Archive for the ‘SPARK Blog’ Category


Updated Standards in Online SPARK Manuals

Friday, July 7th, 2017

SPARK_burst_graphic

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 5th, 2017

kids eating healthy and refreshing juice popsicles

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

Fruit Salad

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

Frozen Juice Pops

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

Pineapple Sorbet

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

Guacamole

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

Potato Salad

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

Chicken Wraps

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

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

What’s your go-to healthy summer snack?

15 Reflection Questions for the Physical Educator [INFOGRAPHIC]

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

three gym teachers stand and smile for the camera

Just like our students, educators should never stop learning.

As the school year comes to a close, reflect on your year as a physical educator — areas where you shined and areas you can improve, to help both you and your students get the most out of the year ahead.

Here’s the physical educator’s checklist for self-reflection

An infographic displaying how teachers can reflect on their school year to prepare for the next one

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Spend Time on Past Successes

  1. What was your best teaching moment of the year?
  2. When did you implement/learn/experience something new?
  3. What did you improve upon this year that you are proud of?
  4. In what areas did you achieve last year’s goals?
  5. What was your most notable growth as a physical educator this year?

 

Consider the Challenges

  1. What was your worst teaching moment of the year?
  2. What challenged you most?
  3. What do you feel you need to improve upon next year?
    Choose one curriculum, one interpersonal (student or staff), and one professional element.
  4. Where did you fall short of last year’s goals?
  5. Where do you feel there is still room to grow as a physical educator?

 

Gain Clarity on the Goals Ahead

  1. What did you learn from your best/worst moments this year?
  2. What plans do you have for your professional development and continued education?
  3. What specifically do you plan to improve upon next year?
  4. What can you do to improve your students’ experience and engagement levels next year?
  5. What did your students struggle with most last year, and how can you improve their success in the year ahead?

Just a few moments of introspection on the year can help you highlight and celebrate your successes, and take note of how you can continue growing next year.

Brought to you by SPARK | http://www.sparkpe.org

A Parent’s Guide to Physical Education Programs in Schools

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

physical education

American children aren’t getting the physical activity they need. Only a third of children are physically active on a daily basis, even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 60 minutes of physical activity per day.

Taking action during the summer break can set your kids up for quality physical education when the school year begins. Read on to discover the questions parents frequently ask to better understand PE programs in schools so they can elicit real change.

What’s the Difference Between Physical Activity and Physical Education?

It’s a common mistake to assume the terms “physical activity” and “physical education” refer to the same thing. Though both contribute to a child’s healthy development, the terms are not interchangeable.

Physical activity is a behavior. It refers to any sort of movement of the body. Children may engage in physical activity during gym class, at recess or at home. Physical education, on the other hand, refers to a subject in school that includes physical activity in the curriculum. Physical education classes teach through physical activity. Some skills taught in PE include teamwork, social interaction and motor skills — all while improving students’ fitness.

What Does a Comprehensive Physical Education Program Require?

Implementing a comprehensive physical education program into schools is an approach that allows students to build a strong relationship with physical activity that will encourage them to remain active throughout their lives.

School districts that use a comprehensive physical education program begin with physical activity as the foundation of their program. Through a multi-component approach, the school works to engage the students in physical activity by involving the staff, the students’ family and the community. PE class isn’t the only time kids should be up and moving. A comprehensive physical education program includes physical activities before, during and after school to help kids reach the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity.

How Can I Assess a Physical Education Curriculum?

Before you take action to help improve your child’s physical education program, it helps to first assess where the school’s physical education curriculum stands and how it could be improved.

That’s where the PECAT and HECAT come in. These stand for the Physical Education Curriculum Analysis Tool (PECAT) and the Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool (HECAT). These tools have been created and provided by the CDC to help individuals see how their school’s physical education curriculum stacks up against the National Physical Education Standards.

How Can I Advocate Better Physical Education at My Child’s School?

