Fitness Testing Devices: Pedometers and Heart Rate Monitors
Unlike regular classroom teachers, we have to assess a large number of students on a daily basis. The standardized fitness tests, such as FITNESSGRAM®, can only play a small role in assisting our students unless we are able to set goals for each student and continue to assess them throughout the school year. The question for many teachers is, “How can we do this when there are so many students with individual needs?”
Fitness Testing Devices
Most of you have heard about heart rate monitors, accelerometers, and pedometers. Depending on the type chosen, data that is collected on the device can be automatically downloaded and stored for easy access. This is a great way to hold students accountable, increase motivation, and communicate with parents. Generally speaking, see the following as a quick definition of what each of these devices accomplishes:
- Heart Rate Monitors: Allows teachers and students to monitor the heart rate of the individual wearing the device. Teachers can set the monitor for the appropriate heart rate zone in which the student should try to reach and maintain. This helps students understand the appropriate exercise level as well as help teachers assess the students on a daily basis.
- Accelerometers: These devices are also worn by the student and can measure anything from heart rates, steps taken, calories burned, etc. depending on the particular device purchased. This is another great tool to hold students accountable for accomplishing goals that have been set.
- Pedometers: These tools are typically restricted to simply counting the number of steps taken by the student. Yet, another great device to assist teachers in monitoring student progress and assessing fitness levels. It is very important to understand that students’ strides will vary so setting steps between students should not be compared.
The FITstep Pro Uploadable Pedometers track steps, activity time, and MVPA. Best of all, students can upload their data to the free software in less than 2 seconds. Learn more about FITstep Pedometers here.
Heart Rate Monitor Experience
I personally had an eye opening experience when I used heart rate monitors for the first time during one of my elementary classes. I had a student that seemed to be lazy and dislike physical education in general. I tried to encourage her and at one point just got frustrated with her lack of effort.
When I received the heart rate monitors, I thought this would be a great way for me to show her the level in which she needed to be exercising on a daily basis. I set my monitors to beep when the students were too high or too low. During the instant activity (warm up), we were playing a fun game. I heard her heart rate monitor beeping. I slowly approached her and what I saw was simply shocking and scary. Her heart rate was approximately 210 bpm. Had I not had a heart rate monitor on her, I may have pushed her to work harder and something terrible could have happened. It was truly an eye opener for me, and one that left me feeling terrible about the way I had stereotyped this young child.
Not only can these devices help us monitor a student’s exercise level during class, but they can help us set goals and assess students daily, weekly, or monthly. There are a plethora of products that can also assist with monitoring students muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, and even body composition if desired. Check out a variety of fitness assessment tools that may be of interest to your classroom needs. In conclusion, technology really is the most realistic way to assess students’ fitness levels efficiently and effectively as well as help accomplish your goals and assist students in accomplishing theirs.
How to Perform a Push-Up Assessment [Instructional Video]
Teach students how to properly perform the push-up test with this helpful video and detailed instruction. Make push-up assessments even easier by using the Rep-Addition Push-Up Testers to increase accuracy and efficiency.
Push-Up Assessment Set-Up:
- Before performing the push-up test, adjust the height of the console so your arms are bent at a 90-degree angle when your chest touches the console
- Press and hold the “Reset” button to clear the settings back to zero
Free Downloadable Resources:
View the video on the right for a full demonstration of the push-up assessment. Click the download button to save the video to your computer for your students follow along! An audio file is available for your download as well.
- Kneel and place your hands flat on the hand pads at shoulder-width apart, face your fingers forward. Straighten your legs and lift onto your toes with your arms perpendicular to the ground.
- Once you begin the push-up test, wait for the instructor to call out, “down.” With your head, back and legs creating a straight line, bend your elbows, until your chest touches the console. Once the tester beeps, your rep has been counted.
- Slowly push back up once the instructor says, “up”, returning to the starting position, keeping a straight-line posture and only using your chest and arms to propel you! Continue to follow the prompts performing push-ups until you are not able to continue.
