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Five to Thrive: Tips for Physical Education Teachers

Posted 6 days ago - by Aaron Beighle

In my last blog I discussed the role small changes in perspective can have using my brother Trent’s story as an example. I ran out of space so I want to expand on the term “Thrive!”

At the time of Trent’s passing I was working on a presentation for my final class for a course I teach for classroom teachers. The purpose of the class is to train future classroom teachers to integrate physical activity in their classrooms and promote lifelong physical activity in schools. I was looking for something to leave them with that was bigger than physical activity and frankly, bigger than education—something to go back to throughout their career. As I mentioned last time, Trent’s favorite song was “Thrive!” by Casting Crowns. I’ve always thought THRIVE is a strong word. So much so that I use it as my email signature as a reminder to myself with each email I send. It means: live with vigor or prosper. Some have said it is more than surviving or existing. At the conclusion of the course I was teaching, I had five things I wanted to leave the future teachers with. Being the genius of creativity that I am, I came up with “Five to Thrive” (just do a quick Google search and you’ll see lots of other folks have thought of it before me) as the ending piece to the presentation. The first part of the presentation is Trent’s story. Here are the concluding “Five to Thrive”.

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1. Commit to making a positive difference and write it down

My guess is that most of us got into physical education because we care about youth and want to positively impact their lives. As we go through our careers many of us lose our zest or passion for what we do. Sometimes it’s just for a season and sometimes longer. To combat this I encourage educators (or anyone) to write down what a “commitment to making a positive difference” looks like. A personal mission statement of sorts.

For the final exam of the courses I teach, I have my students write themselves a letter titled, “The Teacher I Want to Be”. I encourage them to write it thinking of the teachers who impacted them. I also encourage everyone to re-read this letter yearly as a reminder of their heart and passion. This process serves two purposes. One, during difficult times, a personal letter with a personal mission statement can be invigorating or that little lift a person needs. Two, this statement helps shape one’s big picture (vision) career wise.

This big picture is made up of pieces— a puzzle if you will. Identifying the pieces of our puzzle allows us to stay targeted, relentless, and positive. It helps us eliminate minutiae in our lives. If something is not represented by a piece of the puzzle, don’t worry about it. In reality, as educators we are forced to give some things like standardized testing a small piece of the puzzle. Some things we have to deal with in order to be educators who get to make a positive difference. However, some things we don’t have to put in our puzzle. Negative chatter in the teacher’s lounge. Colleagues who focus on coaching and not teaching. Teachers who want to argue about dodgeball. Feeling unappreciated. These negative thoughts tend to suck the life out of our teaching and our joy. When this happens, it’s a great time to read your letter/statement and remind yourself of the puzzle pieces. Your own personal statement allows you to shape your puzzle and remember your commitment to making a positive difference.

2. Respect yourself and others

We have all heard the Golden Rule since we were young children, learning to play with others. But man, it’s hard to live. A student talks back. BAM! There goes the “teach this kid a lesson” mode. He needs to learn to respect me. Yes, you are right, but is this the time? What has this child gone through to get to the point that he will disrespect you? It could be something you did, or it could be something that happened outside of physical education. Although it is difficult at times, it is essential that we treat students, teachers, faculty, etc., like we want to be treated, regardless of how they treat us. Boy howdy I wish that were as easy to do as it is to type. It’s a daily struggle for me.

One way we can show this to students is to know their names. It’s free (and takes some work for some of us) but it shows a student we care enough to know their name. Similarly, get to know students as individuals. This takes work. It takes effective management to free yourself so you can ask students about their weekend. Ask them about their siblings or their weekend hiking trip. How do you know they went on a hiking trip? Because you got to know them beyond physical education. How do you know they sleep on the floor with 5 other siblings?

Think about what it would be like to be a student who goes through a day of school and no one asks them how they are doing…or cares how they are doing? No one says their name. No one acknowledges they exist. Some of you are saying, “That’s not my students.” I challenge you to prove me wrong by getting to know your students so that you can definitively say that. Email me if you do. Treat your students like you want your own kids treated. Every child deserves to have a teacher who thinks they matter; respect them enough to be that teacher.

3. Believe what you do matters

If you don’t believe what you do matters, find something else to do. I don’t say that to be crass, but to encourage you to find something that fulfills you and brings out your passion. It has been said that, “When you lose your why, you lose your passion.” Genius. I know of teachers who sit in a chair and watch students play in a gymnasium every day….and they have done it for 30 years. I have talked to these teachers; they have no life in them, no pizzaza. And they don’t think what they are doing matters. They have no “Why”. Apparently they have never been told all the benefits physical education can have.

