Posts Tagged ‘Physical Activity’


Unconventional Physical Education Activities

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

In the United States, students and teachers are pretty familiar with the old stand-by PE games like tag, tetherball, kickball, dodge ball, and capture the flag. However, in some parts of the U.S., as well as internationally, there are physical education programs that incorporate non-traditional activities into their PE lesson plans. Instead of the typical jumping jacks, push-ups, and laps around the track, these programs are introducing students to a whole new side of physical activity and proper nutrition. Below we’ll take a look at a few of the uncommon PE games and physical activities that are being implemented today.

Yoga

The health benefits of yoga have been receiving increased attention in Western culture over the past several years, with the most recent popularity boom starting in 2001. Heralded for its meditative, relaxation, and strength-building benefits, yoga was first offered in North America for high school PE credit in Nova Scotia. Since then, several schools have begun to offer yoga as part of their standard physical education curriculum, although not everyone has been receptive. In Encinitas, California, concerned parents brought a lawsuit against the Encinitas Union School District with fear that teaching yoga to children might spread the message of Eastern religion. However, students who participate in yoga while in school are finding that the benefits extend to other areas of their academic lives, such as test preparation and focus in the classroom.

Tai Chi

Students of all ages, from elementary through college, are reporting increased levels of stress in their daily educational routines. Densely packed academic schedules, increasing workloads, and tougher standardized testing requirements have all added to the pressure that students face. In an attempt to combat these increased stress levels, some PE instructors are incorporating tai chi into their lessons plans. This ancient Chinese martial art has been practiced for centuries for its ability to oppose certain chronic conditions, lower stress levels, and improve one’s overall mental health.

Hiking

In rural and mountainous areas, hiking is being incorporated into the physical education curriculum. In some cases, the physical activity of hiking is included as part of an overarching lesson on wilderness education and outdoor survival. Hiking affords students the chance to explore the outdoors in a way that promotes interaction with nature and benefits their physical health. Hiking may also be combined with other outdoor activities such as kayaking, canoeing, or rock climbing.

Martial Arts

Classroom discipline can be a major issue in schools, particularly with younger students at the elementary level. In an attempt to enhance student’s focus and increase order within the classroom, various martial art disciplines are being taught to physical education students. Styles vary, from wrestling to karate to judo, providing students with basic self-defense skills through physical activity. Additionally, as UCLA Martial Arts Program Directr Paul McCarthy notes, “Martial arts can teach you about culture, history, society, friendship, loyalty, dedication, and so much more.

Dance

From ballroom to hip-hop to ballet, dance has been playing an increased role in physical education programs around the world. The physical health benefits of dance are many: improved coordination, increased cardiovascular capacity, weight loss, and enhanced muscle tone and strength are just a few. In some programs, PE instructors are also teaching cultural and traditional folk dance in order to combine physical activity with historical education.

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…

Healthy People 2020 RFP: New Funding Available to Non-Profits

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

New Funding Available to Non-Profits Working to Promote Improved Health at a Community Level!

Healthy People 2020 Community Innovations Project Request for Proposal

Summary:

The purpose of this RFP is to solicit community-level projects that use Healthy People 2020 overarching goals, topic areas and objectives to promote improved heath at a community level. Funding is intended to support activities above and beyond general operations. Using the projects funded through this RFP, the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) intends to evaluate how the Healthy People 2020 overarching goals, topic areas and objectives are being used to improve the health of communities.

In order to be eligible for consideration, proposed projects must address at least one of the Healthy People 2020 topics and incorporate at least one of the following priorities that are linked to the Healthy People 2020 overarching goals.

Funding Information

  • This is a one-time funding opportunity.
  • Awards will range from $5,000 to $10,000.
  • Up to 170 projects will be funded.
  • Awardees will be chosen to represent a variety of themes, activities and regions.

Eligibility: Non-profit, community-based organizations with budgets less than $750,000

Deadline: August 5, 2011

Notification: November 11, 2011

Project Timeline: December 1, 2011 – May 31, 2012

Click Here for more information.

Click Here for the RFP.