- The test is complete once you perform 75 push-ups or you cannot continue anymore. Once testing is complete, look on the tester for your results and report your score to your teacher!
Good luck on your assessment!
How to Perform a Sit-and-Reach Assessment [Instructional Video]
Use the above video to demonstrate the sit-and-reach assessment to your students. Don’t forget to download it for future use! Make flexibility testing even easier with Gopher’s UltraFlex Testers – giving you the ability to test two to four students at the same time!
Sit-and-Reach Assessment Instructions
You can perform the sit-and-reach test as a traditional test or the back-saver test. The back saver test measures the flexibility of left and right legs separately and avoids the hyper-extension of both knees.
- To perform the back-saver sit-and-reach test, remove your shoes and fully extend one leg, placing the sole of your foot flat against the tester. Bend your other knee with the sole of your foot flat against the mat.
- Extend your arms and place one hand over the other. Slowly reach forward four times and hold the positon on the fourth reach for at least one second.
- You may repeat the test up to three times, recording your best score to the nearest ½ inch.
- Switch legs and repeat the test.
Good luck on your assessment!
How to Perform a Curl-Up Assessment [Instructional Video]
Explaining how to perform national curl-up assessments to students can be difficult. The video above provides detailed, yet easy-to-comprehend instructions for completing a curl-up assessment. Use Gopher’s AssessPro Rep-Addition Curl-Up Tester to make measuring students’ abdominal strength and endurance even easier and more efficient!
Curl-Up Assessment Set-Up
- To perform the curl-up test, lay down, rest your head on the mat, and straighten your arms with your palms resting on the mat.
- The first line of the tester is a 4.5-inch test, designed for students ages 10 and up, while the second line is a 3-inch test designed for students between the ages of 5 and 9.
- Rest your fingertips at the edge of the correct line and place your feet on the tester, keeping your feet flat to the floor. Your heels should be about 12 inches from your fingertips.
- Press and hold the “reset” button to clear the tester to 0.
Free Downloadable Resources
View the video on the right for a full demonstration of the curl-up assessment. Click the download button to save the video to your computer for your students follow along! Download the free audio file below.
Curl-Up Assessment Instructions
Once you begin the curl-up test, wait for the instructor to call out, “up,” then curl up slowly, keeping your arms straight and feet on the ground while sliding your fingers along the mat to push the big orange button. Once the tester beeps, your rep has been counted.
Slowly curl back down once the instructor says, “down”. Continue to perform curl-ups until you have to stop or record two form breaks.
Your teacher or you partner will be assessing your curl-up form and will keep track of form breaks. Once you record two form breaks, testing is complete.
There are four form breaks that can occur.
- If you do not reach up and touch your fingertips to the button.
- Your feet lift off the ground during a curl-up.
- Back, shoulders and head doesn’t touch the mat in-between reps.
- Or movement is inconsistent and you are not able to keep up with the instructor.
The test is complete once you perform 75 curl-ups or you cannot continue anymore. Once testing is complete, look on the tester for your results and report your score to your teacher.
Good luck on your assessment!
Using Fitness Testing Data in P.E.
You decided to have your students do some fitness testing and you have all of the results collected, now what? It is a great question and one that I am sure has a variety of answers, anywhere from putting the results in a file drawer to analyzing the results in great detail. My hope is that you are pushing more toward the analyzing the results end of the spectrum, or honestly, why else are you testing your students?
Fitness Testing Practices
First, let me start with a few thoughts on testing itself. I have struggled with subjecting my students to fitness testing and whether or not I am getting true results. There are several well-known physical educators who are against testing students for various reasons, one of which is it can turn kids away from physical activity, especially kids who are not very physically fit.
Others take the extreme position in handing out awards to those that are fit and dominated the testing. I place myself in the middle of this all, in that I do not grade students based on their results nor do I punish them for not making a certain standard.