Confucius said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Although I would say “career” as “job” has the connotation of an undesirable chore, but the statement is so true. It happens from time to time, but rarely do I dread Mondays….I am lucky. Something that has taken me some time to figure out is that none of my work is about me. I have had to get rid of the mirror and have chosen to serve others. My wife would argue that the mirror shows up from time to time and life becomes about me, but I am working on it. I can say that I feel the best when I focus on the fact that what I do matters and it helps others. How could life get any better?

4. Relationships precede learning, and well, everything

The students you teach are far more important than the content you teach. Teddy Roosevelt said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” In most fields or endeavors, the most successful people, or leaders, are those who can connect with people. A major part of connecting with someone is to show them you care.

For some, connecting and showing you care can be difficult. The easiest way I have found to connect with others is to ask them about themselves. I was recently at a hospital and the tech wheeling our friend to see her baby was far less than friendly. As we got on the elevator I asked, “So are you starting or ending your shift?” He responded with something about his school schedule, and off our conversation went. Ten minutes later he dropped us off at the nursery, smiled, asked if we needed anything else, and said, “Have a great night.” One question is all it took.

This holds true for students. Yes at times you will find out WAY more than you want, but ask questions, talk to them, and as I said before, get to know them. You cannot teach them if you do not know them. Connect.

5. Live with purpose

In some ways this circles back on much of what’s already been mentioned. To thrive and live with vigor I think we first have to ask, “Why do you do this?” This is your why and defines your passion. Marketers will tell you to identify the “why” of the product first. Ask then, “Why do you do what you do?” This will be identified and evident in your personal statement discussed above.

We are not here to just survive each day. I firmly believe we are all here to make a positive difference for others in some way. For most of us we have chosen to make a positive difference in the lives of youth through teaching. Think about how dependent our society is on education. More importantly, think about how dependent your students are on you. For many, you are a lifeline (possible the only lifeline) to a productive, healthy life.

 

In summary, I want to leave you with my take-home message for my students.

  • Know what you do matters.
  • Love students….all of them.
  • Teach with passion.
  • Lead with tenacity
  • Live with purpose.
  • Know your big picture
  • Focus on the important pieces
  • Thrive!

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Sepak Takraw: Kick Your Way to Fast-Paced Action in PE

Posted 1 week ago - by Jason Gemberling

Sepak Takraw is a game from Southeast Asia that is extremely fast and, in my opinion, very challenging to play at a high level. I encourage you to take a look at this video of Sepak Takraw. 

I have played this game in a modified version, but have yet to try it with my students. This is the year I will introduce it to my students. Basically, Sepak Takraw is foot volleyball and with my students being crazy about soccer, I think this will be a hit! This game involves a tremendous amount of foot-eye coordination and flexibility. 

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What do you need to play?

I am going to use my badminton courts and nets, as the courts and nets are similar in size. I do not have an official ball, so I am going to be using a coated-foam ball and maybe, to start, I might use a beach ball to slow the game down until my students get the hang of it. You will need to add a service circle on both courts and also the corner marks. 

A team consists of three players. The Tekong is the team’s server and plays in the back. The other two players are called the Left Inside and the Right Inside. They are responsible for defending at the net and also tossing the ball to the server to start a serve. For my class, I am going to have my students rotate just like in volleyball so that all players have a chance to try each position. 

How to Play:

To start a serve, one of the Inside players will toss the ball to the Tekong. The Tekong must keep one foot in the service circle and kick the ball over with the other foot. The ball may hit the net on the serve, again just like volleyball. The opposing team may stand anywhere on their side of the court to receive the serve. The serving team will serve 3 points in a row, regardless of who scores, and then the serve will go to the other team, who again serves 3 in a row. Play until a team scores 15 point, and the team must win by 2. If the score is tied at 14, the serve alternates after every point. Points are scored just like volleyball. 

Again, this is a challenging game. And for my students, we will most likely use to start with a beach ball. I do have several students that will quickly move to a coated-foam ball, so I will have 6 courts playing at one time with a different ball on each court. 

If you took the time to watch the YouTube video at the beginning of this post, then you will understand that warming up and stretching is extremely important before playing this game. This might be one of my biggest reservations with this game, because I have students that will go for the gold in this game. I cringe at the thought of one of our soccer players tearing a hamstring! If any of you decide to try playing, remember we are not as flexible as we once were, so don’t be the one I fear getting hurt! 

