Archive for the ‘SPARK Blog’ Category

How to Teach Social Skills in PE: Grades 3-6

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

Physical activity environments are natural settings for peer interaction and the development of social skills. By the very nature of game play or active participation, students discover how to work in a group, how they compare with others, how “winning” and “losing” affects them, how to follow rules, and how to strategically problem-solve. In addition, teaching social skills is an important aspect to bullying prevention in physical education and around campus.

A primary objective of SPARK is to create positive movement experiences that last a lifetime. Nurturing a student’s self-perception and self-image is a critical variable when teaching students to value physical activity. Negative experiences in PE class may impact a person well into adulthood.

Teaching social skills is not unlike teaching sport or fitness skills. Students should understand the “learnable pieces,” practice them in authentic situations, receive feedback, and process their learning.

Take the following steps when teaching social skills to students:

1. Define the skill.

Discuss why it is important. For example, help students understand that “Encouragement” is a gift you give to others. It delivers empathy, support, motivation. If you encourage someone, you’ve committed a selfless, powerful act.

2. Teach the skill

Discuss strategies to address it. Use a t-chart to instruct each social skill and obtain student input. Ask students,

“If we heard encouragement during class, what might it sound like?”

Hear their responses, shape and supplement as needed, list on the t-chart.

Then ask, “If we saw encouragement during class, what might it look like?”

Shape and list. Post the completed t-chart where students can see it every day.

An example of a t-chart for the skill “Encouragement” might look like this:


What does it sound like?

What does it look like?

“You can do it!” Thumbs-up
“Don’t give up!” High-five
“Keep trying!” Pat on the back

3. Provide opportunities to practice the skill.

Remind students you will be looking for their ideas, along with the proper mechanics of the respective sports skill. (E.g., “Step toward your target before passing, and don’t forget to encourage your partner if she needs it.”)

4. Process use of the skill. Ask questions such as:

“Did someone encourage you today? How did it feel? Did you have more fun playing with a partner that encouraged you?”

Processing questions can be posed while students stretch during cool-down, gather equipment, transitioning from 1 activity to another, recording scores, etc.

The following teaching cues provide suggestions for facilitating social skills discussions:

3rd Grade Teaching Cues

Responsibility: “What might your personal and group responsibilities be in this class?” (E.g., Listen and follow directions, give your best effort, maintain a positive attitude even if the activity that day isn’t your favorite, etc.)

Helpfulness: “Will you offer to be a partner to someone who needs one? Invite others to join your group? Assist with putting away equipment?”

4th Grade Teaching Cues

Encouragement: “Encouraging others is a sign of personal strength and confidence. See if you can make at least 1 encouraging statement every class.”

Acceptance of Personal Differences: “Can you respect people that may be less skilled than you in an activity? Will you work to build them up instead of put them down?”

5th Grade Teaching Cues

Competition: “Whether your group is ahead or behind when our time ends is not important. How you handle it is. What are appropriate ways to behave when ahead? When behind?”

Positive Disagreement: “It’s easy to lose your cool. It takes courage and self-control to keep it. Can you settle your differences by listening and talking? Use rock, paper, scissors to decide.”

6th Grade Teaching Cues

Shares Ideas: “When we work in groups, do you pitch in and play a supportive role? Do you raise your hand and contribute to discussions? Offer creative ideas to your partner or group?”

Compromise: “If you have a disagreement during class, do you try and find a way to create a win-win solution that all parties can feel good about? Be the first to give a bit, and strive for an agreement that the other person is first to give next time.”

Provided by the SPARK PE 3-6 Program.  Click Here to learn more about SPARK 3-6 PE.

How to Teach Social Skills in PE: Grades 3 6

How to Teach Social Skills in PE: Grades K-2

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

A goal of all physical activity providers is to create a physically and emotionally safe and supportive environment; one in which children learn and have opportunities to practice positive social interactions. To achieve this goal, teaching social skills, not just during SPARK PE sessions, but school/program wide, is highly recommended.

