Archive for the ‘SPARK’ Category


SHAPE America National Convention 2016 Highlights

Friday, April 15th, 2016

Thank you to everyone who spent time with us during the SHAPE America National Convention in Minneapolis! We had a great time celebrating Sportime’s 50th birthday and introducing the new “Sportime featuring SPARK” brand, here to serve all of your physical education, health, and nutrition education needs.

Here are just a few highlights – see you next year in Boston!

 

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Sportime Celebrates 50 Years of Innovation in Physical Education

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

Strengthens partnership with SPARK™ to offer one stop shop for evidence-based PE solutions 

 Sportime & SPARK to honor 2016 Teachers of the Year at the SHAPE America National Convention

GREENVILLE, Wis., March 23, 2016 – Sportime®, the award-winning physical activity equipment brand of School Specialty, Inc., is proud to commemorate 50 years serving physical education teachers, youth & recreation leaders and child care providers with the most advanced, research-based physical activity products and resources. In recognition of this milestone, Sportime continues to expand its offering and build its partnership with the SPARK™ (Sports, Play and Active Recreation for Kids) PE curriculum, launching the new “Sportime featuring SPARK” virtual storefront at Sportime.com.

Various events throughout the year will highlight the brands’ remarkable achievements, including the exclusive, almost 30-year exclusive sponsorship of the SHAPE America National Teacher of the Year (TOY) program, which will take center stage at the SHAPE America National Convention & Expo to be held April 5-9 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Since 1966, Sportime has remained committed to enhancing the health and wellness of our nation’s youth by helping them move more. Through expert-developed physical education, fitness and sports equipment, Sportime has offered creative solutions inspired by PE teachers supporting children of all abilities. Over the years, Sportime has grown from its humble beginnings as a supplier of products to the niche summer camp market to becoming a leading provider of recreational and sports equipment to the larger K-12 physical education and physical activity market. The brand also has evolved from exclusively providing supplies and equipment to offering coordinated PE and health curricula through its alignment with SPARK.

Reflections on 50 Years of Sportime: A History of Helping Kids to Keep Moving

  • 1966: Sportime is founded by Larry Joseph as the Select Service & Supply Co. in Atlanta, GA to supply products and equipment to summer camps in the Northeast region of the U.S.
  • 1972: Company founder Larry Joseph and future Sportime President Peter Savitz set their sights on expanding market opportunities for products.
  • 1978: Transition to larger education market is completed with the launch of Sportime’s first catalog aimed at the K-12 PE community.
  • 1989: Sportime evolves to offer coordinated PE and health curricula in conjunction with PE supplies and equipment, through its partnership with SPARK — best known for its evidence-based curriculum and teacher training that ensure all students are actively engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity during PE classes. Sportime is selected as the official supplier of equipment used in the original SPARK research study.
  • 1989: Sportime and SPARK are awarded exclusive sponsorship of the SHAPE America Teacher of the Year program, which recognizes outstanding teacher performance and ability to motivate young students to participate in a lifetime of physical activity.
  • 1992: Sportime offers other specialized solutions to encourage physical and mental ability in children. The Company produces its first Abilitations catalog for physical and occupational therapists helping children with special needs.
  • 1999: School Specialty acquires Sportime.
  • 2001: Special needs offering expands with launch of the Integrations product line, which provides solutions for sensory integration challenges.
  • 2002: School Specialty acquires the licensing rights to become the exclusive distributor of SPARK.
  • 2006: School Specialty adds solutions in speech and language by acquiring the Speech Bin.
  • 2016: “Sportime featuring SPARK” virtual storefront is launched, providing a single source for everything needed to teach physical education and physical activity, and promote lifelong health and wellness.
  • 2016: SPARK and Sportime acquire rights to Healthy Kids Challenge® (HKC), a nationally recognized nutrition education program providing evidence-based information and best practices to help children develop skills for healthy eating and physical activity choices.

