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I believe that all successful businesses, and school systems, are always looking for ways to be creative and improve their business or organization.  Great ideas grow into systematic change when the leadership at each site is willing to listen to; research data, philosophical concepts, emotions, the latest in technological approaches, and every once in awhile a “dream” that has no data attached to it!  When hiring for leadership positions it is important to have individuals who have; strong work ethic, great communication skills, depth in educational knowledge, and a caring approach to everyone that they come into contact with.  It is also extremely important to have leadership that is flexible and willing to try ideas that go against the norm and require some patience and understanding.

Stabilityball, stability chair, ball chair, classroom ball chair

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I believe that all successful businesses, and school systems, are always looking for ways to be creative and improve their business or organization.  Great ideas grow into systematic change when the leadership at each site is willing to listen to; research data, philosophical concepts, emotions, the latest in technological approaches, and every once in awhile a “dream” that has no data attached to it!  When hiring for leadership positions it is important to have individuals who have; strong work ethic, great communication skills, depth in educational knowledge, and a caring approach to everyone that they come into contact with.  It is also extremely important to have leadership that is flexible and willing to try ideas that go against the norm and require some patience and understanding.

Over the past several years we have had some of our staff transition to Standing Desks or Workstations, use walking paths during the school work day, and on-site yoga and Pilates classes starting at 3:20 p.m.  There can be a negative public perception centering around walking paths and workout classes on-site.  Leaders have to be able to withstand that negative public perception and accept the fact that more staff will physically work out if the workouts are of convenience and they are with a positive group of peers.  If employees want to go for a 30 minute brisk walk during the middle of the day, either around a break time or lunch time, that should be encouraged and the public will soon recognize the increased enthusiasm and job performance of those employees.  We encourage our community to use our indoor walking path at Hastings High School, why would we not do the same for our employees?

A few years ago some of our teachers incorporated Stability Ball Chairs” into their classrooms.  I was very skeptical when this decision was made.  As a former elementary teacher, I could only imagine the number of times that students would be bumping into other students, falling off of their stability balls, or knocking their work off of their desktops.  The stability balls have proven to be beneficial for not only students who had some excess energy to burn off, but they have also been beneficial as motivating some students to stay focused on their work.  Students love their stability ball chair and do not want to lose the privilege of using it during the school day.

Over the past four years, several schools in our area have incorporated what I will label as, “Physically Active Learning Centers.”  Teachers can take their students into these rooms during reading or math time and the students are engaged in specific activities that require both mental and physical activities at the same time.  Some of these activities could also be accomplished in the regular classroom setting, but it is safer in the Active Learning Center.  There is research that indicates some students who have reading weaknesses, will improve in their reading skills when combining physical activity with academic repetition.

The main point of this blog is to emphasize that any of the above mentioned changes can only take place with flexibility from the leadership position.  All staff will dream and incorporate positive physical activities into the school day if they know that their site leadership is open to new ideas and are flexible.

Check out Moving Minds for more great products to engage minds through physicla activity in your schools!


Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more great ideas, trends, and tips!

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How to Create a Learning Environment in PE!

Posted 4 days ago - by Chad Triolet

What's on the walls in your gym?! Are they bare or maybe covered with sport stars and athletes?
Find out how to take your boring gym walls and turn them into a colorful learning environment that reinforces core content for your students! 

