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Quality Assessment Practices for PE

Posted 4 days ago - by Carolyn Temertzoglou


Several years ago, I was fortunate to work on a project with colleagues of mine, on the OASPHE (Ontario Association for the Support of Physical and Health Education) Executive, who share a similar passion and focus for lobbying and advocating for quality programming in HPE.

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We explored fitness assessment practices in schools, investigated the research, engaged in intriguing discussions while respecting differing opinions and agreed upon six key messages for fitness assessment. The key messages were to facilitate discussion amongst HPE teachers to reflect and consider how these key messages inform their practice to assess students’ fitness. 

Fast forward 8 years to the release of the Ontario Health and Physical Education document that positions physical and health literacy as core concepts of our curriculum outcomes for our students to learn, demonstrate, and embody throughout their lives. It can be viewed as one of the largest health intervention strategies the province has even seen.

HPE teachers have a responsibility to ensure that quality assessment practices are being implemented to support all of our students’ to learn and apply the knowledge and skills necessary to lead healthy active lives - regardless of their abilities, previous exposures and opportunities related to physical activity.

Check out the recent document on Quality Assessment To Support the Development of Physical Literacy Skills in Health and Physical Education, part of OPHEA’s Open Dialogue Position Paper Series.

This document stems from the work done previously on the key messages for fitness assessment and provides updated guidelines that include:

  -  The purpose of assessment and evaluation in a Health and Physical Education context

  -  The relationship of physical literacy and personal fitness to support students to be physically active throughout their lives

  -  Key messages to guide educators in selecting assessment methods and tools to improve students’ learning

 

Let’s Take a Closer Look at some of the key messages and things to consider when planning assessment tasks in PE…

  • Key Message # 1 suggests assessments be done in a physically- and emotionally-safe environment for increased student success and enjoyment
  • Key message # 2 points out that assessment is an educational process with the student and teacher working together
  • Key Message # 3 suggests that educators provide multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning over time

Achieve Quality Assessment with 3 Tools:

  1. Assessment Methods: Ensure a variety of assessment methods in which students can demonstrate the expectations of HPE – "say, write, do"... students can communicate it, write about it, and/or perform it. Triangulating the dataing results in more rich and authentic assessment
     
    • Example: Imagine your student, Rebecca, is demonstrating a movement skill, such as a volleyball serve, however, she cannot get it over the net for whatever reason. Perhaps it is an entirely new sport specific movement she has encountered, or she hasn’t had enough time to practice the movement skill during the sessions in PE.  Despite not being able to make the serve over the net, Rebecca can explain what is needed to get the ball over the net, “I can apply more force on my forward motion or I need to transfer my weight and follow through more in the direction of my target”. This response demonstrates the student’s understanding of the movement concepts and principles necessary to perform the particular movement skill and with practice in a fun and enjoyable learning environment in PE, application of knowledge will occur, and more importantly the development of physical literacy skills.

       
  2. Assessment Tools: Use a variety of assessment tools to provide many opportunities for assessment; “for” (teacher and peer feedback), “as” (self-assessment) and “of” (judge/evaluate) learning. With increased opportunities to learn, practice and demonstrate students will develop the desire, ability and confidence in their acquisition of a variety of movement skills, concepts and strategies thereby developing physical literacy.  ​

     
    • Assessment tools can range from Rubrics to Checklists with clear student friendly language. Remember to co-construct the success criteria for active participation with your students so they can understand and apply these skills on a daily basis. Check out my previous blog on co-construction of success criteria for active participation, How to Teach Life Skills through Physical Education.
       
    • Consider conferencing with your students periodically to check for understanding and help students be more aware and self-monitor/self-regulate their own learning and progress.

       
  3. Choice: Provide choice for students to develop their physical literacy as a foundation for programming and assessment. Learning spaces in HPE, whether in the gym or classroom, need to be inclusive, safe, and respectful of diversity in order for all students to thrive. Teachers can be culturally relevant and responsive to student needs and allow choice in assessment practices. The Ontario curriculum does not state that students perform a particular movement skill, such as cradling a ball in lacrosse; however, students will perform movement skills and apply movement concepts in a variety of physical activities.
     