“This is truly a momentous occasion as we look back on 50 years of an incredible legacy in enhancing the well-being of our children through the power of physical activity, nutrition and education,” commented Dr. Kymm Ballard, Executive Director of SPARK. “We have made tremendous strides in developing and delivering research-based tools and curricula, and shaping best practices and standards that support and motivate our youth, the future producers and leaders, to pursue active and healthy lives. We have seen first-hand the transformative impact this has had on teachers, students and their families, including lower obesity rates which in turn have reduced the burden that communities carry in dealing with related chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. I’m enormously proud of our talented team and all their contributions to building the ground-breaking and holistic platform that Sportime, SPARK and now Healthy Kids Challenge is today. We look ahead to many more years of growth and success.”

 

Don’t Miss Sportime Featuring SPARK at the 2016 SHAPE America National Convention & Expo!

As part of the 50th anniversary celebration, Sportime and SPARK will be hosting a number of insightful presentations, product demonstrations, and fun drawings and giveaways at this year’s SHAPE America National Convention, the meeting place for educators and students in the fields of health, physical education, recreation and dance. Included will be special sessions with past and current Teachers of the Year; the Local Education Agency (LEA) Coordinators; and the SPARK Innovation Team, including Principal Dr. Thom McKenzie. Sportime and SPARK are also proud partners of the Let’s Move! Active Schools interactive session. Attendees are invited to visit the Sportime featuring SPARK booth (#401) and engage with the team during the Heart Zones and Speedstacks demos, as well as participate in daily games for a chance to win an Apple Watch and limited edition Sportime gear. Sportime and SPARK are especially honored to continue MVP sponsorship of the Convention, including the Hall of Fame Banquet where the 2016 Teacher of the Year winners will be announced.

“Celebrating five decades of Sportime is testament to the quality and depth of the brand and the people behind it who have been developing innovative physical education equipment for years,” stated Doug Welles, Vice President, Specialty Businesses. “Physical education represents one of School Specialty’s key growth initiatives and with Sportime, SPARK and the addition of HKC, we are uniquely positioned to offer our customers a blend of equipment and curriculum that fosters physical well-being and health. We continue to drive innovation in our offerings, support our customers with the domain expertise they require, and align ourselves with the right industry partners to help students and those responsible for their wellness. We look forward to the coming year and building upon our successes.”

For more information on Sportime & SPARK, go to www.Sportime.com and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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SPARK Acquires Healthy Kids Challenge Program

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

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The world’s most researched physical education curriculum expands with integration of evidenced-based program for school nutrition and wellness.

hkc-logo2GREENVILLE, Wis., March 15, 2016 – School Specialty, Inc., a leading distributor of supplies, furniture and both curriculum and supplemental learning resources to the education marketplace, today announced that its SPARK® physical education brand has acquired the rights to Healthy Kids Challenge® (HKC), a nationally recognized program providing evidence-based information and best practices to help children develop skills for healthy eating and physical activity choices.

Founded eighteen years ago (1998) under the auspices of Cooking Light magazine and directorship of Vickie L. James, RD, LD, Healthy Kids Challenge has grown as an award-winning nonprofit dedicated to helping schools and community programs nationwide problem-solve barriers and create policies and practices in nutrition education. HKC has provided quality, research-based resources including training, healthy eating lesson plans, and activities that motivate wellness with interactive learning and goal setting. The program is aligned with the most current health education standards and guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and has built collaborative partnerships with leading organizations and professionals to serve hundreds of schools and thousands of children across the country. One of its many accolades is the Anita Owen Award for Most Innovative Educational Program from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (American Dietetic Association).

Commenting on today’s news, Dr. Kymm Ballard, Executive Director of SPARK & Sportime, School Specialty Physical Education stated, “With physical activity and healthy eating going hand in hand, it has been an organic and instrumental partnership between SPARK and HKC since 2010. It seemed only natural that we combine forces in the areas of physical and nutrition education to further develop evidence-based wellness programs that help our children and families reduce their obesity risk and halt the development of serious chronic illnesses such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease that have a costly impact on public health. The major appeal of the HKC curriculum has been its differentiated and validated approach and we praise the innovative and effective work of the HKC team for almost two decades. This new phase in the SPARK-HKC relationship greatly supports our mutual objectives to expand a curriculum-based physical education and nutrition/health portfolio with comprehensive solutions and services. We look forward to continued success!”