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Revitalizing Pedagogy and Content for Today’s Generation

Posted 2 weeks ago - by Dr. Lisa Witherspoon

Teaching year after year creates a sense of confidence and maturity among children. In addition, finding activities that are successful is something all teachers want in their curriculum.

Experience is the key factor for many quality physical education programs to flourish.  However, it is also easy to become so comfortable with what we are teaching that a reluctance to change is naturally created.  Six-year-old children will always be six. However, the way they play and learn will constantly change with time as our society continues to change.

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It is our job as teachers to continue to learn how to adapt in order to most effectively continue to teach children. In today’s society, using technology to reach children is necessary.

SHAPE America (Society of Healthy and Physical Educators) states that quality physical education programs should be incorporating technology in their classrooms.  Thinking about using technology as a teaching tool can be overwhelming. From apps and iPads to exergaming and interactive fitness, there is a technology available for just about any need a teacher may have. 

Below are just a few categories of technology with possible curriculum ideas that teachers could consider incorporating in their classroom:

Category

Example Tools

Curriculum Ideas

Gizmos
&
Gadgets

  1. Have students wear pedometers and create activities that require higher step counts for success
  2. Have students calculate their target heart rate and try to remain in their zone during a fitness unit
  3. Have kids wear any gadget all day long and track their daily progress while setting personal goals

Apps on iPads, Tablets, Smartphones

  • Exercise Content
  • Workout Music
  • Music Splicers
  • Attendance
  • Behavior Tracking
  • Communication w/ Parents
  • Video Analysis
  1. Create a scavenger hunt with QR codes
  2. Teach a yoga class in stations, one station uses a yoga app on an iPad
  3. Use Class Dojo to track attendance, behavior, and instantly communicate with parents.

Exergaming

  1. Project games on a large screen or wall to play motion sensor games
  2. Use DDR during a fitness or dance unit
  3. Use sport games on the Kinect or Wii to teach tactical skills

Presentation Methods

  • PowerPoint
  • Educreation
  • Prezi
  • Explain Everything
  1. Use PowerPoint to create educational games for health classes
  2. Use Prezi as a different way to present to administrators or at a PTA event
  3. Use Explain Everything to upload pictures on the spot into a mini white board when teaching students a new skill

Brain Breaks

  1. Use as rainy/snowy day activities
  2. Use as an instant activity
  3. Incorporate in the regular classroom to increase daily physical activity

Incorporating technology in physical education should be approached in a similar manner as any traditional lesson plan. Teachers should decide what content they are teaching and the objectives of the lesson.

The next step is choosing what “tool” can and should be used to accomplish the objectives. The tool could be cones, jump ropes, or an app on an iPad.  Regardless, the lessons should be thought out and well orchestrated whether the teacher is using technology or not. Many technologies are inexpensive or free of charge; teachers should read reviews and have a plan of how the technology will be used in their curriculum before implementing anything.

At the end of the day, technology should be used only if the teacher feels like it will make their lesson more efficient and effective.  The one thing that is certain is that teachers must learn to adapt to our changing society and try to reach children in new ways.

Technology has a large influence in our children’s everyday life and should be a part of the physical education curriculum.

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One of the biggest concerns any teacher has is class size. We know class size impacts many aspects of teaching from management and safety within a crowded space to having sufficient supplies/equipment, to individual feedback opportunities.1  Regardless of our situation, we must remain positive among our students and provide them with the best learning environment possible while also continuing to advocate for improved class sizes with our administration.

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There is no magic formula for teaching large class sizes, but there are resources you can access on best practices for teaching large class sizes in physical education.1 Here are four of my ‘go-to’ strategies for keeping large class sizes moving and learning:

1. The On-Off Rotation Rhyme:

Here is my rhyme: “If you win, you stay IN. When it’s two-in-a-row, you GO.” Two teams are on the court or field playing and a third is off. After a short amount of time (e.g., a 3-4 minute round) the winning team stays in to play the waiting team. However, a team can win and stay two in a row only. This keeps things moving and reduces student wait time. Once a team wins two in a row, it rotates off giving the other two teams a fresh start. I enjoy the rhyme because it’s something students remember and allows them to rotate quickly on their own. The waiting teams complete a strategy session or a task.