    • Example:When program planning, consider usuing the Teacher Games for Understanding model to teach movement skills, concepts, and strategies for grades 4-12.
      • In grades 7-9, plan a 3-week outdoor territorial games unit in the fall and expose students to 4 days of lead up games to soccer, lacrosse, ultimate Frisbee, and flag rugby or football. At the end of the unit, allow the students to choose a sending, receiving, or carrying skill that they feel confident demonstrating. This provides opportunities for students to improve their skills and helps them make connections of transferable movement skills and game strategies from one sport or physical activity to th enext, contributing to increased confidence, competence, and moveitvation, which equates to physical literacy.

  • At the elementary level, plan a variety of opportunities throughout the year for the students to practice movement exploration skills, such as sending skills, with a focus on aim and accuracy using different size implements and targets, as well as in various environments.

 Using stations/circuits can create a physically- and emotionally- safe environment, as students are not publically on display or assessed in front of their peers, connecting back to Key Message # 1.

 

For more information on quality assessment resources check out the following:

Continuing the Conversation: 
Which key message resonates with your practice? Which key message would you like to build upon more this term?

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STEAM and Physical Education: Meeting the Curve

Posted 1 week ago - by Aaron Beighle

Science Technology Engineering Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) programs are popping up in high schools, middle schools, and even elementary schools across the country. (Note: Some use the acronym STEM and some include Arts in the acronym.)

To better prepare students in the fields of STEAM, the federal government has prioritized the development of programs, academies, and schools emphasizing these areas. This push, as well as data suggesting STEM jobs make up 20%, or 26 million, of US jobs (From stemedcoalition.org) leave me thinking that STEAM education is here to stay.

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As most of you would agree, in STEAM education, physical education is essential for all the reasons we support. However, as with any school, it is important that the physical education program “fit” into the school philosophy. I am not suggesting that physical education should exist in these schools simply as a support class for STEAM courses. In fact, I would suggest that physical education be a part of these programs because it would be the only course in which they learn the skills, knowledge and attitudes requisite for a lifetime of physical activity.

STEAM typically focuses on an integrated curriculum where multiple content areas are blended during learning experiences. Problem based learning (PBL), discovery, and exploratory learning are emphasized. Students are typically actively engaged in the learning experience looking for solutions. In my mind, this is where the excitement for a physical educator begins. How can we take those educational tenants, which are not unique to STEAM, and infuse them into a physical education program that maintains the goal of preparing physically literate students? Frankly, I think we do much of this already; we just need to let other educators know and highlight what we do.

Like most of you, STEAM is new to me, but I can’t help but wonder what STEAM physical education can look like. In the elementary ages, guided discovery could be used to initiate student problem solving. Cooperative, adventure education type activities could be used to further their decision making, problem solving skills with groups. This is an excellent strategy for teaching students about group dynamics, what leaders do, how to disagree, how to learn to cooperate and communicate. All are strategies many of us use but would lend themselves to PBL and exploration. Allowing students to invent games given a set of equipment. Exploring equipment uses. Physical education teachers could collaborate with science teachers to generate learning experience in both spaces, based on friction, momentum, force, etc. When learning about Internet searches in computer sciences, students could search for physical activity videos to do in the classroom, in physical education, or at home. Pedometers in physical education lend themselves to mathematics lessons with real data to calculate averages and generate graphs. Teachers could collaborate to infuse dance and music in an arts program.

In middle and high schools, the opportunities are endless as well, particularly if we provide students with a strong content foundation to build on. For instance, one approach might be to provide a lab/lecture/activity based course that on the surface resembles a traditional health and physical education class. This course, taught using PBL and exploration, would provide fundamental knowledge such as why physical activity is important, basic nutrition, stress management, the FITT principle, lifelong physical activity skills, etc. Once students have this knowledge, then the real fun would begin. For instance, in a computer engineering course students might be faced with the problem, “When students enter middle and high school their physical activity levels drop. Using app development skills and computer engineering skills, generate a strategy to get students more active.” Is that possible? I don’t know but is fascinating. In physics students might learn about viscosity and friction and be able to link that information to arteries, cholesterol, and heart disease that the learned about in the foundations course. And that is just a start of what could be accomplished. Letting young technologically savvy, physically literate students develop strategies to improve health is exciting and promising.

