipe, which you can make together with the kids.

Holiday Pinwheels (print this)

Serves: 4

4 (6-7”) whole grain tortillas

4 oz. fat free cream cheese

1 Tbsp plus 2 tsp tomato paste

4 oz. finely shredded low fat cheddar cheese

1-2 green peppers (to make 1 cup finely chopped)

knife, spoon, cutting board

Directions:

  1. Wash hands with soap and water before handling food or utensils.
  2. Rinse the green peppers, then finely chop to fill 1 cup measure.
  3. Blend cream cheese and tomato paste together in small bowl. Set aside.
  4. Place a tortilla on the cutting board and spread 1 Tbsp of the cream cheese mixture on top.
  5. Sprinkle 1/4 cup chopped green peppers and 1 Tbsp shredded cheese on top and roll up.
  6. Cut each wrap into 4 serving pieces. Use spatula to place them on
  7. Have kids clean up work area and utensils with warm soapy water. Rinse with clean water.

SPARK Comix

Sunday, December 8th, 2013

SPARK Comix December 2013