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Adaptive Physical Education Mentoring Program

Posted 4 days ago - by Jonette (Jo) Dixon

Want to start an Adaptive Mentoring Program in your Physical Education class?  What are you waiting for?  It's so worth it!

Adaptive Physical Education is just good Physical Education adapted for those with special needs.  Maybe you already have one going?  Here’s some of my thoughts and organization behind it. Adaptive Physical Education is just good Physical Education adapted for those with special needs.  Maybe you already have one going?  Here’s some of my thoughts and organization behind it. 

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1. Who do you select as a mentor?

The answer is simple. You select mentors that have an innate talent to teach students with special needs.  Watch how they interact with them in your integrated classes.  See who takes initiative and inherently enjoys them.  Make your list and go.  I have found a 3-1 ratio is great (3 mentors to 1 special needs student).  It allows for small game play, increased skill development with multiple opportunities for success and lots of attention with that student.  It’s a win-win.  I am fortunate that I can hand select mentors to teach my special needs students.  I select a mix of 6th, 7th and 8th graders.  It creates some cool connections with mixed grade levels.

2. When will this fit in your day?

It fits when you make it fit.  We have Adaptive Physical Education 2-3 days a week.  We alternate Blue and Gold days at my middle school.  “PE 2” as we call it, is during a daily class called ELO (Extended Learning Opportunity) on Blue days at the end of the day for 40 minutes.  On Gold days, I have an Elite Fitness class with those same mentors.  Some of those days for Elite Fitness are learning about teaching students with special needs, and some of those days we are working out, playing a non-traditional game or exposing students to lifetime fitness.  I have a new mentoring class each of the 4 quarters of the school year, so I can reach a lot of students with this program.

3. How do I let mentors know that this is a big responsibility?

I want my mentors to know that this is a big deal.  I trust them to be a good teacher to my students with multiple special needs.  And I want their parents to know.  I e-mail the students and parents prior, and they must get permission and bring back their signed form.  My hope is that the mentor and student discuss this huge responsibility at home.  Essentially, they are in charge of their learning, meeting learning targets, their safety and their success.  It’s a big deal.  

4. How do my mentors teach to the diverse needs of my adaptive students?

They warm up with them, teach the learning targets, set up their own equipment, handle some of their emotions and some minor behavior, they come up creative ways to teach skills and get them into small games.  Often times, each group looks very different from the other, and that is what makes it unique!

5. Assessment? Yep!

I am looking for some things to be met by my mentors.  A good teacher/mentor is selfless (putting your “friend” first), being positive, finding a way for your friend to succeed, adaption of equipment, and some MVPA (moderate to vigorous physical activity).  For my special needs students, I am looking for the 3 P’s (participate, positive and productive).  Some of those expectations need to be flexible depending on the student.

Can you do it?  Yes you can! 

Teaching this class has truly changed who I am as a teacher.  I am more patient, tolerant, and creative.  Now, go dream your dream.  Make this class happen because all students deserve great Physical Education!


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

Check out more Blogs by Jo!




Fitness Station Rotation for Elementary PE

Posted 1 week ago - by Shannon Jarvis

Have you ever had a class that just doesn't understand how to rotate when doing fitness stations? You say “rotate”, and it's like you kicked an ant pile with kids scattering everywhere. I laughed when I typed that line, but this is a frustration that is real to us PE teachers.

I have often counseled or mentored other Physical Education teachers who have said, "They just can't do stations." I didn't come across this problem until after a few years into my teaching career. I couldn't figure out why this particular kindergarten class couldn't rotate correctly anytime we did stations. In years past I never had a struggle, I broke down the directions and got their attention before rotating. I even had students point to their new station and say, "Ready, go!" Still, it was like kicking that ant pile and then off they went mixing up their perfectly placed groups. After several failed attempts, I realized I needed to come up with an alternative way to do stations. I love stations way too much to let it go and not do them with all my students.

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The traditional way to rotate through stations is in a counter clockwise or clockwise circular movement. Simple, right? Stay with your group! (I even dressed my kindergartners in color-coded jerseys once, “RED rotate with RED”. Failed again. At least it was easy to spot where students were supposed to go.) Below are two not so traditional ways to rotate your PE stations. To better understand the two, you need to know that my students are assigned a squad letter and number at the beginning of the year that correlate to a grid arrangement/seating chart. We go to these spots every time we begin and end class, so students are very familiar with the other students they sit behind and who is to the left and right of them.

1. Straight Lines

Keeping in their squad lines, students rotate forward one space. Each piece of equipment for the stations is placed on A1, A2, A3, etc. On the stop signal, students reset equipment even with letter and number and rotate forward one spot. Front spots then rotate to the back.

2. Side-by-Side:

Keeping in their same number line students rotate one spot over. Each piece of equipment for the stations is placed on the same number of each squad letter. For example: A8, B8, C8, etc.