2. The Sidelines:

When it comes to playing games indoors with limited space, especially certain invasion-style games such as basketball, ultimate Frisbee®, soccer, and modified handball where you may only want a specified amount of players on the field to reinforce certain concepts, you will have teams waiting to play. Here are two types of sidelines you can use:

  • The "Live" Sidelines: : Inactive team(s) along the sideline. They must actively move or side-shuffle along the sidelines with the game being played. They can receive and/or pass the ball down the court, but they may not score directly. They can only assist from the sideline. 
  • Fitness or Health Center Sidelines: Sideline teams work on personal fitness at stations. Have the sideline teams complete a mini-circuit for a set amount of time. You can also use this time for academic knowledge tasks using things such as Skillastics® Nutrition quiz cards, reflection journaling, or Plickers card questions.

3. The Strategy Session:

Any team waiting to play should be working together to strategize for its next game. For example, during Omnikin® where there are three teams of four players on the court at once, I create three teams of eight and divide them in two shifts for an on/off rotation. The waiting team records its “ON” team’s play (on our school iPads® and/or with a video delay app). When it is time, all teams switch from “on” to “off” and those teams who were playing now get to watch the video feedback. They identify something the teams did well and something to improve upon when they go back in. The team also records more live game-play footage for the next switch. If you are just using the camera app video function on a device and not a specific video delay app, I recommend a four-minute game where teams can watch themselves for two minutes and then record for two minutes. 

4. Small-Sided Games:

Small-sided game play is a key best practice that allows all students to be active and participate in game play. Teachers must learn how to break down larger games into smaller contexts or mini-challenges with smaller teams in smaller playing areas. Check out my Gopher blog: 5 Ways Small-Sided Games Make a Big Impact and my free Gopher webinar Enhance PE Participation with Small-Sided Games for more information. It is a real game-changer if you are not already utilizing this best practice. 

 

1 National Association for Sport and Physical Education. (2006).Teaching large class sizes in physical education: guidelines and strategies [Guidance document]. Reston, VA: Author.

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Back-to-School Tips to Make a Difference this Year

Posted 1 month ago - by Peter Boucher

With summer coming to a close and the fall quickly upon us, I felt it would be appropriate to share a few words of wisdom with all of us that work with children. 

I’ve been in education for 25+ years as a PE/Health/Science Teacher, Coach, K-12 Wellness Director, Principal, and collegiate and high school Athletic Director. I’ve been fortunate and blessed to have worked with many, many professional educators, tons of family & community supporters, and literally thousands of amazing students and athletes.  I have learned so much from this multitude of people and, even 25 years since my first day of teaching and coaching, I still wake up every morning excited to go to work knowing and hoping I can make a difference in the lives of children – the way the educational community did for me so many years ago.  

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In 2006, I was fortunate to be awarded the Sarasota County (Florida) Teacher of the Year Award which afforded me the opportunity to work with all sorts of teachers in my district and across Florida sharing my thoughts and perspectives on great teaching.  I was invited to speak to the many groups that year and the crowds grew larger and larger. To conclude my awarded year, I was invited to address every teacher in Sarasota County (51 schools at the time) the following fall to kick off the 2007 school year.  I worked hard to craft a message that was brief but to the point. I spent a lot of time reflecting, and making sure my message was clear. Here are my updated thoughts, please enjoy and let me know what you think…

Hello both veteran and new teachers! Congratulations on being chosen to undertake the daunting task of molding the future of our society and maybe even the world.  You are entering the hallowed halls of teaching my friends! You have been given a gift by the parents and administrators in your community.  Yes, a GIFT! Your gift is the mere opportunity to instill enthusiasm, education, encouragement, and empowerment.  If you cherish your gift and wield it wisely, you could potentially and positively impact a young person forever.  You could open doors to other worlds for some lucky kid; doors he/she thought impossible to open and walk through before meeting you.  You will have the power to make the wrong seem right, turn dark into light, and possibly transform the meek into might.  Please use this gift honorably, it is an awesome responsibility.

But the quest will not be easy. Education is the toughest profession in the world if you tackle it appropriately and it should not be entered into lightly.  Good things and favorable results do not happen “magically” or by chance.  Learning will occur when a compassionate, dedicated, enthusiastic, empathetic, organized, flexible, creative, intelligent and caring individual willingly desires to share his/her time, energy, emotions, soul, and character in order to ATTEMPT to make a difference in the lives of young people.  And there is no guarantee that success will take place.  However, if you “stay the cause” the odds will be in your favor.

