Archive for the ‘SPARK’ Category


iRun 201

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

Happy high school student standing on track before big race

By: Dr. Derek J. Mohr & Dr. J. Scott Townsend, Appalachian State University

In our last blog, iRun 101, we outlined the scientific training principles, fitness guidelines, and training methods used to help students create individualized training programs, be active on a regular basis at an appropriate level, and achieve their personal fitness goals. Today we will extend the conversation, focusing on how the SPARK HS iRun unit specifically applies these principles, guidelines and methods.

101 Refresher

The SPARK iRun unit is a fitness-based unit designed to promote personal health, fitness and running performance. This unit challenges students to create a personalized aerobic training program based on their personal fitness level and goals.

iRun in SPARK High School PE

iRun is the latest SPARK HS PE program web unit and can accessed on SPARKfamily.com. iRun is considered a hybrid unit, combining aspects of both integrated fitness and games-based units in one. iRun is similar in structure to group fitness units (implements SPARK Fitness Instructor Certification and includes Basic Training and Create Your Own lesson formats) and uses lesson formats from games-based units (Personal Best, Fun-day-mentals Jigsaw, Adventure Race, Event). This unit draws on the best of both unit types to create an inspiring and supportive atmosphere where each student’s goal is to be their personal best.

iRun is comprised of user-friendly activity plans, instructional materials and assessments. iRun addresses SHAPE Standards 1-5.

1. Activity Plans

SPARK iRun Activity Plans follow a step-by-step process to ensure students and teachers are successful.

Step 1. Design – Students work individually or in similar fitness level groups to master aerobic training methods by creating personalized training programs to improve their current fitness levels.

Step 2. Practice & Refine – Students perform their personal workouts and adjust as necessary based on training principles and fitness guidelines.

Step 3. Compete – The unit culminates with a race (5k or other distance determined by teacher and students) where students are challenged to set and meet or beat their own personal goal time.

2. Instructional Materials

SPARK provides all necessary resources to support the successful implementation of activity plans.

  1. Content Cards – Defines components of health-related fitness, training methods and running form.
  2. Scorecards – Organizes multiple team scores and collects running times on one page.
  3. Workout Wristbands – Daily workout plan designed to be worn on student’s wrist, which provides quick and easy access to pacing information.
  4. Racing Bibs – Pre-made racing numbers for use in culminating event.

3. Authentic Assessment: Create a Program

In SPARK iRun, students are challenged to create a program that includes continuous, interval and circuit training workouts. Students create this personalized program by applying fundamentals mastered in basic training instruction. As part of the process, students practice, refine and, if they choose, lead classmates through their created workouts. iRun Create a Program focuses on SHAPE Standards 4 and 5.

iRun Teaching Tips

  • Utilize iRun Pace Chart to ensure accurate calculations as students develop workout pace.
  • Make sure students are racing the clock, not each other.
  • Encourage students to drink water before, during and after a run to ensure proper hydration.
  • Remind students to modify their programs as they become increasingly fit.

Get Equipped

Share Your Knowledge

Have you used a unit similar to iRun? What’s your experience? Any tips or hints you could share? Post a response below and let us know!

Current SPARKfamily members with High School access can find the new iRun unit under High School Web-Based Units. If you are not a current SPARKfamily member, you will receive 3-year access to the digital content when you purchase a SPARK High School curriculum set.

iRun 101

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

High school athletes at starting line for track meet race

By: Dr. J. Scott Townsend & Dr. Derek J. Mohr, Appalachian State University

iRun 101 is the first installment of a two-part blog series highlighting the latest SPARK High School web-unit: iRun.

R.U.N. SHAPE?

