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Tips for Successfully Grouping Students in PE!

Posted 4 hours ago - by Suzanne Hunter Serafin

I was having a discussion with a colleague at my state AAHPERD conference regarding discrepancies in physical education classes.  Some examples include: Private School vs. Public School, Co-Ed vs. Same Sex, Heterogeneous vs. Homogeneous, along with socioeconomic factors like class size and grade level.  We agreed that most of what we do canvases all of these but that modifications are often necessary.

To that regard I want to start with some basic information about my teaching environment:

  • Suzanne Serafin – 8th grade P.E. Teacher
  • Muirlands Middle School, CA – Public, 30% free or reduced lunch
  • Average class size = 50 students, Co-d, by grade level
  • 45 minutes of P.E. (instructional time) every day

Lions and Tigers and Bears …Oh My!

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Physical education professionals have come a long way since the dark ages of two team captains picking teams.  I still cringe when I see an old movie with team captains, or more recently, an after school program. I can’t help but wonder where these young energetic counselors working in after school programs learned this strategy.  To my recollection, “we” stopped using team captains to choose teams in physical education 20 years ago. So how is it possible that someone who wasn’t even born 20 years ago thinks this is a good strategy? I have decided that it’s not a learned strategy so much as a survival instinct.  Alpha students want to pick their own team so that they can win, survive, and dominate, on the playground. It’s in their DNA. So, when the most energetic (and loudest) students ask to pick their own teams, some truly believe they are doing what’s best for the kids, but “we” know better.

I want to share my ideas about creating teams where every student feels safe and challenged. I call it “Lions and Tigers and Bears”.

I use heterogeneous groups for the first several lessons focusing on skills and strategies. I encourage students with higher-level skills to support other students who are new to the skills.  Once the majority of students have passed the assessments and they are ready to play an organized game, I ask students to choose one of three groups to be a part of:

Lions – Competitive, Experienced, Can self officiate

Tigers – Confident in skill and strategy, Recreational style of play

BearsContinue to work on skills

Once they choose their group, I create fair teams within the groups. I have had great success with this strategy particularly with the students who want to work on skills. It allows me to really focus on their needs. The combination of giving students a choice and supporting their level of skill creates a great learning environment for everybody.


Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more great ideas!

Check out more Blogs by Suzanne!

Infusing Yard Games with Quality PE

Posted 3 days ago - by Chad Triolet

What do you think of when you hear the words “yard or lawn games”?  Do you infuse these games and activities into your PE program?  How can you connect the physical activity aspect of yard games to your physical education program?  For me, they are part of a quality physical education program.  Physical education without a clear understanding of the benefits of lifelong physical activity misses a large opportunity to promote a healthy and activity lifestyle.  Often, yard games are a vehicle for physical activity post-schooling.  What happens in a society where no one knows the rules or has the skills to partake in yard games?  Have we done our job if we just teach football, soccer, and volleyball?

In my program, there was a balance between many sport, individual, and recreational (yard/lawn games) activities.  In my opinion, all are important and students need to be exposed to each to build the confidence they will need to be successful lifelong movers.  However, there is also a social aspect of yard games that I find fascinating.  There is nothing like talking a little smack when playing horseshoes or ladder ball.  Could you imagine going to tailgate at a sports event without a Frisbee or Cornhole?  I certainly cannot. 

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I find it very refreshing to see other PE teachers share creative ways to integrate yard games in their PE classes.  Former Middle School National PE Teacher of the Year (2012), Jessica Shawley, is well-known for her Yard Games session at conferences.  In the past, I have also offered a “RecFest” session to highlight creative ways to use these activities in physical education settings.  The important concept to remember is that it’s not the traditional form of the yard game that is important.  Finding creative ways to teach the rules and skills in fun ways that also include health-related fitness, skill-related fitness, and nutrition is what really broadens the reach of these games.  There is a traditional way to play each of the games; however, adding some creativity and getting students and parents to realize there are fun ways to add movement to the games is essential.  As part of many of my sessions, I share what I call “Cardio Cornhole”.  The object is to work with your teammate to reach 21 the fastest (no 12oz. curls here).  It’s all about speed and agility and most of all teamwork (for a description of Cardio Cornhole, scroll down).