I have given a ton of thought and reflection to what new and veteran teachers would both want or need to know before they embark (or continue to embark) on the journey to mold and shape the future of their community and possibly a portion of this great Nation.  I will simply mention what I wish someone had shared with me early in my teaching/coaching career as I navigated my path of trying to make a difference by making a connection.  I will let and encourage you to decide if these tips can help you on your trip. Here it is, plain and simple, from a guy who learned through education, experience, and “trial-by-fire”:

  • Set high expectations
  • Work hard
  • Be creative
  • Seek advice often
  • Over plan EVERYDAY
  • Be friendly, kind, and respectful  
  • Set up and follow routines
  • Be flexible
  • Encourage and reward kids
  • Use appropriate nicknames
  • Follow your heart and your deepest instincts
  • FIND YOUR OWN STYLE and use it
  • Have FUN!
  • Find a BALANCE between work and home
  • Never, ever give up on a kid!

Above all, please remember one simple rule > YOU are ALWAYS ON STAGE! Every time you look at or speak to a child/student/athlete you have the incredible power to hurt them or help them, break them down or build them up, insult them or inspire them, enable them or empower them. EVERY interaction is an opportunity to Make a Difference in their lives! Each interaction is an important opportunity to connect with and support children.  Good luck and please use your gift wisely and respectfully.  The future is in your heart, hands, words, and actions. Best of luck and above all else, do everything you can to Make a Difference!

Thanks for reading, please share your thoughts…I’d love to hear your tips for being an excellent teacher who expects excellence and looks to Make a Difference EVERYDAY.  Have a great year and make a difference!  

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15 Instant Activity Songs for Elementary PE

Posted 1 month ago - by Michael Beringer

One of my favorite parts of developing a quality Physical Education lesson is creating and researching quality ASAPs (aka Instant Activities) to begin my classes.

Over the years, I have found many types of awesome ASAPs. I feel one of the most neglected kinds are Movement Songs. Yes! I said MOVEMENT SONGS!!! They are great for early childhood grades. I personally have used movement songs all the way up to 2nd grade. They’re amazing for teaching listening skills, movement concepts, benefits of fitness, locomotor skills, etc.

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If you have been reading my past blogs, you’ll see that I love sharing professional development ideas. I love giving back because so many fellow professionals have helped me throughout my Physical Education teaching career. I remember early in my teaching career when I felt lost and helpless and there was always someone willing to help. Below I have shared a sample of Movement Songs I found throughout my 19 years of teaching K4 thru 8th grade Physical Education.

The top two movement song companies that I would recommend are The Learning Station and Greg & Steve. What makes them so great is that you can buy their CD’s and/or subscribe to their YouTube channels. Then you can either download the music on your phone or tablet and Bluetooth® it through an Ion® Block Rocker™ or you can use a tablet with a projector and use their videos on a white screen or on a white wall. 

 

Top 10 Instant Activity Songs by The Learning Station:

  1. Swimming Song – This song is great to use for teaching about movement concepts. Self & General Space, Tempos (slow, medium, and fast), and Levels (high, medium, low).
  2. Give me Ten – This song is great for teaching the importance of our muscles. I usually tell my students that our muscles help move our bodies, protect our bones, and help us push, pull, and move things. The song has the students do 10 reps of push-ups, sit-ups, and legs lifts.
  3. Jumping Jacks – This song is great for teaching the importance of heart health. The song has you do 4 rounds of jumping jacks. 
  4. Singing in the Rain – Great song for teaching a basic dance to children. It allows children to learn a dance in self space while learning the concept of mirroring.
  5. Can You Keep Your Balance? – Great song for teaching the concept and importance of balance. It has the children hold different balance poses for a given time period. 
  6. Physical Education – This song is great at teaching and reinforcing your student’s locomotor skills. 
  7. Gallop – This song is great for teaching the locomotor skill of galloping. It provides several opportunities to practice. I like to add different tempos during the song. 
  8. Monkey in the Middle – This song is great for teaching the different exercises you would like your students to know for the year. It also gives the students a chance to be leaders in the class. Use it for assessing your students on the 5 components of fitness.
  9. Move & Freeze – This song works well at the beginning of the year for teaching your classroom management expectations along with the concept of self-space, especially your stop and go commands. When the song says freeze, they freeze. 
  10. Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes – Great for teaching levels (low, medium, high) and body parts.