SPARK HS’s newest web-only addition, iRun, is a fitness-based running unit designed to promote personal health, fitness and running performance. Regardless of your students’ current fitness levels, iRun will inspire and support each individual student on the pathway to personal success.

iRun takes scientific training principles, fitness guidelines, and training methods and makes them easy to understand so that students can create individualized training programs, be active on a regular basis at an appropriate level, and achieve their personal fitness goals. Read on to learn more about the foundational components of the iRun unit:

Training Principles

A system for developing long-term changes and improvements in fitness levels:

  • Overload – adding resistance or increasing difficulty
  • Progression – rate of overload, resistance or difficulty
  • Individuality – personalized goals
  • Specificity – align program and exercises to personalized goals
  • Reversibility – use it or lose it

FITT Guidelines

Recommendations for providing details to a program:

  • Frequency – how often to workout
  • Intensity – how hard to workout
  • Time – how long to workout
  • Type – which method of training to use

Aerobic Training Methods

The approaches for applying training principles and FITT guidelines:

  1. Continuous – single activity, moderate intensity, extended period of time with no rest.
  2. Interval – single activity, short bursts of high intensity alternated with brief rest periods.
  3. Circuit – a series of different activities performed at high intensity, brief rest at end of series.

Moving On!

Be on the lookout for the iRun 201 blog where we will look at the specifics of the SPARK HS iRun unit, illustrate strategies and identify resources to assist you in successfully implementing this unit in your own program.

Share Your Knowledge!

What are your experiences using aerobic conditioning programs? What advice would you give to someone who is planning to use this type program for the first time? Post a response below and let us know!

Current SPARKfamily members with High School access can find the new iRun unit under High School Web-Based Units. If you are not a current SPARKfamily member, you will receive 3-year access to the digital content when you purchase a SPARK High School curriculum set.

SportFIT 201

Monday, September 11th, 2017

Group of young girls spinning on bicycles in gym

By: Dr. Derek J. Mohr & Dr. J. Scott Townsend, Appalachian State University

Welcome back! In our last blog, SportFIT 101, we provided an overview of SportFIT, which is SPARK’s High School PE high intensity, sport-like training program located on SPARKfamily.com. In this blog, we will showcase the SportFIT unit by sharing resources and tips to help you successfully implement this unit in your own program.

SportFIT Unit Overview

To foster an experience that is authentic, personally meaningful and fun, the SportFIT unit is formatted like a season. The season sequence is outlined below:

Pre-Season

  • Personal Best: Presidential Youth Fitness Program health-related fitness pre-assessment
  • Fun-day-mentals Jigsaw: Students learn and teach each other functional fitness moves

In-Season

  • Basic Training: five lessons, each with exercises to master and a workout to perform
  • Create Your Own: Students design their own SportFIT workouts
  • Adventure Race: SportFIT teams cooperate to complete a series of fitness challenges

Post-Season

  • SPARK Event: Culminating experience designed to bring the unit to a festive end

SportFIT Resources

Like all SPARK HS units, SportFIT is comprised of user-friendly activity plans, instructional materials and assessments. SportFIT addresses SHAPE National PE Standards 1-5.

  1. Activity Plans

SPARK SportFIT Activity Plans follow a step-by-step process to ensure students and teachers are successful. For example, Basic Training Activity Plans include four steps:

Step 1. ASAP. Students begin the day by completing previously mastered functional fitness moves as an Active Soon As Possible warm-up.
Step 2. Basic Training. Students practice, master and assess one another on the day’s exercises.
Step 3. SportFIT Workout Challenge. Students complete a workout using one of three formats: How many? How fast? How heavy?

  1. Instructional Materials

SPARK provides all necessary resources to support the successful implementation of activity plans.

1. Content Cards. Provides pictures and cues for each exercise.
2. Practice Plans. Includes sequential learning tasks and teaching tips for student coaches.

  1. Authentic Assessment

Multiple authentic assessments are provided in the SportFIT unit. An example of one such assessment is the SportFIT Performance Log. As part of daily practice during Basic Training, students are challenged to master the assigned primary exercise (PX), using the log to evaluate form, safety and etiquette. In addition, students calculate an estimated 1-repetition maximum weight for the PX. This assessment process engages students and makes learning more personally meaningful.

SportFIT Teaching Tips

Use the tips below to promote movement competence and confidence in SportFIT, giving students yet another great option for leading an active lifestyle.