Awards and Rewards for a Lifetime of Achievement

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

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On May 10, 2011, I met a Super Bowl MVP and an Olympic gold medalist–in the same day.  That was a first for me, and these were only some of the sports celebrities gathered in a spectacular chamber in a US Senate Office Building.  The occasion was even more special because I was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award by the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition.  Most of the other awardees came to that moment mainly through sports.  One of the more interesting awardees brought Tae Kwon Do to the US and is in the Black Belt Hall of Fame.  Pretty cool.  Because I was a scrawny, poorly coordinated kid, I arrived by a different route, though I did enjoy all the hours I spent playing sports in my neighborhood.  My connection to sports and fitness is through health research.  Though physical activity research is often in the news, I admit to being jealous about the attention paid to genetically-superior athletes who perform incredible feats of endurance, strength, skill, and determination.  Think about all the media exposure for sports each week.  The irony is that appreciation of sports performance inspires a lot more sitting and watching than active emulation.  Part of the job of physical activity promoters is to get sports fans (and everyone else) off the bleachers and the sofa and out onto the field, the road, the court, and the trail.  I’m glad the President’s Council is bringing the sparkle of sports celebrities to the goal of getting Americans more active.

SPARK had a lot to do with me getting this award.  There are many physical activity researchers who have published papers and been vocal advocates for active living.  However, few of us have been fortunate enough to see our research lead directly to improving the lives of millions.  Over the years, SPARK has certainly provided millions of young people with enjoyable, skill-building physical activity.  This is possible because of the thousands of teachers and recreation leaders SPARK has trained–and trained well.  I assure you that the fantastic accomplishments of SPARK are reward enough.  It’s very nice to get an award, but important to recognize that SPARK’s success, as well as the contributions of many research collaborators, made the award possible.  Even better than the award is seeing that SPARK just keeps getting better.  More programs.  More partners.  More research and evaluation.  Smart use of technology to support teachers.  More activity for more people.  There are more rewards coming for SPARK.  Which awards can we nominate SPARK for?

Jim Sallis

www.drjamessallis.sdsu.edu

National Childhood Obesity Facts, Figures and a Solution to End the Epidemic

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

Childhood obesity is a major concern in the United States. Over the past few decades there has been a dramatic increase in the number of children suffering from obesity. Kids are staying indoors more with limited physical activity and increased caloric consumption, resulting in a nationwide epidemic of obesity in our children. There are hundreds of organizations, large and small, fighting to stem this trend and help get our kids’ health back in check. But a business or non-profit can’t do it alone. Parents and kids must both be willing to change their habits to create a healthier lifestyle.

Causes of Childhood Obesity
There are many causes for childhood obesity, and sometimes a complex combination of circumstances work together to put our children at risk. One thing we know for sure is that reduced physical activity in school is a component and a risk factor for childhood obesity. Studies have shown that throughout our nation, less than one third of school-aged children (age 6-17) engage in physical activity – that is, activity that makes them sweat and increase breathing and heart rate for at least 20 minutes. And that’s just the minimum recommended amount of physical activity. There is no surprise here that childhood obesity has become a frightening epidemic in our country.

Risks of Child Obesity

  • High Cholesterol and Blood Pressure: High levels of “bad” cholesterol called LDL and also high blood pressure are common in obese children.
  • Bone and Joint Problems: There have been numerous cases of obese children experiencing a slipped growth plate in their hip bone.
  • Sleep Apnea: Obstruction of the child’s airway is common and can result in many other day-to-day problems like poor school performance and nighttime bedwetting on top of the primary risk where the individual stops breathing in their sleep.
  • Psychological Problems: Probably the most severe risk of obesity in kids is their emotional and psychological health. Kids will develop poor self-esteem and accept the fact that they will be obese their entire lives, making it extremely difficult for them to change their lifestyle in later years.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: What used to be only of concern in adults and very rare in children is not a major concern for obese kids.

Child Obesity Statistics

  • Prevalence of Obesity: Among children ages 6-11, there was a 6.5% rate of obesity in 1980 which increased to 18.6% by 2008. Ages 12-19 increased from 5% to 18.1% in the same time period.
  • Cardiovascular Disease: 70% of obese children from 5-17 years have at least one symptom and risk factor of cardiovascular disease like high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
  • Low-Income Obesity: 1 of 7 low income children in preschool is obese.
  • 13 million children and adolescents in the U.S. are obese.
  • Obese adolescents are 80% more likely to end up as obese adults.
  • Healthcare expenses directly related to childhood obesity are $14 billion every year.

One Solution to the Epidemic: Quality PE in Schools
The problem of childhood obesity is urgent – changes need to be made immediately. Children need positive influences from the adults around them to make better choices. And who better to provide that than a physical education teacher? In general, children attend about 5 or 6 hours of school, 5 days per week. Physical education classes might take up about an hour per day. Imagine the good that could be done for children if that time was optimized with fun, challenging, and healthy activity.

Implementing quality PE in children’s school schedule would be a great first step to turning this epidemic around. PE classes should be used to really teach children about how important a healthy lifestyle is. We can reverse the stigma about PE classes being boring, awkward, and repetitive by breathing new life into old games and activities. Children can learn that challenging themselves and staying healthy are great for self-esteem and making new friends. Teachers should be passionate about their purpose, and lead by positive example.

