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Old School Laps to Modern Apps: Part 2

Posted 2 days ago - by Dr. Lisa Witherspoon

Part One of Old School Laps to Modern Apps assists physical education teachers in learning what to consider when choosing a specific App for their classrooms. The most complicated aspect of choosing an App is to answer the question “which one?” There are thousands of Apps available, but not all Apps are a good fit for all teachers.  In Part Two, teachers will be provided with a variety of Apps with brief descriptions to possibly reflect upon using as a part of their curriculums.

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Many teachers need to understand that Apps are not necessarily meant for use simply for the students’ benefit. There are a variety of Apps that teachers can use to make their jobs easier, more effective, and efficient. To start, Apps can be used for attendance, grading, behavior management, music, communication with parents, presentations, content video capturing, etc. Below is a list of a variety of appropriate Apps that can be used in physical education classes. Please remember that this is not a conclusive list, and there are many Apps not listed that may be a better fit for your classroom. 

APP

Category of Assistance

Brief Description

Tone (iPhone)

 

Ringdroid

Music

Splice music to use in instant activities, stop and go signals, background music

QR Codes

Content

Easy to generate and fun to implement – scavenger hunts, bulletin boards, fitness principles, reviewing a unit

Class Dojo

Attendance

Communication

Behavior

Assists teachers in taking attendance, tracking positive and negative behaviors, provides feedback, and immediately provides communication to parents

iMuscle 2

Fitness Content

Weight Training

Identify muscles in the body, learn muscle development, and experience new exercises

Team Shake

Partners/Groups

Avoids favoritism, creates partners or groups immediately, and imports class lists

FitBreak

Fitness Content

Interactive fitness sessions ranging from short warm-up activities, to full 45-minute sessions based on popular TV shows and board games from around the world

Coach’s Eye

Video Capturing

Video playback, slow motion, draw to teach, compare videos side by side, share videos, audio commentary

Go Noodle

 

Brain Breaks

Indoor/Classroom

Quick activities that can be performed in limited space, assists with difficult content such as yoga, martial arts, dance, etc.

Scoreboard

 

Bracketmaker

Score keeping

 

Tournaments

Simulates a real scoreboard

 

Assists when making teams when designing tournaments

QR Stopwatch

Timer/Stopwatch

Timing app that utilizes QR Codes to start & stop a timer. Automatically generates your name and a new individual stopwatch will be started

Educreations

 

Explain Everything

Presentations/

Deliver content

Create powerful, innovative presentations, upload pictures or videos, draw to teach, manipulate the screen

 

While the above list is just a few of the many Apps available for use in a physical education classroom, there are others that will accomplish the same task at hand. This is merely a list to get you started and feel more comfortable finding Apps that best fit your program. Searching for Apps in the App Store is not difficult. Simply type in the key word you are looking for (“physical activity”, “fitness”, “physical education”, etc.) and read the description to see if the App may be useful for your curriculum. As suggested in Part One of this blog, make sure to read reviews and have a plan for using the App before purchasing.

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P.E. and Fitness Ideas with Hoops and Cones

Posted 1 week ago - by Michael Beringer

Are you in need of new physical education activities using equipment staples like cones and hoops? Look no further than these fun and simple ideas!

Fitness Fun with Cones

1. Flip It Fitness  – On the signal have your students pair up next to a pair up cones. Each student tries to flip his/her cone until it lands on its base! The first successful student gives his/her partner a high five and say “good game”. The winning student then jogs around the play area to a find a new challenger. They do this by looking for a student who is doing jumping jacks. These are the individuals who were unsuccessful during the challenge. 

2. Flip It Relays – Separate your class into relay groups of any size. On the signal, see which group can win the relay by flipping a series of cones that are spread out down the gymnasium. Have the students take turns flipping the cones. If successful, they move on to the next cone. If not, the group does an assigned exercise one time together as a team before the next person in the group gives it a try. The activity keeps going until one group wins the relay race. 

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3. Flip It with Skill Development – Same as Flip It Fitness & Flip It Relay except all the students dribble a basketball while playing the game. 