My goal is to encourage my students to give me their best effort on that particular day and always to try to do better than before. I know I have some students that are out to set records in my class and they do, but I also have those students that are obese and hate exercise so by asking for their best and encouraging them to beat their personal best, I see first-hand that students are working harder.
What to do with the Results
With that said, what do I do with my results? As a PE department, we test our students three times a year and inform the students that the results are used to guide our instruction. Again, this helps to motivate some students. At the end of our school year, we look at what areas of fitness our students performed well and which areas show us we need improvement. We break these results down by age and gender to help us better understand the results.
For our school, we have noticed a downward spiral in muscular strength and endurance, but a slight upward spike for cardiovascular endurance over the past 3 or 4 years. We attribute this spike in cardio to a switch in our focus from team sports to a more fitness-based curriculum. As we continue to gather data, we will work to continue the growth in cardio. Likewise, we know that we need to increase our focus in strength areas to help create a more well-rounded fitness level for our students.
Fitness Report Card
Something we have considered doing with our results is creating a Fitness Report Card for students to take home to their parents. Our hesitation lies in putting too much emphasis on testing and turning kids off on becoming healthier individuals because they fear repercussions from home. To ease these concerns, we make sure parents are aware of the testing and inform them that they are welcome to come into school and meet with us about the results and what we are doing to help their child improve, not just on the testing, but really on our main focus, improving wellness.
We also talk with our students individually about their results and what they mean to them and how we can work together to create a fitness plan. Again, the goal of our program is to get our students heading in a positive direction with their health and well-being.
A word of caution with your results – before you start testing, understand that fitness testing can be unreliable due to factors beyond our control and even the students’ control. I say this because we all know that kids can be stubborn, they might feel ill, they might be hesitant of testing, etc., so be understanding and encouraging and you will find your data too be more reliable because your students will know you want them to do their best!
At the end of the day, what you choose to do with your data is up to you, but I do encourage you to use it. Let students know the value and what you are using the results for so they put more stock into what they are about to do. And above all else, MAKE IT FUN!!
10 Equipment and Inventory Organization Tips
I’ll admit it; I love the opportunity to organize and inventory the equipment room. I really do. I know an organized space helps set me up for success. Having an up-to-date inventory helps guide planning for the current year and beyond.
One does not need to stress about being an organization expert. I work to the best of my ability with what I have. I pick one area to improve upon, gather ideas for that area, and then make it happen. Do the best you can with what you have, and do not waste all your time trying to find and implement every idea. Of course, a big ‘thank you’ goes to the online community of Pinterest, Google, Twitter, and Voxer for sharing ideas. Here are my top ten tips for equipment and inventory organization. I’ve also included a free inventory template.
1. Organize by type:
I group most of my items by type. For example, the fitness equipment section is organized by type (bands, jump ropes, dumbbells, etc.) and goes in a particular area of storage. All general multi-use items are in the same area including cones, spots, pinnies, etc. We also have a “curriculum corner” where all task and fitness station signs, nutrition education materials, pencils, markers, etc. are all together.
2. Organize by usage:
As in our own homes, frequently used items are easily accessible and infrequently used items are in the back corner and take a few moments more to find when you need them.
We use an in-season and out-of-season system. Items that are going to be used for the upcoming unit are placed up front and are typically in collapsible, wheeled storage carts, like CartGo. Equipment we just finished with is put away in the back or on shelves.
3. Take notes:
To go along with tip #2, it is important to reflect, not only upon the end of each unit with regard to the learning experience, but also in terms of equipment and materials.
When putting away equipment I may not use for a while, I make notes as to what may be needed next time and what needs fixing. With that said, have a note pad and pencil handy in the equipment room (thankfully Gopher includes a note pad with each order). Being able to take notes immediately is a huge help! I then take a picture of the note and bring it back to my office to transfer to my official to-do list.