What tips or ideas do you have for helping elementary students rotate through stations?


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

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Exergaming: Pedagogy, Play, or Pointless? (Part 2)

Posted 2 weeks ago - by Dr. Lisa Witherspoon

Part 1 of Exergaming: Pedagogy, Play, or Pointless?, discussed the concept of exergaming and what physical education teachers need to consider when choosing a technology-driven activity. Space limitations, financial responsibilities, and technological difficulties were mentioned as important aspects related to deciding to integrate exergames in a curriculum. This blog, Part 2, will discuss important pedagogy considerations for teachers once an exergame has been chosen as a tool for teaching students in physical education and connecting them to the out-of-school environment.

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Teachers often have their curriculum planned for the entire year. This obviously changes due to unforeseen obstacles such as presentations, field trips, testing, and weather issues; but quality programs typically have a plan established at the beginning of the year. The next part of planning is figuring out which equipment is going to be used to accomplish the objectives of the unit/lesson. Exergames should be included in a curriculum only if they are going to make the lesson more efficient and/or more effective for the teacher and student.  Multiple factors are involved in implementing exergames. Consider the following aspects of using exergames in the classroom:

1. Station Work:

Many exergames provide a small number of students an opportunity to participate at a time. This is acceptable if the teacher plans other stations focusing on the same skill development to maximize participation with all children. Having a way to project the game on a wall or large screen is one way to incorporate more student involvement. However, if this is not available, multiple stations should be set up to increase repetition and activity levels for all students.

2. Rotations:

As mentioned above, sometimes station work is the most effective way to include exergames in a lesson.  Some exergames can take 3-4 minutes to complete the game while others can take much longer. It is common for children to get in the middle of these games and be reluctant to simply “rotate” when the whistle is blown. Understandable. Children like to finish what they have started and they also prefer not to pick up in the middle of another student’s game play.  Teachers certainly need to keep this in mind when dealing with time constraints if exergames are involved. 

3. Specific Feedback:

Quality programs focus on providing feedback to students that is directly related to the stated objectives of the lesson.  Exergames are fun and have a component of a “game” that tends to lead to more general feedback related to the score of the game or the level of the game accomplished. Although it is exciting to see the students involved and improving in the game, teachers must remember that the reason these games are being used is to improve skill levels. It is the teacher’s job to provide the more specific feedback related to the objectives of the lesson.

4. Technology Troubles:

Let’s face it, technology is going to breakdown.  There are many troubleshooting concepts to consider before letting dust collect on a “broken” game.  Common issues are as simple as the game being on the wrong channel, unplugged, or batteries needing to be changed.  The plug and play concept of many exergames may seem complicated but at the end of the day the problem may not be anything serious. Often, the students are able to figure out the issues themselves. It is important that teachers are familiar with the games they are implementing and are capable of working through the more simple problems. Teachers should also make sure they have the service number related to the game and feel comfortable working through other troubleshooting issues with the manufacturer.

5. Practicality:

Quality teachers do a good job of connecting the lesson in school to a home environment.  This is extremely important for children to understand how they can successfully use exergames at home.  Discuss the use of technology-driven games as a great indoor activity and develop a positive correlation to video games and physical activity. This is important especially if children are not allowed to be outside for a variety of reasons. Educate parents on purchasing active games over sedentary games as a gift for various occasions (Christmas, birthdays, rewards, etc.). This is another way to support the desire to play games but in a healthier manner.

Exergames can be a positive addition to a physical education curriculum but there are many aspects teachers must consider. When the teacher is comfortable with the five points discussed above, using exergaming as a fun, effective tool in the curriculum can be a successful equipment choice for both the teacher and the students.

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

Check out more Blogs by Lisa!

5 Must-Haves for Elementary PE

Posted 3 weeks ago - by Jason Gemberling

Parachutes, cones, hula-hoops, more cones, poly spots, mats, the list goes on and on for what an elementary physical education teacher has in his or her equipment closets, but what would an elementary PE teacher call their essentials?

I started my teaching career at the elementary level at Wakefield Forest Elementary School in Fairfax, VA teaching K-6 physical education, and I loved every minute!  Kids at that age love coming to PE class and being active and getting the wiggles out, and they love trying new things.  Thinking back to my time teaching and talking with my current elementary PE staff, I am going to give you my top 5 pieces of equipment that everyone should have in their closet.

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1. Gymnastic Mats

My top recommendation and the one item that I think is the most used (or at least it was when I taught), would be quality gymnastic mats.  These mats are not used for just gymnastics, but can be used for a variety of different activities, including circuit training stations, large group games such as island movers, and also for adapted physical education. 

I recommend a light weight mat at the elementary level for ease of use, meaning that students can easily help move the mats.  Gopher has a great assortment of mats, with or without Velcro®, and different weight and foam density levels.  Our gym has the Gopher TumblePro® Varia™ 2” Triple-Layer Foam Mats and as a bonus, they are in our school colors! 

