Posts Tagged ‘PE’


Up, Up, and Away! Superhero Lesson Plans

Monday, August 21st, 2017

superheros

If you can’t get your students into being more active, maybe Superman can!

If there’s one thing kids these days love, it’s superheroes. Even when you limit their screen time and they haven’t seen the movies, chances are they’ve still heard about Iron Man or Wonder Woman from one of their friends.

Fortunately, as a physical educator, you can harness this enthusiasm into some super lessons of your own.

Superhero Skills

Role playing in your class can be a great way to introduce younger students to basic fitness concepts and movements.

Start by having your students come up with their own superhero name based on a particular athletic skill like jumping, balancing or throwing. Suggest ideas based on the curriculum you are using, or find inspiration through other lesson plans for elementary-age students.

Next, have them invent a scenario where they need to use that skill. For example, maybe “Jumping Jane” needs to jump over a river to help her friend, or “Throwing Boy” needs to throw a life preserver to someone in the water. Help individual students perfect a signature move with your guidance for proper form.

Once their backstory is established, have each student share their superhero and their signature move with the class. At this point, all of your students should try out this move. Help them as needed to ensure they’re using proper form. You can even use the associated rubrics to score students based on this exercise.

Superhero Sounds

Boom! Pow! Zap!

Having students act out typical superhero sounds effects is another elementary-age technique that can be used alone or integrated into lesson plans like the one above.

Work with students to decide what physical movement each sound evokes: whether a big jump for “boom!”, a kickbox-style punch for “pow!”, or a double spin for “zap!” Decide on a series of sound actions and teach them to your whole class before integrating them into an exciting story. Your students have to act out each sound when they hear you say it.

Storytime just got a whole new twist!

Superhero Day

For older students, you can make a whole day out of superhero physical activities.

Try reframing the traditional track and field day as a superhero day. With a pinch of imagination and any middle school lesson plan, you can create a day-long mission requiring superheroes. Just make sure you relate the activities back to your school and district’s specific curriculum.

Start by setting the mood with superhero-themed teams and colored t-shirts to match. Divide the class into groups like the green Hulks, blue Wonder Kids, and red Iron People. Then, make a list of the skills and activities you’re due to complete and transform them into a day of superhero activities. You’ll turn traditional track and field on its head – superhero style!

A regular sprint and jump circuit fulfills National Standards elements of “running, jumping, analyzing and correcting movement errors” and “participation in physical activity, conditioning application.” But a Ninja Turtle circuit, where students sprint pizza boxes to their fellow “turtles” and jump over obstacles along the way, fulfills the fun requirements that National Standards might not cover.

It’s the perfect way to enjoy an entertaining, yet effective, day of physical education.

Superhero Sports

Every high school has a football team, but how many have an elite alien-neutralizing task force?

Something that works for K-12 students is turning their favorite sport into a superhero narrative.

Reimagining a football as an alien object that needs to be neutralized across the line adds an element of fun and imagination to a familiar game. Turning badminton rackets into Spider-Man’s extensions can do much the same. Take a look at some of the lesson plans for high school-age students that incorporate specific sports, and try to think of ways they can be reframed as superhero activities.

Just because students aren’t in elementary school anymore doesn’t mean they can’t use their imagination. Integrating imagination and creativity into physical education lesson plans at all levels has the potential to boost student participation and make physical education more fun.

But, at the end of the day, an educator who gets kids more involved in fitness is the real superhero!

Contact SPARK today to speak to our expert team about more lesson plans for your physical education classes.

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.

3 Innovative Physical Education Teaching Techniques

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

physical education

Physical fitness among young people has now found itself at the forefront of society’s scrutiny. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), obesity among children between the ages of 2 and 19 has more than doubled in recent years, leaving students susceptible to the development of diabetes, complex joint issues and a host of other serious health problems.

Many physical fitness educators have taken it upon themselves to drastically reduce these statistics over the course of the next decade. Although the improvements in technology have somewhat contributed to the dangerously sedentary lifestyles of many young people, it can also be harnessed to reverse these health concerns. With instant access to almost anything at any given time, technology can be used to improve fitness and potentially save lives. It’s just a question of how it’s used.

So how can today’s educators create interactive work environments for their physical education classrooms?

