Posts Tagged ‘PE’


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

NFL Fuel Up to Play 60 Funding Opportunity

Monday, January 10th, 2011

nfl-logo-play-60Fuel Up to Play 60 is a new organization aiming to help schools help themselves by getting kids to focus on a combination of physical activity and healthy nutrition choices on a daily basis. Is your school planning on or already participating in the Fuel Up to Play 60 program sponsored by the NFL? If so, they are offering a new grant program to help jump start your school’s individual program. Earn your team up to $3,000 in grant money to use on a customized Fuel Up to Play 60 program of your own design. With the playoffs in progress and Super Bowl in sight, our youth are invested in football more than ever. The NFL will allocate marketing to promote the new program to kids while they are watching their favorite players on TV or at the stadium. Then when the players visit their schools or hold community events, the kids will begin to understand the importance of a healthy and active lifestyle.

There are several unique aspects of this program that set it above the rest. Numerous attempts have been made in the past to improve our kids’ health and fitness but the obesity problems still remain. Something different must be done, and the Fuel Up to Play 60 program is ready to take on the task. Here are several unique characteristics of the program:

  • For Youth, By Youth: Youth helped design, test, and implement the program. They have been involved in every aspect of the process, making it an authentic experience that all youth are willing to adopt at their own schools.
  • Comprehensive Approach: Too many programs focus solely on one aspect of youth health, either physical activity or nutrition. Fuel Up to Play 60 treats the two as one in the same, taking a holistic approach to solving our youth’s obesity dilemma.
  • Influential Partners: Our youth look up to the NFL and its players to set a good example for them. Fuel Up to Play 60 brings health to the attention of kids by capitalizing on those players’s influence. Throughout the season and leading up to the Super Bowl, the NFL leaders will spread the message of the importance of proper nutrition and daily physical activity. To logistically help the NFL, the National Dairy Council will use their resources and relationship with the education system to supply proper nutrition information and materials.
  • Customized Programs: Fuel Up to Play 60 doesn’t have a set of required action that needs to be taken by each school. Instead, they have several principles and suggestions, but let the youth decide for themselves and make the program their own. Each school is given the autonomy to decide what is best for them and let the youth implement it how they see fit.
  • Broad Reach: Last year alone, the program reached over 60,000 schools and 36 million youth. With new funding opportunities, Fuel Up to Play 60 should be able to touch every youth in the United States in the next couple of years.

Funding Opportunities: All K-12 schools are eligible for the new funding opportunities. This can be a great resource for schools weakened by heavy budget cuts, but who still want to make big changes in their student’s lives. Every student deserves the same access to fitness and healthy food choices and the NFL, Dairy Farmers, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and private donors are all stepping up to the plate to help out financially. There are two different ways your school can earn funding for your Fuel Up to Play 60 team.

  1. The first is a competitive, nationwide grant available for schools enrolled in the Fuel Up to Play 60 program. These funds can be used for numerous aspects in jump starting your team’s program.
  2. The Child Nutrition and Fitness Initiative Breakfast Grant program is a grant that will provide funds for increasing the nutritious value of meals available at school, specifically alternative breakfast options.

What are the funds for? The broad answer is to help reduce obesity by helping youth implement programs focusing on nutrition and physical activity. Specifically, the funds can be used for a wide variety of things. Each school must present a detailed budget of what your school’s team will spend the funds on, but there are numerous options for customization. The categories on the application include: promotional materials, giveaways to encourage participation, staff/professional involvement, foodservice materials and equipment, physical activities materials and equipment, nutrition educational materials, and other.

If you’ve been looking for funds to implement SPARK curriculum, training or equipment in your school this is the perfect opportunity! Or, if you already have SPARK in your school, you can use these funds to expand and extend your program(s)!

More Fuel Up to Play 60 Resources:

Good luck!

The Campaign to Exterminate Physical Activity

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

I was taking a delightful bike ride on a sunny but brisk December day in San Diego, and I actually passed a father and son who were riding electric bikes (no pedaling). Just a couple of minutes later I saw a family zipping around like robots on Segways. Those images kind of spoiled my ride—for two reasons.