When students are able to connect with teachers and create a respectful relationship, they are highly more likely to engage in activities and try their hardest. With energetic and fun teachers, a challenging and exciting curriculum, and education about the crucial importance of physical activity and healthy eating, children will take fitness seriously. We will improve the PE in our schools, and let our children reap the benefits.

SPARK & Skillastics Team-Up to Get Kids Active

Friday, May 6th, 2011

SPARK is proud to announce a partnership with Skillastics, the leader in engaging, reinforcing, and assessing large groups of children PreK-12 in standards-based fitness and sports specific skill development activities.

Skillastics, now a SPARK Recommended Resource, will enhance SPARK activities by providing an additional assessment tool, allowing the instructor the freedom to view a large amount of children engaging in activities supported by a SPARK lesson. This partnership was formed to foster greater access to quality physical activity solutions for schools and community-based organizations nationwide.

SPARK Executive Director Paul Rosengard adds, “I’ve been a big fan of Sandy (Spin) Slade and Skillastics for a long time. Their products are an excellent supplement for our SPARK teachers and youth leaders and I recommend them highly. I’m especially excited about Skillastics’ application in after school environments where space limitations and instruction of children from multiple grade levels are common place.”

Skillastics is considered a “new and improved twist” in circuit training, and allows 1 to 100 children of varying ages and athletic abilities to participate and enjoy being active at one time. They provide solutions for physical education, after school, and early childhood programs.

Their newest offering, “Character is Cool”, is designed as a teaching tool to help children interact positively with one another while participating in cooperative fitness activities that emphasize character traits such as good sporting behavior, respect, responsibility, teamwork, caring and honesty.

Since its introduction in 2003, Skillastics is enjoyed in over 20,000 physical education classes, after school programs, and community-based organizations throughout the world!

For more information on Skillastics please visit www.skillastics.com.

What is a PEP Grant?

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

The PEP Grant, also known as the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) Grant, is a federally funded grant program designed to award money to local education agencies and community-based organizations, including religious organizations, to help them initiate, expand, or enhance physical education programs for K through 12 students. In 2011, the PEP Grant will award schools and community-based organizations anywhere from $100,000 to $750,000 for programs that help students work toward meeting state standards for physical education.

Money from PEP Grants may be used to purchase physical education equipment, provide support for students, provide training and education to teachers and staff members, bring in programs and teachers from outside the school or organization, and to initiate new physical education programs. Applicants are required to create a new program or improve an existing program that helps students make progress toward meeting state physical education AND one or more of the following initiatives:

  • Helping students understand, improve, and maintain physical well-being
  • Enhancing physical, mental, social, and emotional development through instruction in physical activities and motor skills
  • Development of cognitive concepts about fitness and motor skills that support healthy lifestyles
  • Education in healthy eating habits and nutrition
  • Professional development for physical education teachers to stay current on physical education research, issues, trends, and programs

Examples of Physical Education Programs

Past PEP Grants have been awarded to schools and organizations to implement programs ranging from innovative playgrounds to short-term auxiliary programs and after school programs. Some types of programs that have received PEP grant money in the past have included:

  • Evidence-Based Physical Education Programs
  • Community outreach programs
  • Integrating technology into PE
  • Purchasing equipment such as pedometers and heart rate monitors
  • Implementing “lifetime activities” rather than individual and team sports
  • Bringing in specialty organizations that help schools implement innovative PE lesson plans and programs
  • New, different, and innovative activities
  • Ropes courses
  • Adventure programs

Schools and organizations that are competitive in the application process include programs with elements that provide long-term benefits for students by encouraging a lifelong commitment to fitness that will decrease the costs of medical care associated with inactivity, poor nutrition, and obesity. Programs should include activities for all students, including those with disabilities. Competitive organizations and programs make a connection between physical activity, mental or academic performance, and general well being.

Over 150 PEP winners have chosen to implement SPARK Physical Education or After School programs in their schools. To see why so many schools successfully win PEP grants when they include SPARK as part of their proposal, Click Here.

PEP Grantwriting Information and Tips

If your school or organization does not have a grant writer on staff, consider hiring a professional grant writer with experience writing federal grants. If you use teachers or other staff members to write the grant, an outside consultant can help improve the grant by reviewing it and asking important questions about the essential elements of your grant. There are several websites and online documents available to assist you specifically with the PEP grantwriting process.