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When I started teaching 20 years ago, I was faced with the unique situation of having a brand new gym.  Although the school was over 40 years old, they were in the middle of a massive renovation when I was hired.  The back half of the school was under construction and part of the new edition of the school included a gym and a media center.  Needless to say, I was very excited about the many possibilities that a new gym brought my way.  For the first 4 months, I got to watch the construction and had to patiently wait my opportunity to get in the new “gymnatorium”.  The walls were bright white, the floors were unscuffed hardwood, and there was a nice sized office and equipment closet.   When I was finally able to get into the gym the students and I were so pumped to be in this wonderful space!  It didn’t take long for me to realize that something wasn’t right.  Once you got past the fact that the space was great, you realized that the walls were blank and boring.  I decided to come up with a plan and do something about it, immediately

I went to my principal at the end of that week and proposed some changes to the walls in the gym.  I asked her if I could paint the walls.  Her first questions was, “What exactly are you planning to paint, sports figures?”  I immediately told her that I wanted the gym to be a place to reinforce learning for the students and I wanted to paint a huge United States map and on the opposite wall a giant map of the state of Virginia.  I also wanted to paint a word wall near my office that I could use to reinforce vocabulary.  Based on her reaction to my plan, she was a little bit surprised that I wanted to include academic content; but, she was very supportive and we made arrangements to purchase some paint.  Later that month, during a teacher workday, I began my painting project.  (It is important to note that I have no artistic talent whatsoever.)  I found copies of the maps, printed them onto an overhead sheet and projected the maps on the wall and began tracing the lines.  I traced using permanent markers then went over the lines with paint.

The new artwork had an instant effect and finally added some color and pop to the gym.  I decided to continue coming up with content to add each year thereafter.  You can see the results of this labor of love throughout  Please note, after my second year, I had other PE teachers who helped with the painting (although I did spend most of the time on the 12 foot ladder when needed).

The purpose of this blog is to help PE teachers understand that all space in a school needs to maximize student learning potential.  The gym or utility room that most PE teachers use is a classroom.  Students come each day ready to move and learn.  If paint is not an option, then utilize posters.  Create bulletin boards that reinforce core academic content or health and physical education content.  Use whiteboards, chalkboards, or chart paper to share information that students need to know.  The more students see the material and use it as part of their activities, the better the chance of retention when it matters.  Nothing makes me sadder as a PE teacher than to walk into a “boring” gym.  I feel bad for the students who go into it and I feel bad for the teacher who has lost their pride in creating an exciting and engaging learning environment for those students.

Gym walls, gymnasium wall art



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All Core, All the Time

Posted 1 week ago - by Frank Baumholtz

Check out the video examples below for 3 great exercies to work your core!

½ Turkish Get Up

The Turkish get up is one of the main exercises I utilize in all of my programs.  I wrote a previous article on the form and technique of the Turkish Get Up (Check it out!). 

The ½ or seated position in the Turkish Get Up is a great variation to work on the bottom position of the full exercise.  In the recent phase of our workout, we increased the weight and repetitions.  3 sets of 5 with a medium to intense weight selection.

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Single Arm Dumbbell Bench Press:

The bench press is a mainstay in most strength and conditioning programs.  The Single Arm Dumbbell Press is one of my favorite variations of the bench press- it challenges the core like no other.  As the dumbbell descends, it will feel like you are going to fall off the bench.  Without holding on to anything and using your core, resist that motion and press the dumbbell back to the starting position.  Try it out.  If you’re a bench press fan, You’ll love it! 


Single Leg Squat:

It is always amazing to me that many can squat with a ton of weight on their shoulders, but can’t do one single leg body weight squat.  Don’t get me wrong, we still squat.  However, as we move through life and  athletics  for that matter, we transition to a single leg.  If we never gain control in a single leg pattern, bad things will inevitably happen.  Not only is this an outstanding knee dominant pattern, it will challenge the core as well.  You can even try loading it.

When you start programming your routines, try to focus on how you can challenge the core in each and every exercise. All core, all the time. You'll want to keep in mind that the muscles of the core are not just the rectus abdominis. You've got to think global. 


Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more great activity ideas, trends and tips!

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The FUN Factor: Culminating Events in Physical Education

Posted 2 weeks ago - by Jessica Shawley

Think back to your school years (K-12) and recall a favorite physical education or physical activity memory. Does field day, a special field trip, a jump rope for heart event, or dance performance come to mind? Perhaps it’s your first athletic competition or a final state tournament appearance? As physical educators and coaches, we are in the ‘memory making’ business. I heard this term at a recent workshop and it really stuck with me. I can recall many favorite memories from childhood regarding my physical education and athletic participation. It was an indispensable part of my personal development.