Here are 3 modern solutions to fight the current health concerns facing our youth:

1. Modern Wellness-Tracking Technology

One way that educators can make physical wellness more interactive is by implementing fitness monitors, like the Fitbit or the Nuband, into their classes.

These lightweight, wearable activity trackers provide a wide range of real-time data. They can be used to help students become more aware of their body’s processes as a whole, or simply to learn their peak heart rate levels to achieve maximum physical fitness. Electronic activity trackers record step counts, quality of sleep cycles and a host of other personal metrics to ensure that students stay active throughout their developmental years. The attention to detail creates a feeling of ownership, fostering a sense of responsibility to maintain that state of wellness for the future. It is said that children should remain active for at least 60 minutes a day to meet proper health standards. Fitness trackers can help make sure kids reach this simple but vital goal in their P.E. classes, and also in their daily lives.

2. Music and Dance as Motivation

When it comes to movement in physical education, there is no better motivator than music. With this universal truth in mind, educators have developed new teaching methods based on viral dance crazes, like the Cupid Shuffle and the Konami Dance Dance Revolution music game. Not only does learning choreography together create a sense of camaraderie among classmates and teachers, but it also provides a great workout. Students can improve their coordination, strengthen their social interactions with one another and reduce stress levels during exam time.

What P.E. teacher wouldn’t want a class of smiling, dancing students?

3. Active Gaming Platforms

Technology-based hobbies have become so ingrained in the lifestyles of students that we often forget that they can serve as a valuable tool.

Exergames, or active gaming programs, like Hopsports and Kinect Xbox, invite users into a comfortable and familiar environment, while offering an opportunity for moderate-intensity physical activity. The best part about this exercise source is that it can be continued outside of school. Many students have their own gaming consoles and could take their P.E. class inspiration to a whole new level at home.

It is becoming increasingly important for teachers to use every outlet at their disposal to improve the health of their students. Some physical education teachers have found the key to success is utilizing what young people love the most – and, very often, that’s the new advancements in technology. By creating interactive and entertaining lessons with activity tracking, music, dance and gaming, teachers can improve student wellness practices not only in school, but in the decades to follow.

New Year, New PE Lesson Plans

Monday, January 9th, 2017

shutterstock_210167686

The New Year is a great time to try new things. With people taking the time to reflect and set new personal and professional goals, why not also refresh your physical education lesson plans in order to keep kids engaged in the curriculum?

Luckily for physical education teachers, it’s often a bit easier to get students engaged in PE class than it is in a math or science classroom. Physical education already has a distinctive advantage: kids are moving, which makes them better learners. Research from leading institutions across America has found that when kids move, their cognitive skills increase and attitudes improve, which leads to better performance in PE class and in their academics overall.

Still, there’s always room for improvement — and here at SPARK, we’ve got you covered!

Re-Assess Your Lesson Plans

Any physical education teacher knows that a class requires more planning than simply tossing kids a ball and having them kick it around. Just as with other subject lesson plans, it’s important to take stock of what you’re trying to accomplish with an activity, and during the setup you need to do that.

Take a game of basketball. A classic PE activity, a teacher needs a number of class materials, such as a certain sized gymnasium with activity lines on the floor, and the right type of ball. A physical educator also needs to know the rules of play and a game time limit.

Perhaps the guidelines and materials listed above are all that’s currently written in your PE lesson plan. That’s a great start, but it’s not all you should include. This New Year, take the time to do a “content analysis” of your PE lesson plan where you consider the learning outcomes you want to accomplish from each activity.

Basketball has a number of learning outcomes for students: improved hand eye coordination; increased locomotor skills from movements such as running and jumping; and expanded teamwork and cooperation as they plan with their teammates and work together to win the game.

By determining the specific physical, social, and intellectual learning outcomes for each class, you’ll be better able to guide students towards meeting those goals. Not only that, but at a time when physical education classes are being cut across the country, it will be beneficial for you to provide very specific learning outcomes to administration so they’re sure to see the inherent value of PE class.

Introducing New Games

As well as determining learning outcomes for your existing activities, the New Year is also a good time to add completely new games to your lesson plan roster.