For more than 25 years SPARK has provided 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.

Ed Carr, School Specialty’s Executive Vice President and Chief Sales Officer, stated, “The physical education category is one of our key growth channels and with the addition of Healthy Kids Challenge, we significantly enhance our collective offering. With the increased focus on health and wellness across schools throughout North America, it has become increasingly important to provide educators with the evidence-based and innovative training, equipment and support resources that advance their efforts in nurturing the physical, mental and emotional well-being of their students, and by extension communities. This also ties nicely with our expanding Health Care initiatives through SOAR Life Products. We will continue to focus our resources on growing our proprietary SPARK and Sportime brands, while leveraging the Healthy Kids Challenge offering, and look forward to welcoming the HKC program to the SSI family.”

“To be able to make a difference in the world is so humbling and gratifying, and to see the Healthy Kids Challenge grow and be nurtured by great partners like SPARK who share a similar philosophy of providing behavioral and environmental change programs and care as much about children as the HKC team does is exciting,” stated Director and Creator Vickie L. James, RD, LD. HKC stands beside the SPARK program and School Specialty in supporting schools and youth initiatives across the country to ‘Take the Challenge’ and to serve as key ‘KidLinks™’ in providing solutions for students and their families to eat healthy, move more and enjoy a balanced life. As my colleague Claudia Hohnbaum (Assistant Director) and I look towards retirement shortly, we can feel comfort in knowing that the HKC program is in excellent hands under the SPARK umbrella. We look forward to seeing the HKC work expand and reach even more kids and families!”

With the dissolving of the Healthy Kids Challenge nonprofit, SPARK & Sportime will assume ownership of all educational materials and programs. The HKC staff of registered and licensed dietitians will continue to serve as training, mentorship and coaching resources for SPARK.

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 www.sparkpe.org.

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. Through its SSI Guardian subsidiary, the Company is also committed to school, healthcare and corporate workplace safety by offering the highest quality curriculum, training and safety and security products. Finally, through its SOAR Life Products brand, the Company offers thousands of products that sharpen cognitive skills and build physical and mental strength in fun and creative ways. From childhood through adulthood, they help individuals live life to the fullest – engaged, happy and well.  SOAR Life Products is a customized offering for hospitals, long-term care, therapeutic facilities, home care, surgery centers, day care centers, physician offices, and clinics. For more information about School Specialty, visit www.schoolspecialty.com.

@SchoolSpecialty

Connect with School Specialty on social media; search School Specialty on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. For Ideas and resources, educational trends and inspiration for today’s educators – visit the Schoolyard blog.

Recap: 2015 SPARK Institutes

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

Thank you to all 2015 Institute attendees!

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

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

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Early Childhood Institute 2015

After School Institute 2015

After School Institute 2015

PE Technology Institute 2015

PE Technology Institute 2015

SPARKabc's Institute 2015

SPARKabc's Institute 2015

K-6 Level 2 Institute 2015

K-6 Level 2 Institute 2015

K-2 PE Institute 2015

K-2 PE Institute 2015

3-6 PE Institute 2015

3-6 PE Institute 2015

Middle School PE Institute 2015

Middle School PE Institute 2015

High School PE Institute 2015

High School PE Institute 2015

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!

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1993 Governors Award

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

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How to Use SPARK Integrations

Friday, February 7th, 2014

If you are a SPARK physical activity or physical education program user, you’ve most likely heard about our fabulous, but not-yet-famous SPARK Integrations on the back side of each activity plan. Found next to the Extensions and just above the Tips and Pointers, these little nuggets are a not-so-hidden gem that can be used to help integrate other subject areas into your PA/PE program, or to infuse some wellness messages or physical activity elsewhere throughout the day. Each program has their own unique topics appropriate for the participants of that program.

  • Early Childhood integrations are all of the Academic persuasion and include Art, Literacy, Mathematics, Music, Nutrition, and Science.
  • After School integrations reinforce learning from the activity, increase MVPA (Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity) at home, and coincide with the Think Abouts used at the end of the activity. They are all Home Plays, meaning they give information to kids to use in their home life and include Move More, Character Matters, Fitness Focus, and Food Facts integrations.
  • K-2 Physical Education features Academic, Home, and Wellness integrations.
  • 3-6 Physical Education includes Academic, Home, Wellness, and Fun Fact integrations.
  • Middle School Physical Education has Home, Wellness, Global, and Multicultural integrations.
  • High Schools Physical Education includes Home, Wellness, Global/Multicultural, and Sport Literacy integrations.