As physical education teacher, I have seen the true value in adding yard games to my program.  From horseshoes to table tennis, find ways to make these activities part of your program.  Think outside the box and maximize student participation and fun while teaching the basic skills and rules for each game.  


Students will find a partner.  Each pair will collect 1 polyspot and 2 beanbags.  Each pair will place the polyspot about 10-15 feet away from them (the teacher can designate the distance from the pair using cones).  When the activity begins, both partners will toss their bean bag toward the polyspot using an underhand toss and try to get the bean bag on the spot or touching it.  If a bean bag is all the way on top of the spot, it is worth 3-points, if it is touching the edge of the spot, it is worth 1-point.  When both partners have taken one toss, the partners will quickly gather the bean bag add any new points to the total and return to the starting position.  The first team to 11/15/21 points wins the round.
** Remind students that the faster they go the better their chances of scoring more points. 


  1. Change the size of the polyspots to make the activity more or less challenging.
  2. Have students use different locomotor patterns when traveling to collect the bean bags
  3. Change the distances between spots and teams based on ability level
  4. Add fitness by having student complete a simple fitness activity every time they collect a bean bag (i.e. – elbow to knee squats, cross crawls, jump jacks, push-up shoulder taps, etc.)
  5. Change the way that they students can toss the beanbag (i.e. – non-dominant hand, through the legs, behind the back, etc.)
  6. Add a TASKCARD with different challenges for the team when they reach the amount of points designated by the teacher.
  7. Have the partners join another team and have a competitive match of Cardio Cornhole.
  8. The teacher can do an authentic assessment while students playing the game to assess the underhand throwing pattern or stepping with oppositional movement.

Don't miss out on these other fun Yard Games from Gopher!


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

Check out more Blogs by Chad!

Joint Health in Children: What You Need to Know

Posted 1 week ago - by Tamesha (Graves) Connaughton

The human body is constructed of various load-bearing structures, including, muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, and joints. These structures are dynamically designed to work in symbiosis with one another to perform pretty remarkable tasks, like absorbing falls, protecting the internal organs, and performing physical maneuvers, like accelerating, jumping, stopping and balancing.

Unfortunately, many non-ergonomic daily events, like sitting or slouching can cause imbalance, impingement and truncation of range of motio. These repeated, biomechanically inefficient actions combined with a poorly balanced diet can lead to a bevy of chronic issues like Arthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Gout. All ultimately lead to degeneration of the joint and drastically reduce functionality and range of motion.

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To reduce and even eliminate the chance of the development of arthritic conditions, particularly juvenile arthritis, we must be proactive in keeping the joints healthy through the promotion of proper physical activity. Physical activity promotes dynamic recruitment of muscles, tendons, and ligaments, which all support the joints, allowing for stable and prolonged health. Physical activity also creates intuitive proprioceptive environments, which leads to loading the joint in to deep and lengthy ranges of motion. Range of motion is not an overnight fix however; as it takes patience, persistence, and dynamic modalities to adequately recruit the surrounding muscle fibers, which in time, will strengthen the joint throughout the full range.

There are several modalities to accomplish this goal, namely Static Stretching, Jumping (plyometrics), Weight Lifting/Bodyweight Exercises (Yoga) and Running. Studies have shown that even after signs of arthritis have begun, physical exercise, in a controlled and supervised environment, can strengthen the degenerative joint and mitigate the continuation of the arthritis.

Another major component of joint health is diet. Far too often juvenile or early-onset arthritis is exacerbated by over consumption of inflammatory dietary choices, such as, a high intake of simple sugars. Calcium rich foods like dairy and meat products have shown to reduce the weakening of bones and Omega-3 fatty acids found in cold-water fish can reduce inflammation within the joint. Healthy movement is key to healthy living and healthy moving comes from healthy joints. 


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

Check out more Blogs by Tamesha!

5 Skill-Based Basketball Games for PE!

Posted 2 weeks ago - by Shannon Jarvis

I asked my K-8th grade students what their favorite basketball games are that we play in PE.
Below are their top f
ive picks, including a video demonstration of each!