Need to update your cones? Check out this selection of Cones, all backed by an Unconditional 100% Satisfaction Guarantee!

 

Fitness Fun with Hoops

1. Fitness Timer – Hand a hoop to each student as he/she enters the gymnasium. You can either have students come up with their own exercise or you can write some on a whiteboard and/or use a projector with a list of exercises they can choose from. The students then pick any exercise they want to do and spin their hoop. They perform the exercise until the hoop completely stops spinning. Keep going until the music stops.

2. Partner Fitness Timer – Same as Fitness Timer, but now it’s done in pairs. One student picks the exercise, while the other student spins the hoop. The action continues until the music stops. 

3. Toss It Fitness – Take a hoop and tape it with six different colors of floor tape. Then create an exercise master sheet that has an exercise for each color. Have the students toss the hoop up in the air and catch it. Whatever color the student catches have them match the color with the exercise on the exercise master sheet.

Shop the most durable Hoops available for P.E.! 

 

More Hoop Ideas

1. Pop the Bubbles – Divide your class into partner relay lines. In front of each relay line, place a set of four hoops with a poly spot in a row. On the signal, have your students take turns underhand throwing and/or rolling a bean bag into the first bubble (hoop w/ poly spot). If it lands in the bubble (hoop) then bring the hoop back and continue until all the hoops are collected

2. Fitness Pyramid – Create a Pyramid with hoops. Starting with 5 then 4, 3, 2, and 1. Then place a pair of dice in each hoop. Create 5 relay lines with your class. On the signal, the first 2 students in each line go to the first line and take turns rolling the dice. The greater number moves up and the lower number runs a lap and then gets back into one of the relay lines. You can have them add, subtract, multiply, and use greater than or less than. 

3. Number Battle – Create two teams. Each team has 3, 4, or 5 hoops with written number words in each hoop. Have numbers 1-10 in each hoop. On the signal, all the students on each team run to the other team’s hoop where the written numbers are and takes one to bring back to their hoops on the other side. On the way back they must find a poly spot (with numbers 1-10 written on them) that matches their number on the card and step on it before they can place it in their hoops. The team with the most numbered words at the end wins. You determine the length of time the game is played. 

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Instant Activities You Can Implement ASAP

Posted 2 weeks ago - by Jonette (Jo) Dixon

When you get students moving right away, the learning begins right away. And hopefully the sweating too! Consider having an activity posted for students to do as soon as they enter the gym. You can post the 5 components of fitness warm-ups to the wall, or a warm-up on your iPad® or laptop, etc.

My students enter the gym, pick up their 3 x 5 attendance card (that I scatter on the floor), and start their warm-up immediately according to the 5 components of fitness posted on the wall. Once done, they walk and talk about what is on the projector or SMART Board®. We start quick, we move quick! Here are a few for you to try that are simple, fun, and you can start using today. I hope you enjoy!

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Tic-Tac-Toe

Learning Targets:

  1. I will show "Spirit of the Game" by the way I act and treat others
  2. I will improve my cardiovascular endurance by running back and forth with my teammates
  3. I will show strategies and play by the rules of the game

Logistics:​

  • Set up 9 small hoops in a 3-by-3 grid
  • Provide 6 bean bags or scarves for each set of hoops (2 sets of 3)
  • Divide students into teams of 3-4 (Team Shake App)
  • Designate 2 teams to each grid of hoops and assign each team a color with the proper bean bags or scarves
  • Have each team form a line
  • At the signal, students race to the hoops to drop off their bean bags. The first team with 3 in a row wins!
  • Play multiple games and give each team a chance to compete against one another
  • Watch a round of Tic-Tac-Toe

 

Spin It! App

This customizable random activity generator App is great for small spaces.

Logistics: Enter your activities or exercises and quanitites and let the students take turns spinning the app. See how it works here!

 

Spell Your Workout

Assign each letter of the alphabet an exercise and number of reps. Use the chart to have students spell the school name, practice spelling or vocabulary words, and more! 

Logistics: Write out your list and put it on the projector. Then, just turn on some music and go! 