Please explain these!

Academic integrations link PE to the classroom and back. These range in subject matter from literacy to math to science. These are one of the many ways SPARK helps to address the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics (Examples: 3-6 Flying Disc: Corner to Corner Give and Go and EC Super Stunts: Animal Movements 1)

Home and Move More integrations promote physical activity at home with friends or family members. (Example: AS Cool Cooperatives: Kin-Ball Cooperative Golf)

Wellness integrations provide tips on nutrition, safety, health, etc. (Example: K-2 Catching and Throwing: Switcheroo)

Fun Facts are only found in the 3-6, but these are some doozies! They include an interesting short story or tall tale that you and your students will get a kick out of and share with others. They are connected to the activity by name or theme, but not necessarily by a straight line. (Example: 3-6 Soccer: Soccer Golf)

Multicultural connect activities to diverse cultures found locally and regionally. (Example: MS Dance: Create a Poco Loco)

Global connect activities and/or units to history, customs, and practices of countries around the world. (Example: MS Golf: Bocce Golf)

Sport Literacy integrations provide useful skill, strategy, or game regulation specifics that pertain to each unit. (Example: HS Badminton: Win the Point)

Character Matters help develop social skills and positive character traits like fair play, initiative, trust, etc. (Example: AS Cool Cooperatives: Hog Call)

Fitness Focus and Food Facts: I don’t think I need to describe these other than to let you know they are great! (Examples: link to AS Great Games: Builders/Bulldozers and AS Super Sports: Mini-Basketball

 

Sounds cool, but how am I going to use them?

Teachers of physical education and physical activity (PE Specialists, Classroom Teachers, Activity Leaders, Early Childhood Leaders, etc.) use the integrations in a variety of ways. Here are a few ideas:

Read during Warm-ups: As students/participants are warming up (e.g. during Perimeter Move) read the Integration aloud to set the stage for the activity to follow. This works best with the types of integrations that give information about that activity, like the Wellness, Multicultural and Global, Fun Fact, and Character Matters integrations.

As an Extension of the Activity: Many of the integrations are actually hidden extensions in that they change the way the activity is played and the focus has now been placed on something math, literacy, or science-related. These Academic Integrations (found in EC, K-2, and 3-6) can be used during the middle of the lesson as an extension to integrate these academic subjects INTO Physical Education. These vary from a quick science fact about aerobic capacity to a math extension that changes the focus of the game to utilize mathematical skills. (E.g. 3-6 Jump Rope: Jumping Color Tag)  When using any of these, it’s wise to check with the classroom teacher to see if the level of academics is appropriate for his/her class and to prepare for teaching the extension instead of the activity as written on the front page.

Read during Cool-down:  While students are cooling down (e.g. stretching) read the integration and discuss using pair/share. For example, after playing Durango Boot (AS Flying Disc) read the Character Matters integration and ask students to discuss the how competition motivated them in the game with a partner. Call upon 3 pairs to share what was discussed. This tends to work best with Home Plays, Move Mores (in AS), Character Matters (as a reflection on behavior during class) and Sport Literacy (to review rules/concepts learned during the lesson.)

Put on Bulletin Boards: Print copies of the integrations. (For MS they can be found on SPARKfamily.org under each unit’s instructional media in the Planning section, just below Unit Plans but all other programs they are on each activity’s backside.) Post the integrations for each week’s lessons so students can read throughout the week as they pass by. This use works best with all types of integrations except those providing an extension to the activity by changing the focus to something academic. Ask students questions about them during roll-call or warm-up to assess their learning. Reinforce students who respond appropriately.

Share with Classroom Teachers: It’s all great to integrate other topics into PE to help address Common Core State Standards, but what about a little reciprocity? To help integrate PE concepts into academic classes, share integrations with your classroom teachers. If you are a classroom teacher, they could be used as short physical activity breaks and an infusion of wellness facts throughout the day. The types of integrations that work best here are those pertaining to Wellness and any Home Play activities.