  • Maximize Activity. Avoid waiting time by staging teams at different exercise stations.
  • Safety is Critical! Monitor students at all times to ensure safety cues are followed.
  • Technique is Key! Require students to use lighter weights until they master technique.
  • Modify Exercises. Match activities to students’ fitness levels and increase difficulty as students progress.

Get Equipped

Share Your Knowledge

Have you taught a unit similar to SportFIT? What’s your experience? Any tips or hints you could share? Post a response below and let us know!

Current SPARKfamily members with High School access can find the new SportFIT unit under High School Web-Based Units. If you are not a current SPARKfamily member, you will receive 3-year access to the digital content when you purchase a SPARK High School curriculum set.

SportFIT 101

Monday, September 4th, 2017

Three fit and beautiful young women lifting weights in a fitness club. Focus on the first girl in front.

By: Dr. J. Scott Townsend & Dr. Derek J. Mohr, Appalachian State University

SportFIT 101 is the first installment of a two-part blog series highlighting the latest SPARK High School web-unit: SportFIT.

Sport of Fitness

What would you get if you combined the best aspects of sport with the best aspects of fitness-based activities? You would get SportFIT!

SportFIT is SPARK’s high intensity, sport-like training program designed to improve each participant’s overall fitness. SportFIT relies on the unique characteristics of sport to motivate participants to fully engage in fitness-based activities, making the experience more authentic, personally meaningful and fun. For example, the SportFIT unit is configured like a sport season with pre- in- and post-phases, participants are called “athletes” and are part of a team, workouts are formatted as individualized, formal competitions, and the season ends with a festive culminating event to celebrate each athlete’s progress.

SportFIT Focus

In SportFIT, athletes address a wide range of fitness including:

  • Health-related: aerobic fitness, muscle endurance, strength and flexibility.
  • Skill-related: skill or task-specific fitness such as power, speed, balance, agility, etc.
  • Functional: daily-living fitness to perform activities like bending and lifting without fatigue.

SportFIT Workouts

Individualized workouts in SportFIT follow one of three formats:

  • How Many? A series of exercises is repeated as many times as possible in a set amount of time.
  • How Fast? Defined sets and reps of multiple exercises are completed as quickly as possible.
  • How Heavy? Defined sets and reps of one exercise using heaviest weight possible while maintaining proper form is completed.

Types of Exercises

SportFIT workouts include any or all of these types of exercises:

  • Cardio: performed for extended time; rope jump, running, cycling, rowing, etc.
  • Bodyweight: uses own weight for resistance; push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, lunges, etc.
  • Weight-based: uses equipment for resistance; kettlebells, medicine balls, dumbbells, etc.

Get Your FIT On!

Stay tuned for SportFIT 201, where we will showcase the SPARK HS SportFIT unit, sharing strategies and resources to help you successfully implement this unit in your own program.

Share Your Experience!

What are your experiences using or participating in the sport of fitness? What advice would you give to someone who is planning to implement this type of unit for the first time? Post a response below and let us know!

Current SPARKfamily members with High School access can find the new SportFIT unit under High School Web-Based Units. If you are not a current SPARKfamily member, you will receive 3-year access to the digital content when you purchase a SPARK High School curriculum set.

Our 7 Most Popular Articles Published Around the Web

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

young girl plays on the jungle gym

If you frequent the SPARK blog, you’ll know we’re passionate about children’s health and physical activity, but our blog isn’t the only place where we’re sharing our passion.

Our SPARK experts have been spreading their insight and knowledge across the Web for some time now. Because we don’t want you to miss out on any of this helpful information, we’ve rounded up 8 of our most popular articles on the web for you. Read on to find out more about these great examples of our thought leadership.

The Fall of Dodgeball: Why Schools are Removing Competitive Elimination Games from Their PE Curriculum

In this post on Edutopia.org, Jeff Mushkin explores why schools are getting rid of dodgeball and other elimination games. Reasons include a heavier focus on bullying prevention as well as trying to promote engagement from all students throughout entire physical activities. As a Director of Curriculum Development for Sportime featuring SPARK, Mushkin provides expert advice on the types of games and activities that can be used to replace dodgeball in PE lessons.