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When it comes down to it, students may not remember daily lessons but they will remember the “experiences” and the feeling of being successful at something in your class or the lack thereof. Students who leave with more negative experiences than positive create future barriers against our profession. We need to make sure our classrooms are emotionally and socially safe as well as be purposeful in creating positive memories. This will help students transfer their learning and become our advocates as the future parents and community leaders they are sure to become.


Learning should be challenging and fun. Culminating events are the ‘FUN Factor’ and a very effective way to create positive memories in physical education. Use this “FUN Factor Formula” to guide you and check out my “FUN Factor” blog resource page where you will find several go-to resources!  


The “FUN Factor” Formula:

  1. Identify the need. Reflect on your teaching and ask: What area can I improve? What curricular units need some ‘jazzing’ up? What have I wanted to do and haven’t yet? What new tradition do I want to instill in my program or school to showcase student success?
  2. Identify the type of event. Will it be in-class, school-wide, or cross-curricular in nature? Here are some examples I’ve experienced (more can be found on the web and Twitter):
    • In-Class Events: End of unit celebrations with goofy awards created by students (see badminton birdie picture above), Dance performances, “Design Your Own” game/routine, Obstacle courses, Sport-Education based tournaments, Jump Rope for Heart events, Speed Stacking or Jammin’ Minute activity break world record days, and Just Dance-a-thons.
    • Large Group or School-wide Events: Family Fitness Night, All-school fun-runs (can align with holiday celebrations), Field trips, Special schedule tournaments (I’ve seen an all-school bowling tournament blow me away!), and Fuel Up to Play 60 events.
    • Cross-Curricular Events: Working with math and social studies teachers to use student pedometer steps to track progress along the “Oregon Trail.” History facts and math skills are reviewed in PE and students take their step data to math to graph and analyze. Working with the technology teacher to integrate use of fitness apps (students develop reviews and then try out in PE class) and tech students develop a PE website.
  3. Keep it simple and start small. You can’t do it all, all of the time. As teachers, we usually have too many things we want to do. Remember to choose one new thing and build from there.
  4. Develop a support team. Involve parents (superhero volunteers!) and students (the more they are a part of the planning, the more successful the event will be as it increases buy-in). Depending upon the event you will also need one or more colleagues on board. Ask early and stay organized so their time is valued. Remember to return the favor when they need it.
  5. Follow through and just go for it (and more than once!). Every event has areas of improvement. It is crucial to reflect, improve and do the event more than once before throwing it out because “it didn’t work.” Sometimes you just have to go for it and enjoy the moment with students. If they see you having fun, they will have fun too. Before you know it you will have a wonderful tradition at your school such as my program’s annual fall fun run (see picture above).
  6. Document and share your success: Sometimes this critical step is overlooked. Have students send invitations to parents, administrators, school board, the media and local leaders (mayor, etc.). Have a plan as to who will help take pictures and video of the event so you can share it with students as a way to cement the positive memory.  


With these factors in mind you have the perfect formula to get yourself started with integrating more or improving existing culminating events in physical education. Remember, we are in the memory making business, so be sure to create positive memories that will last a lifetime and help support the development of lifelong learners and movers. Contact me or visit my resource blog for more information, handouts, and ideas. Best of luck!


Continue the conversation: What culminating events have become traditions in your teaching and how have they helped your program? What event have you always wanted to do and haven’t yet?


Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more great tips, trends and ideas!

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Do you have a Curriculum? Are you sure?