There are two social skills per grade level in the SPARK PE K-2 program; a total of 12 from Kindergarten through 5th grade. It is recommended that teachers introduce a new social skill each semester (two per year). However, feel free to repeat and reinforce previously learned skills from any grade level. Teach these social skills in grades K-2 to help your students create a safe environment in PE and on the playground and prevent bullying.

Tips for Teachers

Provided by the SPARK PE K-2 Program.  Click Here to learn more about SPARK K-2 PE.

1. Introduce the social skill

  • Define/discuss the skill (e.g., kindness)
  • Establish the need for the skill in society
  • Introduce the T-Chart by asking group, “What might ‘Kindness’ sound like? What might it look like?” Be ready to offer several responses in each category.
  • List student answers (with yours) on the chart. Post it and monitor their use of “Kindness.”

2. Process (after students have the opportunity to demonstrate they are kind during class)

  • “Who was kind to someone today?”
  • “How do you feel when someone is kind to you?”



  • “We like smiles! Will you share a smile with a friend? When someone is kind to you, how does that make you feel?”


  • “Everyone needs to know they are loved and cared for. How can you show others in our class YOU care about them?”

Grade 1


  • “Will you remember to say please, excuse me, and thank you – share and take turns?”

Showing Appreciation

  • “When someone shares their beanbag, or invites you to join their group, how could you show your appreciation for them?”

Grade 2

Self Control

  • “Will you stay calm in a stressful situation? Can you avoid using bad language?”

Respect for Others/Equipment

  • “Can you treat each person and our PE equipment with great care?”

Sample T-Chart




“Please and thank you” Inviting someone to join you

“Excuse me” Letting a person go first
“I’ll share my ball with you” Passing to everyone

Tips to Prevent Bullying in Recess

Monday, September 28th, 2015

Two Boys Fighting In School Playground

Bullying can threaten students’ physical and emotional safety at school and affect their ability to learn and concentrate in class. Opportunities for bullying are found all over the school campus but in this blog we’ll focus on steps we can take to prevent bullying during recess.

Recess is the time when students get a break in their day to connect with their friends, participate in unstructured physical activity and get some sunshine and fresh air. Kids look forward to recess and are excited to get outside to play, but it is not a positive experience for everybody. With a large number of kids and a limited number of adults, recess has a lot of time and many opportunities for bullying to occur. It doesn’t have to be that way.  Here are some strategies to prevent bullying at recess and allow all kids to move and have fun.

Provide age-appropriate activities and equipment

  • Students should feel comfortable participating and have access to developmentally appropriate games, equipment and facilities
  • Need some ideas? Ask your PE teacher for activities and check out the SPARKabc’s program, including resources for recess.

Provide a variety of activities

  • Teach students a variety of activities to play during recess because they spend so much less time outdoors they haven’t learned the types of activities to do during unstructured times- outside of team sports
  • Set up activities for students to encourage them to participate in a new game- maybe something they haven’t experienced before

Active supervision

  • Encourage supervisors to be mobile, constantly moving around the playground area so they are visible and kids know that they have support nearby
  • Teach students how to identify problems and the process for communicating issues with recess supervisors

By keeping students engaged and active we can work to prevent bullying before it starts so kids can be physically active, have fun and feel successful during every school day.

For additional bullying prevention resources, visit the new School Specialty Blog:

For additional recess resources, read this article on the SPARK Blog:

Tips to Prevent Bullying in Physical Education

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

High school sports

Bullying can threaten students’ physical and emotional safety at school and affect their ability to learn and concentrate in class. Opportunities for bullying are found all over the school campus but in this blog we’ll focus on steps we can take to prevent bullying during physical education class.

There have been numerous studies about bullying in PE and one of the common findings is that children who are bullied during physical education class are less likely to be active.  Not only less active in their current PE class, but as adults later in life as well.

Why does bullying occur and what does it look like in physical education?  Students get picked on for being overweight, having lower skills than others and for being picked last when it is time to choose groups or teams.  Types of bullying include verbal attacks, excessive aggressiveness, or exclusion or avoidance during activities. As a teacher, with so much activity going on and kids moving around the gym, it can be challenging to always see or hear it happening in your classes.  So instead of reacting to the problems, how can we prevent them?