I label EVERYTHING. I use 2-inch deluxe vinyl floor tape on all tubs, boxes, larger items, etc. Every piece of equipment is also labeled. With black permanent marker, I write, “MMS PE” along with the year I received it. The year helps me know how old something is and reminds me of when to add it to the replacement rotation list. It also lets me know if an item is holding up to my expectation of use. If I bought something last year and it looks as if I’ve been using it for 5 years, then I may try something longer lasting next time.
As a side note: Sometimes you really do get what you pay for, so consider how long you want something to last. Gopher did not tell me to write this, though, I feel like it needs to be said. Their warranty is the real deal. When Gopher says, “Unconditional 100% Satisfaction Guarantee,” they mean it. This gives me great peace of mind and helps stretch my budget. I find their equipment lasts longer and their customer service to be the best in the business.
5. Think Portability:
One of the biggest helps in my storage room is having the ability to wheel equipment around so that I can change between units quickly. Look for collapsible carts like the CartGo cart or Magnus wheeled carts for in-season items.
6. Color Coding:
Being able to purchase equipment in rainbow colors helps with organizing teams and stations. It has made my lessons run more smoothly. I recommend integrating more color-coding whenever possible.
7. Storage Options:
Most teachers are not provided with a complete storage system, so always be on the lookout for good deals on storage items such as tubs in a variety of sizes, cardboard boxes, collapsible carts, wheeled carts, milk crates, and utility hooks to hang things in storage.
8. Electricity & Technology:
An important thing to keep in mind is where you will organize, secure, and charge all devices. This can be a challenge if your storage room is not set up with a charging area.
Having high quality multi-port power strips helps. We are lucky enough to have a secure storage space, so I use plastic file folder tubs with my iPads placed upside down and charge them in there. Electricity access and secure storage is an important conversation to have with administration as you add more technology. You don’t want to breach any safety inspection policies with charging cords running amuck.
9. Junk Drawer and Repair Table:
My “junk drawer” contains zip ties, cords, carabiners, clips, and those random pieces. You never know what you will need and having a small utility drawer comes in handy. The repair table is where broken or damaged items reside or where new items go that need inflation or labeling before officially going into storage. The toolbox and inflator are both in this area.
10. Electronic Inventory Record:
I use an electronic inventory sheet to keep a detailed record of everything we have. This is updated at the end of each year and turned in to the office before I leave for summer (both as a hand-delivered hard copy and as a soft copy delivered via email). Feel free to download the template and adapt it to meet your needs. You’ll also find my previous organization blogs here on my P.E. Champs webpage.
Continue the conversation: What are your favorite equipment organization tips, tricks and #pehacks? Please share them in this thread. I’ll start the conversation on Twitter as well. Follow me @JessicaShawley
Back-to-School PE Checklist
Summer is ending and back-to-school season is right around the corner. Use this checklist, inlcuding forms and paperwork, curriculum, technology, and equipment, to help you get ready for the new school year.
Back to School: Be Inspired!
As a former HPE teacher and teacher educator for 25 + years, I still enjoy the excitement and anticipation the new school year brings. September is always a time of new challenges, opportunities, and renewed visions for what we hope to accomplish in our HPE programs to ensure our students lead healthy active lives long after they graduate from school.
This past month, I delivered a summer professional learning course at OISE, along with two of my colleagues Michael Sinukoff and Eva Roser, both HPE teacher leaders in the Greater Toronto Area. It left me feeling inspired and re-energized from the 50 teachers we worked with; some aspiring to teach HPE for the very first time while others are leading the way to quality HPE programs.
On our last day of the course, we were challenged by my husband, Ted. He’s an award-winning former HPE teacher, author, health and physical literacy champion, and world-renowned speaker who believes in maximizing teacher success, and unlocking the potential of ALL students to “reimagine” HPE and to actualize the principles of the UNESCO Quality Physical Education Document.