Around the Gym Knockout

This game is played just like the original knockout game, where you try to get the person in front of you out by scoring a basket before them. However, in ‘Around the Gym Knockout’, when you are eliminated from one goal you move on to the next goal and join that game. In our gym, we use four to six basketball goals at a time. To start the game, we divide up among the goals and each goal is treated as a separate game. Students enjoy this game because they don’t have to wait till the end of the game to keep playing. Once eliminated, they move on to play with a new group of students at the next goal.   Check out Around the Gym Knockout in action!

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Team Knockout

Evenly divide your students into 6 lines; each line has their own basketball. It’s best to color code your equipment in this game to avoid confusion as seen in the video. On the whistle, the first person in each line takes one shot from their cone. If the basket is missed the students quickly rebound their ball and shoots from everywhere until a basket is made. The first of the six people to make a basket is safe and returns to the end of their line, while the others are out. Once out, the only way back into the game is if your teammate makes the first shot from the cone, all players from that team rejoin the game. **House Rule** If there is one player remaining from a team and they make their first shot by the cone, all players eliminated are back in the game regardless of their team color. 


Dribble Tip Over

Scatter cones all over the gym floor, various sizes if available. On signal students dribble around the gaming area tipping or set up cones on the various signals, then switching out with the next person in line. Variation: have two groups of students each with different jobs, picking up or tipping down cones.   Check out Dribble Tip Over in action!


Pass, Dribble, Shoot, SCORE!

Scatter poly dots on the gym floor surrounding the basketball goals. On the signal a student in front of each line passes the basketball over their head to the person behind them. The line continues to pass over their head until the last person in line receives the basketball. The last person then dribbles to any poly dot on the floor and shoots the basketball. If the student makes the shot, they pick up the poly dot and bring it back to their line. While the person is shooting the line moves back to make an empty spot at the front of the line for the shooter to start passing the ball overhead when they return. When all the poly dots are taken up, the game is called and a point value is given to the each different colored dot (Don’t give point values to the dots until the end, so students will focus on shooting not adding dots). Have the teams add up their dots, and the line with the most points wins the game. Pass, Dribble, Shoot, SCORE! video demonstration!


Dribble Mania

Students dribble in the gaming area trying to stay in control of their ball. While dribbling with one hand, students use their other hand to knock away someone else’s ball. Students must remain in control of their ball. If a student loses control of their ball their turn is over. When your turn is over the student returns to their line and hands the ball to the next player.


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

Check out more Blogs by Shannon!


Building Character in PE

Posted 3 weeks ago - by Chad Triolet

Health and physical education are excellent vehicles for teaching and reinforcing character education.   I did not realize how closely linked the two were until we got a new principal about a decade ago.  Prior to the arrival of the new principal, character education was a staple at our school.  We used a program called Character Counts and each month the teachers would focus lessons on a character trait and reinforce it throughout the month.  Our physical education program was no exception.  We helped by providing relatable situations during class and reinforced the important concepts.  When the new principal arrived, Character Counts disappeared.  By the end of the first year without the program, it was noticeable that our students were struggling without the monthly reinforcement.  As the physical education teacher (who sees all the classes throughout the year), I noticed a big shift in student communication and it was having a negative impact on sportsmanship and teamwork.

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During the summer, my teaching partner and I decided we needed to do something about the character issue at our school.  Fortunately, it happened to be an Olympic year and we decided to create our own character education program (based on Character Counts) and we called it Olympic Character.  We used an Olympic flag and gave each ring a character trait (trustworthiness, kindness, responsibility, respect, and fairness) and all those traits were on a flag of citizenship (see graphic below).

It was a simple concept and it was tied to something we were already discussing with our students.  Because we did this through physical education classes, we ended up re-establishing a school-wide character education program that was built on the Olympic movement, which fit our content area nicely.