2. Cones

My next recommendation is quality cones in a variety of sizes and functions!  I know this seems odd, but cones are a lifesaver for an elementary PE teacher keeping order and direction in his or her class.  I am including poly spots as a cone too, because these are a great way to indicate where students need to be in the gym or outside at any given point in class. 

When it comes to regular cones, I recommend different colors and sizes for use in a variety of activities.  And my best cone recommendation would be Gopher’s Rainbow® SmartHolder™ Cones.  These cones are fantastic for use in station work because of their design, which allows you to display a sign. Write on foam board or white boards and then prop them on the cone for students to follow.  Again, I know it seems odd to talk cones, but without them, it can tricky to organize your students and activities in class.

3. Media Player/Sound System

A good media player is another piece of equipment that makes my list.  The power of music in a PE class, especially an elementary PE class, is amazing.  Music can be used to start and stop any activity and is a great way to keep students on task.  And depending on the music you choose it can also be a great motivator. 

It is also needed for those teachers that do FITNESSGRAM® testing.  Again, make sure you get a good system and also check to see if there is a sound system in your gym space as a possibility for class.


4. Student-Tracking Devices

Another must-have for everyone is some method for tracking students during class.  This can look different by school and even within classes.  Pedometers and heart rate monitors are both fantastic devices for teachers to use to track student output during a class and throughout a school year.  Personally, I recommend pedometers over heart rate monitors, especially at the elementary level because of their ease of use.  However, newer heart rate monitors such as Gopher’s Optic™ Strapless Heart Rate Monitors are a great tool that if you have the opportunity to use, go for it!  I am actually trying to get my hands on these and hope to do so very soon!  This particular heart rate monitor is a wrist band that sends data to a Hub™ point for easy data collection, without the use of a chest strap!  For me and my staff, the chest strap heart rate monitors are not worth the hassle, so this is why I want to test out the new Optic™ system. 

If you are not up for heart rate monitors but still want a great method for collecting data on student performance in class, I strongly recommend the FITstep™ Pro Uploadable Pedometers.  I love pedometers for their ease of use and the data that we can collect.  Our students do a good job and at the elementary level, it is nice to have a pedometer that has several functions for different age levels.  For example, it is nice having the normal step count feature for K-2 and then slowly be able to introduce the moderate-to-vigorous physical activity feature for your 3-6 group.  Plus, with pedometers you can cross curriculum with Math and Social Studies!


5. Team Building Games & Activities

My final recommendation would be team building games and activities.  Having the ability to have students be active and working together to a specific goal is a win-win situation!  There are a lot of ideas and many can be done using items you can find at school or home, and in some cases you can purchase different activities.  I have made my own buddy-walkers for students to use, and I have also purchased a couple of activities for team-building. My biggest plus to these activities is that it gets all students in the class involved and working together with no real winner, so you can take the competition aspect out of class.  One of my favorites is the Object-Retrieval Team Building System!


As an add-on to the list, if I can recommend some wish list items for you all, I recommend that everyone takes a look at the ACTION!™ Team Games by Gopher!  These are great activities that get students moving and have the opportunity to cross the curriculum!

I am hopeful this was a helpful list to those of you teaching elementary physical education, and trust me I know there are some must have’s out there that you have, so please share your comments and suggestions!  The more everyone shares the better as we will all have the chance to find something new! 


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

Check out more Blogs by Jason!



Web-Based Toolbox for Professional Development

Posted 1 month ago - by Jessica Shawley


Quite often I am asked: “With all the information that’s out there on physical education, what’s the best way to stay up-to-date and get new ideas?” While there are many good resources out there, let me share with you my personal resource toolbox, which should help get you started.

My toolbox is primarily web-based which provides me instant and constant access to a much larger professional development community than just my annual local and regional workshops.  So, whether I am in my pajamas on a weekend morning before the household awakes, in the car during my commute, or out on a walk, I can utilize my toolbox to stay up-to-date and maximize my time.

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Before you dive into the toolbox, here is the ultimate disclaimer: a web-based toolbox will not and should not replace face-to-face interaction. Be sure to attend conferences and get involved in your professional association. Face-to-face interaction helps you maintain professional relationships, strengthen your professional network, and sustains you with positive energy that lasts. Using technology is just an aide that helps you be more consistent especially in a day and age when schools are reducing professional development funds.

Although not all-inclusive, here is a sampling of my favorite web-based professional development resources. I grouped them into a “Big Three” by various categories. And did I mention they are all FREE?!?

Gopher Education Center: 

Did you know Gopher offers three incredible sources of FREE Professional Development? Check them out in the Gopher Education Center!

  1. Gopher Solutions Webinar Series: By far the most thorough database of quality, physical education specific webinars for physical educators. These monthly webinars also provide a certificate of contact hour credit.