Use with the Little Ones: If you are a leader of a pre-school/early childhood program, there are a variety of ways you can use the integrations. They serve as academic enrichment tools for before, during and after a SPARK lesson. Use the Music integrations during circle time and the Art integrations during center time. E.g. “We made an umbrella with our parachute today. Can you draw an umbrella?”  (Example: EC Parachute Play: Umbrella)

An example of a Science integration is a discussion about baby animals in a SPARK activity called Guppies. Math integrations may include the concepts of shapes, counting, and grouping. Many of the Literacy integrations suggested in SPARK can be easily added to circle time because they prompt children to act out a story using a skill learned during movement time. All of the books suggested in the Literacy Integrations coordinate with the lessons and relate to one or more of the following themes: colors, language arts, mathematics, movement skills and knowledge, nutrition, personal development, science, self-image, and social development. (Example: EC Building Blocks: Creative Words and Movements)

The Early Childhood program also includes Family Fun activities (in the bottom left corner on the backside of activity plans) which serve as a type of Home Play to promote physical activity at home with their families.

 

Please share how you use them!

Have you been using integrations in these or other ways? If so, please share with us at SPARK. Email your ideas at spark@sparkpe.org. We’d love to share your best practices with the SPARK family!

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

http://sallis.ucsd.edu

Back to School Jitters: How to Start The School Year Right in PE Class

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Students aren’t the only ones who experience the anticipation the first day of school can bring—teachers do too.

In order to help yourself and your students relax, shake off the first-day jitters, and get a great start to this school year, there are some things you can do. Best of all, you won’t break the budget within the first week of classes.

Here’s how to start the school year right in PE class.

Create a Theme

For many students, the first day of a school year is a magical, exciting time. You can capitalize on their feelings of wonder by creating a fun and engaging theme for your classroom or gym.Spark PE

Depending on the age of your students, you can adopt an undersea theme, a space theme, a professional sports theme, or if you live in a hyper-local area, you can assimilate your theme to match the local college or professional team’s colors.

The benefits of this are many: you will make the kids feel at home, they’ll have something interesting and stimulating to look at, and it will encourage conversation among students who don’t know each other already.

And since you’re in PE, you can integrate fun games and activities into your theme. For example, if you’re theme is all about the LSU Tigers and your class is full of elementary school students, you can create a scavenger hunt using the team’s colors (purple and gold). If you go with a zoo theme, you can create games where your students must point out what animals belong in what climates and what sounds they make.

Careful Commentary

PE class is a time to feel motivated and to grow physically and mentally. As we all know from our day-to-day interactions, a single message can be communicated very different ways, which will lead to very different outcomes. After all, it’s not what you say; it’s how you say it, right?

The point here is that messages should be communicated in such a way to make students, especially the younger ones, feel comfortable, welcome, and encouraged. While PE class is a time for challenges, it is not a time to feel overly pressured or defeated. Children who are less athletic or outgoing than others (which are the ones who need extra encouragement) don’t respond well to the throw-‘em-to-the-sharks or survival-of-the-fittest approach. In fact, it just makes PE the most dreaded part of the day.

Consider using language in a specific way to make your students feel comfortable. Take these tips from our Friendly Phrasing video on our SPARK Trainer Tips page:

  • Rather than shouting, “Laps!”—that dreaded command that is heard mostly as “Keep running in a circle over and over until you’re exhausted!”—try a term like “Circuit.” This more technical, athletic, and interesting term can help students to realize they’re doing something worthwhile and challenging. Running is running, but the way students think about it is what encourages them. Do you want your students to think: running in circles or endurance training?
  • Rather than asking students to “hold hands” which has all kinds of cootie-filled implications, ask them to “join hands.” This more approachable request removes the awkward component for students; especially those in a co-ed class.
  • Perhaps the most important is rephrasing the idea of “winners and losers.” This good/bad dichotomy is what confirms the less agile or social students’ preconceptions that they are failures in PE. Try instead “success and try again.” If your students are practicing shooting a basketball into a hoop, the students who make it can step to the “success” square while the others can step into the “try again” square. This perpetuates the idea that there is no failure; there is no losing. There is only getting back up and trying again with the awareness that it’s okay to not get it right away.