 

Song and Dance

Get students moving to music right away!

Logistics: Project a simple dance routine that students can follow along to, or have them make up their own moves! See an example here.

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Teaching Skill-Related Fitness Concepts in All Spaces

Posted 3 weeks ago - by Jessica Shawley

There are two areas of fitness that must co-exists within physical education—health-related and skill-related. My students enjoy activities that challenge any of the six skill-related fitness components: Balance, Agility, Speed, Power, Coordination, and Reaction Time.

During an extended period of construction in our district, I taught without a gym or cafeteria and provided physical education from a traditional classroom space for a year. Things got interesting when we were inside for the winter, and I had to get extra creative. This is when I had fun with skill-related fitness challenges that could be performed in small spaces.

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Teaching skill-related fitness is an important part of physical education and just plain fun. Developing skill-related fitness increases student success in the activities they enjoy, or may come to enjoy later in life. When a student feels successful in an activity, he/she will most likely continue to participate in it. This can then increase his/her overall health-related fitness level and continue to enhance his/her ability to participate in activities.

At the middle school level, the SHAPE America Grade Level Outcomes state students should be able to identify the components of skill-related fitness (S3.M7.6) and distinguish between health-related and skill-related fitness (S3.M7.7); thus, I design and incorporate a variety of skill-related and health-related fitness-based lessons where students reflect upon both areas of fitness and apply them to their lives. In my end of lesson debrief, I ask students to choose one activity they currently enjoy (or would like to learn) outside of school and identify the skill-related and health-related components it addresses. Allowing students to listen to their peers’ activity interests and tying in the learning targets is very effective.

Here are some ideas for teaching skill-related fitness and lesson breakdowns. These can be adapted for use inside or outside of the traditional physical education setting or can be used as part of warm-ups, in circuits or stations or as a full lesson.

Option 1: Four corner stations.

  • Set up stations in each corner of your space and use station task cards or a PowerPoint slide of the four stations (see blog image above).
  • Mix in two or three skills at a time with or without previously learned content. I like to mix in cardiorespiratory endurance exercises to further enhance student fitness levels.
  • Here is a breakdown for introducing skill-related fitness in a 4-corner circuit over two lessons:

 

Skill-Related Fitness 4-Corner Circuit

Lesson #1 Stations

Concept:

Activity:

Station 1: Skill-themed

Agility

Footwork Drills

Station 2: Skill-themed

Balance

Balance Disc

Station 3: Skill-themed

Reaction Time

Reaction Ball Drop

Station 4: Cardio-themed

Cardio Exercise

Jumping Jacks

 

Skill-Related Fitness 4-Corner Circuit

Lesson #2 Stations

Concept:

Activity:

Station 1: Skill-themed

Power

Squat Jumps

Station 2: Skill-themed

Coordination

Juggle

Station 3: Skill-themed

Speed

Speed Jump Rope

Station 4: Cardio-themed

Cardio Exercise

Jog in Place/High Knees

 

Option 2: Introduce skill-related fitness as a single focus topically.

  • It can be as part of a larger lesson, circuit, or as the lesson itself depending upon your program needs and learning targets.
  • You should loop back to skill-related fitness often as it is a natural fit in most aspects of the overall physical education curriculum.
  • The following table provides ideas to help guide your skill-related fitness activities.

 

Skill-Related Fitness Activity Ideas:

Concept:

Activity Ideas:

Equipment Ideas:

Agility: Your ability to move quickly, easily, and change directions.

  • Footwork Drills

  • Dot Drills

  • Line Hops

Tip: With agility ladders, have students follow footwork pattern station cards. No ladders? Create your own using floor tape, floor spots or small cones for your own agility course.

Balance: Your ability to maintain body control in any position or when moving.

  • Balance Discs

  • Balance Boards

  • Yoga Balance Poses

 

Tip: Use balance discs with task card challenges for students to try out. Work up in complexity, including having students toss a ball back and forth while balancing.

Reaction Time: Your ability to quickly recognize the situation and move accordingly.