In sum, STEAM education is here to stay. From my perspective, physical education has a tremendous amount of upside in this approach to education. With some thoughtful preparation and creativity the possibilities are truly endless. As I said, this is not to say physical education is a primer for other course work; this is to say our existing content can be strengthened to fit perfectly in a STEAM approach and strengthen the learning experiences as well. Given the push for STEAM programs, I think it is essential that physical education begin considering how what we already do can lend itself to these programs. 

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Luck of the Draw: Endless Card Activities Suit'able for All Ages

Posted 2 weeks ago - by Jason Gemberling

Are you tight on space? Do you need a task to keep students moving while waiting to play? Need an idea for classroom teachers to give students “Fit Breaks?” 

All you need is a standard deck of cards and 4 different exercises that meet your goal and space requirement.  And music, of course, because everyone loves music!

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This is a very simple activity, that if done correctly can hit both muscular endurance and also cardiovascular endurance, depending on the types of exercises you choose for each suit in the deck of cards.  I teach high school students and in 15 minutes they are able to complete the entire deck.   Typically half of the class performs this activity and the remainder of the class is on spin bikes.  We also utilize this workout as a way to keep students waiting in line moving.   Our goal is to keep all of our students active, so we use the deck of cards as a way to accomplish this goal.

How it works:

  • Designate one exercise for each of the four suits in the deck and print it out on a piece of paper. 
    • Examples: Diamonds = Dolphin Planks, Spades = Crunches, Hearts = Lunge Jumps, and Clubs = Mountain Climbers 

       
  • Shuffle the deck and have students flip over 1 card at a time
     
  • Students complete the number of reps provided on the card
    • Numbered cards are the number on the card
    • Face cards (Jacks, Queens, and Kings) are 10 reps and the Ace is 11
    • Examples: 7 of Diamonds = 7 Dolphin Planks, 2 of Spades = 2 Crunches, King of Hearts = 10 Lunge Jumps
       
  • Change up the excercises every couple of weeks. Keep the old cards so you can resuse them in the future. 

I also recommend that PE teachers introduce this simple workout to classroom teachers.  My wife is a 3rd grade teacher and I have shown her how to do the deck of cards workout with her students.  Classroom teachers can easily have the deck of cards on their desks and when they notice their class is in need of a quick “fit break” to rejuvenate their minds, they can flip 4 or 5 cards and have their class moving instantly.  Knowing first hand all of the work that classroom teachers have on their plates, I encourage you to print off the exercise/suit cards so the teacher does not have to take the time to do this part.  You should also keep in my mind the amount of space in a classroom and what items students have at their desks that could be used.  

Example: Hearts = chair squats, Diamonds = ski jumps, Spades = rocket jumps, and Clubs = seal jacks. 

Using cards is a simple way to get a large number of students active in any space you have available and it is very inexpensive.  As for the exercises, the sky is the limit on what you can have students do for each suit and I encourage you to let students help in deciding, because they will have a feeling of empowerment and are more likely to complete the task!  ENJOY!

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Are We Fiddling While Rome is Burning?

Posted 3 weeks ago - by Dr. Steve Jefferies

Legend has it that the Roman emperor, Nero, played the lyre while a great fire enveloped Rome in AD 64. Centuries later, the “fiddling while Rome is burning” charge is popularly directed at people who preoccupy themselves with trivial matters while ignoring potential crises.

As first a public school physical education teacher and later a university-based teacher educator, I’ve spent most of my working life trying to be a positive professional role-model and help others excel as teachers. I’ve immersed myself attempting to understand “best” teaching practices. I’ve studied and thought much about curriculum issues. I got intrigued enough about assessment to create a popular video. And I’ve tried hard to comprehend what was indeed different between traditional and “new” physical education programs. Now, looking back I can see that I’ve learned a lot and maybe even made a difference in the lives of some of my former students. But sadly, I haven’t seen the sort of professional transformation I’d have liked.