There’s no need for excessive coddling, but until you get the cue that your students are comfortable and having a good time, make sure you pay special attention to word choice. Keep up everyone’s spirits with positive communication and reinforcement.

Continue the Fun

Now that you’ve created this incredibly engaging environment where you’re able to proficiently teach students their lessons in a variety of ways, keep going.

Maintain your theme throughout the year, or switch it up once in awhile; either way, make sure you always give your students an active atmosphere to overcome challenges, think critically, and move, move, move.

If you’re feeling particularly entrepreneurial, why not involve other classrooms too? Wouldn’t it be fun if your students could go to the gym for one or two math classes a semester to get real-life instruction on sine waves or parabolas using the flight of basketballs and volleyballs? The same goes for science class, too. Why not simulate the solar system using students as the planets in the large, planetarium-like gym? Combining these academic disciplines with movement is a great way to help your students truly learn the material instead of allowing them to memorize it.

Give Your Lessons a SPARK

Of course, it’s difficult to maintain the same level of excitement throughout the year that you experience on the first day.

In order to prevent the mid-semester doldrums from derailing your engaging classroom, call on SPARK to add a jolt into your learning environment. These clinically proven methods, techniques, and advice help you reach your children like never before. You’ll be able to ensure that your students are doing more than running laps or throwing tennis balls at a wall.

They’ll be learning. Now that’s a great way to start off the school year right.

CDC’s Community Transformation Grants (CTGs)

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Created by the Affordable Care Act, Community Transformation Grants (CTGs) are aimed at helping communities implement projects proven to reduce chronic diseases – such as diabetes and heart disease. Over $100M is available for the current year, and local/state health departments are a perfect fit for this opportunity!

Deadlines:

Letter of Intent: June 6, 2011

Application: July 15, 2011

Summary:

  • Support evidence and practice-based community and clinical prevention and wellness strategies that will lead to specific, measurable health outcomes to reduce chronic disease rates.
  • To create healthier communities by
  1. Building capacity to implement broad evidence and practice-based policy, environmental, programmatic and infrastructure changes in large counties, and in states, tribes and territories, including in rural and frontier areas
  2. Supporting implementation of such interventions in five strategic areas (“Strategic Directions”) aligning with “Healthy People 2020” focus areas and achieving demonstrated progress in the following five performance measures outlined in the Affordable Care Act: 1) changes in weight 2) changes in proper nutrition 3) changes in physical activity 4) changes in tobacco use prevalence 5) changes in emotional well being and overall mental health

Eligibility:

  • Local governmental agencies, state governmental agencies, Health Departments, ministries of health, and other governmental agencies
  • Federally recognized American Indian Tribes and Alaska Native Villages; Tribal organizations; Urban Indian Health Programs; Tribal and intertribal consortia
  • State nonprofit organizations
  • Local nonprofit organizations

Links:

CDC Community Transformation Grants Homepage

Grants.gov Notice and Application

Before You Apply:

SPARK can help you meet the requirements outlined in the CTGs application!

SPARK offers evidence-based Physical Education, Physical Activity and Coordinated School Health programs targeting pre-K through 12th grade students in and out of school, and our programs have been proven to WORK and LAST.

Click Here to download a detailed document that will explain how you can use SPARK to align with the goals of the CTG. This document includes information that shows:

  1. Alignment to the Strategic Directions and Strategies within the CTGs application
  2. Alignment to CDC’s long-term measures for addressing physical activity and nutrition
  3. Why you should partner with SPARK for your CTGS submission
  4. How SPARK deliverables align with CDC prevention outcomes
  5. Which SPARK Evaluation & Assessment options might be used to support your submission

Next Steps:

Contact Kymm Ballard, Ed.D at SPARK. She’ll ask you a few questions, learn about your current programs, and listen to your vision for creating a healthier community. Together, we’ll create a program that will WORK and LAST.

Kymm Ballard, Ed.D

Partnership Development Specialist

kballard@sparkpe.org