  • Reaction Ball Drop

  • The Classic Ruler Drop

  • Agility Dot Drill Mats

Tip: The reaction ball game is played in groups of any size. Catch the ball off the bounce in a sequential order of bounces without losing control. How many bounces in a row can you go?

Power: Your ability to combine strength and speed quickly, creating force.

  • Medicine Ball Smash

  • Box Jumps

  • Standing Long Jump

Tip: – Have students perform a standing long jump and then measure their personal progress to incorporate personal goal setting and measurement skills.

Coordination: Your ability to perform complex movements, often doing two things at once.

  • Chinese Jump Rope

  • Juggling

  • Jump Rope

Tip: The “Chinese jump rope” challenge was a huge hit! I used Chad Triolet’s YouTube videos and skills cards via www.perocks.com and let students design their own jumps.

Speed: Your ability to move fast or perform a movement in a short period of time.

  • Agility Course

  • Speed Jump Rope

  • Relays

Tip: Students create an “agility course” and time themselves. Trying to beat their best times. This incorporates creativity, goal setting, measurement, and combines speed with agility.

Continue the conversation! What are some of your favorite skill-related fitness activities, especially those that can be done in circuits or a small space? Tweet me @JessicaShawley with #physed #PEblog @GopherSport to share your ideas!

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A Feast of Thanksgiving Turkey Trot Ideas for Your School!

Posted 4 weeks ago - by Jason Gemberling

Looking for a fun and fit way to send your students home for Thanksgiving Break this year?  Try a trot, a Turkey Trot that is! 

This is a fun event that can be done at any age level and can be done simply, or if you are game, quite extravagantly. Depending on the grade level you are teaching, you can decide the distance your students will run or walk.  You will also need to decide if you want this event to be a true race or more of a fun event. 

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Turkey Trot Ideas: 

 1. A True Race

I have done this as a true race when I taught elementary school students for just my 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students and they trotted for a mile.  Each grade raced separately and the first place boy and girl won a frozen turkey, second place won a pumpkin pie, and third place a box of stuffing. Use your imagination to decide your awards!

2. For Fun

If you want this to be a fun event, consider having some of your teachers dress up as turkeys, boxes of stuffing, Pilgrims, or whatever Thanksgiving costume they want, and have them trot along with your students.  Nothing gets kids more excited than seeing their teachers (and administrators) trotting along with them as they participate in the fun! 

3. Get Parents Involved

I encourage you to get parents involved as well. Not only to help you with logistics, but also to encourage them to get active with their children.  AND, if you want to make the event really big, parents are fantastic helpers! 

4. Trot + Thanksgiving Dinner

While thinking about writing this blog, I had another thought come to mind that I may try to make a reality for Thanksgiving 2017.  I teach in a very rural school district, with a number of economically disadvantaged students, so why not take the last day of school and make it a “Fit Family Turkey Trot and Thanksgiving Dinner?” I know I have students that don’t get the full Thanksgiving feast, so my thought is to get in contact with our Director of Food Service and put together a home cooked Thanksgiving Feast that will follow a Turkey Trot 5k run/walk. This may be a huge endeavor, but with proper planning, it could become a huge success and give all of my students and their families the opportunity to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal together. 

I hope that if any of you try a trot, you make sure to keep the event fun for every student and get as many stakeholders involved as possible!  And if you do try a trot, please share how you ran your event!  I love hearing how others do things like this to get new and fresh ideas!  Happy Trotting!

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4 Fun Fitness Activities for P.E.!

Posted 1 month ago - by Aaron Beighle

As promised in my last blog, the following are fun activities to teach students about fitness and provide meaningful fitness experiences in physical education. 

Fitness Challenges*

Using 30-second intervals, the teacher leads the class through a variety of activities. Typically, cardiovascular activities are alternated with activities for muscular strength, muscular endurance, and flexibility.

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Example for a lesson with flexibility emphasis. Perform each for 30 seconds.