Top 5 Instant Activity Songs by Greg & Steve: 

  1. Animal Action #1 and #2 – Great song for teaching creative movement, tempos (slow, medium, and fast), and speeds (slow, medium, fast). Version 2 uses different animals.  
  2. The Balancing Act – Another song that helps with teaching the concept of balancing and why we need it, when we need it, and why it’s important.
  3. Beanbag Boogie #1 and #2 – Great song for teaching body parts, along with the concepts of levels (low, medium, and high). 
  4. Can't Sit Still – Great song to teach the importance of physical activity and why we should try to move every day for 60 minutes.
  5. The Freeze – Helps to teach listening skills, along with stopping and freezing for classroom management.

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Parkour in Physical Education

Posted 1 month ago - by Jonette (Jo) Dixon

Parkour is a great way to get students active with their surroundings inside or outside, and to get them excited about taking safe risks and enjoying movement.

This can be a lesson, a unit, or if you need a day devoted to purely fitness, using your gyms wrestling room or outside area, this can be a fun way for students to get their CREATIVE on! 
 

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What is Parkour?

  • Parkour is an art of movement in which you train the body and mind to overcome obstacles.
  • It emphasizes strength, flexibility, balance, body control, creativity, fluidiyt, discipline, and precision.
  • Parkour movements include running, jumping, vaulting, climbing, balancing, and crawling.
  • Parkour training focuses on safety, responsibility, overcoming fear, and self-improvement.
    Source: Apex Movement

Student Learning Targets:

​I use four learning targets with my students throughout our Parkour unit and use a rubric to assess them on each.

  1. I can show body control by the way I use agility on the course. Agility is the ability to change directions quickly.
  2. I can show body control on the course by the way I maintain my balance.
  3. I can show power by the way I jump vertically.
  4. I can show coordination and use various parts of my body by the way I run, vault, climb and roll.

Once we've established and reviewed the learning targets, we move into the activity (sample below).

The Workout:

When teaching Parkour to my students, I first introduce various movements and have them practice each in 2-minute circuits. Next, I combine the circuits into a workout. Finally, I ask students to work in small groups to develop a parkour course or workout. 

  • 2-Minute Circuits for Practice
    • Jumps
    • Drop and Roll
    • Vaults
    • Vertical Wall Runs
    • Balance
    • Hand Stands and Wall Stands
       
  • Combine the circuits to create a workout
    • Students move through on their own
       
  • Design A Course
    • Have students work with a small group to develop a parkour course
    • Use the equipment provided without moving

Upon completion of the lesson, I use the below rubric to assess students on the learning targets as defined above.

Parkour Standards-Based Rubric/Assessment:

7-8

The student recalls and applies a range of skill and techniques, recalls and applies a range of strategy, and recalls and applies information to perform at a high level.

5-6

The student recalls and applies skill and techniques, recalls and applies strategy, and applies information to perform effectively.

3-4

The student recalls skill and techniques, recalls strategy, and applies information to perform.

0-2

The student rarely/never shows skill or techniques, does not show strategy, and rarely/never works for achieve success.

Need additional resources? The Lets Parkour PRO app (available on iTunes® for $1.99) is a great resource for teaching Parkour in PE. The app features 112 elements or movements with a detailed lesson and video of each.

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Back to School PE Teacher Checklist

Posted 1 month ago - by Jessica Shawley

 

The start of the school year brings excitement for the year ahead and the opportunity to help students build healthy minds and bodies, but then there’s that familiar feeling of, oh boy, I’m not organized yet! It can be so overwhelming. Where should I begin? How did I get ready last year? Where’s my checklist?

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I’ve yet to meet a teacher who didn’t fret over getting organized for the upcoming school year. Teachers love being ready when the students arrive, and we want to provide the best year and experience possible. My organization practices are ever evolving, and I absolutely love hearing about other teachers’ organization tips, tricks, and hacks.

Here is my “Beginning of the Year Checklist” that helps my department organize our start of year process. Our checklist helps guide our efforts and delegate responsibilities so we are ready for our students on day one. This checklist came about because of the many post-it notes and notepad lists I repeatedly found myself making each year. I eventually began typing up the basic, recurring tasks we did each year and developed a comprehensive checklist to guide our beginning of the year workdays. It’s nice to have a starting point versus starting over from scratch each year. I simply print off a copy, add or remove to-do items, and assign tasks. Here’s access to an electronic copy of the template you see below: Checklist Template.