Posted 2 weeks ago - by Aaron Beighle

For several years I provided numerous trainings for the Centers for Disease Control Physical Education Curriculum Analysis Tool. As I conducted these trainings, I became keenly aware of the confusion surrounding “just what is a physical education curriculum?” What I found was that most physical education teachers, at least those attending the trainings, did not have a curriculum. Some had a yearly plan (a week-by-week list of activities, games, and skills), some had it “right up here” (pointing to their head), and some had nothing. Very few, if any, had a true curriculum. For this reason, I think it is important as physical educators to examine our written curriculum to ensure students are receiving a quality program.

From my perspective, a curriculum has three components: background information (frequency of meetings, class size, PE philosophy, etc.), lesson plans, and assessments. Others in the field may disagree, but in general, these are the meat of a curriculum. The following is a brief list of those steps:

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1.Write a philosophy

2.Write a series of statements to define the curriculums (e.g., The curriculum is appropriate for all children; Activities allow students to meet national standards)

3.Document environmental factors (e.g. gym size, number of days per week students have physical education)

4.Develop content standards and student objectives. (Fortunately SHAPE America has done this for us)

5.Choose child-centered activities

6.Organize the activities into a yearly plan, and lesson plans.

7.Evaluate and modify the curriculum

This final phase is especially important. A quality physical education curriculum is a living document. I was told a long time ago that I should teach 20 years, not one year twenty times. Constantly evaluating curricula and lessons helps avoid this.

A quality physical education curriculum, among others, is standards based, physical activity based, inclusive, prepares students for a lifetime of activity, and process-based. In addition, the curriculum must be flexible. It must be malleable to the ever changing environment, either at the school, district, state, or national level. That is, if a standard changes, or the number of minutes you have your students per week (humor me…that could happen right?), you shouldn’t have to change your entire curriculum. Likewise, if you attend a professional development workshop and find a new activity that fits within your physical education philosophy, you should be able to integrate that into your curriculum.

I am fortunate to co-author such a curriculum, Dynamic Physical Education for Elementary School Children (there is also Dynamic Physical Education for Secondary School Students by Darst, Pangrazi, Brusseau, and Erwin). This curriculum guide is accompanied by a textbook describing more activities not included in the guide. I am currently working with a Professional Learning Community in Fayette County Schools in Lexington, KY. For the first year, the curriculum was used as written in the Curriculum Guide. That is, the teachers followed the week by week lessons described in the book. During this process they took notes and modifications were made to the curriculum. For example, our curriculum uses a four part lesson. The lesson begins with an introductory activity, next is a fitness activity, afterwards the lesson focus is implemented, and finally, a game or closing activity is taught to wrap up the lesson. Teachers decided they liked some of the introductory activities with some of the fitness activities so they switched them. Also, they decided they liked specific lesson foci at different times of the year so they switched that too. Also, individual teachers learned some new activities at a workshop and they implemented those where appropriate. Every two-to-three months these teachers meet to discuss previous lessons and upcoming lessons are presented in an active professional development. Modeled after work being done in Mesa, AZ, this creates a true Professional Learning Community built around a common language via a common curriculum.


Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more great ideas, trends and tips!

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How To: Maximizing Participation in Physical Education

Posted 3 weeks ago - by Chad Triolet

Maximizing participation in physical education sounds like a no-brainer to me!
But, what are some of the effective strategies that can make that objective a reality in your physical education? 

Based on best-practice research, students in physical education classes should be doing moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) at least 50 percent of the time.  Simply put, if you have a 30-minute class, students should be in MVPA at least 15 minutes.  This sounds like an easy task but many unmodified physical education activities fall well-short of this goal.  Elimination games are at the top of that list.  Other common offenders are traditional relay activities and large group games (like sideline soccer).  The good news is that there are various ways to modify these activities to help increase MVPA for all students. 