  1. Walking                            
  2. Abdominal challenges
  3. Locomotor movement (student choice)
  4. Flexibility challenges
  5. Flexibility content
  6. Push-up challenges
  7. Jogging
  8. Flexibility activities/review

Repeat the sequence twice for an 8-minute routine (which works well in a 30-minute lesson). If lessons are longer, this activity can be revisited in elementary schools. In middle and high schools, interval lengths could be increased which opens the door for great discussion on overload and progression principles. Fitness Challenges work particularly well at the beginning of the year or when you want to teach new challenges. You can also integrate 30 second tag games rather than 30 seconds of the locomotor activities.

 

Hexagon Hustle*

  • Use 6 cones to outline a hexagon inside the teaching area. On each cone is a sign (see below for examples).
  • When the interval music is on (usually it’s a 30/30 interval with 30 seconds of music and 30 seconds of silence), students move around the hexagon performing the activities on the signs.
  • As they move, they read the sign which indicates the hustle activity they are to perform as they approach the next cone.
  • When the music is off, the teacher provides activities from either flexibility, abdominal strength, or muscular strength/endurance.
  • After the 30 seconds of silence, the music automatically starts and students continue around the hexagon.

This works well for 8-10 minutes. For high school students, increase the distance between the cones and increase the interval time to 45-60 seconds. Signs on both sides of the cones allows you to alternate the direction and provide a variety of activities.

 

 

Scavenger Hunt  **

  • In small groups of 4-6, provide students with a Scavenger Hunt card (see below) and an item number to start on. This prevents all groups doing the same activity. Try starting with 45/5 (45 seconds of music, 5 seconds of silence) interval music.
  • When the music goes off, this signals groups to move to the next item on the list. Notice, the activities do not include repetitions or times (other than how long to hold each stretch). This avoids the “we’re done” syndrome from students. They will be working the entire 45 seconds (quality, not quantity).

As with other routines, halfway through the activity, stop the class to discuss the fitness concept of the day.

 

 

Racetrack fitness * **

  • Students are arranged using partners (Classroom Management: The Foundation of Effective Instruction)
  • In the middle—also known as “the pit” – are 6-8 signs (see below) on the ground.
  • Partner A reports to the pit and performs the first activity on the card. Partner B performs a locomotor activity of his/her choosing around the perimeter of the activity space (make this one lap or two).
  • When finished with the assigned number of laps, Partner B gives Partner A a high-five, and they switch places.
  • After a lap or two, Partner A goes back to the middle and Partner B returns to going around the perimeter.
  • This process continues until both partners complete all activities on the card.

I typically do this activity with continuous music. Halfway through I will stop the class and have a short discussion of the concept of the day. If desired, this activity could be done with an interval music with partners switching each time the music goes off. In this instance, a 30/10 interval might be in order. During the 10 seconds of silence, partners switch. You can also put mats in the pit for activities if desired, especially for older students.

These are just a few of the countless fitness routines and activities you can use or create to integrate the strategies to teach them about fitness, make fitness fun, and provide them with meaningful fitness experiences in physical education.

* Pangrazi, R.P. & Beighle A. (2015). Dynamic Physical Education for Elementary School Children (18th ed.) San Francisco: Pearson.
** Darst, P., Pangrazi, R.P. Brusseau, T., & Erwin, H. (2015). Dynamic Physical Education for Secondary School Students (8th ed.). San Francisco: Pearson.

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A student gets stung by a bee and he/she is severely allergic.  A student is suffering from an asthma attack.  A student comes in contact with a food he/she is allergic to. A student with a severe heart condition faints.  These are all nightmares that we all hope never happen in our classes, especially if we teach a class by ourselves, and we are outside with no method of communicating directly with the school nurse. 

As a parent of a third grader with severe food allergies, this is something that both my wife and I think about on a daily basis – not only in PE class, but throughout my daughter’s entire day. So, please take the time to put a plan in place to protect all of your students and also help yourself feel at ease when students with these type of conditions are in your class.

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1. Ask your school nurse for a list of all of your students that have any type of medical conditions. 

My school district does an excellent job of communicating this type of information to all of the staff in an effort to keep all of our students safe. Through our grading/attendance software program, we are easily made aware of these conditions, but I know that not everyone has this software.  A simple list could and should be made available to you and if it is not, I urge you to push for one.