In your grant proposal, you must clearly outline a specific program, the goals of your program, and the steps your organization will take to reach these goals. It is essential to address how the program you plan to implement with the grant money will help students benefiting from the program to meet state standards for physical education. This should include a discussion of the PE standards in your state and how your program will help students work toward meeting these standards.

Assessment and evaluation are another significant part of the grantwriting process. Without a plan to evaluate the progress of your students, you will be unable to prove that your program actually met its goals. Having a way to assess the effectiveness of your program is the essential element of receiving current and future PEP grants. In your grant proposal you must outline a plan for the assessment of student progress that will show students met the goals of your program, and you must be prepared to implement this plan alongside the PE program you initiate.

In order to receive PEP Grant money, you are required to establish a need for that money within your proposal. This should include statistics your organization has collected that are specific to your school district, geographical area, or state. You will want to use statistics and data that prove there is a need for your organization’s program and that students will benefit from your fitness program on physical, social, mental, emotional, and/or developmental level. As a supplement to your local data, you may choose to use national research and statistics and professional literature.

  • For additional tips on preparing and submitting your 2011 PEP Grant Click Here
  • For Sample Text for PEP Grant Writers Click Here

To access the 2011 Carol M. White PEP Grant application Click Here.

SPARK Early Childhood Selected as 2011 Head Start Body Start Preferred Provider!

Friday, April 8th, 2011

Good news for all Head Start Centers: SPARK has been selected as a 2011 Preferred Provider for Head Start Body Start!

Nearly $2 million in Play Space Grants will be awarded to Head Start Centers across the country this year by HSBS to improve their outdoor play spaces.  Grant recipients will be able to purchase uniquely designed value-added packages created by the HSBS Preferred Vendors at a minimum discount of 20% off the retail price.

SPARK has included five (5) Value-Add Equipment Packages for Grant Applicants to choose from. Each equipment package includes a 25% discount from catalog list price & free shipping!

Please contact us with any questions about these equipment packages, and we look forward to continuing our work with Head Start Centers to support physically active and healthy lifestyles among Head Start programs nationwide.

Why Choose SPARK?
  • SPARK equipment packages have been selected by content experts specifically to meet the developmental needs of children ages 3-5 years old.
  • The items are age-appropriate and are designed to enable success for all skill and ability levels.
  • Combined with the Head Start Body Start program, SPARK’s specially designed equipment packages will increase physical activity, leading to the physical, cognitive, social and emotional development of young children, with the long-term goal of reducing childhood obesity.

______________________________________________________________

Package 1: SPARK “Shining Star” Outdoor Equipment $3,505.63

Package 2: SPARK “FUNdamentals” Equipment Package $1,411.30

Package 3: SPARK “Dance with Me” Equipment Package $393.14

Package 4: SPARK “Have a Ball” $788.05

Package 5: SPARK “Balance & Scoot” Package $1,275.93

Next Steps:

Contact the SPARK office at:

800-SPARK-PE (772-7573)  or spark@schoolspecialty.com.

300 Florida Middle Schools Implement SPARK

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

The Florida Department of Health has partnered with the Florida Department of Education to bring SPARK Middle School Physical Education (MS PE) to 300 Middle Schools throughout the state.

Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “Communities Putting Prevention to Work” (CPPW) Cooperative Agreement, the Florida Middle School Physical Activity Project (MSPAP) is designed to implement sustainable research and standards-based physical education in all public Florida middle schools.

Florida Middle School sites will be some of the first schools ever to be trained in the new 2011 SPARK MS PE Program. Each site will receive research-based SPARK curriculum, training and equipment, as well as SPARK’s lifetime follow-up support.

SPARK is extremely excited to be a part of this project and have the opportunity to make a positive impact on the health and wellness of so many middle school students throughout the state of Florida!

For more information on MSPAP please contact Nichole Wilder at nichole.wilder@fldoe.org or (850) 245-0813 or Anna Holihan at anna.holihan@fldoe.org or (850) 245-0881.

For more information on SPARK please visit www.sparkpe.org.

Help Save the PEP Grant!

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Each year, the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) awards millions of dollars to schools and community-based organizations to initiate, expand, and improve physical education programs.

Funding for PEP is in serious danger and could be eliminated. Although the most recent Federal budgets (which did not include money for PEP) were not approved, there is still a good chance the final budget will not include funds set aside for PEP .

What can you do to help save PEP?
  1. Click Here to Send a letter to Congress today & show your support
  2. Click Here to download the “I Support the PEP Grant” button image (see below) to use on Facebook,Twitter, on your website, in flyers, and anywhere else you can think of!

Click Here for more information on the 2011 PEP Grant…