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Elimination games, often tag games, are easily modified to ensure that all students are engaged.  First, provide students who are out with a way to get back into the activity.  Typically, we chose a physical fitness activity that students can complete to “earn” their way back into the game.  Smart teachers will target areas of weakness that have been previously identified in physical fitness testing (i.e. – if students have consistently scored poorly on abdominal strength and endurance fitness tests, I always chose a “curl-up” challenge for the students to earn their way back into the game).  Another forward thinking concept is to tier/differentiate the activities that the students perform to “earn” their way back into the activity (i.e. – we used to have three levels for our students (green-easy, yellow-medium, and red-hard) the activities that students could choose were similar in nature but either required more repetitions or slightly more difficult technique).

Relays can be adapted to reduce wait time to maximize student participation levels.  One strategy is to limit the number of students in each relay line.  The more students in a line the longer the wait time (i.e. – if there are 4 students in a line, the participation rate is only 25% which is well below the minimum standard).  By have only two students on a team, you get that number to a more reasonable 50%.  Another interesting concept is having more than one student from a relay team “go” at the same time.  For this concept, we used colored flags to designate the students that could move.  If working with larger groups (5 or more), we always used flags for half of the group or more (i.e. – for a group of 5, we would provide 3 similarly colored flags for each team).  This concept takes a little bit of practice if it has never been introduced but it really works well and can be adapted for collecting activities too.  The last strategy is very simple but really ramps up activity levels.  If students are waiting for a turn, they must be doing a designated physical activity (i.e. – jumping jacks, cross-crawls, crab kicks, etc.). 

Large group games with limited amounts of equipment are another participation buster.  One ball and twenty-five students is not a recipe for student engagement or success.  The students with the skills needed for the game (approximately 15%) will dominate the activity, while the rest of the students never get a meaningful touch of the ball.  It makes more sense to offer small-sided activities where the student-to-equipment ratio is much more conducive to “real” participation and skill building.  If offering a large group activity, set game play up in stations to reduce the number of players on the court.  Instead of two huge teams, break up the groups into 4-6 teams and have the teams rotate in and out of the game.  While teams are not playing, they can be working in skill building or fitness stations that will keep them engaged while waiting for their game time.

The important thing is to think in terms of MVPA.  You can always use an MVPA pedometer, such as the FITstep™ Pro Pedometers by Gopher, with your students to get a better picture of the level of activity that they are getting each day and then make adjustments to activities based on that feedback.  Another option is selecting one student in a class and timing the amount of time on a stopwatch that they are engaged in physical activity.  It is an eye opening assessment, I can assure you!!  As physical education teachers we have to make sure that we keep the physical in physical education and provide appropriate games and activities that are designed to maximize not minimize student participation.


Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more great ideas, trends and tips!

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Heart Disease Prevention

Posted 3 weeks ago - by Angie Armendariz

We typically have a lesson on heart disease during February to coordinate with our Jump Rope for Heart event. One year, the topic hit too close to home, as one of our coaches had quadruple bypass surgery during the holidays. His recovery would take about 3 months, if everything went well. We were shocked because he always played with the students, ran their laps with them, and had been at that school for 27 years. 

I set up a meeting with my other colleague and we decided to teach the heart disease lesson in January instead that year. It worked out well because this way the students would be able to start the year off on a healthy note!

We decided to let the students know what had happened to our colleague. The students were in shock, and were devastated to hear that he would be out for so long. Our first step was to introduce the anatomy of the heart, including blood vessels, arteries, capillaries and we also showed diagrams. Despite our efforts, the students weren't quite grasping the whole picture, so we decided to create our own diagrams! I went out and bought clear candy cane tubing, like the ones that M&M’s come in during Christmas. Next, I got food coloring and Crisco shortening from home. I added different amounts of the Crisco into the clear tubing and connected the tubing to a plastic heart. My colleague and I slowly poured food coloring into the tubing, simulating blood circulation. WOW! The students’ faces immediately illuminated with the AHA! They wanted to know, "Is that what happened to Coach Garcia’s heart?" One student even mentioned that, "in one heart the blood runs fast like the freeway, and in the other heart it looks like there is a traffic jam on the freeway!"