UNESCO (2015) states,
“Despite the recognized power of physical education, we are seeing a global decline in its delivery. This is helping to fuel a global health crisis – conservative estimates consider physical inactivity as accounting for 6 per cent of global mortality. This is the pledge inspiring these Guidelines – to mobilize stakeholders and resources in order to ensure the provision of quality physical education to young people across the world, regardless of their socio-economic situation, ethnicity, culture or gender.”
Are you feeling up to the challenge? Wanting some back to school inspiration? Here are four ways to get you started:
1. Sign up for Ted’s Morning High Five email series
Start the year with the inspiration, motivation, and information you need to reimagine HPE for your school. Ted shares strategies to dignify HPE in your community, best practices around the world and ways in which to get your stakeholders (e.g., parents, staff, administrators, community partnerships) on board with your vision for HPE.
2. Back-to-School Essentials
Check out innovative equipment that can inspire hours of physical activity, play and new games, such as Speedminton, disc golf, and much more for your HPE program this school year! Shop back-to-school essentials here.
3. Survey your students
Ask about what games, activities and sports they enjoy and clearly communicate the learning outcomes/goals of your PE program to your students, staff and parents.
4. Refer to the Physical Literacy Checklist
Use this checklist by PHE Canada to guide your teaching practice with respect to i) planning for student learning; ii) creating an environment for student learning; iii) using teaching strategies and skills for student learning iv) modelling exemplar teaching and professionalism
READY, SET, GO! Share what inspires you for Back to School below.
Back to School: Tips to Tackle the New School Year
It’s hard to believe another school year is right around the corner. For many teachers, the thought of getting back to it is overwhelming. Thinking about organizing new students, new schedules, equipment, paperwork, etc. can be stressful. However, if you get started early, the transition back to the classroom can be enjoyable. I have provided a few tips to help teachers at least “get the ball rolling” before that first day back with students is upon us.
TIP 1: Curriculum
Many of you have been teaching for years, so understanding the scope and sequence of your lessons is not as difficult. However, having new lesson ideas for the students, whether it is new activities or trying out the use of infusing technology, is a great way to continue teaching quality physical education lessons. Many successful teachers have suggested laying out your units ahead of time to make sure you have the necessary equipment to ensure developmentally appropriate practices. Check out Nutrition Curriculum and Physical Education resources here.
TIP 2: Equipment
Get in that equipment room and find out what you have and what you need. This helps when laying out your curriculum by content area and/or units ahead of time. Over the summer many items, such as playground balls, soccer balls, and basketballs can deflate. Foam balls that you may not have used in awhile may not be in condition to be reused. Getting that equipment room ready to go can really make your life easier once the year begins. Shop back-to-school essentials and replenishment items.
TIP 3: Students
Regardless of how long you have taught, you are going to experience new students. Getting your classroom schedule with student names early is a great way to get ahead and start planning how attendance will be taken, what kind of partners or groups you can begin thinking about, and how to plan the culture of your classroom atmosphere. Another aspect of dealing with students early that is often overlooked is learning your students ability levels and those that will need more modifications depending on the content and activities involved in your planned curriculum.
TIP 4: Technology
Realize that using technology in your classroom is not just for the students’ enjoyment and success. Many technology tools can assist you and make your day-to-day routine more effective and efficient.
Start early and begin looking into what Apps or tools you can incorporate. Whether the reason is for assisting you with attendance, making teams/groups, music, curriculum ideas, or assessment, there is an App or tool to help you. Check out a quick blog for some immediate ideas about using Apps in your class. Read more blog articles about Technology in P.E.
TIP 5: Activity Space
Make sure you walk your field or activity space to make sure it is safe before students are back. This often goes unnoticed and can be negligent on your part if something goes wrong during your class. Over the summer many things can happen to your space whether it’s a field or gymnasium. Check for glass, debris, fence or wall damage just to make sure your students are safe.
Although there are many more ideas to remember to start the new school year, hopefully these tips will get you back in the mode of planning. Get moving and start organizing early! Good luck!