    • Tip: With all webinars, be sure to register no matter what. As a registered attendee, if you can’t make it you will receive the link to the recording to watch later. There is also a backlog of all of the Gopher webinars in the link above! Some of my favorites include those with Dr. Bob Pangrazi and Maria Corte.
  2. PE Blog: The most consistent and quality blog for physical education teachers available, written by today’s top names in the profession. You can search the blogs by topics/tags to get specific ideas or enjoy the weekly releases for your overall engagement and enjoyment. 
    • Tip: Schedule a reminder on your phone or calendar for your weekend or early morning reading time where you get to sit down, enjoy a cup of coffee and read over a good blog.
  3. PE Universe: “Where physical educators come together to share and ideas and build community.” It’s a free community network of videos, discussions, and activity ideas all in one. 



  • SHAPE America Podcast hosted by Collin Brooks and Matt Pomeroy. Bringing you interviews with physical education champions and leaders in our community to discuss important issue and give new ideas to try in our classes.
  • The PE Geek Podcast with Jarrod Robinson. “The number one destination for anyone interested in utilizing technologies within their physical education classroom.” I’ve learned so much from Jarrod on integrating technology which has inspired me to be a better teacher.  I was lucky enough to be a guest on episode #43 as part of the Listener Stories of Success series.
  • Voxcast Podcast with Jorge Rodriguez. A wide-array of conversations with connected educators and leading minds in our profession from around the world. I was honored to participate in a Voxcast, which you can check out here.
  • *New Release: The Fundamental Movement Podcast with Aaron Beighle, Andy Vasily, Dean Dudley, Joey Feith, and Nathan Horne.  “A no holds barred discussion on all things physical education...discussing the issues of the day from a range of academic and teacher perspectives.”



*You can view all past webinars – this provides a great list of professional development topics!

  • The PhysEd Summit Webinar Series by Physedagogy has a mission to provide “digital professional learning opportunities for physical education professional by sharing, discussing, and reflecting upon best practices.”  The “Summits” provide a plethora of ideas from educators across the globe. It is completely organized by teachers, put on by teachers.
  • Huddle Connect: Brought to you by some of the most prominent names in physical literacy, physical education and sport through Thompson Publishing, the premier choice for Healthy, Active Living Canada. The Huddle Resources includes activities, info-graphics, and videos to support teachers.
  • SHAPE America:  Both live and recorded webinars for all “physical educators, health educators sport coaches, PETE and HETE professionals and students” interested in physical education and health. All SHAPE America webinars are 1 hour long, and participants can earn a certificate of 1.0 contact hour.


Social Media: 

  • Twitter: Most of the physical education community uses hashtags such as #physed, #PEblog, and #PEgeek to post updates and share ideas of what is going on in their classrooms along with links to other things they find useful. New to Twitter? Accept the 14-day Twitter Challenge for PE Teachers from Jarrod Robinson, The PE Geek, who walks you through each step to get started and provides a beginning list of  “Who to Follow” (you can even follow me @JessicaShawley)
  • Voxer: It is much like using a walkie-talkie, but better. Leave voice and text messages, and attach pictures or documents—either for a specific individual or a group. It’s an ongoing conversation you can carry on at your own pace and time. It’s an “underground professional learning lab” of support groups on a variety of Physical Education topics. I’ve been able to dive into a FITstep™ Pro Pedometers, Technology, and Secondary PE chat groups to receive support and advice. This is where Twitter users go to continue their conversations.  New to Voxer? Check out the VoxerPE site to learn more, including “how-to use Voxer” videos and see the VoxerPE Chat Groups.
  • SHAPE America Exchange Community: Exchange is SHAPE America’s online community that provides a daily strand discussion board where colleagues can join conversations, share ideas and ask questions. There is a library and shared file database as well as blog posts.  



  • The Physical Educator – “Rethinking what can be done in physical education” by Joey Feith (@JoeyFeith).
  • The PE Geek – Physical Education and Technology. “Learning how to use game-changing technologies in your PE Classroom” by Jarrod Robinson (@mrrobbo).
  • iPhys-Ed - "...Highlighting best practice in inquiry-based learning and technology integration in Physical Education...” by Nathan Horne (@PENathan).


Other Noteworthy Tools: 

  • YouTube – Teachers share many video ideas. Find people you follow on Twitter and view their subscriptions to gather ideas. Some names to get started: Kevin Tiller, Benjamin Pirillo, Ryan Armstrong, Jarrod Robinson, Chad Triolet, Jo Bailey, Joey Feith.
  • Google Drive – Get connected on Voxer in the General PE group and ask to join the crowd-sourced physed file being shared by others from around the world. Be sure to share and contribute.  
  • Periscope – Physical educators share live video feed of events (usually conference session or speaker highlights), and Periscope makes them available for a short period of time. Follow #physed people.  