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Years ago, public school physical educators didn’t get much respect. What we did during the day wasn’t viewed especially important by our teaching colleagues or school administrators. In elementary schools we served to create planning time for classroom teachers. At secondary levels we were valued mostly for our after-school athletic coaching. What students learned from us wasn’t considered especially important. As long as we kept kids busy and out of trouble most administrators were happy enough. The expectations held for us were low and we had no trouble meeting them.

But then things changed. For years, critics had bemoaned the lack of evidence about what schools were actually achieving. Where else in life they reasoned was it acceptable to be employed without needing to show results? They questioned this sort of “getting paid for showing up” mentality. And it gained traction. Accountability became a trendy term and legislators began pressuring schools to show what their students were learning.

Physical educators – somewhat reluctantly I’d argue – joined in. Notwithstanding a longstanding history of mostly assessing students on attendance, participation, attitude, and physical fitness, we raised our game. We created quizzes and folders, portfolios and projects. It was impressive especially when accompanied by teaching that looked different from the “drill and kill” militaristic style that characterized physical education in far too many adult minds. Things were good. School administrators were happy to see us assessing even though they rarely questioned what. Kids were happy to do more than team sports. Our jobs seemed secure. Life probably would have stayed that way but for the unanticipated national financial crises and the ensuing economic recession.

When the nation’s economic markets crumbled everything changed. Now, in addition to a focus on school accountability, school funding diminished. With fewer dollars to spend, schools had to choose between what to support and what to drop. Not surprisingly, the so-called core subjects of reading, writing, and arithmetic rose to the top. All else sank. And so began more than a decade of declining support for physical education in K-12 public education.

In recent years, there have been ups and downs. Some places we’ve seen hiring while in others the replacement of physical educators with physical-activity touting commercial entities. The physical activity-fitness-brain association has probably helped us, but again – students don’t need college trained physical education teachers to organize physical activity. National concern about kids’ becoming increasingly sedentary and making unhealthy life style choices has grown. But supporting and expanding the physical education profession has not been recognized as the solution.

And so, while we –in our professional literature and even in these blogs – debate the best way to do this or that, discuss the latest gadgets, or get excited about the newest technology, I can’t help but feel that around us Rome is indeed burning. We live in this closeted world believing ourselves immune from the tidal changes sweeping across and transforming the world outside. I’m reminded that nothing lasts forever. Our profession won’t either unless we start attending to the critical challenges threatening our future.

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Why Teach Dance?

Posted 1 month ago - by Suzanne Hunter Serafin

I had a long conversation with a frustrated father last week. He wants his son to study in the library instead of coming to physical education because the dance unit is a “waste of his son’s time”.

He stated that his son is an “elite athlete, who should be training not dancing, and if he can’t train he should use the time productively in the library”. I explained to the father that dance is an important part of movement development and social development but he was not going to be convinced.

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This conversation left me asking myself, “why teach dance”?  Of course the national and state standards require it, but that’s not enough to persuade over 50% of the physical education teachers I know.  That’s right, half of the teachers I know don’t teach dance! It will come as no surprise to you that those teachers don’t like to dance because they don’t think they are good at it and find it embarrassing.  I’m sure it will also come as no surprise to you that 95% of these teachers are men.  Another supporting fact about these men is that they did not learn to dance in their physical education classes, probably because they were all “elite athletes”.

So, again, the question on my mind is “why teach dance”?  How about this, it could be the most important skill that students will learn in physical education.  Dance is a series of support skills and fitness options that enhance every other activity a person will do.

For example, spatial awareness and movement development are necessary in every sport an “elite athlete” will participate in.  Rhythm and timing are essential in most activities, and cardiorespiratory endurance and flexibility are important for maintaining fitness, improving performance, and injury prevention. 

Beyond the physical advantages, dance also provides social opportunities for students to work together in a non-competitive co-ed environment.  Finally, we should teach dance because it’s fun and it feels good to move freely, jumping and spinning, leaping and dancing.

I have been teaching dance to 7th and 8th grade students for 15 years. My unit has been praised by students (boys and girls alike) parents, colleagues, and administrators, so I want to share my recipe for success.

What Students Need to Know:

  • Show students that dance is part of their pop culture through YouTube videos, movies, and TV. Ask students if they know of any good videos to show as well.
     