Choose activities that keep all students active

  • When students are engaged in activity they are moving and having fun which reduces the amount of time they have to watch and critique others.  Bullying happens during down time so keep transitions short and lessons active!

Assign groups and partners before class

  • This reduces the chances of the same person always being left out, picked last, or stuck with the same partner or group every time

Teach and reinforce social skills

  • By increasing appropriate behavior, we can teach kids how to demonstrate the social skills we expect of them.  Teach these skills throughout the school year and look for examples of them during the lessons that you teach.

For additional bullying prevention resources, visit the new School Specialty Blog:

Sportime Innovations Leader Passes

Friday, September 18th, 2015

BTraub photo

Barry Traub, longtime Sportime development leader and product innovator extraordinaire, has passed away after many years of battling the effects of a serious diving accident in the early 1990’s. The injury slowed him, but never stopped his passion for product development. Barry was instrumental in the growth of Sportime into an internationally known Physical Education leader. He also launched the Abilitations Special Needs catalog following many conversations with his physical therapist during rehab after his accident.

His passion for wanting to change the way PE is taught was always burning bright. He was responsible for hundreds of product introductions and innovations over the years, as well as patents and copyright registrations of catchy product names. Barry will be missed by his Sportime/SPARK/School Specialty friends, his PE teacher friends, and, unknown to them, by students of all ages who had a chance to be more successful at learning skills because of his innovative mind.

Barry’s legacy will live on in the strength of the Sportime PE and Abilitations Special Needs brands. School Specialty is committed to reinvigorating these beloved brands, and to providing innovative solutions for educators so that students of all ages and abilities can learn and succeed.

4 Tips to Motivate Kids to Be Active

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

You’ve likely heard the statistic before: over one-third of children and adolescents are overweight. That number has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the last 30 years, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This government agency suggests lowering the risk of obesity and its associated health problems through a healthy diet and increased physical activity.

motivating kids to be active

Schools play a vital role in establishing these healthy habits and helping children develop a positive relationship with their health. When thinking about the physical activity side of health, consider these ways you and your fellow educators can help motivate kids to be more active.

Promote Game Play

Physical education is great for children and adults alike, but when children develop a poor relationship with exercise, they’re unlikely to maintain an active lifestyle later in life. That’s why physical activity has to be fun. When it feels more like a game than a chore, students will be excited to get moving!

For instance, physical activity shouldn’t be all about running laps. While running is excellent for your health, few kids will find any meaning behind it. Instead, give them an objective by playing games with them on the playground and in the gym. An aerobic game, such as Aerobic Bowling, will get students running around, but they’ll be more engaged since the game has a sense of purpose and strategy to it.

Don’t forget that you don’t need a gym or playing field to get kids to be active. Kids can get moving with limited space, even if that means minor activities like standing or jumping. For instance, have your students stand in a circle and toss a ball or bean bag to each other. The one holding the object must answer the next question in your lesson. It may not seem like a lot, but simply standing can help combat some of the health issues associated with prolonged sitting, such as issues with blood glucose control, says For more ideas for physical education and activity in tight spaces, see the recent SPARK webinar “No Gym? No Problem!” presented by Chairman Sutherland. You can view the free recorded webinar on

Avoid Using Physical Activity to Reinforce Behavior

Why do you think some students are reluctant to engage in physical activity? Is it perhaps because they view it as a punishment? When educators and parents use it as a punishment, it becomes that in a child’s mind.

For instance, when a student is late for practice, a coach might tell him to do 20 pushups. If they’re taught that physical activity is a punishment for their actions, do you think they’ll continue to enjoy it?

Likewise, the Tennessean points out that withholding physical activity doesn’t help the situation, either. For instance, holding a child in from recess may teach him that physical activity and play aren’t important to his overall well-being.

Don’t Make Everything a Competition

While many games played in PE class are all about one team winning or losing, it’s important that students understand that not all forms of physical activity require competition. If they grow up learning that physical activity is all about the competition, how many do you think will develop a habit of activity when there aren’t sports teams available to them?