Continue the Conversation: What is in your toolbox for technology-based professional development?


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

Check out more Blogs by Jessica!

Spikeball®: Developing Movement Competence in Net Wall Games

Posted 1 month ago - by Carolyn Temertzoglou

As Health and Physical Education teachers we are lifelong learners continuously reflecting on our practice, the needs of our students and the needs of our schools within our communities. There has been no greater time then now in the history of HPE that we need to expose our students to a variety of physical activities and sports to increase their movement vocabulary and ensure they acquire the skills necessary to become physically literate throughout their lives.

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An alarming stat shared recently by PHE Canada states that, “all Canadians — from children to adults — are living increasingly unhealthy lifestyles. Screen addiction, hours of prolonged sitting, processed food and favouring an iPad® over time spent outdoors have become the norms for many in our society. The average adult works 40 hours a week, but the average child today is spending upwards of 42 hours a week in front of a screen.” (Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology. Obesity in Canada: A Whole-of-Society Approach for a Healthier Canada. March, 2016)

As physical educators we have a huge role to play in developing the physical literacy of our students. This requires us to continually learn new games and forms of physical activity to implement into our PE programs to ensure all students find enjoyment, increased confidence, and competence to be active throughout their lives.

Spikeball® is a new game I learned this year from my student teachers, a game developed by the Volleyball Association of Ireland to support PE teachers to introduce the game of volleyball through a small 2 vs 2 player game.  With its inception into PE and community programs in the last 3 years, Ireland has seen participation levels increase by 300%! Evidence how a new game beyond the traditional North American sports is promoting activity among students.

Spikeball® uses the principles of Teaching Games For Understanding (TGFU) allowing students to develop transferable movement skills (e.g., sending and receiving skills, ready position, hand-eye coordination), concepts (e.g., spatial awareness, force, anticipation), and game strategies (e.g., court awareness, placement to open space, defending court space) related to net wall games such as volleyball, badminton, tennis and pickleball. 

How to Play Spikeball®:

Object of the Game: To hit the ball off the net where the opposing team can’t return it. Games are typically played up to 11, 15 or 21 points. The rally ends and a point is awarded when the ball contacts the ground or it is not returned in 3 touches. Points can be awarded by the serving or the receiving team.

Basic setup and play: 2 vs 2 with net in the centre, opposing players line up across from each other as indicated in the diagram. Winner of rock, paper, scissors gets to pick side or serve. The server stands across from the receiving player. Before the serve, all players stand 6’ from the net; only the receiver can stand whatever distance from the net he/she chooses. Once the ball is in motion, players can move 360° around the net with possession changing when the ball contacts the net. Each team has 3 hits per possession, and alternates hits between teammates. The ball must be hit with 1 hand only – use of other body parts is not allowed (e.g., head, foot, knee). No catching, lifting, or throwing.

 Faults: The rally ends and a point is awarded when;

  • The ball hits the rim of the net at any time, including on a serve
  • The ball bounces and falls back onto the rim or net
  • The ball clearly rolls across the net

These are enough rules to get you started. Don’t worry about moving too quickly to the adult mastery level of the game as small-sided game modifications encourages students of various levels of skill and ability to experience success. We will start to hear students say, “I can do this, now I can do this,” and in turn they will acquire an earned sense of confidence, competence, and enjoyment of physical activity!

Some suggestions for modification:

  1. Allow the players to catch and throw the ball to increase skill development of hand-eye coordination, reaction time, court awareness, placement and teamwork. Similar to the game of Newcombeball, a throwing and catching modified game of volleyball is a good progression before bringing volleyball-specific skills such as volleying and forearm passing into the game.
  2. Increase the numbers of players on each team to 3 vs 3 to increase opportunities to cover space and return the ball. Make sure players are aware of their space and communicate with each other. Players on each team can rotate in and out of the space near the net.
  3. Use a larger ball (e.g., playground ball or tchoukball) to allow for more progression of skill development of sending and receiving skills.
  4. Increase the number or touches per possession from 3 to 5 to allow for more ball control, teamwork, and increased reaction time.

Learn more about Spikeball® or see the game in action. Get your Spikeball® Game Set today!

What new novelty type games have you and your students discovered? 


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

Check out more Blogs by Carolyn!