Character education meets many of the goals and objectives of the affective domain (a critical domain that SHOULD be addressed in every physical education lesson.  Many of these skills are linked to sportsmanship and teamwork concepts that are easily folded into any physical education activity.  The important thing to remember is that some of these learning opportunities do not avail themselves so easily for classroom teachers.  We have the perfect delivery system to reinforce character education traits on a daily basis.  In addition, these traits lend themselves naturally to those important 21st century learning skills (communication, collaboration, teamwork, problem-solving, etc.) that all of our students need to be productive and competent citizens. 

If you have not thought about character education in a while or know that it is an area of weakness, I challenge you to work to the concepts to your instruction.  Guidance counselors are typically an excellent source for ideas and materials that you may find useful.  The key to successful integration of character education is making sure that you teach each trait to the students to start but then make a consistent effort to discuss examples of great character during the closure of each physical education lesson.  It’s not hard to add and can make a world of difference when it comes to student interaction in your classes.


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

Check out more Blogs by Chad!

Encourage Activity with Reading in PE!

Posted 3 weeks ago - by Scott McDowell

As highlighted in an earlier post, all school staff members have opportunities to foster a love of learning through literacy or reading.  Physical education teachers are role models and often build meaningful relationships with all students.  Incorporating stories and children’s books into PE provides an avenue to encourage creativity through movement, dance, and social interaction.

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Years ago I listened to an outstanding professional at the Illinois Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance annual conference.  This master teacher shared with us one of my favorite activities to do each year during reading month, on Dr. Seuss’ birthday, or whenever you need a quick 5-minute warm up. 


Each year, I read the book My Many Colored Days, by Dr. Seuss to students in grades K-2.  It is a very short book with beautifully colored images, and only takes a few minutes to read!  The first time I read it to the students, I do not provide any additional directions other than listening.  After I finish, I explain to the children that we are going to use the story to move around the gym.  I flip through the pages again and ask students to share what the emotions, moods, and images might look like if we were to act them out.  Finally, I ask students to find safe space and have them prepare to listen to the story again while acting out each emotion through creative play.   I loudly read the story and pause before turning the page to allow for students to think and move.  Students are led throughout the book to be horses, birds, bees, and more.  The creativity comes alive with each child’s own interpretation of the mood and animal.
Listen or watch the story.


Early elementary students love the opportunity to blend books and stories into movement!  It is no different than using music to lead movement and often will leave more to the imagination.  I encourage you to always read the book at least once before starting the activity if you have not read it to them previously. 

Here are a few other examples of books to use, as well as quick outlines of activity ideas:

  • From Head to Toe, by Eric Carle

    • The book is perfect for a warm up activity as it is very low-impact.  Have students find space and perform the movements as you read.  Students can perform the stretches and actions in their own space.  Read it again and have students partner up to perform matching/mirroring actions!
  • Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See?, by Bill Martin/Eric Carle

    • Throughout the book, new animals are introduced.  Allow students to act out these actions in a safe space as you read the book. 
  • Stomp!, by Ruth Paul 

    • Kids love dinosaurs!  This book invites them to act out various locomotor movements (stomping, jumping, turning around, crawling, and more.)  Several pages require additional imagination and creativity!  A perfect task in their safe personal space but it also begs for the exploration of group work!
  • Pete the Cat And His Four Groovy Buttons, by Eric Litwin/James Dean 

    • Pete the Cat is about the coolest cat around and students love the story.  The story has a reoccurring theme that can be read in a fun, rhythmic beat.  Create some basic dance steps for “My buttons, my buttons…”.  Ask students to act out emotions based on Pete’s button saga as you read and dance. Check out an audio/visual of this book!
  • Five Green and Speckled Frogs, by Priscilla Burris 

    • Have students in one large group.  Number students off or come up with another way for students to know it is their turn.  Designate another area as the pool.  As you read students will hop to the pool and leave the original group.  In the end all students end up in the pool.  Also try in groups of five and have frogs leave their groups to go to center of playing area where a large pool party can form!


The bottom line is that there is no “one-way” to blend literacy and movement.  You can keep it simple by introducing one book each month to a class, or a bit more complex by increasing the frequency to multiple times a month. Students love both reading and movement, and like mint and chocolate, it just works.


Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more great ideas!