After assessing the PE curriculum at your child’s school, you may want to get involved with changes to the program. We suggest doing so in three steps, by advocating, ensuring and insisting.

Start by making sure your voice is heard. Talk with school officials and become a part of your school’s parent-teacher organization. Rally together other parents who feel strongly about your cause. Advocate for daily physical education taught by a PE teacher with the proper credentials.

Second, ensure teachers are working with the parents and administration to build a curriculum that aligns with these physical education goals. Meet with your child’s PE teacher to discuss your concerns and ideas, and then bring the solution to other teachers who can help their students enjoy physical activity in the classroom.

Finally, insist that teachers in every grade have access to the resources they need to achieve these goals. That means they need professional development opportunities and training programs that will teach them the content and strategies to execute their part in an effective comprehensive PE program.

By getting involved this summer, you can help build a better and more well-rounded PE program ready for when your child returns to school in the fall.

Awesome Activities for the Last PE Lesson of the School Year

Thursday, June 15th, 2017

gym teacher holds a basketball in front of his young students

PE classes are a great way to end the school year on a high note and get children in the habit of staying active over the summer.

As PE teachers already know, encouraging kids to stay active should entail a lot of fun. The key is creating activities that are physically demanding, while also being entertaining and engaging. Read on to discover exciting games that will make the end of the school year more of a celebration and less of a chore.

Scavenger Hunts

Armed with imagination, energetic workout routines and a few fun clues, students will be instantly inspired to embark on whatever adventure you choose to send them on. Students will learn the value of teamwork while cheering on teammates during challenges, and improve their cognitive and reasoning skills as they decipher clues to keep moving forward.

What You’ll Need:

  • Written clues to lead students to destinations where they will perform exercises (one for each student)
  • Exercise sets which have been carefully thought out and planned ahead of time (one for each student)
  • Colored markers that students will locate at their assigned tasks (one color for each team, one marker of that color for each team member)

How to Play:

Prior to starting the game, instructors hide the markers at each “challenge area.” At the start of gameplay, decide the order in which students will perform tasks. Give them the first exercise at their “home base,” such as 20 jumping jacks, and award them with their first clue. Students must then decipher the clue as a team. This will lead them to their first location, where they will hunt for their team’s colored marker.

 

Upon returning to the “homebase” with the marker, the next student performs the next set of exercises for the next clue. This is repeated until each student has had a turn, each clue has been given out and gameplay is concluded.

 

Dance Parties

It’s no secret that grade school children love to dance, but did you know that dance improves emotional and social skills, as well? Why not turn their favorite activity into a fun end-of-year extravaganza? Students will happily try out complex cardiovascular fitness routines when they’re having a blast. So, find some upbeat music and make it a memorable last day of class.

What You’ll Need:

  • A device with a speaker to play positive music which is suitable for school and ideal for dancing. You can even take music requests from students beforehand.
  • A few carefully choreographed, age-appropriate fitness routines. Modern dance crazes like the Cupid Shuffle, Whip/Nae Nae or the Cha-Cha Slide are easy to learn and probably already familiar to some students.

How to Play:

This activity is as simple as pressing play on a music device. Try adding a little extra difficulty by instructing the kids to freeze every time the music stops – it’s amazing how long a child can stand still for competitive reasons.

Old-Fashioned Field Games

Set up some Field Day favorites, like sack races and egg-and-spoon races. Have stations for kids to try all the activities and either keep score on teams, or just make it about having fun. The great thing about these games is that most students won’t know how to do them well, so it will be an even playing field for everyone.

What You’ll Need:

  • Potato sacks
  • Eggs or ping pong balls
  • Spoons
  • Any other items for your Field Day ideas

How to Play:

Decide which Field Day activities you want to include, and then go online to find out the official rules and supplies. Feel free to tweak the games to fit the children’s age or interests.

The last days of school should favor fun, and with these great PE activities your students are sure to start the summer with a smile. Check out our lesson plans for more PE inspiration.