Here are some general recommendations for your Start-of-the-Year Organizational Process:

  1. Start an electronic “to-do” list in addition to the written ones so you have a starting point each year.
  2. Be flexible. You may not get to it all but identify the MUST DO items and get to those first.
  3. Have organizational support materials on hand: file folders, highlighters, note pads, file trays, etc. so you are ready and able to quickly organize your material.
  4. Scan documents into PDFs and file electronically. Thankfully, our office printer has this option. I scan and save work orders, purchase orders, equipment wish lists, inventory lists, and syllabi to a department-wide shared folder. Being able to search for things electronically versus losing them in the many piles of papers that build up in the office helps maintain some sanity.
  5. Delegate. Don’t do it all yourself if you work in a department. We’re all in this together.
  6. Make a “Start of the Year” folder where you save the beginning of the year checklist and templates for your class syllabi and policies. Share this folder with your colleagues if you work in a department.
  7. Ask others how they organize their start-of-the-year process. This is a great topic to search for on Twitter or ask others about on Voxer. See my previous blog (Web Based Toolbox for Professional Development) on how to get connected via these social media options.

My Sample Checklist for Start of the Year:
 

Rosters, Forms, Signs & Copies

Locker Room, Office & Presentations

  1. Class Rosters
    1. Balance roster numbers with colleagues of similar classes, if needed.
    2. Export & Print rosters for first week
    3. Update roster template from last year
    4. Make rosters available for ONLINE attendance & grading via Google drive
       
  2. Class Syllabus
    1. Update last year’s template
    2. Email PDF copy to Principals
    3. Make copies for students to take home to parents for signature
    4. Post copy on class website
    5. E-syllabus form option (Google drive)
       
  3. Absence Make-up forms
    1. Update form template
    2. Make copies, put in locker room
    3. Make online form available on web
       
  4. Laundry Day signs
    1. Check schedule with laundry room
    2. Print & Post updated signs.
       
  5. Homeroom sign-out sheet: update/copy
  1. Discipline Plan to Assistant Principal
    1. See Page 8 of Student Handbook
       
  2. Get all “first day” handouts from office
     
  3. Agendas ready to be passed out
     
  4. Professional Growth Plans Updated
     
  5. Fun Run
    1. Set fun-run date,
    2. Put on master school calendar.
    3. Email staff “Save the Date”
       
  6. Start of Year Student PowerPoint update
     
  7. Start of Year PE Promo iMovie update
     
  8. Parent Night PowerPoint update
     
  9. Locker room check-out sheets ready
    1. Old Excel sheet cleared
    2. Copy over student names into excel from rosters for male/female split and assign lockers
    3. Combination tags
       
  10. Check special education caseload and meet case manager on student needs.
    1. Paraprofessional assignments
    2. Paraprofessional duties outlined
       
  11. Update Program Website

 

 

Curriculum & Department Planning

Technology Ready

  1. Curriculum Map check-in
     
  2. Scope & sequence, print copies
     
  3. Lesson Planning Workbook ready
     
  4. Posting Learning Targets: How/Where
     
  5. Warm-up progressions & calendar
    1. Electronic folder
    2. Print signs and ready to post
    3. Seconds Pro Timer setup
       
  6. Fitness workout progression sequences
    1. Electronic folder
    2. Print and ready to use
       
  7.  Pedometer Take-Home Project
     
  8. Student interest surveys
     
  9. Start purchasing list: Needs & Wants
     
  10. Check work orders submitted in summer
     
  11. Re-submit those unfulfilled
  1. iPads charged & software updates
     
  2. Speakers & iPods charged
     
  3. iTunes playlists & Seconds Pro Timers
     
  4. Tech carts set-up, computers charged
     
  5. Welnet Set-up – email tech support
     
  6. Shared Folders updated/synced, if needed
     
  7. Pedometers: Set-up holders/hooks
    1. Check numbers, hinges, batteries
    2. Upload rosters into computer software
       
  8. Plickers cards & insert rosters online
     
  9. iPad apps updated with rosters, etc.
    1. Team Shake, Plickers
    2. Others: ______________

 

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Should Varsity Athletics Count as PE?

Posted 1 month ago - by Jason Gemberling

I am not sure how many schools around the country offer students credit for physical education if they play a varsity sport, but I know there are many and this trend has me frightened.  At my school district, this is not an option even though many students think it should be and some of their coaches do too.  I honestly never gave this much consideration until I found out that my three nieces who live in central Ohio have this option and love it.  Let’s just say Uncle Jason was not liked after I shared my opinion.  Maybe after you read my concerns and opinions you won’t like me much either, but I am hopeful that responses will be shared that bring a level-headed discussion on the matter.