Check out more Blogs by Scott!

How to Develop an Effective Communication Plan

Posted 1 month ago - by Jessica Shawley

When physical education was relocated to regular classrooms due to gym construction, a parent commented on how they felt nothing was happening in P.E. due to the construction. This was far from true, and several non-P.E. teachers were quick to inform the parent about the wonderful learning happening regardless of the temporary relocation of P.E. class. When word got back to me about this exchange it made me realize I needed to communicate better with parents, especially during this time of construction.

What should we do to ensure our partners (parents, students, administration, colleagues, school board, local media, etc.) understand and support not only what is going on in our classrooms but also our profession as a whole?
Develop and implement a simple, consistent communication system.

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In my previous blog post, I unveiled 3 basic steps to a communication plan: Capture, Convert & Communicate Content. Here, I will expand upon step 3 on how and why to communicate with your various partners.


Parents & Students:

Let’s face it, these are our #1 partners. If they are happy, we are happy. At the start of each year, I compile an iMovie of the previous year as a “promo” highlights video. I use this as a kick-off to our annual parent informational night. Usually there is barely enough time to say hello and go over a few expectations. This traditional context at parent night seemed useless. I wanted to add more sustenance. I decided to mix it up and show parents what their child was going to experience. I wanted to inspire these parents to be a part of our superhero support team. The first time I showed the highlights video parents were thrilled. It made our presentation much more fun and focused on the positives of P.E. class while covering basic expectations for student success.

I show this same video to students at the start of the year. At the end of units I show students the video clips and pictures I took during the unit to create a lasting memory of their success. They really enjoy seeing themselves in action. I can then recycle these for the next year to kick off that same unit and as part of a ‘shuffle’ playlist of highlight movies at our annual family fitness night.

You may not realize it, but the power of email (or a phone call) cannot be underestimated. I have made it a goal to send at least one positive email per week to the parents of at least one student per class. Throughout the week, I write a quick note on my attendance sheet of a highlight I can share with a parent. The response from appreciative parents is priceless. I save these in an email folder so I can demonstrate parent communication to my principal. Remember to celebrate student success. Don’t just leave it up to the student to tell their parents – sometimes they forget.


Colleagues & Administration:

Share student success within your building by sending out regular emails with a note and picture of a moment with students. For example, when playing disc golf, a student got the first “hole in one” of the unit. It was a great shot! I took his picture standing next to the disc golf target and emailed it out to my colleagues later that day. I used it as a teachable moment with students as well, explaining how you get your picture in the paper when you get a hole in one on the golf course. The staff really appreciated the email. In fact, our school now regularly emails “shout out” moments. This helps spur conversations and congratulations among staff and students creating a positive community.

Another tip is to invite staff and administrators to in-class events or celebrations. You never know when a staff member is willing to come down and see students in a different setting during their prep time. Our administration participates in end-of-the-unit tournaments. Having the opportunity to play against your principal in Pickleball is a treasured moment.


School Board, Local Media & Community:

At the start of each school year, collect contact information for the current school board members and local media liaison. The school district administrative office usually has this information.

Anytime you put on an event, send an invitation to the school board and media liaison. If you put together a new and innovative unit and have some corresponding pictures, send a good news email to the school board and media about it. They really appreciate the invitations and enjoy supporting the students.

Our mayor recently attended our breakfast taste test event and expressed his interest to be more involved. Our annual fun run has made the front page of the local paper. I like to present annually to our school board on the success of physical education in our district. I share our highlight video and talk about any new grants we’ve been awarded or national initiative participation (Let’s Move, Fuel Up to Play 60, etc.). Community leaders and the local media rarely miss a chance for a constituent photo opportunity. 

Parent Support Team/PTO:

Never underestimate the power of your building-level parent support team. These superheroes will help build program advocacy and support events, and they love to be involved. Take advantage of their desire to help with school activities and initiatives. Keep them in the loop. Attend parent support team (sometimes called PTO) meetings regularly; I suggest quarterly or at least twice a year. All of the previous suggestions and methods of communication apply to the parent support team as well. 