  • Tell them why dance is a great skill physically, physiologically, and socially.  Emphasize how it can enhance different aspects of their lives such as athletic performance, personal enjoyment, and social interaction.
     
  • Find a dance that they can relate to culturally. I am in San Diego so my “square dance” is a Circle Meringue. 
     
  • Encourage students who have dance skills to perform for the class. Make it “cool”. This may result in anything from break dancing to tap dancing so be prepared.

 

How I Teach Dance:

  • I teach two days of “partner dancing”. I use a very watered down west coast swing.
     
  • Partners are assigned and change every 3-5 minutes and I give everyone a squirt of hand sanitizer.
     
  • Before we begin I have a serious talk with the students about behavior including eye rolling and body language.
     
  • I also bring in a specialist. In my case this is our Vice Principal who is tall and fit and loves to dance.  He talks with just the boys about why it’s cool to dance and very un-cool to be rude. I talk with the girls about how they have a big responsibility to help the boys enjoy dancing so that they will have someone to dance with at their senior prom in 4 years.
     
  • Finally I teach a flash mob dance to the graduating class that they perform on an unspecified day to surprise the younger students and faculty.
     

I realize that one important reason my dance unit is successful is because I love it so much, and we all teach what we love with more passion than things that we don’t love. But I hope my passion and my commitment to the importance of teaching dance will influence even the most elite athletes to open their minds and bodies to the opportunities dance can provide.

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Holiday-Themed Stations for Fitness and Fun!

Posted 1 month ago - by Chad Triolet

Staying active and fit during the winter months can be a challenge.  As a physical education teacher, I always enjoyed opportunities to tap into themed activities that made fitness fun.  Below are some creative station ideas that challenge student fitness levels and teamwork.

 

1. Build a Snow Fort

Equipment: Cones, empty boxes or pool noodles (the boxes can make larger forts)

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Skills: Balance, Teamwork, Creativity

How it Works: Students will collect one box or pool noodle at a time and carry it across the bridge (balance beam) over the frozen river (a mat) to the construction site.  The students will then use the building material to create a snow fort made of the boxes and cones.  When the task is completed, the teacher can take photos of the students with their fort (optional) and then students will clean up the equipment for the next group.

 

2. Sleigh Pull

Equipment: Old blankets

Skills: Teamwork, Muscular strength (legs and arms)

How it Works: Students will work in groups of 3-5.  One person will get to ride on the sleigh (blanket), while the other students pull the sleigh across the floor to the other side of the gym.  When the students make it across the gym, they will switch the rider and continue the activity back to the other side of the gym.  The student who is riding must lay on belly with arms keeping his/her head off the floor.  When every student has had a ride, then each student can get a second turn.

 

3. Over the River

Equipment: Tug of war ropes/heavy duty rope, carpet squares, cones

Skill: Muscular strength (core and arms)

How it Works: To get over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house, students will need to pull their way across the raging river (gym floor).  Using one or more rope stretched across the floor students will sit on a carpet square (their boat) and pull from one side to the other using a hand over hand pull.  The rope can be anchored to one wall or two students can pull toward each other to move across the floor.  More than one student can pull at a time provided that there is some space between each child.  If students need assistance, they can use their feet to help move across the floor.  Remind students that the carpet squares should be carpet side down (they slide much easier).  For safety reasons, no student should stand on the carpet squares.


4. Ice Skating

Equipment: Paper plates or felt squares

Skills: Balance, Muscular strength (legs), Coordination

How it Works: Each student will get two paper plates or felt squares (skates) and lay them on the floor.  They will place their feet on the skates and attempt to slide their feet across the gym floor (frozen pond).  The teacher can provide challenges for each trip across the pond while skating (i.e. – spins, going backward, speed skating, etc.) to make the trip across the ice more fun. 