Simply knowing ahead of time that a student is allergic to bees and has epinephrine in the nurse’s office is extremely important and lifesaving!  My daughter carries her EpiPen® with her, and all of her teachers know this, so that if she comes into contact with an allergen, the teacher can administer her Epinephrine immediately. So, know your students! Also, know your school district’s policies on students self-carrying medication of any kind such as Epinephrine and asthma inhalers.

 

2. Have a method for communicating with your school nurse or office staff.  

This is something that most of us have in place, but for younger teachers, this may be a small detail that you overlook. This is typically not an issue when you are inside for class, but when you are outside, it is critical. 

For some of my classes, we are on mountain bikes and they take us quite far from our building, so I always have my cell phone with me in case of emergencies. You can also purchase two-way radios if you don’t feel comfortable carrying your personal cell phone. Regardless of whether it is your phone or a two-way radio, make sure that you know who you are contacting and that they understand if you are contacting them it is an emergency.  If you are left with no other option, make sure that in each of your classes you have several students that you can rely on to get to the building quickly and get help.

 

3. Make sure you know the steps to help a student in an emergency situation. 

I am hopeful that everyone is certified in CPR and first aid, but are you trained in how to administer Epinephrine? My guess is not many of you are. At my school district, we have had trainings in the past on this and are required to view a training video/slideshow every year. I would love to see a training be required every year for every member of our staff.

 

4. Make sure you ask questions if you are unsure of a condition or issue with one of your students. 

You need to be sure you understand what you are looking for and how to help, so that your students are safe. Depending on the size of your school, you may have 5, 10, 15, or maybe 50 students that have a medical condition you need to be aware of, and as a parent of one of those kids, please take the time to understand because someday you could be called to save a life!

 

As a reminder, none of these students have chosen the conditions they are dealing with in their lives. I have listened to fellow staff members complain about having a student with food allergies in their class too many times. I find it disheartening to think that some people would rather the child be removed from school than make a few minor changes to their routines to keep a student safe.

Showing a little compassion and making students feel safe and welcome is the least we can do as educators!  

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Games, Fitness, and FUN with Topple Tubes!

Posted 1 month ago - by Maria Corte

I was looking for a new activity for my students – something with versatile equipment that could be used for multiple activities. I came across these 2-colored tubes, called Topple Tubes, that seemed like a great fit! 

On day one, I played a game where the students flip their team’s color up while the music is on and count which team had the most of their color up when the music stops.  They LOVED it!!!  And I especially loved watching them run around (cardio) and do a bazillion squats (strength) each time they flipped the tube over!  Score! Watch my students play the game.

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The next day I played the same game but inserted different locomotor movements and exercises while playing.  This also got my students moving and they still loved it!

I wanted to do more than play games with these tubes, so I created a partner fitness lesson using the tube as a piece of fitness equipment.  I had the students complete about 10 different partner exercises including upper body, lower body, cardio, and core – all while using one Topple Tube per pair!  Since the set comes with 24 tubes, this lesson catered to 48 students! Even more bang for my small PE bucks! The student’s feedback was overwhelmingly positive, especially since it was a pretty challenging workout.

Fitness Partner Exercises:

Cardio/Agility Exericses: Be creative! Here's a video of one cardio activity my students did using the tubes.

Squats: Stand side-by-side with partner.  Partner A squats and picks up tube from the outside leg and places it in between partner B.  Partner B picks it up from the middle and taps in on the ground on their outside leg.  Repeat.

Lunges: Face partner. Partner A lunges forward. Flips tube. Partner B goes. Alternate legs

Straight-Leg Dead Lifts: Face partner. Partner A, bends at waist, flips tube, partner B goes.

Push-Ups: Tap chin on tube, flip and place under partner’s chin.  All while in high plank.

High Planks: Face partner in a high-plank position. Place tube in between each partner. Partner A flips tube.  Partner B flips tube.  Alternate flipping hand.

Low Planks: Same as high plank but in low stance.