Introducing new games doesn’t mean tossing aside your existing lesson plans. Just as in a science class where students may learn about the parts of the body, then cell structure, then cell reproduction, physical education lesson plans should be all about building on existing learning. That means taking a classic game like basketball and mixing it up a bit!

Look at the activities that you currently incorporate into the curriculum and find some way to modify them. Or, do this in reverse: write a list of the learning outcomes you’d like to achieve from your PE curriculum and then develop activities to match those outcomes.

SPARK has various activity plans designed specifically for elementary, middle school, and high school students. Each plan comes with instructions, learning outcomes, assessment tools, and more, so you can focus on what’s most important: creating an engaging physical education class for your students.

The Benefits of Teaching with Stations

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

PE

There are many struggles that come with being a physical education teacher. Luckily, there are techniques and solutions to minimize some of the stress. One solution to managing your students and boosting their engagement is to teach with stations. This is a teaching method where you create three or more activities for the period.

Divide your class up evenly and start each group at a different station. Students get a certain amount of time with each activity and then rotate to the next station. It’s an alternative to whole-group instruction and can have many benefits. Consider these reasons you might want to teach with stations in your physical education class.

1. It Keeps Students Engaged

If you have students who dislike PE class, then use stations to create a more interesting and dynamic PE period. Students will be continuously moving, whether they’re performing exercises at their station or moving on to the next one. Because they only spend a short amount of time at each station, it’s less likely that they’ll become bored or distracted.

2. It Gives Students a Better Workout

Using different activities throughout the period helps students get a better workout because they’ll be using different muscle groups for the various activities. Plus, it gives you a chance to mix cardio and strength training into the day’s activities. When designing your activities, consider making each focus on a different part of the body. For example, one station could focus on sit-ups while another activity could be doing pushups.

3. It Divides the Class into Manageable Groups

It can be difficult to watch so many kids at once, especially in PE class where they’re expected to be highly active instead of sitting behind a desk. Splitting the class into groups so all stations are filled at once makes it easier to manage groups and focus on each individual student’s performance. With this method, you can have one teacher or aide help watch over each station or divide the stations up.

Downsides to Teaching with Stations

While there are many benefits of teaching with stations, there are a couple of downsides, too. For one, it takes more manpower because you need an adult at several stations to watch over and instruct their group. It can also take more setup and teardown time for each station. Because of this, try to plan the same stations for all your classes throughout the day so that setup and teardown is easy.

Tips for Teaching with Stations

If you like the idea of setting up stations for your classes, consider these tips:

  • Set up the stations on the outside perimeter of the gym or in a circle in an outdoor field. This makes it easier for students to move from one station to the next in a circular progression.
  • Use Sportime ShoulderFolders on the cones to hold station cards with instruction for each station. If you have the SPARK curriculum, station cards are included in the SPARKfolio or available to download and print with your SPARKfamily.org membership.
  • Plan a signal — such as the start and stop of music — that will tell kids to move onto the next station. This will keep things flowing smoothly and save the time and hassle of going from one station to the next.
  • Before you begin the rotations, briefly explain the purpose of each station to the whole class, and demonstrate the activity if needed. This saves time once each group arrives at the station so you don’t have to repeat the instructions as often.
  • Keep music playing during the period so students can keep up with the fast pace of the rotations. Music also keeps them energized to make the activities more enjoyable.
  • Need materials to set up stations in your PE class? The new Sportime Middle  School and High School Fitness Packs include hand-selected fitness equipment and SPARK digital curriculum with station cards.

With these benefits and tips in mind, you can create a fun, interactive physical education period for your students. What types of stations and activities are you thinking about setting up in your PE class?

10 Traits of Great PE Teachers

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

PE teacher

Any aspiring Physical Education teacher has to have certain traits to be successful. PE teachers have to be good in the classroom, but they also have to be able to work with parents and other educators. Good PE teachers need to have a range of skills beyond knowing sports, including interpersonal skills, creativity, and more.

Athletic Ability
It seems obvious, but having a healthy body is important for a PE teacher. Since PE teachers are telling students to make healthy choices, these adults have to model what they say to do. PE teachers don’t need to be star athletes, but having a positive attitude toward fitness and instruction is important to show students how living healthy can be enjoyable.

