Archive for the ‘International PE’ Category

My favorite principal in Malaysia

Friday, April 4th, 2014

by Dr. Jim Sallis

I recently had an opportunity to visit Malaysia, to speak at the International Conference on Obesity and have meetings with collaborators. As part of tours of potential neighborhoods for an IPEN Adolescent study (, we visited a high school in Kuala Lumpur. The school was buzzing with activity due to a girls’ handball tournament after school. Handball is like soccer except you use the hands. Unexpectedly we were invited to meet the principal. While meeting with the principal we told her we were interested in physical activity. She immediately launched into a passionate endorsement of the importance of physical activity in school. She said it was essential to have a balance of movement and academics. She also said that physical activity helps students with their academic studies.

It was such a treat to hear this kind of enthusiasm for physical activity from a principal. I wish I heard this point of view more often in the US. She understood that children need to move and the brain and body are connected.

–  Jim Sallis

Here’s a picture of our group:


New Year’s Message from SPARK Principal Dr. Jim Sallis

Friday, January 17th, 2014


Wishing you all an active, healthy, and happy 2014.

I was able to attend the SPARK quarterly staff meeting in December and was pleasantly surprised at the significant accomplishments and progress. These were the most impressive learnings for me.

  • Thousands of teachers and activity leaders were trained, bringing evidence-based physical activity programs to tens of thousands more students.
  • Hundreds of videos illustrating SPARK lessons were recorded and posted online. This is an amazing resource that is much more effective than the printed page. Please use these videos.
  • I saw the first SPARK curriculum book in Mandarin Chinese. SPARK is launching in China, thanks to wonderful collaborators, partners, and advocates.
  • SPARK’s partnership in India continues to grow. These Asian countries are rapidly shedding their traditional active lifestyles, so programs to SPARK more movement are increasingly needed.

We have several new staff at SPARK who will bring new ideas and energy to our important work.  They will help us achieve our mission even better.  

I want to express my appreciation to the SPARK staff for their dedication to the mission of improving the lives of children through physical activity. I thank all of you who use SPARK and recommend it to others.

Have a great 2014.

Jim Sallis

Physical Educators North of the Border

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

I always liked the Canadian national anthem. Think it has a nice melody. I heard a real Canadian sing it in beautiful Banff at their national PHE (Physical and Health Education) conference this month, and she really belted it out with pride.

The conference was terrific. It was attended by 1,000 dedicated professionals, a nice mix of university pedagogy people, elementary and middle school practitioners, and a smattering of high school folks. All of them appeared to love their jobs, and yet, they experience some of the same challenges we do in the states (e.g., lack of administrative priority for PE, not enough elementary specialists, classroom teachers responsible to instruct PE but lacking some of the resources to actually do it, secondary people who place coaching first instead of teaching, just to name a few).

So while there were many similarities, there were some differences. What we refer to as Standards, they call Outcomes. Their provinces seem to have more autonomy when it comes to receiving funding then our states do, the weather is (generally speaking), colder more often, so outside activities are less frequent. And, I couldn’t help but notice that the % of overweight teachers appeared to be far lower than ours. I give them credit for walking the talk.

I presented a session called, “SPARK’s Greatest Hits,” but the surprise was that our greatest hits consisted of our unique teaching strategies rather than the terrific activities we’re known for. I incorporated a variety of content and instruction examples into 3 main themes:

1. Talk Less
2. Disguise and Differentiate
3. Modify Traditional Sports

One of our SPARK trainers there, Dan Cooney, led a session called, “Disguising Fitness.” It was a dynamic sampling of activities from elementary through middle school and the attendees had a great time “playing up a sweat.”

The handouts are posted on this website
If you are one of the very nice people I met at the conference, or at Mt. Royal College in Calgary, where I presented on several topics the day prior to leaving for Banff, I hope you’ll stay in touch with us at SPARK and take advantage of all the resources we have to offer.
If you’re one of the unfortunate few that hasn’t visited Canada for vacation or for professional growth, I strongly recommend planning a trip one day. I think you’ll find the people are more than accommodating, the physical educators are top notch and happy to share ideas, and the scenery (especially in Banff) is something very special.

Thanks to my new Canadian friends for a great trip, and special kudos to my fantastic hosts, Bill McGregor and Harry Deboer of School Specialty Canada, who made it all happen.

“Oh Canada, We Stand on Guard for Thee!”

-Paul Rosengard