Sit-Ups: Face partner in a sit-up position.  Place tube in between feet.  Partner A & B both sit up but only Partner A flips the tube.  Both go back down.  Both sit up again but now Partner B flips the tube.

Russian Twists: Partners sit side-by-side.  Place tube on the outside of Partner A. Partner A twists and taps the tube on the floor of each side three times then places the tube in the middle of the two partners.  Partner B does the same three twists and returns the tube to the middle.

I am currently working on designing an agility course using the tubes.  I like these Topple Tubes because they are sturdy, well balanced, and I really like the size.  The uses are endless…you just have to think out of the box. Shop Topple Tubes

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9 Tips for Making Fitness Fun, Educational, and Meaningful

Posted 1 month ago - by Aaron Beighle

My favorite fitness quote is, “FITNESS? I’m talking about ‘fitness’ whole pizza in my mouth.” If you didn’t just laugh, go back and read; it’s funny.

What’s not so funny is how we have traditionally taught fitness in physical education. Primarily as a result of “The Report that Shocked the President,” – a 1955 study based on a 6-party test of muscular strength and flexibility that found U.S. youth were significantly less fit than youth in European countries– we adopted the approach that physical education was going to “get kids fit”. That philosophy had a strong foothold in the field and was rarely questioned in the literature for nearly 40 years.

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In 1992, Corbin and Pangrazi suggested that maybe this isn’t the best approach, particularly fitness testing and holding ourselves accountable for the fitness levels of youth. The literature suggests that as a whole, we should teach fitness in physical education, if we implement fitness testing it should be educational and not an accountability tool, and we must consider the long-term impact of our practices on students’ beliefs about physical activity and fitness. Said another way, we need to teach them about fitness, make fitness fun, and provide them with meaningful fitness experiences in physical education, not get them “fit”.

Let me preface the remaining of this blog by saying I don’t think we will ever be able to get kids fit in physical education, but I think fitness should be a part of every physical education lesson. Below are strategies for making this happen and for making fitness as fun as possible.

  1. Use music. It can be a motivator…and it can be a distraction, so be careful. It can also be used as a tool to manage a class during fitness. See below for details.
     
  2. Aim for quality over quantity. All too often we instruct students to do “10 sit-ups or 15 squats” without even thinking about it. What if that quantity is too challenging, or too easy? For students, fun is associated with success. One way to foster success is to use timed intervals and focus on the quality of each activity or move. The teacher calls out a fitness activity and students perform the activity for a set amount of time. The best way to manage this is using interval music (ex: 30 seconds of music followed by 30 seconds of silence), or an App like Tabata. This also frees the teacher to move around and provide constructive feedback without having to watch a stopwatch to ensure equal intervals. Typically, intervals are 30-45 seconds for elementary students, and up to 1 minute for middle and high schoolers.
     
  3. Teach fitness concepts in every lesson. Once the children have gone through a few minutes of intervals, take a 30-second interval to briefly discuss the fitness concept of the day. This can be a fitness component at the elementary level (flexibility, muscle strength), or at the middle and high school level, a fitness term (overload, interval). You can repeat concepts throughout the year. This allows you to introduce, visit, and revisit the concept for more effective teaching.
     
  4. Use a variety of fitness activities and routines. After every 2 lessons, switch to a different fitness activity. This prevents boredom and allows you to spice up the fitness part of the lesson. Some students may not like traditional push-ups, but will do wall push-ups, elevated push-ups, or push-ups on a medicine ball.
     
  5. Provide lots of specific positive feedback. “Wow, you are working hard today, Pedro,” or “Y’all are amazing today, I’m seeing some hard workers,” or “Anesia, if you keep your toes pointed forward that will help. Your work today makes me proud.” Avoid questioning effort. Remember, especially in elementary levels, students tend to equate effort and skill. If you tell them you don’t think they are working hard, you are telling them they are not good at it. Kids have bad days too. Sometimes getting down to do a plank for a few seconds, a smile, a wink, and a, “I sure am glad you are here today,” is all it takes…and it’s free for teachers.
     