Teaching Ability
This is another trait that seems apparent, but a good Physical Educator needs to be able to educate. Being able to distill complex ideas into easily followed steps helps your students feel better about physical activity. Being able to teach also includes being able to recognize which students need more encouragement or a different way of explaining, and assessing learning.

Interpersonal Skills
Working with students, parents, and other teachers requires a range of interpersonal skills. Being a teacher means being a leader and role model to your students. A physical education teacher is a model of values such as leadership, teamwork, and good sportsmanship. Treating the people around you with respect makes them more likely to respect you and your program.

Communication
Being able to communicate effectively is another important skill. Clear communications to your students helps them learn your lessons and keeps them safe. Communicating with parents and other professionals respectfully shows how you treat your students in your program. Effective communication builds a sense of community where students feel confident in their abilities. With greater confidence and support, students are more likely to embrace physical activity as a source of fun.

Patience and Adaptability
Patience and adaptability are important to a successful teaching career. Since not all students learn in the same way or the same rate, it’s important to stay patient and have different approaches. It’s also important to adapt and modify lessons to include students of different levels and abilities. Some schools have no dedicated PE area, so being able to change your lesson plans to adapt to weather or available resources keeps your lesson plans on track.

Organization
As a PE teacher, you might be teaching students who have different ages, physical abilities, and learning styles. In addition, PE teachers often have to work in different areas or even multiple schools. Being organized keeps all of these needs together and easy to manage. Keeping the classes themselves organized keeps them flowing, limits downtime, and lessens chances for conflict and behavior issues. Any PE class involves students, physical area, and equipment, so keeping all of these things organized makes the entire class run smoothly and maximizes learning opportunities.

Creativity
Being able to adapt and find new activities keeps your classes entertaining and fun for everybody. You can find inspiration for your classes in television, music, and other classes. You can take ideas from all around you to make engaging and fun activities for students of all physical abilities. Having a variety of activities and outcomes keeps students engaged and interested in your classes.

Focus on the Students
As an educator, you need to make sure your students are learning. Being an educator means you need to have a passion for helping children learn skills they can use in their daily lives outside of the classroom. Working with children can be taxing, so keeping that passion going helps you make your classes instructional and fun. You also need to keep your students safe and secure during class, since they’re moving around and in large areas with different equipment.

Becoming a PE teacher is no easy task for any aspiring educator. Being a role model, having professional skills, and creating a fun environment are all crucial traits to have as a great PE teacher. Keeping your time organized and communicating clearly to students, parents, and other educators also makes your job easier and more enriching.

5 Reasons to Take Your PE Class Outside

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

PE

Kids, on average, don’t play outside as much as their parents did. Children spend more than six hours every day on screens, from televisions to tablets. Even school settings offer more screen learning than even a decade ago. All of that technology has its place and purpose, but without opportunities to get outside children face issues like obesity, inability to focus, and even depression.

Taking a PE class outside accomplishes two things: student exposure to fresh air and sunshine, and a connection to nature through exercise. Both can combat that six-hour screen time statistic and impart skills that encourage healthier lifestyles in children.

Take a look at the major reasons you should take your PE classes outside whenever possible:

1. Improved Mood

Kids, by nature, don’t belong indoors all day long. Studies have found that exercise that happens outside incites greater feelings of rejuvenation and energy. Getting outdoors is refreshing, especially since only 10% of children say they spend time outside each day. Vitamin D3 absorption releases feel-good endorphin hormones, boosting mood and elevating brain health. In fact, 90% of kids who spend time outside say it relieves stress. Having the release that goes along with all of that running, jumping, and enjoying the outdoors improves behavior and outlook for the rest of the day, and beyond.

2. More Activity

There is evidence that exercise that happens outside is physically better. In other words, doing the same activities inside and out can have very different results. A study that looked at runners who used a treadmill inside versus those who ran the same distance outside found that the outdoor people used more energy to account for things like wind direction and uneven terrain. The elements outdoors makes working out there harder. Students in a PE class that meets outside will burn more calories and work harder than those in a class that lasts the same amount of time inside.

3. Greater Enjoyment

When kids can associate their exercise routine with something else they enjoy – like going outside – there is a better chance they will want to repeat the activity. A PE class that happens outdoors has the added perk of getting outside the school walls, which is a task that is normally reserved for recess. Teaching kids the connection between physical health and enjoying nature has the potential to increase their motivation for fitness activities for life.