 

 

5. Snowball Target Practice

Equipment: Yarn balls, bowling pins and/or stuffed animals

Skills: Throwing at a stationary target, teamwork

How it Works: To set up, place the targets on one end of the playing area.  The target heights can be varied to add a challenge for the students by using mats, buckets, boxes, etc. Use a variety of targets to make the activity more interesting (stuffed animals, bowling pins, etc.).  On the other end of the space, place several different containers (i.e. – buckets) with 40+ yarn balls (snowballs) that the students will use to throw at the targets.  Each student may pick up only one yarn ball at a time to throw at the targets.  In the center of the space, the teacher will place a line of cones that no player may cross when throwing the snowballs (this line can be moved closer to or further away from the targets based on student skill levels).  When the activity begins, the objective of the activity is to score as many points in one round working together as a team to knock down the targets.  After each round, the students will count the number of targets that were hit. 

To add a math component, certain targets can be designated with different values (i.e. – stuffed animals are worth 3 points each).  When the targets are knocked down the students will count up the point values for the targets that were knocked down.

 

These station ideas are fun ways to work on movement skills, teamwork, and improve fitness.  You are more than welcome to modify them to meet the needs of your students.  If you have a great station idea, please feel free to share it in the comments!  Happy Holidays!!

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Using Technology as an Organizational Tool in PE

Posted 1 month ago - by Jessica Shawley

The bell rings and class begins. We press start on the department Apple iTouch using the Seconds Pro app. The timer announces, “dressing down” over our sound system and students know they have four minutes to get ready for class. Many finish dressing early and head out to the gym to get their pedometer secured and do a ‘walk and talk’ around the main court with their peers or help finalize lesson setup.

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After the four minutes of locker room time the timer says, “warm-up time” and upbeat fitness music begins playing. Students immediately go to the nearest warm-up station and begin the dynamic warm-up of movement progressions. The music starting also signals to students they should be out of the locker room and have on their assigned FITstep™ Pro pedometer. Teachers now take attendance by looking at the remaining pedometers in the numbered wall pouch. The current warm-up is a perimeter of station cone signs where students rotate from station to station in a designated manner. After four minutes of warm-up time the timer says, “Warm-up Complete” and the music stops. The students report to their teacher and the rest of the lesson continues.

I have learned to use technology as an organizational tool to help make my daily routine more efficient. 

This routine is built around the daily warm-up timer and a well-stocked teaching cart. I recommend using any wheeled utility cart or ClassPlus™ Pedometer Cart.  A wheeled cart is a priceless necessity for the gymnasium and helps keep all your teaching tools accessible, yet out of the way of your movement-based classroom. At any given time there’s a mix of paperwork, pencils, Plickers cards, pedometers, downloading station, laptop, sound system, LCD projector and more.

What technologies are organizational tools for you? What does your daily routine entail? These are great questions for teachers to consider regularly and I get asked these frequently when I share in professional development workshops. Here are the details on my current set-up routine.

 

Daily teaching station set-up routine:

Pedometer setup:

1) Set-up FITstep Pro Pedometer Software on laptop and check that FitStep data readers are in place.

2) Hang up FITstep Pro Pedometers in their QwikID™ storage case using Command hooks (large 5 lb. capacity).


Sound setup:

1) Samson bluetooth, rechargeable speaker and iTouch with the day’s music selection and timers ready.

2) Turn on wireless Satechi remote to run sound if I am not going carry the iTouch during the lesson.

3) Put on personal PA/Shure wireless headset mic pack. Extra batteries on cart.

Having a portable, wireless, Bluetooth sound system with a wireless mic adapter is a necessity nowadays in physical education. Music highly motivates students and saving on your voice with a headset mic will not only allow students to hear instructions correctly but also prolong your career and increase the amount of energy you have left at the end of the day.  

Additional support pieces in my routine:

1) Get Team Shake app going on my teacher iPad for placing students into equitable teams for the lesson.

2) Hang up my pocket chart for storing Plickers assessment cards, handouts or portfolio pieces.

3) I use my teacher iPad for attendance, fitness apps, taking photos and videos of students in action, and for use with my Apple TV and LCD projector.   

 

Continuing the conversation: What technologies are organizational tools for you? What does your daily routine entail? Share your ideas in the comment section. 

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Teach like Everyone is Watching

Posted 1 month ago - by Scott McDowell

As a physical education teacher in Lake Bluff, Illinois, I had the opportunity to teach in a one hundred year old facility that housed 250 K-2 students. 