  6. Progress from easy to difficult. Early in the year use activities where you teach a variety of fitness skills. In doing this, I start with the easiest. For example, push-ups are a great activity, but we rarely teach progressions and always wonder why kids can’t perform them. Here is a list of progressions starting with the easiest to help students work toward success.
    1. Push-up position. Just being able to hold themselves up is a start.

i.Wave to a friend

ii.Wave a foot

iii.Wink and smile

iv.Wave a foot and a hand

v.Shake hands with a friend

vi.Scratch your knee

vii.Shake your booty

  1. Knee push-ups. Knees below the chest.

i.As it becomes comfortable, move knees backwards to add a challenge

  1. Flat tires. Start in push-up position and lower body to ground. Use knees to get back up and repeat.
  2. Wall push-ups. Move the feet farther away to increase difficulty.
  3. Regular push-up.

  1. Allow student choice. Once students have a variety of abdominal activities, push-up challenges, flexibility activities, cardiovascular activities, etc., in their bag of tricks, let them choose. Create fitness activities that provide them a chance to show the activities they prefer. The easiest way to do this is to say, “Show me your favorite push-up challenge while the music plays (see #2 above). This allows them to choose the workload and the activity.
     
  2. Let students create. At the middle and high school levels, after they have been exposed to a variety of activities and concepts, let the students create their own fitness routines. It serves as a great way for students to “relate” (See PRAISE blog) to a fitness activity, allows them to demonstrate they understand the concepts, and you will probably get an activity idea or two from them.
     
  3. Build relationships. Creating interval music allows you to get around and talk to students, help with technique, address issues, and just get to know your kids. If you are strapped to the boom box (if you are younger than 30 ask an old person what that is) because you have to start and stop the music, or are worried about the stopwatch, it’s hard to get to know your students.

Putting these ideas into a fitness activity within a lesson takes just a bit of planning. My next blog will discuss fun activites to teach students about fitness and provide meaningful experience in physical education.

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Inclusion in P.E.: A Choice, Not a Mandate

Posted 1 month ago - by Maria Corte

I recently did a Gopher Solutions Webinar on this topic in July, and I was surprised at how many other PE teachers shared with me that they too are teaching special needs students in their regular PE classes.  Therefore, I thought I’d share this again, this time in blog style!

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Why This Topic?

Last year, I had the great fortune of having 15 special needs students added to one of my PE classes. Inclusion in my PE class did start out as a mandate, but something wonderful happened… it became a choice.  I currently teach a new course called Modified PE.  There are approximately 50 students in the class with a 1:1 ratio of students with disabilities and students without disabilities all working together to become physically active!

Embracing Inclusion

As educators, it is our moral obligation for all students to feel included.   There shouldn’t be one group that is considered more special than the rest.  They are all special.  Rather than a how-to approach, this blog will be an opportunity to share with you my experience with inclusion and how it impacted myself and my students—all of my students.  

Possibilities VS Disabilities

This is a mindset folks… if we look at these special needs kiddos as people with disabilities and what they can not do, it will be very difficult to have a vision of what they can do.  If you give them a chance and approach each lesson with the attitude (and patience) that they are capable of participating in the same activities as your other students, you will be so surprised and oh so touched as to what they can do! Finally and most importantly, all students deserve basic rights or the same opportunities. All students deserve to have a positive PE experience. I frequently remind myself, “It doesn’t matter how they got here; they are here now and all my students will be treated equally.”

Tips for Success

  • Be extremely structured with class format and rules
  • Repetition is key!
  • Practice management every day
  • Practice putting equipment away
  • Practice keeping hands and feet to themselves
  • Keep instructions short and simple
  • Discipline the students with disabilities the same as you would students without disabilities.
  • Have an emergency plan in place and practice it
  • Practice fire drills before they happen
  • Modify lessons and/or equipment for student success (but not too much)
  • Don’t assume they are incapable; they’re not
  • Be flexible
  • Create a positive working relationship with the SPED teachers and instructional aides
  • Get to know students, get them moving, play music, and have fun!

Final thought... Let’s be advocates of all students.They are all special.

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