4. Heighten Environmental Awareness

A PE class that happens outside offers opportunities for cross-discipline learning. The Nature Conservancy reports that children who spend time outside are more connected to and invested in the planet. Even if the only time students spend outdoors is less than an hour in your class every week, this time matters from an environmental standpoint.

5. Opportunities for Creativity

When adults walk into a gym, the equipment is already prescribed. The treadmills are in one spot, the free weights in another, and the exercise classes in a designated room. The same is true for a PE class that is held inside. The equipment may change based on class but there is less room for kids to create their own fitness routines. Going outside frees the creative process to work in bigger ways and removes the limits from what kids can accomplish during the learning process. Try to offer a mix of instructional activities and some exercise that allows kids to make decisions. This builds greater ownership of fitness for the students who find their own path to enjoying it.

Creating an outdoor PE lesson plan combines fresh air and fitness in a way that kids will embrace. The allure of a class outside is a luxury for many students and PE is the perfect area to accommodate it.

What Are the Goals of Physical Education?

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

physical education

In recent years, physical education has been falling out of its position as a staple of the traditional school day. Research not only connects regular P.E. classes with improved academic performance, but also suggests that lack of activity could be damaging children’s cardiovascular health. Despite the scientific evidence, the modern curriculum continues to impede physical education in favor of more time spent in the classroom, placing additional pressure on physical educators and school departments to optimize the time allotted towards achieving crucial fitness goals.

In schools for all ages, the physical education program is responsible for helping students learn the value of activity for health, recreation, social interaction, and more. Here’s what you should aim for when outlining goals as a physical educator, or organizing a school P.E. department.

1. Teaching Essential Body Management Skills

The most well-known goal of any physical education class is to promote movement – but there’s more to this aspiration than breaking students out of a stationary lifestyle. P.E. classes teach children skills that they will use throughout their entire lives.

For many younger children, physical education classes offer their first chance to learn about the relationships between nutrition, exercise, and health, while acquiring basic body management skills such as:

  • The ability to stop and start on signal
  • Spatial awareness
  • Body part identification
  • Balance and control

Though these skills may not seem as crucial as literacy and numeracy, the absence of them can result in sedentary children who feel too “clumsy” to engage in any regular activity. After time, the inability to develop mature motor skills can cultivate sedentary adults, who struggle to achieve career goals or lack self-confidence.

2. Promoting Physical Fitness as Fun

Quality instruction from dedicated educators helps children develop fundamental motor patterns. But it’s also important for teaching students that being active can be a fun, natural habit.

The more that young students consider physical fitness a natural part of their daily schedule, the more likely they are to be engaged in fitness as they age – leading to a healthier lifestyle. One in three children are overweight in America, and youngsters who enjoy physical activity are the ones most likely to be active in the future.

While physical education isn’t the only factor helping children get active, it can be a useful way to help them uncover new skills and discover activities that they enjoy. By exploring a range of sports and fitness solutions, from gymnastics to running and climbing, physical educators give students a chance to find the activity that appeals most to them – giving children their own personal tool in the fight against obesity.

3. Developing Teamwork, Sportsmanship, and Cooperation

Physical education allows children to experience healthy social interactions, teaching cooperation through group activities, and encouraging teamwork through identification as one part of a team. These social skills stay with children throughout their lives, increasing the chance that they’ll become involved in their communities, take leadership roles, and build lasting relationships. Social skills develop confidence, contributing to academic performance and mental health.

When students are stressed, they struggle to focus and manage their emotions properly. Physical activity is a great way to relieve stress, promoting positive mental health and enhanced learning aptitude. Although reduced time for physical education is often justified as a way to help students spend more time in the classroom, studies have shown that regular activity during the school day links to higher concentration levels, more composed behavior, and happier students.

Setting Goals is Crucial

In a physical education setting, the right goals will:

  • Engage students in P.E. class
  • Attract the attention of distracted learners
  • Create an environment that cultivates movement
  • Teach the values of health and exercise

Establishing goals within physical education can also help students learn the value of setting their own personal and achievable goals in relation to their favorite activities. Teach kids about goal-setting by recording each child’s best sprint time and showing them how they improve through the year, or encouraging students with a particular interest to take their skills to the next level.