First, instead of encouraging their kids to be active, these parents were promoting the easy joys of slothfulness.  I’m sure they thought they were being good parents by having fun with their children, getting them outdoors, and introducing them to cool technology.  Here we are, 10 years into the New Millenium, and teaching your child to avoid physical activity is still considered good parenting.  With childhood obesity constantly in the media, why aren’t parents, as well as health professionals, public officials, school officials, and people in general, more concerned about making sure kids get enough physical activity?

That brings me to the second thought that spoiled my ride.  The campaign to exterminate physical activity!  Since the dawn of humanity people have been dreaming of ways to reduce their walking, get someone else to do the heavy work, and avoid sweating.  For millennia it was pretty hard to avoid physical activity and stay alive.  But in the past couple of hundred years, humanity’s dreams have come true.  One of the main motivations of the Industrial Revolution was to supply people with the Labor Saving Devices they craved, and gazillions of dollars have been made in the process.  Technological innovations have taken physical activity out of most work, transportation, and household tasks.  Our homes and offices are filled with Labor Saving Devices, from the electric can opener to the computer to the car.

The extermination has taken about 200 years, but it is almost complete.  Now, efforts to finally eradicate physical activity are getting a bit ridiculous.  Is it so onerous to walk a quarter mile that you would pay $5000 for a Segway?  Are people so committed to laziness that they will ride a bike that does the pedaling for them?  Is there any longer a problem of too-much-activity that needs a solution?

What all this means is that we have a lot of work to do.  Physical activity has been mainly exterminated, to catastrophic effect for our physical and mental health and medical costs.  But still, people buy any gizmo that promises to squeeze the last few minutes of activity from their day.  The Fitness Revolution of the 1980s did not create a culture of activity.  Parents are not teaching their children to enjoy movement, dance, games, and sport as much as they need to.  Appreciating new gizmos seems to take precedence.

Those of us who want to create better health through more activity continue to face big challenges.  Looks like my resolution for 2011 will be to get a little better at encouraging people to enjoy being active.

Jim Sallis

www.drjamessallis.sdsu.edu

Sharing the Good News…

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

I want to share an enjoyable moment with you.  Recently, I was in Sacramento to film a discussion on physical activity promotion in schools organized by the California Department of Public Health’s Project LEAN.  When the video is posted online, I’ll let you know.

While we were waiting in the “green room” before the filming I had inspiring conversations with my fellow panelists whom I had just met.  A former teacher of the year who works in a small town was talking about his efforts to improve physical education in his new position at district manager of physical education, health, and sports.  One of his goals was to use a common curriculum so students would benefit from a cohesive approach throughout their time in his district.  He also wanted teachers in elementary and middle schools to communicate about physical education using the same terms and principles.  I was pleased when he started talking about SPARK as his curriculum of choice.  Beyond that, he saw SPARK as a partner in his efforts.  He was enthusiastic about the support he received in planning his strategy, the quality of the training and the trainers, and that the curricula had consistent principles across levels applied in an age-appropriate way.  He was really surprised when I told him I am a co-founder of SPARK.  He thanked me for starting such a great program, and I thanked him for embracing SPARK.

The other panelist was a superintendent of a California school district.  Though she was not a PE teacher, she was highly committed to coordinated school health and very familiar with SPARK.  It was a treat to hear her impressions about SPARK and her appreciation for the efforts of the SPARK staff to support her efforts to improve the health of children in her district.  She had seen SPARK benefit those students, who are largely low-income and Latino.  Based on her experience, she recommends SPARK to others, and what could be more influential to school officials than a recommendation from a superintendent?

It was truly heart-warming to hear these unsolicited testimonials about SPARK.  These school leaders did not know my connection with SPARK when they enthused about it, so I know it was totally genuine.  This a good moment to thank the SPARK staff for their daily and nightly efforts to make physical education GREAT and to improve children’s health.