Is Gamification the Next Step in Physical Education?

Jeff Mushkin looks at the concept of gamification, which is the idea of introducing gaming principles to non-game activities, and how it can be incorporated into physical education programs. Discover his innovative ideas in this interesting piece on Edutopia.org.

Fit Vacation: How to Add Healthy Activities to Your Family Vacation

Vacations are a perfect time to relax, but they also pull you out of your normal routine. This usually means that your fitness goals are put on hold until you get back, but the good news is, they don’t have to be. With these tips from Dr. Kymm Ballard on The Active Times, you can head off on vacation knowing how to keep the whole family healthy while away from home.

Physical Activities that Provide Kids with Lessons in Leadership

Leadership is a skill kids can learn in multiple areas of life, from the classroom to the playing field to home. In this article on The Leadership Program, Dr. Kymm Ballard offers ideas on ways parents, teachers, and communities can get kids involved in physical activities that teach and nurture leadership skills.

Why You Shouldn’t Use Physical Education As Punishment

It’s not uncommon to see physical activity used as a punishment, particularly by teachers or coaches. One common example is requiring students to run extra laps. While this form of punishment can be effective, it comes with its downsides, too. In this post on TeachThought, Dr. Kymm Ballard discusses the problems with using physical education as a form of punishment, and how it can affect students and their relationship with physical activity later on in life.

Is Your Child Getting Enough Exercise?

Today, only one in three children are physically active on a daily basis, and an estimated 13 million youth in the US are obese. Could your child be among those who aren’t getting enough activity? In this piece on The Active Times, Dr. Kymm Ballard covers the statistics and national fitness guidelines on youth health. She also discusses what types of exercise your child should be getting and strategies to get them moving.

4 Habits Kids Should Learn to Become Healthy Adults

Forming habits takes time, but it helps to get a head start. If you want to set your child up for a healthy adulthood, get them started with the right attitude at a young age. Adults who ate healthier in their childhood, for example, tend to show better health later in life than their counterparts. This post on CaliDiet shows you how to develop important healthy habits that will last a lifetime.

Visit SPARK’s blog today to discover more insightful articles on children’s health and fitness.

Tabata 201

Monday, August 7th, 2017

young woman using a skipping rope

By: Dr. Derek J. Mohr & Dr. J. Scott Townsend, Appalachian State University

In our last blog, Tabata 101, we discussed the Tabata Protocol. Today we will extend the conversation, focusing on how to teach Tabata in a physical education setting.

Imagination Station

Imagine a PE class that operates like a wellness center (see this blog for more details)… one where motivated students choose from and enjoy participating in a variety of fitness stations (weight training, yoga, Tabata, fitness walking, cycling, etc.), where each station is led by certified student-instructors, focused on helping their peers develop personal fitness skills, knowledge and confidence. Read on to make this dream your reality…

Tabata Refresher

Tabata is a high intensity interval training (HIIT) program designed to get maximum fitness benefits in a short duration workout, making it a great option when you are pressed for time or want to add variety to a training program. Accordingly, Tabata can be a meaningful part of a well-rounded HS PE program.

Tabata in SPARK High School PE

In the SPARK HS PE program, Tabata is part of a larger unit called Group Fitness. As such, Tabata, like all other group fitness “mini-units,” consists of two progressive instructional activities:

  1. Basic Training

Here students master fundamental safety protocols and movement techniques associated with the unit content. In SPARK Tabata, students use the Content Cards to experiment with and master basic exercises. This may take multiple lessons as the teacher leads students through the mastery process. Tabata Basic Training focuses on SHAPE Standards 1, 2 and 3.