Instead, encourage children to find and pursue activities they enjoy. The more they like it, the more they’ll be motivated to do it. For instance, while you can compete in swimming and biking, these can also be individual sports that are a lot of fun when done by yourself.

While a healthy dose of competition is good, it’s also worth exploring ways to promote individualized activities or those that are simply fun to do, like skating.

Consider the Students’ Ages

Each age group requires a different approach to physical activity since they’re all at different levels. Consider these guidelines.

3-5 year olds:

  • Get kids moving every 30 minutes or so.

  • Focus on the fun instead of competition, such as dancing.

  • Limit time spent with technology.

6-9 year olds:

  • Help children set physical activity goals for themselves, and let them pick those goals.

  • Explore numerous sports and activity options so children can decide what they like best.

  • Focus on sportsmanship and personal growth instead of competition.

10-14 year olds:

  • Teach children about their physical activity needs.

  • Begin helping refine movements, such as practicing free-throws instead of simply throwing the ball at the basket.

  • Help children track their goals.

Motivating kids to be active starts with making activity a fun and rewarding experience. How will you motivate your students to be more active?

What are The Components of a Successful Physical Education Lesson Plan?

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

A requirement for a successful physical education program is a strong foundation. The physical education lesson plan that you choose to include in your curriculum is one of the most important tools in your arsenal to help provide a well-rounded, engaging, and effective class. Choices for layout, focus, and supplies abound, but most all of them include a few primary factors.

physical education

Every great physical education curriculum brings in elements such as strength training, collaboration, cardio, and of course the element of fun.  Let’s take a look at how to get all of these elements into a lesson plan for each age group, and how to use national standards to help you do so.

Foundations for Each Age Bracket

Lesson plans can vary greatly depending on the audience. Students in each chapter of their education require work on different skill sets, and their interests diverge as well. Let’s take a look at some of the foundational items for elementary, middle school, and high school lesson plans.


  • Focus on motor skills and coordination, and keep activities short and engaging

  • Promote personal responsibility, rules, and safety

  • Use collaboration and tandem exercises to increase confidence

Middle School

  • Focus on social confidence through cooperative group games

  • Promote individual confidence through goal-based activities

  • Begin introducing the foundations of strength training and an exercise routines

High School

  • Encourage students to find their interests through trial and error

  • Teach personal physical responsibility and how to incorporate exercise into daily life

  • Enhance foundations of strength training, stretching, and cardiovascular workouts

  • Promote the importance of sports that they can incorporate into their lives both today and well into the future

Supplies are also an important supporting tool in the creation of a great lesson plan. Balls, balance beam, mats, bean bags, hula hoops, climbing ropes, jump ropes, cones, and free weights can all help support and bring variety to any good curriculum. For programs needing financial assistance in buying physical education supplies, grants are available across the country.

Using the PECAT and HECAT

The Physical Education Curriculum Analysis Tool (PECAT based upon the NASPE national physical education standards, and the Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool (HECAT), created by the CDC, can help you and your school district conduct a comprehensive self-assessment of your curriculum, ensuring that it is well-positioned for your particular students. The PECAT assesses:

  • How closely your curriculum aligns with national standards for high quality physical education programs

  • How well your content and student assessment corresponds to national standards for physical education for your grade level

  • How to identify revisions needed in district or individual school program curricula

Building Off Of Existing Resources

With a quick internet search, physical education lesson plans can be found from far and wide. But depending on your particular group of students and their accompanying school activities, it’s important to ensure that your plan is up to regulatory standards, and also dovetails neatly into after-school sports as well as the rest of the school curriculum.

Launched by the National Institutes of Health, SPARK PE provides new and innovative approaches to PE content, with lesson plans that have been tested in real world settings. Comprehensive lesson plans have been carefully created under the support of 20 years of ongoing research and field testing. Through the SPARK PE site you can find sample activity lesson plans for early childhood, the classroom, elementary, middle, and high school PE classes, as well as curriculums specially designed for after school activities.

Physical education is of growing interest in today’s population of expanding waistlines. The right curriculums help instill healthy habits that can follow children throughout their primary education all the way through adulthood.