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We then made lists of possible foods that were high in fat and cholesterol. We addressed food labels and focused on sodium, cholesterol, and saturated, trans, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. The students brought food labels from home and we compared them in groups at school. We then made menus and the students suggested ways how we could substitute or change certain ingredients to make the food healthier. Finally, we concluded by playing games like Veins & Arteries, Hospital Tag, Heart Attack Tag, and Grocery Shopping Relays.

The students not only learned the heart prevention lesson, they also learned how to be more aware of the food they eat. Now, if you walk into our cafeteria you will see students checking the food labels on the lunch food or foods they bring from home. The parents have approached me and said, "You know Coach Armendariz, we no longer salt our food, we pepper them". Another parent mentioned that grocery shopping would take 1 hour, and now it’s 2 hours, since the students are reading the food labels in the store. It’s great to hear that students are practicing good habits that will help them in the future. 


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Meeting Target Heart Rates: Staying Fit with Polar GoFit

Posted 4 weeks ago - by Troy Urdahl

The emphasis in physical education classes throughout the country is seeing a major paradigm
shift from an old-style curriculum, where sport skills and athleticism were paramount, to an
emphasis of fitness and well-being for all students.
One driving force behind this shift has been the use of technology in PE.

Polar Go Fit, GoFit, gofit, go-fit, heart rate monitor, HRM

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Technology initiatives can be seen in classrooms across the nation, and physical education is no different.  Various successful platforms exist to meet the goals of promoting cardiovascular health and student wellness; one such system used in the St. Anthony – New Brighton (SA- NB) School District (Minn.) is Polar® GoFit.

St. Anthony Village High School Principal, Wayne Terry, explains that by using heart rate monitoring the physical education staff has reinvented itself and found an “innovative way to incorporate technology into the PE curriculum – motivating students to take an active role in monitoring their fitness.  The results have been very impressive.”  For her efforts in leading the class monitoring initative at SA-NB, St. Anthony Middle School physical education teacher, Amber Potts, was recently honored as a TIES Exceptional Teacher.  The TIES Exceptional Teacher Award recognizes teachers who model best practices in their classrooms and engage students in learning.  

Class monitoring systems, such as Polar® GoFit™, pair the use of Bluetooth® enabled Heart Rate Monitors worn by all students.  Teachers see the data from all students at once and in real- time via an iPad (or iPhone) app. The app allows teachers to set individual exercise criteria and performance standards by which students are assessed. This enables teachers to objectively assess and grade students based on their individual needs and efforts in class. While using projection technologies, students monitor their own work against mastery criteria while receiving high-quality feedback instantly.  At SA-NB, teachers use Apple TV, a projector mounted in the gym rafters, and a portable projector to provide authentic objective data on a daily basis.  This information is also stored throughout the course to be used as reference / growth points.  This information can then be accessed by teachers, the student, and parents to reflect on performance and track progress over time – helping motivate students reach their fitness goals.

The Polar® GoFit™ system has been integrated into all PE curricular activities, easily used by both students and teachers. This teaching and learning technology allows physical education staff to provide individualized performance criteria, assessments, and feedback within a group setting.  Teachers now have an impartial tool for grading and providing differentiated instruction.  This system has helped students make a personal connection with the content as the goals, assessment criteria, and activities are designed based on what is best for their body; gone are the days where all students are given a blanket exercise prescription. As technology continues to be a normal part of students’ lives, the use of tech tools in PE can serve as the starting point of learning to use technology resources for future fitness monitoring. Many adults will pair technology and fitness on a daily basis with the use of heart rate monitors, Garmin™, Fitbit®, and many various Smartphone apps and programs.  Likewise, the Polar® GoFit™ system has been revolutionary in shifting physical education pedagogy from acquiring specific sport skills to learning and understanding how to have a healthy body.