Keeping the "Physical" in Physical Education

Posted 1 month ago - by Peter Boucher

 I was lucky enough to get on the phone recently with an old mentor and former superintendent of mine, you know, one of those leaders that you loved being around, learned a ton from, and just plain trusted. He had a saying that was way ahead of its time in the 90’s and rings even more true today when related to Wellness and Physical Education. During administrative or curriculum meetings when we would be setting district, school, and department goals, he would always whisper to me, “Remember Peter, don’t let folks take the “physical” out of Physical Education!”  That left a long-standing impact on my teaching career in wellness and PE. For the rest of my career, I battled to maintain equal (or longer) PE/Fitness classes and rallied to keep movement as a cornerstone for virtually every class I or my colleagues taught. The challenge continues to this day…

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That saying seems so much more important now. We live in the 21st century where technology and data reign supreme in American education, and I don’t necessarily disagree with that notion. Everywhere you go in education, someone says, “Show me the data!” Data-driven methods are powerful in student learning and overall forward progress. I am a former principal of a level 1 MCAS school (Massachusetts) and you can bet we took our data, overarching goals, standards, and academic time on learning very, very seriously. But when I was a principal, I was also incredibly protective of our PE/Wellness Teachers to make sure that we didn’t bog them down with all sorts of unnecessary or “busy” academic work just for the sake of appearing to be more academic in nature. Don’t get me wrong: reading, math, science, and many other disciplines can and certainly should be woven into the lessons and curricula, but we need to also stay true to the core value of Physical Education and Wellness… and that is movement!

 Activity should be the heart and soul of just about every Physical Education/Wellness/Fitness class today in the USA. Think about it, we are sadly evolving into one of the most sedentary first-world countries on the planet and we are already one of the most overweight countries. Please don’t misread my message, I love America, but we need to keep our kids moving! As each decade passes, it seems as though kids are playing outside less and are decreasingly involved with clubs and sports that keep them active; the trending data is serious and dangerous. That makes it all the more imperative that we keep the kids moving in our PE classes.

Think about this, when is the last time you drove for more than 10 minutes and saw a group of kids playing outside somewhere? Activity outside of school is almost becoming a thing of the past. So with that in mind, our PE classes NEED to keep kids moving, “We can’t take the physical out of Physical Education!” We have to walk a fine line between the academic world and the movement world. Every second that we can be creative and plan for movement in a lesson should be utilized and held sacred. Introductions, attendance, feedback, transitions, summary sessions, wrap-ups, etc., all can and should be held to some sort of movement standard in our classes and schools. Some sort of movement needs to be embedded in every moment of our Physical Education classes. For many of our students, PE class could be the most active part of their day and we need to make it count. So please, hold the line and don’t let 21st century education “take the physical out of Physical Education!” Movement is far too important to our students. 

How does your district operate on this topic? Are you moving toward more or less movement? 


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

Check out more Blogs by Peter!

PE Resources – The Books You Can't Live Without

Posted 1 month ago - by Michael Beringer

When I first started teaching Physical Education over 17 years ago, the only way to find new ideas, games, and activities for lesson planning was through collaboration with colleagues or purchasing books through P.E. equipment catalogs. I remember spending hours combing through various P.E. books looking for things I could use to teach K4 through 8th grade Physical Education.

In the process, I wasted a lot of time and money on books that weren’t worth it. The internet was just beginning, so the ability to search for quality resources was very limited. However, in today’s world the internet has changed everything. The way we search, research, and collaborate to find useful material has made books seem of little use. We can find information at anytime and from any place in the world. We can use desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones to gather information whenever we want instantly. However, books, of course, can still be very useful.

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Throughout my career, I have purchased numerous Physical Education books that have changed the way I teach today. Of course, I had to live and learn and waste money and time figuring out what was and wasn’t quality material. That is why I decided to create and share with all of you what I feel are the top quality Physical Education book resources that you should spend your hard earned money on!  These books are completely worth your time and money. I guarantee that you won’t regret adding these useful resources to your PE repertoire.  

1. Make It! Take It! by The Great Activity Publishing Company

A great resource for instant integration ASAPs. Just copy and use! 

2. Great Activity Magazine by The Great Activity Publishing Company

For just a few dollars a year receive this great PE Activity magazine subscription delivered to your door with activities for PE professionals from all over the country.

3. Physical Education Outside the Boxby Bud & Sue Turner

Here is another great resource for instant activities, as well as, skill related activities. What makes this a must in your PE tool box is every activity uses very little equipment, simple instructions, and minimal set-up time.

4. No Standing Around in my Gym by J.D. Hughes

This is a must have ready-to-use resource for teaching large classes! It is packed with 6 units, 70, games, 15 hints, and 39 special game variations.


5. No We Are Not Playing Dodgeball by Mike Bohannon

This book is a resource for fun, easy-to-use activities for promoting integration and fitness for all students. The book provides awesome warm-up, integration, and station ideas that get kids moving.

6. PE2theMax by J.D. Hughes

Another must have book for large classes! 

7. Spark byJohn J. Ratey, MD

A must have book for Physical Education Advocacy. Make sure to have your administrator read the first chapter!

8. SHAPE America Standards & Grade-Level Outcomes for K-12 Physical Education by SHAPE America

A must have resource that includes the National PE standards and outcomes that guide your instruction! This it non-negotiable!

9. No Gym? No Problem!- Physical Activities for Tight Spaces by Charmain Sutherland

This doesn’t need explaining. It is a lifesaver for every P.E. Specialist!