How PE Teachers Can Self-Assess Their School Year

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

a physical education teacher smiles at the camera with his students playing in the background

The end of the school year is the perfect time to reflect on how the past ten months played out. While the summer vacation may be beckoning, take on one final exercise and do a self-assessment of your PE class performance. Self-assessment is a crucial part of self-guided professional development, and offers the opportunity to identify your strengths as well as areas where you could improve.

Self-assessment at the end of the school year leaves you with a couple of months to work on improvements and think about the new tools and games you may want to test out in the fall. By the time September comes around, you’ll be reinvigorated and brimming with fresh ideas for your class.

Where Do I Begin?

We know what you’re thinking: assessing yourself is easier said than done. Successful self-reflection hinges on asking the right questions, so here are a few probing questions to get you started:

What Were My Successes This Past School Year?

Self-assessments are not an opportunity to be hard on yourself. Whether it’s being proud that you made your PE class more inclusive, or the fact that you had a 100% class participation rate during a dance lesson, it’s important to reflect on the things that went well. After all, you’ll want to keep up the good work in future years! Take some time to document your successes, as fellow PE colleagues may appreciate hearing what worked.

What Were Some of My Lowest Points This Year?

Self-assessments are also an opportunity to be honest about the challenges you faced. No matter our profession, we all have moments we’re not proud of. Determining your lowest points may be a sobering experience, but calling out these challenges by name is one way to ensure they don’t happen again.

In What Areas Did I Improve the Most and How?

Teaching is about professional growth. Did you set a list of goals at the start of the school year? Or go into the gymnasium really wanting to target a certain area of your teaching? Think about the areas where you grew this past year and then determine exactly how you did it. Answering the “how” of this question will provide guidance for continued future success.

In Which Activity Do I Have the Greatest Challenge Engaging Students?

A successful PE class relies on class participation. This is an important question that can lead you to adapt the way you present exercises and the manner in which you interact with your students. There could be a number of factors causing a lack of participation — perhaps your activities simply don’t resonate with your students. Often, though, you’ll find an answer which can be more easily remedied in the new school year, such as adding more or less team sports or including more adaptive equipment into your lessons.

Turning Reflection into Action

After reflection, the next step is to take what you have learned and apply those lessons to your PE class. Spend part of the summer brainstorming what goals you’d like to achieve the following school year. Some of them may take specialized training or resources, and reflecting in June will mean you have extra time to complete that work.

Another method to keep working towards your goals is to share your reflections with another PE colleague. Talking through what you’ve found out in your self-assessment is a good way to compare notes and exchange ideas. What’s more, you’ll likely be motivated to stay on track if you know you have someone who can hold you to account.

If this is your first year doing a self-assessment, don’t worry. The more you do, the more natural self-reflection becomes. Keep the notes from all your self-assessments and you’ll be left with a detailed log of progress you can look back at over time.

Put a Fresh Spin on PE Classes with These 4 Global Games

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

kids laughing playing a game in the classroom

The closer we come to the end of the school year, the more difficult it becomes to keep kids active and engaged. As children look forward to their time away from education, teachers need to work harder to ensure that they remain focused during PE classes.

There are plenty of things that educators can do to help revitalize student passion for movement and fitness. One great option is to introduce new games and cultural ideas from around the world. While the games children play vary from place to place, they usually all have numerous benefits when it comes to promoting fitness, social skills and concentration levels.

Here are four global games you can use to pique interest in your end-of-year PE classes, while expanding your students’ geographical education.

1. Catch the Dragon’s Tail from China

Though it’s designed for younger children, this game is great for students of all age levels. It’s a simple and exciting activity that’s particularly useful when you want to get your PE class working together as a team. The more people participating, the more challenging and fun the game becomes.

Catch the Dragon’s Tail starts when the children in your class form a human chain, standing one behind the other, with their hands on the shoulders of their classmate. The child right at the front of the chain is the “dragon’s head” and the child at the back is the “dragon’s tail.” The aim of the game is for the head to catch the tail, while all the students behind the dragon’s head try to stop this from happening.