This building was unique and carried with it maintenance issues and many structural needs.  However, it had character and everyone that walked through thought is was cute and cozy.  Most unique was the space that I was given to carry out my instruction each day.  Originally the space was the common area given to the community for local gatherings such as celebrations, meetings, dances, and plays.  The “gym” had a single basketball hoop at one end and a stage at the other.  The focal piece of the room was a huge fireplace on the East wall with a beautiful mural stretched to the ceiling. 

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The room posed many limitations and required me to be creative with my teaching.  This was largely due to the fact that five classrooms and the front office (main entrance) were directly attached to the room.  This meant a variety of things throughout the day, including whole classes walking through the gym to go to areas of the school such as library, lunch, music, art, or recess.  Classroom teachers had to deal with screaming children and my music during activities, and we couldn’t throw objects at the walls because they were lined with classroom bulletin boards. 

Above all else, the most unique part of this experience was that I was visible to everyone at all times during my instruction.  Visitors that came to East School had to go through the gym to get to any other destination after checking-in with the secretary.  Every teacher in the building had to walk to the office to check their mailbox or visit the office staff.  My principal had to walk through my class repeatedly throughout the day to get to any other room or location including the district offices that were upstairs.  It required confidence to teach in such an environment and it provided extra motivation to demonstrate effective teaching strategies and creative planning within the curriculum. 

For an example of the space and what our foot traffic looked like during class, check out this PE Universe Video

Teaching at East School shaped my instruction and love for being an educator because it positioned me as a focal point of the school.  Over the years I have had the opportunity to teach in facilities that had amazing indoor and outdoor spaces for my physical education classes.  I also taught for three years without an indoor space and had to come up with creative ideas to withstand the weather conditions of Montana.  But nothing shaped my teaching as much as my time at East School where I had the daily opportunity to showcase the program to families, staff, and community members.  

No matter your circumstances, have goals that include motivating all stakeholders in physical education experiences throughout the year.  Invite staff, parents, and community to participate in your program.  Be creative as you look at your facilities, equipment, and nearby resources to determine their hidden potential.  Seek out administrative support for your teaching and begin by providing highlights of the great work you do each week.  Invite administrators into your classroom rather than waiting for them to come in during the week.  And lastly, when that class of students comes into your amazing and unique instructional space take it as an opportunity to teach like everyone is watching.

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Twitter is Dumb!

Posted 2 months ago - by Aaron Beighle

This was my quote about two years ago. My guess is that some of you read that quote and thought, “Finally someone who will agree with me that Twitter is not all that.”

Unfortunately I am probably going to disappoint you, but please keep reading.

I am going to share my hesitant, maybe even reluctant, journey into Twitter, my experiences as a relative newbie, what I have found to be the benefits, and one concern I have based on my experiences. My hope is that this can be shared with the Twitter naysayers as a way of getting them to at least look into Twitter because I think there are many benefits. My perspectives are fluid, so I welcome discussion.

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Twitter has been around since March 21st, 2006 (I looked it up). While many educators have been involved and were forward thinking enough to see the utility of Twitter since the early days, it seems that the use of Twitter by physical educators for professional development, learning, sharing, and interacting with a Professional Learning Network (PLN) has really ramped up in the last 3-4 years. The potential for Twitter is immense and many are starting to see this. I, on the other hand, am one of those slow uptake people.

One reason for my apprehension is my hesitancy to jump on the bandwagon of the next fad in physical education, and we have our share. Some of my apprehension is that I am a people person. I like face-to-face interaction. I think this interaction is the foundation of relationships. In workshops, gymnasiums, and classrooms, personal interactions provide energy, context, and opens doors for communications. While I present and listen to webinars, podcasts, etc., I thrive on face-to-face interaction with others. I like people (most of them). For these reasons, reading a tweet such as “Be sure to attend the #physed twitter chat 2nite@gophersport “ was not initially attractive to me. Please know, there is much more to Twitter than the simple posts you read; this was just my perspective early on.