10. Journey Toward the Caring Classroom by Laurie S. Frank

This is a great resource for covering NASPE Standard 4 while building community in your classroom. I highly recommend!


11. Instant Activities Volume 1: Dice Games by Kevin Tiller

The title says it all! Easy to use with printable ready-to-use activities with math integration. Need I say more? 

12. The Great Games Handbook by Kevin Tiller

Recommended for skill based activities. This resource uses creativity to keep kids active and engaged. 

13. The First Six Minutes! by Hal Cramer

Here is another fantastic must have for getting your students active from the start. If you want to increase your students MVPA then get it now!


14. Phys. Ed. Fun & Fitness by Kevin Tiller

This book includes “Warm-up activities”, “Skill Builders”, and “QR Codes in P.E.”. The awesome part is that it includes reproducibles making it easy to implement. Love that!!

Check out other great PE reads here and don't forget to share your favorites below!


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What Students Should Learn in PE

Posted 1 month ago - by Jonette (Jo) Dixon

SHAPE America's National Standards define what a student should know and be able to do. States and local school districts use these standards as a platform to shape their own standards or adopt the National Standards to fit their needs. 

Greg Bert and Lisa Summers wrote the book Meeting Physical Education Standards Through Meaningful Assessment where they summarize the National Standards. These 6 heavy hitters that they call the “Power Standards” are really what I want students to learn, know, and takeaway from my classes. In “kid friendly” terms they are as follows: 

  1. How to move correctly.
  2. How to train themselves and others.
  3. How to be confident to participate in school and beyond school.
  4. How to be fit, get fit, and stay fit.
  5. How to play fairly.
  6. How to value movement.

When we teach our units, we need to teach more than just the skills of that unit, sport or activity, but teaching to the national, state or district standards as well, and making it relevant for students. 

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1. How to move correctly

Teaching this concept is important because in order to enjoy a sport or a fitness workout, they need to know the skill or activity and experience some success at it. Also, learning strategies of the game or sport such as the biomechanical principles, moving to open space, hitting to an open area, and concepts of offense and defense help us to be a more skillful mover. Knowing how to use equipment properly is another key component of this standard.

2. How to train themselves and others

I want students to know the 5 components of fitness, the FITT principle, and the many great benefits of exercise. This can be taught and applied in any unit.  Incorporating this information is paramount. Students need to know the knowledge behind “why” we move.

3. Being confident to participate in school and outside of school

Participating beyond their 12th grade year is really a major component of this standard. Loving to move, loving some type of activity to maintain health and fitness beyond school and into adulthood is my goal for students.

4. How to be fit, get fit, and stay fit

We utilize fitness test to set goals and see where we are at with our own fitness. We should not use fitness testing for a grade, as that isn’t fair. Testing our fitness isn’t always fun or easy, but it’s the only way we know where we are at. The Cooper Institute recommends the Fitnessgram® test, and has benchmarks set for advanced, proficient, partially proficient, and needs improvement per age level.  I always recommend a pre- and post-test, and to set goals. Setting goals for our fitness is a life skill.

5. How to play fairly

Spirit of the Game (SOTG) is a way we promote healthy competition. We can be competitive, but within the rules of the game. We can also self officiate. Managing games and our emotions are a life skill. Enjoyment of the sport or activity is what keeps people coming back.

6. How to value movement

This is the “fun”. We need to show students that movement is fun and why they should value activity for a lifetime. Keeping lessons novel is a great “hook” for students.

Teaching all of these standards in your classes, no matter what age level, really gives meaning to your teaching, Physical Education, and life. They are all life skills, and they are all important. Happy teaching!


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Motivating Students? I'm not a Sport Psychologist

Posted 1 month ago - by Aaron Beighle

Motivation, and the fundamentals of motivating youth, is something we know is important, but I think it’s something we don’t fully grasp and fully optimize. In my experience, some of this disconnect has been that the nuggets of valuable, applicable information for teachers is buried under theory. While theory certainly has its place, weeding through theory can be confusing, frustrating, and at times futile (at least for me). Further, while most teacher preparation programs have a Psychology and Sociology of Sport class, covering the content of what could be at least two courses during one course doesn’t provide much time to dig deep into how to motivate students.

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In my schooling, specifically my graduate work, I have had the opportunity to take three or four Sport/Exercise Psychology courses. I approached all of these courses knowing I wanted to work with youth. While I probably should have been listening more intently during classes, I was doodling ways to make the theories come to life for teachers. To this end, the following acronym was created. It combines parts of Achievement Goal Theory and Self-Determination Theory and attempts to make them applicable. To quality, I understand that some disagree with combining theories and borrowing pieces and parts, but in my experience this has worked for teachers and therefore I am sharing it here.