10 Tips for a Successful School Year
Back to school season is right around the corner! Get ready with these 10 tips for a successful school year, including organization, attitude, planning, and equipment. Don't forget to share your tips below!
1. Be a team player.
As teachers, we need to be flexible and help others when we can. I am not just talking about with our students, but with our fellow teachers and administrators. Learn all new staff member’s names and take a moment to welcome them. Being in a new environment or school can be stressful; you can help ease some anxiety and create relationships that only be benefit a school by being united.
2. Organize your storage closet.
Start your year off by knowing exactly what equipment you have and where it’s stored in your storage room. Label all boxes and containers clearly, so you don’t have to rummage through them looking for something. If you need boxes or storage containers always check with your cafeteria staff. They receive crates of all sizes and sturdy boxes in their weekly shipments.
This is also a great time to take an inventory, so you know what your purchases needs are for the year and create that dream list. What’s on my dream list this year? TRX Commercial Trainer 12-Pack …I dream BIG.
3. Be prepared.
Lesson plans are your friends. Know what objective you’re going to teach and what equipment you need to accomplish that. I keep a folder on my desktop, labeled “PE Activities”, and add to it year after year. Each game or activity is a separate word document complete with everything I need to know about how to play it, including the National and/or State Standards the game provides. Having this file makes piecing my lesson plans together a breeze, simply copy and paste.
4. Vertically align your lessons and equipment used for the week.
I teach grades K-8th and want to make my day go as smoothly as possible. Transitioning from one age group to the complete opposite end can present a challenge at times. I try to use the same equipment all day long but change the activities to fit the needs for the different levels.
For example, volleyball. Setting up the net and taking it down is not an easy task, so once it’s up we are keeping it up all day. Therefore, my lessons may look like this for the week:
- 6th-8th Volleyball skills
- 3rd-5th Nukem
- K-2nd Clean your room
All of these lessons use the volleyball net, but provide a different activity that’s more age appropriate for my students.
5. Designate a space for equipment used that week.
Find an area, whether it be in your office, storage closet, or corner of your gym, to place all your equipment used for that week. This is a major saver for me! It helps to start my day off easier by having everything need for the week in one spot instead of having to hunt down various items from storage each day. At the end of the week, replace the items with the following week’s equipment.
6. Visualize and mentally walk through your weekly schedule.
Write it out and post it in several locations throughout your gym. This helps me to know at-a-glance when I need to transition equipment for a different age group and not be caught off guard. Every day of the week is a different schedule for me, so having it posted in more than one location helps me to stay on track.
Sounds kind of silly, right? But seriously with all the easy access to technology at our fingertips, kids nowadays don’t know how to play and socially interact with one another on the playground. Teach them games they can play with no equipment. Show them what equipment is available for recess use and how to properly store the equipment after they are done. Also, explain that they need to notify someone if equipment breaks.
8. Be consistent and practice procedures.
Know what procedures you want to set in place before your students set foot in the gym. Take the extra time to practice them with your students. Don’t settle or move on until they do what’s expected. This may take extra time at the beginning of the year, but it will be worth it.
9. Study the previous year’s yearbook.
Yearbooks are a great tool to refresh your memory or familiarize yourself with your students’ names and photos. Of course, not all your same students will be returning and there will be some new faces too, so don’t spend a lot of time memorizing.
One of my favorite things in the mornings is to greet kids at the crosswalk by their name. Emotions are all over the place the first week back to school, what a comforting feeling to the families and students too that you remember them and are excited to see them.
The worst advice I hear given to teachers in my opinion, is to not smile until Christmas or else they’ll walk all over you. Wrong. You can be firm and let your students know you mean business and be nice about it. Children need to know they are loved. So smile, and be their example about how they should be treating others.
Writing this post makes me so excited for my upcoming school year. We have such a wonderful gift of opportunity to make a difference in our students’ lives. Take advantage of teaching the next generation how to live a healthy and active lifestyle. Good luck to you and have an amazing school year!