There are many great tech advances occurring in our schools every day.  Physical education curriculums now also have the ability to utilize technologies in the classroom as a literal game-changer for delivering content and assessment.  


Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more great tips, trends and ideas!

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Remember your first 5k, fun-run or other event? Remember the excitement and anticipation?
When the day arrived you placed the bib number on your shirt and away you went.
The result ended in smiles, sweat and a feeling of sweet-sweet accomplishment. 

Running Program, Run Program, PE Running


This is the inspiration that helped me change my one-dimensional running program into one that had more purpose. We are an ‘ING Run For Something Better’ School now and two-time recipient of the ING running grant. Though the grant has provided extra support for our program, you don’t need it to get started. There are several free resources available. Here are four key “P” components and resources that can help guide your running program planning this year.

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Personalized Progression: My students choose a personal “marathon” goal: half (13.1 miles), three-quarter (19 miles) or full (26.2 miles). They follow a personalized progression two days per week to build up the miles towards their goal. Students complete journals and a log throughout the program. All goals can be achieved in the allotted time and many exceed their original goal. Use the resources at the end of this article to help you design a progression and gather ideas. These will help you integrate fun, exciting ways to train (intervals, etc.) and plan innovative lessons that keep students engaged. A running program is also a fantastic medium for teaching the health-related fitness component cardiovascular endurance.


Pedometers: Students wear Gopher FITstep™ Pro Uploadable Pedometers daily and download into the FitStep Pro software program (which comes free with pedometers).
The pedometers are helpful in two main ways:

1) Increased personalization. We know each student is different. Since the “one size fits all model” does not work (or should not be forced to) the pedometers provide the student the opportunity to personally self-assess daily effort, achievement toward goals, and work to their ability level.

2) Improved accountability. My students spend 20-30 total ‘physical activity-time’ (PA Time) minutes on the track, twice a week. They complete their goal’s laps, accumulate the minimum level of PA Time and also work to achieve a personal MVPA goal (we start low and build it up depending on ability. Students can help set their goals). Since the data is all quickly downloaded it is easy for me to see and share the results with students. Overall, there is better ‘buy-in’ from my students when using the FITstep™ Pro Pedometers than in previous years because these pedometers helped students achieve a realistic pace while also providing a challenge. And running activities are not limited to a track because the pedometers record students’ efforts no matter their activity or location.


“Pageantry” (...ok, so I had a hard time with “P” for how to say Culminating Event):

At the end of the program, students participate in a school wide Fun-Run. Road-ID donated race bib numbers for the event. A special assembly schedule allowed students to complete the fun-run at the end of the day (we walked students through the course in PE prior to the day). The course was the last 1.2 miles of their goal and around school grounds. We recognized students, had giveaways and took pictures in true fun-run style. The parent support team helped plan the event. See the sample running event checklist for ideas.


Promotion: The program and culminating event has helped build stronger relationships with parents, the community, news media, and local running clubs. Everyone WANTS to be included and is happy to offer support when it comes to student events; I found out they just needed the invitation. The fun-run provided such an opportunity. This has increased physical activity advocacy and our ability to promote the positive value of physical education. We continue to promote local runs and events to students throughout the year.


It all comes down to this: when you have a student who can barely complete one lap without feeling horrible go on to be one who shows up at a local community fun-run (and with her dad in hand!) you know you’ve made a difference with your physical education program. This is what it is all about. So get started today and Run For Something Better!

Visit my PE Champs website for running program resources mentioned in this blog.  


Participate in the Conversation: What is your running program like? How do you incorporate run-walk-jog into your health-related fitness curriculum? Share your ideas here.


Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more great ideas, trends and tips!