  1. Create a Workout

Here students create a series of personalized Tabata workouts by applying fundamentals mastered in basic training. As part of the process, students practice, refine and then lead classmates through their created workouts. In SPARK Tabata, students are challenged to create nine 4-minute Tabata workouts (3 workouts with 2 exercises, 3 with 4 exercises and 3 with 8 exercises). Tabata Create a Workout focuses on SHAPE Standards 4 and 5.

Tabata Teaching Tips

  • Encourage students to give Tabata a chance to help them improve aerobic and muscle fitness.
  • Focus students on safety, performance cues and personal fitness goals.
  • Modify activities to ensure safety, individual success and motivation.

Get Equipped

Share Your Knowledge

What are your experiences teaching Tabata? What advice would you give to someone who has never taught Tabata, but wants to? Post a response below and let us know!

Current SPARKfamily members with High School access can find the new Tabata unit under High School Web-Based Units. If you are not a current SPARKfamily member, you will receive 3-year access to the digital content when you purchase a SPARK High School curriculum set.

Tabata 101

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

People exercising with dumbbell at gym

By: Dr. J. Scott Townsend & Dr. Derek J. Mohr, Appalachian State University

Tabata 101 is the first installment of a two-part blog series highlighting the latest web-unit addition to the SPARK High School PE Group Fitness Unit.

Tabata… a HIIT for getting fit.

Tabata is a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) program designed to get maximum fitness benefits in a short duration workout, making it a great option when you are pressed for time or want a change from more traditional workout programs.

The Protocol

A single Tabata workout is 4 minutes in duration and consists of two parts: work and rest.

  1. Work: 20 seconds of full effort
  2. Rest: 10 seconds recovery
  3. Repeat: Complete workout/rest cycle 8 times
  4. Exercises: 1, 2, 4 or 8 exercises can be included per workout

An Example

  1. Push-up (20 sec), Rest (10 sec)
  1. Jumping Jacks (20 sec), Rest (10 sec)
  1. Air Squat (20 sec), Rest (10 sec)
  1. Jump Rope (20 sec), Rest (10 sec)
  1. Repeat 1-4 (4 min)

A Bit-a Tabata History

  • Who: The Tabata protocol was developed by researcher Izumi Tabata.
  • How: His landmark study compared the following training programs:
    • Traditional aerobic training: 5X/Week @ 60 min/workout
    • HIIT: 20 sec work, 10 sec rest repeated 8X
  • Results: HIIT and traditional trainings equally improved aerobic endurance. Tabata also improved anaerobic capacity while the traditional did not.
  • Summary: Tabata is an effective training protocol for improving aerobic and anaerobic fitness.

Try Tabata

Follow the guidelines below and give Tabata a try.

  • Bod Squad: Use body-weight exercises to reduce the need for specialized equipment.
  • Experiment: Try Tabata at a lower intensity to get comfortable with the protocol.
  • Choose Wisely: Select exercises you can perform safely and that match your fitness goals.
  • Modify: Alter exercises to match your current fitness level and progress as your fitness improves.
  • Stack It: When ready, try multiple Tabatas back-to-back with a brief rest (1-3 min) between each.
  • Warm-Up & Down: Use a dynamic, full body warm-up before and warm down afterwards.
  • Tech Support: Use a Tabata app to: select exercises, and add music to and/or time your workout.

Share Your Tabata Thoughts!

Stay tuned to for our next Tabata blog. In the meantime, we’re interested to know… What are your experiences engaging in Tabata? What advice would you give to someone who has never engaged in Tabata? Post a response below and let us know!

Current SPARKfamily members with High School access can find the new Tabata unit under High School Web-Based Units. If you are not a current SPARKfamily member, you will receive 3-year access to the digital content when you purchase a SPARK High School curriculum set.

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.

Visit Sportime featuring SPARK at the 2017 SHAPE America National Convention!

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

2017-Convention-Banner

The SHAPE America National Convention starts on March 14th and will be in Boston. Visit the SHAPE America website to register for the convention and find all of the event details.

Download the 2017 Convention Program and use the online planner to view all of the convention sessions. Make sure to attend the Sportime featuring SPARK and Teacher of the Year sessions – view our presentation schedule.