So how did I get started? I started by following sports talk radio folks and some artists my daughters liked so I could find out if they were in concert near us. Over the next two years I listened to workshop presenters, colleagues, students, and teachers talk about their PLN. I saw them meet people at conferences who they knew from Twitter but had never met face-to-face. From there I started following some physical education folks. I was still against social media as a professional resource. It’s called “SOCIAL” media right? LinkedIn was for professional interactions. I was and still am a Facebook stalker. I rarely post other than to say, “Thanks for the birthday wishes” and to post the obligatory first day of school pictures for our four girls. Face-to-face I can do. I love presenting. Talking to physical educator teachers, hearing and seeing their passion is what I love. Typing to people I may or may not know just doesn’t feel right. I know this is a bit contradictory considering I am writing this blog and do my share of writing books and articles.

In the last 1.5 months I have ramped up my own involvement via tweeting, reading Twitter chats, even occasionally making comments (WHOA) AND I LIKE IT. I am guessing I like it for the reasons many others like it. It allows instantaneous interactions. I can see a teacher from Australia’s ideas instantly. While email would serve the same purpose, the teacher from Australia can share her work simultaneously to hundreds or thousands.  

Twitter provides physical educators with a support network/PLN. Considering many of us are literally on an island (our teaching space) and might have limited chances for interactions with other #physed teachers, this is a great benefit. PLNs are also significant given the trend for decreased professional development (PD) dollars and thus PD opportunities. Twitter also provides a national and global perspective. Posts and interactions with teachers from around the world has great potential for improving teaching and the field. While not as official sounding, Twitter is simply fun. Like Facebook, with Twitter you feel you know some of the folks you follow or are following you, but you may have never met them in person or haven’t seen them in 20 years. A bit weird, but fun. This list is limited and I am sure readers can come up with more reasons they love Twitter. My point is to let those riding the Twitter fence see that there are upsides and it’s worth looking into.

My only real concern about Twitter is the lack of accountability for posts. (Please know that I know that many forms of electronic media have similar issues, I am just focusing on Twitter.) There is no vetting or refereeing process associated with Twitter posts. This means anyone can post anything at any time. If you think about that it’s both scary and exciting. I understand that it is up to the reader to decipher the content and make judgments as the utility of a post. However, what if the reader is not as educated or up to speed on what #QPE is? What if the post is a video of poor teaching practices? Or inaccurately quoted research? I know reporters do this ALL the time, but at least they have the excuse that they are “outside the field”. With Twitter, it’s our own posting content that lacks evidence or contradicts what is generally accepted as best practice. I am not sure of an answer for this, but I believe it is worth discussing in the Twitter chat world.

I hope this blog will push #physed teachers and other professionals to look into using Twitter. The benefits outweigh the negatives, particularly if Twitter is used without accepting everything for face value. Yes, some folks are out to promote themselves and will use shameless self-marketing and some will post a quote that in no way reflects the research article it claims to quote; however, in a very short amount of time, I have learned to filter those posts (that means I don’t get bent out of shape over them) and focus on the positives associated with Twitter. If you have never used Twitter, I hope you give it a try. If you use Twitter, I hope you use it with a filter that helps you maximize its potential.

Follow me @AaronBeighle

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10 PE Professional Development Websites

Posted 2 months ago - by Michael Beringer

Professional development doesn't have to only be at the beginning of the year, or during staff meetings, or before or after school. 

In today's world of the Internet, Professional Development can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It can occur whenever you need it! 

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Let's say you're lesson planning and you need a new Five Levels of Fitness instant activity, or a new movement ativity to fit a certain skill you're teaching, or maybe you're looking for a new assessment tool, all you have to do is use the Internet!

The best part is, you don't have to spend countless hours looking for good quality resources, because I've done it for you. 

 

10 PE Websites for Professional Development

1. PE Universe

2. ThePhysicalEducator.com by Joey Feith and Mike Cicchillitti

3. Phys. Ed. Review by Kevin Tiller

4. PhysEd Games

5. Gopher PE Blog

6. TeachPhysEd by Coach Pirillo

7. Movement Matters by Michael Beringer

8. Bart Jones (YouTube)

9. Benjamin Pirillo (YouTube)

10. PE Links 4 U

 

Some of websites above offer free resources, while others do require you purchase the items. Of course, I prefer the free materials, however, if you don't mind spending a few dollars for something you really like, go for it!

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