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How to: Teaching life Skills Through Physical Education

Posted 1 month ago - by Carolyn Temertzoglou

When asked to use one word that describes a personal experience of physical education in
elementary school, the responses of my elementary pre-service teachers will range from words such as…

Life Skills in PE, Teach Life Skills, PE description

Often their physical education experiences are limited to learning just sport specific skills and the learning environment is very competitive and exclusive.  It is not one that creates a positive sense of community or sense of belonging for many students. Yet the goal of physical education is to ensure that all students acquire the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to lead healthy active lives and embody this sense of physical literacy.

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Dr. Louise Humbert of University of Saskatchewan suggests that the health of young people depends on physical education teachers making a difference, and I couldn’t agree more. Current ways of thinking about and teaching Physical Education may differ significantly from when beginning teachers were students. Which is why one of the aims of my physical education teacher education program is to introduce new ways of thinking about physical education and its role in schools.

At the beginning of the course, I ask my pre-service teachers to think about their previous learning experiences, attitudes and perceptions towards teaching physical education.

Here are some  voices of these beginning teachers…


How can we make teaching physical education more engaging and inclusive?

The teaching of life skills through physical education, such as, respect of self and others, team building skills, and critical and creative thinking, can create a more inclusive and respectful learning environment in physical education thereby engaging more students in the learning process.

 Hellison’s Teaching Personal and Social Responsibility (TPSR or Social model) is a curriculum model/theory that I connect the theory to practice for my pre-service teachers. Teaching life skills and social skills in a physical education environment allows for a holistic approach to the students’ physical, cognitive and affective growth and development. The TPSR model was first developed as a teaching tool for students identified as; at risk, marginalized and inner city, but was later found to have merit as part of any physical education curriculum (Robinson, D., & Randall, L., 2013). The model emphasizes personal responsibility such as: self control, self-motivation, self-effort and social responsibility such as: respecting others needs and interests, cooperation, and contributing to the well-being of both individuals and others.

Hellison’s TPSR model consists of five levels of responsibility:

  1. Respecting the rights and feeling of others – e.g., self control, involvement in peaceful and democratic conflict resolution
  2. Participation and effort – e.g., self motivation, on task
  3. Self-direction – e.g., works independently, appropriate goal setting
  4. Helping others and leadership – e.g., caring and compassion, responsiveness
  5. Outside the gym – e.g., being a role model

The TPSR model is most effective when imbedded throughout the implementation of a physical education program.

I suggest starting the beginning of a physical education program with an emphasis on creating and building a sense of community and active participation in your physical education class that will support the teaching of life skills throughout the entire school year. Life skills need to be taught not caught!

In the Ontario 2010 Elementary Health and Physical Education curriculum, living skills are learning expectations that are embedded throughout the curriculum. The living skills include:

  • Personal skills such as self awareness and self monitoring skills
  • Interpersonal skills such as communication, relationship and social skills
  • Critical creative thinking – planning, processing, drawing conclusions, reflecting and evaluating

Co-construct the success criteria for active participation and team building skills with the students in your class so that the learning targets are transparent to the students. What will that learning look like, like sound and feel like? Use this as an anchor chart to periodically come back to as a reminder of students’ expectations and responsibilities while participating in physical education.



  • Ready to participate in proper clothing and running shoes
  • Follows instructions
  • Participates positively as an individual and in a group setting
  • Willing to try to new activities
  • Takes a leadership role
  • Respects ideas of others
  • Contributes to group tasks
  • Shows consideration of others
  • Treats others equally


  • Positive encouragement of others
  • Encourages others to try to new activities
  • Listens actively to others
  • Uses appropriate language when talking to others



  • Works hard – able to monitor effort, aware of heart rate and intensity
  • Sense of belonging – feels respected by others
  • Sense of enjoyment
  • Sense of achievement and success through appropriate goal setting



For games and ideas to teach life skills check out the many tag games and co-operative/team building games:



Robinson, D., & Randall, L. (2013) Teaching physical education today:

Canadian perspectives. Canada: Thompson Educational Publishing Inc. ISBN 978-155077-231-9.  Available through http://thompsonbooks.com/higher-education.html


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