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My biggest worry/concern with students using a varsity sport for PE credit is that there is no teaching taking place about the lifetime fitness aspect that students need to understand.  I loved high school athletics and was blessed with the opportunity to play a sport every season of the year, but I can honestly say thinking back that none of my coaches taught me about lifelong fitness.  I was taught what I needed at that moment for that particular sport.  So, if students are given the opportunity to forgo PE, who teaches them about proper exercise and the fitness principles that coincide?  Especially since after high school the number of students continuing their athletic careers is extremely small and only gets smaller after college.

Another concern I have revolves around who monitors how active students are on their respective teams?  My oldest niece tells me that as long as she is on the softball team for one season, she does not have to take PE at all for the rest of her high school career.  This absolutely blew my mind!  One season on a team and that is all you need.  I see two problems with this situation: 1) Students need a knowledge base on fitness and health for a lifetime and they can’t and won’t get that in one season of a sport, and 2) If schools are using sports for PE credit, doesn’t this make it very easy for schools to eliminate PE positions?  Again, I loved my high school coaches, but they did not teach me anything in regards to a healthy, active lifestyle after high school.  Something else that scares me is what do we do with those students who join a sports team just to avoid PE?

As a coach in addition to a PE teacher, I do see the other side of the coin in this discussion.  I understand that students in a PE class in the middle of a circuit training unit who are also in the peak portion of their sport season could be overexerting themselves and even impacting their performance.  As a track coach, I have had this issue on my own team and my athletes have maybe not been at their best.  I will say that in most instances as a staff, we are all very understanding of game days and expectations for those students playing that day.  My biggest concern is again those students that are just on a team to avoid PE.  What happens when I am lenient with a student who goes to the game and never plays a minute?

My suggestion (which I may bring up with my own administration) is to have a PE course designed for athletes, which meets not only their current fitness needs based on their athletic season, but also the lifelong fitness needs they will have down the road.  This course could be an option for athletes to take as opposed to the traditional PE course.  This idea has its drawbacks, the main one being that students that are not athletes may feel left out.

Again, I am not dealing with this situation currently at my school district, so maybe I am living in a dream world, so those of you in this situation, please share your thoughts and opinions.  I want to know more about how schools handle this matter in an effort to prepare myself if the conversation is ever started by my administration! I am counting all of you to educate me!  

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Super-Size Your Target Games with SturTee!

Posted 1 month ago - by Jessica Shawley

Let’s face it; students like to be challenged, yet also need to be set up for success.

Students enjoy when teachers change things up, they live for the experience of “the next great challenge” in their learning and relish it when we can provide a mixture of activities that give them this feeling of challenge and self-accomplishment. The SturTee™ Game Set helps me accomplish all of these things.

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I really enjoy target games and invasion games and value the importance of throwing and catching development in an appropriate manner. My middle school students love invasion games and I try to offer a wide array of options when it comes to the student learning outcomes invasion games deliver with the goal that all students will feel challenged and enjoy the creative variety of activities I can provide.

Thankfully, the SturTee™ Game Set helped me to change up the height and size of the target/goal during specific target and invasion-based games so students had a new challenge to face for both scoring and defensive sides of the game. I enjoyed watching students discuss their strategies when using the SturTee™ and we were able to compare and contrast these strategies in our lesson closure so we could all learn from one another. 

One of my favorite uses is during 3 vs. 3 “cone ball” where the target in the invasion game is a simple cone. If you hit the cone your team gets a point. If you knock it over your team gets two points. No goalie needed, just create your playing space and use Ultimate Frisbee-style rules to make it happen. It is a simple game that involves teamwork, strategy, invasion skills, catching, throwing and many other concepts such as ‘finding an open space’ to receive the pass. It can also be modified in a zillion different ways to accommodate for all levels of learners. This seemingly very non-traditional game reinforces many skills and anyone can be successful at playing it. Once students have used the cone as the target for scoring on, we progress to using the SturTee™ as the target. The students love the big, colorful target and how the beach ball pops off the stand.

The even better news, from my viewpoint, was the framework of the game can be used in a multitude of ways, year round, whether it be practicing your throws to a target or playing grid-style defender games. I really get my ‘bang for my buck’ out of this game set because it comes with 24 foam balls that are the perfect size for any throwing, catching, or hitting activity and everyone in the class can have their own or at least share with a partner. Stretching my budget as far as possible is an important factor in my purchases of game sets and SturTee™ meets those requirements.

Refresh the fun in your throwing target games today with the super-sized power of SturTee™! Get a SturTee™ Game Set for your classroom today!

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