Communication Method

Specific Applications:

What, Why & Sources

Highlight Video

Photo Slide Shows

Parents: Show at parent night.

Students: Start of year and end of unit highlights.

School Board: annual school board meeting presentation.



Parents: Good news on child, event invitations.

Colleagues & Administration: Learning highlights, event invitations.


Parents & School Board: Good news on learning and info on future events. Note: Most schools send e-newsletters. Be sure to have P.E. contribute a highlight to school e-newsletter, or create own to email/mail home.

Social media:


Parents, Colleagues & Community: Regular blurbs on student success or action shots are fun to share. Include information on future events, and post reminders. Social Media options: School or PE Facebook/Twitter (as school policy allows)

Class website or Blog:


Parents & students: To communicate events, class information, learning experiences, etc. Easy to create with free sources: weebly, wix, blogspot.


For ALL partners: regular entry to local media on events and participation in national initiatives demonstrates powerful P.E. program.



Class Dojo: Behavior tracking and communication

Remind: Allows one-way reminders to go home.



Communication Plan Example:

Weekly: Good news parent emails sent home.

Monthly: Update class website or blog.

Quarterly: Highlight email sent to colleagues and administration. E-newsletter home.

Semester: Same as quarterly but add in update to parents and school board.

Event Specific: Communicate with all groups.


This two-part series on communicating with partners may initially seem overwhelming for some but the importance of communication should not be underestimated. Take time to analyze your current communication plan and set goals for the rest of this school year and the next.

  • Who are your most important partners you wish to communicate better with?
  • What methods will you use to communicate?
  • How often or when will you communicate? 


Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more great ideas!

Check out more Blogs by Jess!

Traditional vs Progressive Physical Education

Posted 1 month ago - by Peter Boucher

We all know that daily Physical Education is important; actually it is CRITICAL, to students being active and successful in multiple components and layers of their everyday world.   All trending data indicates that students who are active for 30-60 minutes each day are going to be healthier, feel better, and have a more positive academic attitude towards learning.  Simply put, it is great to be physically active every day!

And we could probably talk (or blog) at length about the lifelong benefits connected to physical education, as those benefits are multiple: the increased fitness, emotional, and social benefits are lengthy and well documented.  My guess would be that any professional reading this blog would concur wholeheartedly to the positive attributes of being in a Physical Education class as often as possible in the K-12 educational world, and in college too for that matter.  The question quickly surfaces these days though, WHICH type of Physical Education class are we referring to or Which type of Physical Education do we prefer, Traditional or Progressive?

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Physical Education has evolved significantly over the last decade. It’s not necessarily “good” or “bad” but it is a hot topic these days.  PE has journeyed a long way into the lifelong skills arena and progressive PE teachers are instructing a whole slew of “new” skills and activities in their physical education and/or wellness classes these days.   Physical Education in the 21st Century is not the same PE from the 80’s, 90’s or even early 2000’s.  Physical Education slowly transformed throughout the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. The PE that many of us grew up with was a healthy dose of team sports and traditional single and dual activities….basketball, floor hockey, tennis, soccer, etc.  Physical Education these days has steadily morphed into the fitness and lifelong skill zone…multiple fitness activities, skills, and etiquettes combined with boot camp classes, yoga, Pilates, tough mudder training, etc. Certainly both have an important place in PE moving forward.

So the question naturally jumps to “Which style of  PE is better?”  We all know that most schools do not provide enough daily PE or weekly PE which makes the limited active time on learning in Wellness or PE classes absolutely precious.  I have heard (and read) all sorts of spirited discussions related to which type of PE/Wellness class is better for the kids.  Traditional PE is highly touted for movement and social reasons with Progressive PE being encouraged for the fitness and lifelong skills.

I guess my question remains; Which PE Is better…Traditional PE or Progressive PE?  What do YOU think? Is one better than the other?  A hybrid format perhaps?  Tell us what you think…


Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more hot topics, ideas, and trends!

Check out more Blogs by Peter!