As soon as the dragon’s head captures the tail, he or she becomes the tail, and the next student takes their place as the head.

2. Statues from Greece

Another game originally created for younger children but perfect for all age groups, is Statues. This game comes from Greece, where dozens of marble statues make up the natural environment for children across the country.

To play, choose one student to be “it,” and have them cover their eyes while standing in the center of a large open space. The student will need to count to a random number (at least 10) before opening their eyes. While the student is counting, the other students need to scatter until he/she yells agalmata, or “statue” in Greek. Upon that word, all students must freeze in place and take on a famous statuesque pose.

The student who is it will go around tagging any moving statues, and trying to make stationary ones move or laugh. The last statue remaining is the winner, becoming the new it.

3. Sepak Takraw from the Philippines

The traditional game from the Philippines is perfect for children aged 5 and up. The word Sepak is the Malay word for “kick,” while Takraw is the Thai word for a woven or rattan ball. In other words, this is a kind of kick-based volleyball that uses a net, and requires children to use only their head, chest, knees or feet to touch the ball.

Sepak Takraw requires teachers to create small 8×8 grids for two groups of six children. Those children then need to divide into teams of three, which form a triangle shape either side of the net.  The goal is to hit the ball over the net in such a way that the opposing team can’t hit it back. The serving group scores points if the other group:

  • Catches or holds the balls
  • Allows the ball to hit the ground more than once
  • Doesn’t return the ball in three hits or less
  • Hits the balls out of bounds

4. Kin-Ball from Canada

Kin-ball is a game that originates from Quebec, Canada. It’s a team game that’s perfect for anyone aged 6 and up, and it can become more or less challenging depending on the age of the students involved. PE teacher Mario Demers created Kin-ball in 1987, and it’s known to some as “cooperative golf.”

To play Kin-ball, teachers will need to arrange students into groups of six, which are further divided into smaller teams of three. Each group of six will need two hoops and one ball. While one group is the “receiving” group, holding an empty hoop, the other is the “serving” group, holding a ball inside their group. The serving group will drop to a knee, holding their hoop high, and one player will let go of the hoop to punch the ball towards the receiving group. The goal is for the receiving group to move to capture the ball in their hoop.

Kin-ball is a great way to get children active, and encourage them to work together more efficiently in teams.

Expanding the World of Physical Education

There are dozens of exciting global games that can add a fresh spin to PE for students who are becoming bored or distracted during standard activities. These unique games not only encourage new forms of movement in children, but can also improve teamwork and introduce students to new cultures from around the world.

For more PE ideas, check out our lesson plans.

What the 2016 Shape of the Nation Report Says About Recess

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

four kids playing on recess equipment

The latest Shape of the Nation report included a combination of recess and research. Experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and SHAPE America have poured vast amounts of time and energy into figuring out how our children can get the most out of recess.

In the U.S., two recesses rarely look the same. Only eight states have policies that require schools to offer recess, and researchers found there were no real guidelines in any part of the country. This despite the recommendations that children engage in at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day.

With that in mind, there’s no time like the present to reexamine the way your school looks at recess. This summary of the report’s 19 strategies should serve as a good start.

Formalize the Fun

Ever heard of a recess curriculum? One of the broad strategy recommendations of the Shape of the Nation report is to make significant leadership decisions so recess becomes a priority. This doesn’t mean recess should be rigid and regimented, but it does mean your school should have a written physical education plan so all school staff and supervisors understand why daily physical activity benefits their students’ health and focus.

Sit down with teachers, parents, and students and create a set of policies to guide recess. This can involve everything from designating indoor and outdoor play spaces to figuring out how to keep students safe if a freak snowstorm hits during recess. Your strategy should include your school’s philosophy about recess, the goals it will take to get there, and who is responsible for taking on each step.

If you’re not sure where to start, the CDC has a self-assessment tool schools can use to see where they’re doing well and the areas in which they still need improvement.