From developing motor skills for younger children to creating an environment where students can cultivate a positive attitude towards physical fitness, well-designed physical education goals will not only boost kids’ education, but prepare them for an active, healthy, and productive lifestyle.

Thoughts on Classroom Management from a Seasoned PE Teacher

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

This last Wednesday we hosted a webinar on Classroom Management Strategies for Physical Education (if you didn’t watch it Click Here to view the recording) and had over 700 people participate.

One of the great things about sharing strategies and techniques with so many passionate educators is that we sometimes hear back from other teachers that wish to share their own ideas. We recently received an email from one attendee who had some advice on what’s worked for her in the past, and we wanted to share them with you.

The thoughts/strategies below are from Karen Bagby, a Physical Education Teacher at Garner Elementary in North Liberty, Iowa:

  • The “when before what” is critical.  This is one of those teaching tips a new student teacher learns fast!
  • Instead of sending out a letter to all parents in my school, I put a blurb in the first school-wide newsletter.
  • I emphasize that when disciplining a child, talk and treat them as “if a parent is standing right beside that child”.  Makes you really think about what you are doing and saying.
  • I do utilize a “behavior ticket” for that “new student” who doesn’t yet quite have the expectations mastered.  The child fills out the ticket and what happened, as well as the teacher, and then I “file it” in my office.   I tell the student I will keep it as long as things improve.  If not, I will send it home and confer with the parents.  Have only had to do 2 over many years and neither went home.
  • A child who has continual “challenges” has a secret signal with me (could be just eye contact with me touching my ear lobe).  That lets the student know he needs to settle down or remember expectations.
  • The teacher needs to be upbeat and have a great attitude and BELIEVE in what he/she is teaching!  Kids are motivated by our enthusiasm and daily attitudes.  Also, music is a HUGE motivator!!!!  I play music with almost every lesson…..
  • Plan modifications ahead of time for your special needs students.  They deserve success at their level.  Also, get their input ahead of time for suggestions for up and coming lessons…..
  • Concerning time-outs, I do this, too.  But, I do NOT go over to the student.  He/she must come to me and tell me he/she is ready to get back into the activity.  That way, I am not giving the student any attention for negative behavior.  Should he/she choose to remain “out” for the remainder of the class period, we do chat before dismissal.  My system:  first infraction is a warning, 2nd is a time-out, 3rd is time-out for the class period (our classes are 25min.).  should it happen often, a behavior ticket goes into place.  Any physical contact, principal involvement – zero tolerance.
  • I have a “reward system” I have used for years and years.  Super effective.  Class calendars and traveling trophies.  At the end of each class, the class signals (0,1, or 2) with their fingers how we did following our guidelines.  If great, a 2 goes on their calendar.  After the “calendar” is completed (would take a month with all 2’s to fill it), it comes down and a new one goes up.  A trophy goes to the classroom teacher’s desk for a week.  I actually travel about 12 trophies!  Kids will live up to your expectations and want to please!  At the end of the year, 2 classes (1 for 3-6 and 1 from K-2), those who got the most stamps on their calendars, get a “pe party of favorite activities, a healthy snack, school-wide recognition, and certificates for home!
  • I never use drinks as a reward.  They all should always get them, in my opinion, when they need one (which is at the end of class).  Instead, kids love to please and I have come up with many, many hand/body “gives” (such as the sprinkler, motorcycle, firecracker, etc. to celebrate accomplishments/showing great behavior/kindness that happen throughout each lesson.
  • I also like to challenge kids at the beginning of lessons to such as let’s see how many of you can say 3 nice things to 3 different people?  How many of you can share the balls with others?  How many different friends can you  untag during the course of this game?  Then, recognize those you did with a show of hands and a hand jive!  Sometimes, I have kids point to those who helped them out.  Always, with partner activities, they do high-fives and or friendly knuckles,  or the like…

Physical Educators: Team or Group… What do YOU Think?