SPARK Joins Forces with KIDS in the GAME, ICAN Foundation and Supporting Organizations to Combat Rising Issues of Childhood Obesity

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

Latest collaboration supports Mississippi school with curriculum development, teacher training and equipment aimed at promoting high-quality physical education and nutrition programs that address student health needs

GREENVILLE, Wis., August 18, 2015SPARK™, the premier physical education brand of School Specialty (OTCQB: SCOO), is pleased to announce its exciting collaboration with KIDS in the GAME, the ICAN Foundation and other supporting organizations including GoNoodle, Play Like A Girl and Hip Hop Public Health to counter childhood obesity through the promotion of active and healthy living. Inspired by a school counselor’s passion to implement change in her classroom and community, SPARK recently teamed-up with KIDS in the GAME and ICAN Foundation to provide the Oakhurst Intermediate School in Clarksdale, Mississippi with much-needed resources to develop a comprehensive physical education and health program.

According to U.S. News and World Report, Mississippi leads the country in obesity rates, with about 32.5 percent of its adult residents considered obese – based on a body mass index (BMI) of more than 30, which translates to more than 197 pounds on a 5′8″ person. Further, in “The State of Obesity” report issued by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the state ranks #3 in the U.S. for type 2 diabetes.

This past spring, SPARK’s Executive Director Dr. Kymm Ballard, learned about a school counselor named Lisa Ross who singlehandedly started a fitness program for girls in the Mississippi Delta. Fondly known as ‘Pizzazz Ross’, Lisa created Si Se Puede at Oakhurst Intermediate School to encourage her female students to increase their physical activity and develop new, healthy eating habits.

Her enthusiasm and willpower to effect change despite the lack of financial resources, inspired Dr. Ballard to reach out and encourage Lisa to apply for a PHIT America GO! Grant administered by KIDS in the GAME. The grant would be instrumental in expanding Lisa’s vision for the entire school by incorporating the SPARK program into Oakhurst’s school day.

With the support of Principal Frederick Ford, Lisa applied for the grant, which was given significant consideration as part of a collaborative approach by KIDS in the GAME and SPARK. Together, Executive Director Suzie Nixon of KIDS in the GAME and Dr. Ballard helped Oakhurst with utilizing a $5,000 GO! Grant to catalyze interest from supporting organizations, including:

  • ICAN Foundation, which covered the cost of training and transportation for Lisa Ross and colleague, Gisha Stewart, to receive training this summer at the SPARK 3-6 PE Institute in San Diego. The Foundation is also assisting Oakhurst with the purchase of Sportime fitness equipment.
  • GoNoodle, which has Oakhurst Intermediate School students moving throughout the day with its interactive physical activity breaks — running, jumping, dancing, stretching and deep-breathing — is helping to improve student behavior, focus and academic performance.
  • Play Like A Girl, which is supporting the Si Se Puede program with consultation and programming, including their model Pop-Up Play Day slated for the spring of 2016.
  • Hip Hop Public Health, which is dedicated to promoting healthier food choices and smart exercise through online cartoons, video games, comic books, and music by popular hip hop artists.

KIDS in the GAME’s Suzie Nixon remarked, “The intention of our growing collaboration with SPARK and other partners such as ICAN Foundation, GoNoodle, Play Like A Girl, and Hip Hop Public Health is to raise awareness of the excellent resources available to increase minutes of daily physical activity among youth, particularly in the south. The need to counter obesity and inactivity is propelling local agencies, schools, nonprofit organizations and others across the country to combine forces to support all children in increasing their physical literacy and minutes of movement – in other words, their desire, confidence and ability to be physically active every day.”

“We’re honored to be joining forces with KIDS in the GAME and ICAN Foundation to help reverse the childhood obesity trend and promote lifelong wellness among our youth,” said Dr. Kymm Ballard for School Specialty’s SPARK. “We’re especially excited to work with the Oakhurst Intermediate School in Mississippi to integrate a proven, highly effective physical education program like SPARK into their curriculum. The school’s efforts to make a positive impact on the health of their student body and by extension, the surrounding community, through meaningful activity, fitness and nutrition, are admirable! With the generous sponsorship of ICAN Foundation, it was wonderful to host Ms. Ross and Ms. Stewart at this summer’s SPARK 3-6 PE workshop in San Diego, and we trust that the experience and insights gained will prove valuable to the Oakhurst program.”