From Planning to Playground

It’s time to adapt your schoolyard or indoor recess space so students benefit from your planning.

When possible, schools should provide ample play equipment. The types of equipment will vary, based on the age categories of your school. Educators should look beyond soccer balls and jump ropes and ensure their bounty of recess gear includes equipment that is inclusive for children of all ages and abilities. Consider balls of different size, textures, and color, as well as manipulative equipment that can be used by children with gross motor delays.

In addition to equipment, the report recommends creating designated physical activity zones. For example, your schoolyard could be split into three areas: one each for sports, fitness skills, and relaxation. This schoolyard division will make recess more satisfying for students and avoid the accidents that inevitably happen when two sports collide. One of your physical activity zones should also acknowledge that exercise doesn’t just come in the form of traditional sports. Drama productions, mazes, and obstacle courses can be created by more creative staff members and will serve the same positive purpose: getting children on their feet and having fun.

Finally: safety first. The Shape of the Nation report found that just under half of American schools post safety rules and guidelines for equipment, despite almost all schools having this equipment available to students. Creating an accessible list of rules and ensuring play equipment meets safety standards is an excellent preventative measure your school should take.

Activate Your Community

Everyone should be invested and engaged in making recess a success. If you laid out supervisory roles in your written recess plan, now is the time to implement them. While most schools require teachers and parents to be supervisors, less encourage them to be physical activity facilitators. Facilitators guide students through different activities, which helps reduce injury, bullying, and exclusionary behavior. While safety supervisors should be adults, physical activity facilitators can be found within your student body. Allowing older students to organize and facilitate an activity of their choice is essential in positive youth development and can create valuable peer leadership opportunities.

Tweak for Next Year

No strategy is complete without a means to assess it. The report recommends schools gather information about recess: how much intense physical activity is the average child getting, how is this affecting classroom outcomes, discipline rates, etc. Gathering this information will help you constantly refine your recess plan and provide a source of evidence if anyone ever challenges your school’s recess values.

Physical activity time is an essential part of a child’s school day. By incorporating all or some of the Shape of the Nation’s strategies, you can be sure you’re making recess the best it can be.

How Physical Education Can Help Students Beat Exam Stress

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

a high school teach helps a student during his exam

Did you know that almost a third of children in the U.S. say they have experienced symptoms of stress? This stress impacts everything from academic performance to behavior in classrooms. So, what can be done to change this, especially during high-stress times like final exams?

Physical education teachers are in a good position to help students work through anxiety and stress with activity. By introducing physical activity as a form of stress relief during exam time, students have shown improved concentration and a marked reduction in fatigue. When outside stressors affect the brain, the entire body is impacted, as well. That means, when the body feels good, the mind is likely to follow. Take a look at some of the key factors that come into play when adopting stress-reduction exercise routines into daily life.

Exercise as a Stress Reliever

In addition to being a contributor to overall health and well-being, exercise has a direct impact on the body’s ability to react positively to stressors. At any level of fitness, from beginner to intermediate, individuals can train their body to manage day-to-day stresses in a manageable fashion. What’s more, children up to age 18 need 60 minutes of aerobic activity a day to maintain high levels of health and fitness.

Some of the benefits to adapting healthy lifestyles to include daily physical fitness are:

  • Pumping up endorphins. By engaging in health-focused exercise routines, individuals are able to see increases in the level of endorphins – the brain’s feel-good hormones – produced by the body. In no time at all, these increased levels of “pleasure pangs” spill over into all aspects of life; be it relieving stress levels at home or in the workplace. Try running on the track, enjoying a brisk nature hike or even shooting a couple games of basketball with a few friends after school or during lunch to see the benefits in motion.
  • Boosting overall mood. One major benefit to exercise is an increase in self-confidence. Studies have also shown that individuals who exercise on a regular basis are less likely to develop depression and bouts of anxiety.
  • Improving sleep cycles. Don’t forget the healing and restorative power of sleep: a fully actualized and regular exercise regimen naturally tires out the body, making it more susceptible to deep sleep and the possibility of waking up more refreshed to tackle the day. This benefit in particular becomes vital when adolescents reach high school; dealing with above-average stressors, students who have more sleep perform much better in national testing.