Jim Sallis

www.drjamessallis.sdsu.edu

Schools Add Skateboarding to Kids Classes

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Not too long ago, schools and city councils across the United States were at odds with skateboarders. We’ve all seen the signs banning skateboarding from school and public premises: “Absolutely No Skateboarding,” “No Skateboarding, Biking or Rollerblading Allowed,” etc. Some places, such as Center City Philadelphia, have gone so far as to ban skateboarding from all public property, including sidewalks! Yet skateboarding has still remained a very popular sport amongst children and young adults. And recently, many schools have actually introduced skateboarding to their Physical Education curriculum.

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Schools across the United States are revamping their P.E. curriculum and exchanging traditional competitive team sports for more alternative and individualized sports such as skateboarding. Advocates for the new P.E. claim that sports such as skateboarding appeal to children who aren’t natural athletes and who don’t enjoy traditional competitive, full-contact sports, for instance, soccer and football. One statistic found that as few as 10% of school-aged children are natural athletes who enjoy competitive contact sports. Advocates claim that exposing these children to a sport like skateboarding promotes a more active lifestyle inside and outside of the classroom. Children who aren’t interested in competitive sports are more likely to go home and participate in a more individualized activity, like skateboarding, once they have been exposed to it in school.

There is a huge push for schools to promote active lifestyles in young children because child obesity is still a very serious concern in the United States. The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia reports that almost 20% of children between the ages of 6 and 19 are considered obese. In addition, the overall child obesity rate has tripled over the last thirty years. A healthy lifestyle includes not only healthy eating habits but also regular physical activity. Because of the child obesity epidemic, many schools have introduced health classes that stress good eating habits. Children must also be taught how to integrate exercise into their daily routine. Therefore it is essential that children are introduced to a variety of sports—skateboarding included—at an early age in order to find sports that appeal most to them.

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This new P.E. program has been introduced to a variety of schools across the country, including schools in New Jersey, New York, California and Minnesota. It has been met with rave reviews by both P.E. instructors and students. Skateboarding has been a particularly successful part of the new program. Teachers who are in their twenties and thirties most likely grew up with skateboarding and so the program is just as exciting for young teachers as it is for students.

Most importantly, skateboarding is a great way to exercise and have fun at the same time. It has been proven to increase balance, agility, coordination, and reaction time. It specifically targets the leg muscles and core muscles. More advanced skaters who are able to perform tricks and grabs also use their arm and back muscles. Skateboarding for twenty to thirty minutes is a great form of cardiovascular activity that increases the heart rate while burning calories and developing muscle. Perhaps one of the best side effects of skateboarding that teachers have noted is improved self-esteem in children as they get better and better. Beginning students, who could barely stand on a skateboard on day one, are skating laps around the gymnasium by the end of the program. In the process of learning to skateboard, students learn that hard work and perseverance pay off.

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One of the main drawbacks to introducing a skateboarding program to a school is the cost. Many schools have been faced with tough budgets over the last few years. And unfortunately, safely learning how to skateboard requires quite a bit of equipment: skateboards, helmets, wrist guards, elbow pads and knee pads. Skate Pass, a Colorado-based company, offers skateboarding “curriculum kits” for approximately $3,000 which include enough equipment for twenty children.  The kit includes skateboards that are specifically designed with young children in mind, and wheels that won’t mark up gymnasium floors. They also provide specific curriculums for beginner, intermediate and advanced students. Schools that have found money in their budgets and implemented a skateboarding curriculum of some kind have found that students’ reactions are incredibly positive.

Once viewed as a troublesome and meaningless activity, skateboarding is now being recognized as an engaging form of physical activity for children. It is an effective form of exercise and builds self-esteem in school-aged children. P.E. teachers are recognizing that competitive full-contact sports don’t appeal to everyone, and they are beginning to introduce alternative programs that promote individuality. Although the cost of implementing a skateboarding program is quite high, the results seem to outweigh the financial burden. Students are more engaged in physical activity, and they learn that exercise can be fun.