SPARK provides 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 is a coordinated package of curriculum, teacher training and content-matched equipment. The SPARK pedagogy is focused on highly active games, dances and sports that maximize physical activity, while also incorporating nutrition and health instruction. The SPARK 3-6 PE Institute, which was developed through San Diego State University and originally funded by the Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), is designed to be more inclusive, active, and fun than traditional PE classes. Aligned with the National Association of Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) National Standards, SPARK PE lessons are easy to learn and easy to teach. They have been proven to work with both elementary physical education specialists and classroom teachers.

The alliance between ICAN Foundation and SPARK has been invaluable with regards to providing options to schools to make classes, PE and after-school programs more active. Together, the organizations work to raise funds and support the implementation of the SPARK physical education curriculum in local schools. The most recent assistance received from ICAN to enable Ms. Ross’ and Ms. Stewart’s travel to San Diego this summer to participate in training at the SPARK 3-6 PE Institute was very instrumental. ICAN’s founder and NFL running back, Pierre Thomas, saw the need and stepped up to help the two teachers from Oakhurst Intermediate School. In addition, Mr. Thomas and the foundation are donating content-matched equipment from School Specialty’s Sportime line to help Oakhurst increase students’ activity time.

Mr. Thomas underscored, “ICAN Foundation was created to build a healthier generation of young people by encouraging them to become more active and educating them on proper nutrition. We have assembled a strong team at ICAN and we work well together to have an impact in states such as Mississippi, Louisiana and Illinois. Our partnership with SPARK has been a tremendous help and we are excited to implement the SPARK programs. We look forward to growing and making a difference together.”

“We’re committed at Oakhurst Intermediate to building a culture of activity and fitness which we believe are critical to tackling the obesity issue and increasing our students’ ability to succeed not just academically but socio-economically, by preparing them to be healthy, productive members of their communities in Mississippi,” said School Counselor, Lisa Ross. “Physical education has a significant place in a school’s curriculum, which is why our team is so thrilled to integrate the SPARK PE program. My colleague Gisha Stewart and I are grateful for the opportunity given to us to attend the summer training sessions at the SPARK 3-6 PE Institute in San Diego. It was a wonderful experience and we learned so much in terms of techniques and best practices which will be instrumental for developing the SPARK syllabus at Oakhurst.”

Lisa Ross, school counselor for Oakhurst Intermediate School in Mississippi.

Lisa Ross, school counselor for Oakhurst Intermediate School in Mississippi.

About KIDS in the GAME

KIDS in the GAME is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization focused on inspiring kids to thrive in life through sports. The organization provides financial assistance to help youth from low-income families of all abilities gain access to after school sports programs and physical education programs in schools. KIDS in the GAME raises awareness of the importance of athletics in developing future leaders, with skills and values that transfer from the sports field into the classroom, workplace, family and community. For more information on KIDS in the GAME, visit

About the SPARK Programs

SPARK is a research-based organization that creates, implements, and evaluates programs that promote lifelong wellness. The SPARK Programs consist of Early Childhood, K-12 Physical Education, After School, and Coordinated School Health. Each SPARK program provides curriculum, teacher training, follow up support and consultation, and content-matched equipment sets through the School Specialty Sportime business line. For more information on SPARK, visit

About School Specialty, Inc.

School Specialty is a leading distributor of innovative and proprietary products, programs and services to the education marketplace. The Company designs, develops, and provides educators with the latest and very best school supplies, furniture and both curriculum and supplemental learning resources. Working in collaboration with educators, School Specialty reaches beyond the scope of textbooks to help teachers, guidance counselors and school administrators ensure that every student reaches his or her full potential. For more information about School Specialty, visit

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

Lets Go Back to School with SPARKecademy!