3 Critical Steps for Sharing Your Success!

Posted 1 month ago - by Jessica Shawley

The more I speak with parents, school board, administrators, local media, or other community members, the more I understand they DO want to share in our success and support us. They just don’t always know how, especially at the secondary level when students desire more independence. However, research shows that adolescents need as much adult support as elementary age youth. What should we do to ensure our partners understand and support not only what is going on in our classrooms (at every level) but also our profession as a whole? Answer: Develop and implement a simple, consistent communication system.


It’s time we stop hoping students will remember to tell parents about the great things they are learning or that our administrator will remember to share the wonderful things we do at school board meetings. It’s time teachers stop being afraid to regularly share student success. When you spread the word about the great things going on in your classroom, it is not (and should never be) considered self-centered bragging. It’s not about us! It’s about the students.

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Here are three critical steps for establishing and implementing your communication system. In Part 2 of this series, we will discuss specific tips, tools, and information for communicating with each partner group to kick-start your communication system.


Step 1: Capture the Content

My iPhone/iPad go with me everywhere. Students love to be photographed, filmed, and will even help you capture class content. I take some sort of highlight clips or pictures of each unit we do, especially culminating events or new activities. Before smart technology, our department purchased a nice camera we would carry around at select times. Before this, I would write down great class moments to have them on hand to share later. Carry around that notepad in your clipboard or bring along your smart device, as both the techie and non-techie alike can and should capture class moments.


    *Step 1 TIP: To get started, set a goal for how often you will start “capturing content,” whether it is writing down great moments or taking photos and videos. Will it be monthly, by unit, quarterly, etc.? You can even set a recurring reminder in your phone to help you remember it's time to capture content.


Step 2: Convert the Content

Depending upon your audience and selected method of your communication (presenting at a meeting, sending an email, creating a website or newsletter, etc.) you will want to use a photo and video program to guide and simplify your ability to convert content.

For example, Apple users can utilize iMovie on MacBook (advanced user) OR on iPad (beginning user) to easily put together great highlight videos that can be exported to YouTube, iTunes or saved as a file to use elsewhere. I use iPhoto to organize photos and video by year and by topic. This allows me to easily import content into iMovie or other applications and also allows me to show slideshows of pictures to students. *Note: I recommend purchasing a 1TB (or larger) external storage drive as content fills devices quickly (thankfully, these are more affordable than ever nowadays).


Regardless of your ability level or available tools, anyone can conquer this step. Before I had my own devices, I used school-provided technology. I met with my technology teacher to learn how to best store my files on the school server, how much space I was allowed, and what programs were available to meet my needs. I took an in-district workshop on Microsoft Movie Maker and I went in after school to use the program on school computers and to receive assistance from my coworker. Utilize your local resources.

    *Step 2 TIP: Make it a professional goal to learn a new technology tool(s). For those who want to learn more about how to use Apple-based products, check out David A. Cox’s FREE PC Classes Online for informational tutorials on a variety of techy topics, including iMovie and iPhoto.


Step 3: Communicate the Content

There are many more avenues for communication these days, in some instances too many. Whether or not your school already has a media spokesperson or communication plan (regular newsletters to parents, etc.), this step is crucial. You can collect and convert content all you want, but if you don’t communicate the content to your partners then your content and effort is meaningless.

The challenge is establishing a communication plan that works for you. The goal of communicating student success is to generate support for student achievement and overall program advocacy. Keep it simple. Be consistent. Identify your partners or audience. Choose the type(s) of communication you will use with each group. Pinpoint when and how often you will communicate. See the table below for an example.


    *Step 3 TIP: Choose one new method of communication to try and set a SMART goal for when and how to use it. Team up with a colleague or find a professional learning community online for support.


Developing a Communication Plan:

Identify Your Partners:

Select Method(s) of Communication:

Determine When/How Often:


Class website or blog, Social Media, Apps, Newsletters, Bulletin Boards


  • Weekly?
  • Monthly?
  • Quarterly?
  • Semester?
  • Yearly?
  • Event specific?
  • Unit Specific?