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Forward by Paul Rosengard

Over the years, physical education has been inextricably linked with athletics and “assigned” its own, unique vernacular:

“Drop and give me 20!”  “You throw like a girl.” “Take another lap around the track.”  “Winners always watch Glee and losers tape Sportscenter.”  OK, I made that last one up – but it’s really just as silly and wrong as the previous three examples…

If you know SPARK, you may have recognized that we make a conscience effort to change the way we (physical educators) speak to their students.  We suggest using ahead or behind — instead of winner and loser.  Loops around a health circuit — instead of laps around a track.  Anything to separate today’s physical education, from the clichés associated with the “old” PE.

Recently, we started discussing whether it’s better to use the words group and groupmates, instead of team and teammates – even with high school age students.  Not surprisingly, we had some differing opinions, so I thought it would be good to solicit the opinions of others.  Joe Herzog made the time to share his thoughts and I am appreciative.  He graciously agreed to let SPARK print his words and they’re featured below.  Thanks for making the time to read it – and then let us know what YOU think? Agree or disagree? Let’s keep the conversation going in Facebook and Twitter as well…

Blog Article:

It was less difficult for me and my colleagues to divest ourselves of the term “team” because we restructured our curriculum making it greatly devoid of the traditional “team” games. The only “Team” game I played was “Ultimate Frisbee” and even then it was a four goaled game in which teams didn’t actually exist.  It was our goal to turn away from the traditional “team competition” concept and guide our students toward a more intrinsic, self motivated personal change “competition.” Working with inner-city kids who had huge allegiances to professional sports teams, it was at first a challenge, but as personal improvement, personal challenges, self-investigation and cooperatives became fun, challenging and introspective, we saw fundamental changes in attitudes and behaviors.

Thus we knew that it was possible to run a viable, successful program without being, or without essentially using “team” in any of the common concepts. We used “groups”, “families”, “buddies up” and “brothers ‘n sisters” with some co-ed groups. Actually all of our groups were co-ed and that as well made it somewhat easier to move away from the traditional team sport competition concept and go to dual and individual challenges and personal goals and improvement.

We did discuss, with our students, the difference between physical education and athletics; how and why they were different and why learning and developing specific skills and learning how to work together was of significant benefit to them IF they chose to participate in athletics. Something must have worked, because in the fourth year of our new school (from a 9th grade only to a 7-8 middle school) our athletic participation more than doubled.

We discussed with our students why cooperation worked better in the workplace than competition; that competition between businesses was a natural and often unspoken outcome in the fight to gain economic advantage, but that within the business itself, cooperative effort toward a common goal made for better products, a better working environment and a more successful business, which usually meant more profit and better working condition for workers.

Our philosophy was that a confident, knowledgeable student, at ease with who he/she was could move forward into intra-murals or into athletic competition and work well with others and not be afraid to make extra effort or not be afraid to fail because they recognize what those concepts meant in the whole process of health/fitness, challenge and successful group outcomes. The use of the term “team” in intra-murals is a natural outcome of the iconic status of team sports in the United States (and world wide, as well). Curiously we didn’t have much of an intra-mural program (mostly at lunch) because the vast majority of our kids either went out for a sport team or they were in the classroom after school being tutored, under going remediation, being counseled or they went directly home and had to baby sit younger siblings.

We tried to produce a program that was both physically and intellectually challenging to our kids, to provide them with a curriculum (and a fair amount of choice in activities–in a carefully constructed program) that they enjoyed and we made it as cross-curricular as we could so kids could connect P.E. with the classroom. That concept worked well because we had an admin. and a “classroom” teaching staff that bought into the concept.

Getting away from the team competition concept and the use of the term “team” in fairly short order was not difficult. It certainly served our program and our students (and the community at large, it seems) quite well. As our students bonded our suspension/expulsion, one of the highest in the district dropped to 3rd lowest and our attendance went from one of the worst to just short of the best (with crime in the neighborhood dropping significantly, at the same time.) I’m not suggesting we did all of this ourselves. There was a world of help and cooperation (there’s that word again) from a variety of on and off campus resources, but we think our philosophy provided the initial impetus to get it all started.

Joe

Joseph E. Herzog, Neurokinesiologist
Chair, Region 28, CAHPERD
Pres. Fresno Alliance for Phys. Educ./Athletics
Senior Advisor, Fit4learning
2010 CAHPERD Honor Award

“You can learn more about a person in an hour of play, than in an year of conversation.” Plato