Stress-Free PE Activities

Exercising shouldn’t be an added source of stress. Some students suffer anxiety when it comes to traditional PE activities, like laps or obstacle courses, because there is so much competitiveness, discomfort and high expectations — just like during their exams.

Make sure your PE classes provide students with a healthy break from their other school stresses with these ideas for fun and pressure-free lessons:

Freeze Dance

This fun-filled activity can be achieved by simply pressing play on a music device. Modern dance crazes like the Cha-Cha Slide, the Cupid Shuffle and Whip/Nae Nae are crowd favorites. The fun part for educators is in knowing that students have no idea they are enduring intense physical exercise while performing some of their favorite dance moves. Try adding a little extra fun to the mix by instructing kids to freeze every time the music stops.

Yoga

By integrating controlled poses, deep breathing and stretching into exercise routines, students find true inner calm with yoga. Not only does it offer immediate stress relief, but it also promotes an overall sense of well-being while lowering anxiety levels significantly. The only materials needed are a mat, a towel and some inspiration for sequences.

Ultimate Frisbee

This game has lots of twists and turns and is fun for all fitness levels. It also has the added benefit of being played outdoors, offering students a breath of fresh air. So when the weather’s good, seize the opportunity to introduce Ultimate Frisbee into your lesson plan.

It’s clear that exercise and stress relief go together. PE teachers can help students deal with their everyday stressors with activities that improve physical and emotional health. Just make sure your lesson plans don’t add to your students’ burdens by creating more risk of failure.

What are your favorite activities to help your students burn off anxiety?

Announcing the Inclusive PE Workshop Contest Winner!

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

PE Class

In partnership with Let’s Move! Active Schools, we hosted the Sportime featuring SPARK Inclusive PE Workshop Contest to provide schools with a chance to win a new SPARK Inclusive PE Workshop, Guidebook, and Sportime Equipment Package. The hands-on Inclusive PE Workshop provides strategies to create an inclusive environment, adapt activities and equipment, and accommodate students during skill-based instruction. Entries were open 3/14/17 – 4/30/17.

We received over 400 entries for the Inclusive PE Workshop Contest! Thank you to all of the teachers who spent time completing the form for a chance to win.

Congratulations to the winning school!

Palm Valley Elementary

Litchfield Park, Arizona

Application submitted by: Kelly Jordan, Physical Education Teacher

 

Palm Valley Elementary implemented “Inclusion Revolution” during the 2015-2016 school year to create a more inclusive environment throughout the school. The school also practices Reverse Mainstreaming in the Adapted PE class, so non-disabled peers join Adapted PE as tutors. The peer tutors provide physical support and positive social interactions. While the physical education program has strong administrative support, the school faces challenges with limited professional development for teachers working with students with disabilities.

“The opportunity for our physical education staff to attend the Inclusive PE Workshop focused on our students with disabilities will be incredibly beneficial…it will help us better meet the needs of all the students that we educate through the creation of a more inclusive environment where all students can be successful. Overall, this opportunity would benefit the thousands of students that attend schools in our district through the creation of a more inclusive environment in PE class where students are supported, practice healthy habits, create positive relationships with peers, and increase physical activity. The hope is that the successes and the acceptance of students with disabilities will continue throughout the rest of our schools and in the entire school district, which in turn will make a positive impact into our community.”  — Kelly Jordan, PE Teacher at Palm Valley Elementary

Palm Valley Elementary is planning their Inclusive PE Workshop for September so that the teachers can begin implementing the SPARK Inclusive PE resources with the new school year.

The Winning School Receives:

Total award value = over $3,500!

Looking for funding for your school’s Inclusive PE program? Search for funding opportunities on the SPARK Grant-Finder.