Stop by the Sportime featuring SPARK booth to learn about:

We are proud to be a convention sponsor, and the exclusive sponsor of the SHAPE America Teacher of the Year Program.

We are also offering 40% off equipment featured in our booth and during our presentations at the convention with promo code 081SHAPE17.

Not able to make it to Boston this year? Don’t worry! The offer is valid 3/3/17 – 4/28/17 at Sportime.com – use promo code 081SHAPE17 at checkout to save. Select products only.

Lacrosse 101

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

SPARK-Lacrosse

By: Dr. Scott Townsend and Dr. Derek Mohr, Appalachian State University

What sport is…

Considered the fastest game on two feet?
The national summer sport of Canada?
Originally derived from a game called Baggataway?

You got it – Lacrosse a.k.a. Lax!

Think you don’t know anything about lacrosse? Think again! Lacrosse is a field-based invasion game that is similar in strategy to sports like soccer or team handball. So while the skills of the sport are unique, the tactics are likely familiar.

Whether you are looking to freshen up your curriculum with new content or teach lacrosse again, the tips and resources below can help you be successful.

The Terrific 10

Here is a list of 10 basic rules of traditional lacrosse:

  1. Teams. 10 players per side; three defenders, three midfielders, three attackers, one goalkeeper.
  2. Games. Four 12-15 minute quarters with a running clock.
  3. Scoring. One point per score.
  4. Starting Play. Game starts with a coin toss to determine defending ends. Teams switch ends after each period.
  5. Restarting Play. After a goal with a face-off.
  6. Out-of-Bounds. Over a sideline: use a thrown-in to restart play. Over an endline: use a throw-in or run-in (possession of a missed shot that crosses an endline is awarded to the team with the player nearest the endline as the ball goes out).
  7. When a team fails to have at least three players in the attack half of field and less than four players in the defensive half; results in a 30 sec. penalty.
  8. Tie Game. Games tied are decided by extra time play, then penalty goal shootouts.
  9. Breaches of rules result in time-out penalties, divided into technical (non-injurious fouls such as holding; 30 sec.) and personal (severe foul such as slashing; 1-3 min.). While penalties are served, teams play shorthanded until the penalty time-out is over.
  10. May stop the ball with any part of their body or stick while inside crease. Consequently, offensive players may not contact or interfere with the goalkeeper in the crease.

Terms of Endearment

Whether watching or playing, knowing the terms below will make you more lacrosse-literate:

  • Clearing: Passing or running the ball from the defensive area to the attack area
  • Crease: Circle around the goal area
  • Extra Player: When a team has a player advantage due to a penalty on their opponent
  • Loose Ball: An uncontrolled ground ball
  • Quick Stick: Catching and passing or shooting in one fluid motion
  • Riding: A quick transition from offense to defense to prevent a clear

So Skillful

While the tactics of lacrosse are similar to other invasion type games, the skills are unique. Some of the most important stick-based skills include:

  • Scooping: Retrieving the ball from the ground quickly
  • Catching: Securing the ball in the pocket in preparation for a pass, shoot, or to run
  • Passing: Moving the ball around the field from player to player
  • Cradling: Maintaining possession of ball without passing, catching, or shooting
  • Dodging: Changing direction and speed to free a player up to either pass or shoot
  • Shooting: Similar to a pass but its intent is to score a goal
  • Stick-Checking: Defensive use of the stick to keep offensive player from scoring or passing

Did You Know?

SPARK is hosting a free lacrosse webinar on October 19, 2016 (click here to register) and has just rolled out a web-exclusive SPARK HS Lacrosse unit located on SPARKfamily.org. Please join us to learn more about this exciting sport and experience the vast array of educational resources SPARK offers to help you implement lacrosse in your PE program.

What are your experiences teaching or playing lacrosse? What advice would you give to someone who has never played the game or a teacher wanting to add this to their curriculum? Post a response below and let us know!

Click here to shop lacrosse equipment & resources.