Email, Phone, Social Media, Parent Night, Family Fitness Night, Class website or blog, Apps, Newsletters, Event Invitation


Email, Class website or blog, Social Media, Newsletters, Event Invitation


Email, Staff Meeting, Social Media, Event Invitation

School Board

Email, Presentations, Social Media, Event Invitation, Newsletters


Class website or blog, Presentations, Social Media, Newspaper articles, Event Invitation

Local Media

Social Media, Event Invitation, Newspaper articles

It’s important for students to see and hear validation of their hard work. Do you remember saving newspaper clippings of events you were involved in as a youth? I do!

In Part 2, we’ll expand upon the table in Step 3 providing specific tools, tips, and resources that will help you communicate your content. 

Reader Challenge: 

Analyze your current communication plan. What do you do well? What is your weakness? What have you always wanted to learn? Think about these “3 Steps” and formulate or revitalize your existing communication plan.


Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more great ideas!

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Dynamic PE: What is It and How Does It Work?

Posted 1 month ago - by Aaron Beighle

Last month I blogged about physical education curriculum (check it out). In that blog the components and development of a curriculum were presented. Towards the end I mentioned a curriculum I co-author, Dynamic Physical Education (DPE) for Elementary School Children (18e) and how a group of teachers in Lexington, KY are implementing the curriculum.

DPE, Dynamic PE

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With its beginnings in the 1960’s, this curriculum is widely used and respected throughout the field. It is evidence-based in that it combines the evidence from fields such as exercise science, classroom pedagogy, motor learning, exercise psychology and epidemiology to create student-centered, standards-based physical education lessons.

            The DPE curriculum is divided into four parts. The lesson begins with an introductory activity. As with all components of DPE, this is an activity-based learning experience as soon as the students arrive (not sitting for us). This sets the management tone for the class and provides instant activity for students. The introductory activity typically lasts 2-3 minutes in a 30-minute lesson. Next, is the fitness component of the lesson. The purpose of this part is to teach them about physical fitness and expose them to a variety of fun fitness related activities. Emphasis is placed on personal best and enjoyment with small bouts of instruction associated with fitness concepts. This component typically lasts 7-8 minutes. Following fitness is the lesson focus. This component lasts 15-20 minutes and is designed to teach students physical skills. Emphasis is placed on repetition and refinement of skill with instruction focused on the process of movement (e.g. appropriate skill technique), not the product (e.g. how many baskets a student can make). The focus of the lesson is success-oriented and provides students with skills necessary to engage in physical activity for a lifetime. Finally, the lesson ends with a game, or closing activity. This is a time for students to apply skills learned during the lesson focus. The game also allows students to end the physical education lesson with a positive fun experience.

            The structure of a four-part lesson ensures students engage in activity immediately upon entering the teaching area, experience vigorous physical activity, learn skills, and have the opportunity to apply those skills in success-oriented games. To some, on the surface, this structure appears restricting. However, our experience has found that a major strength of the curriculum is its flexibility. A structured curriculum guide with detailed instruction for lesson implementation works well for new teachers and teachers with limited experience teaching an activity. As teachers gain experience with the curriculum they find that it is very malleable. For example, if a teacher finds a new fitness activity, they can easily replace the activity in the guide with their own activity and see how it works. If it works well, we encourage teachers to document the new activity and use it other times throughout the year. Teachers also make note of the activity in the Curriculum Guide so they remember to use this activity the following year.

            DPE is also flexible in that a variety of teaching models can be implemented simultaneously. For instance, at the secondary level, teachers have used Sport Education for an entire lesson or just during the lesson focus. The curriculum is also flexible because it can work in virtually any physical education environment. Lessons can be modified to fit 30-minute lessons or 60-minute lessons. Activities can be adapted to large or small classes. The curriculum can be used in schools that have gymnasiums, multi-purpose rooms, or no gym at all. The DPE textbook includes assessment templates which can be modified to meet teacher and programmatic needs. And as stated above, the curriculum can be used by novice teachers or implemented and modified by seasoned veterans.

            As I mentioned in my last blog, there is a need for systematically developed curriculum in physical education. However, the development of a curriculum is labor and time intensive. Fortunately, DPE allows teachers to tailor an existing curriculum to fit their needs. If you get a chance, take a peek at DPE. I did, and it changed my career. 


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

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