Perceived Competence – 

In a nutshell, this is a student’s beliefs about her abilities. The key is that it is the student’s beliefs. So how do you make a student perceive herself as being competent? Provide her with successful experiences. Start with the easiest activity first and then invite students to try more difficult skills or activities. Ensure the number of repetitions they receive is maximized. How do you do that? See my previous management blogs, but in short, be efficient with management and instruction. Provide individual, meaningful feedback to allow students to refine their skills. Repetition and refinement are essential. Focus on the process…the product will follow (sometimes).

Encourage students to perform your cues. Most students can perform the cues to hitting a tennis forehand. They might not be able to hit a cross-court game winner, but focusing on the process provides the chance for success and learning. I am not an “everybody gets a trophy” advocate, but I am an “everybody gets a chance to be successful in physical education” advocate. 

Relatedness – 

In brief, this means make a connection. This connection can be with you and the students, student to student, or student to activity. Build relationships with students. Focus on “getting to know” your students…more than you know your content. Sometimes we focus so much on outcomes, objectives, and our perfect lessons/activities and lose sight of building relationships with students.

Try to find something with which you can connect with each student. I used to get up and watch cartoons on Saturday morning because I knew my students watched “Recess”. I knew as much about T.J. Detweiler and the Ashley’s as they did. I also listened to music that made my ears bleed, but it was what middle schoolers listened to. And I wanted to make sure it was appropriate.

Provide time and activities that allow students to connect with each other. Cooperative activities early on and throughout the year lend themselves to this, but any small group or partner activity does as well. Let students invent games…and use some of them later. Using the game invented by a student you struggle to connect with just might be the key to getting him/her to connect with you and others.


Autonomy –

This simply means to let students have some say in their learning experiences. For instance, provide an easy (catch the beanbag with one hand), and medium (catch the beanbag with two hands) or a difficult (catch the bean bag with the back of your hands) activity. Or simply teach by invitation and say, “If you like that activity, keep doing it. If you want something that might be a bit more difficult try this.”

During fitness activities use music to time an activity and let students choose the workload. “While the music is on, pick your favorite upper-body challenge and see how many times you can do it.” This lets students select the intensity.

Allow students to opt out of participating two times per semester or grading period. No excuse needed, they just don’t have to be active and it doesn’t impact their grade. Sometimes you don’t feel like being active; afford that opportunity to students. I use this with university students and it works well.

And please consider your dress out policy. This is a topic for a different blog or discussion, but I find it hard to believe that failing students because they don’t want to change clothes in a locker room full of their peers does much to motivate them. (Stepping off my soap box). Create tracks/sub-courses (e.g. Team Sports, Innovative, Individual, and Fitness) at the high school level and allow students to choose the track they want to take that grading period.


Individuality –

In full confession this isn’t a part of either of the theories I mentioned above. However, my acronym was PEARS before that….and that just didn’t work. This too involves getting to know your students. Treat them fairly. Meet them where they are, not where you are.

Emphasize that activity choices are individual. Physical education is exposing them to as many as possible, and they get to pick what they enjoy and what has meaning to them. Ask students what they like and don’t like. Treat students as individuals once you get to know them. I hope I am making it clear that I firmly believe the first step to motivating students is to get to know them as individuals.


Social Support – 

Keep in mind the role peers play in student decisions. Involve family when possible. At the middle or high school levels this gets tough. This might be a good reason to ask students, “What kind of social support do you need to be active? Peers? Family? Significant others?” Physical activity clubs can also help create a culture of social support. Walking, hiking, intramurals (intramural does not mean just team sports), and orienteering clubs are all great ways for students to be active and connect with students who have similar interests.

Be a role model. Regardless of the age you teach, students watch you and emulate you. Be aware of your actions. Eye rolls, scowls, ignoring students, rude comments in a moment of frustration. They all leave an impact. Frankly, our students look up to us. Give them something good to look up to.


Enjoyment –

Essentially this means busy, happy, good. I am teasing. Just making sure you are paying attention. “FUN” is not the only thing we are about in physical education. We have content to teach and we are about education/learning. However, “FUN” should be a major part of everything we do, just as physical activity should be a major part of what we do. The challenge is to provide learning experiences to teach our content that are active and are fun.

One way to make lessons fun is to make students successful, which goes back to Perceived Competence. In her book, No Sweat, Dr. Michelle Segar provides an anecdote of a client who reports she has never had a fun experience being active. Never. Wow! Think about that. Did she have physical education? If she did, what does that say about her experiences? Eek. Creating a safe (physically and emotionally) environment through effective management increases the chances students will have fun. Using a variety of activities in a balanced curriculum also helps ensure students will experience fun activities in physical education.  


In summary, in our efforts to promote physical activity for all youth, I think we are wise to borrow from the exercise/sport psychology literature to seek ways to motivate students. Above are just a few ideas. My intent is for teachers, as they teach, prepare lessons, or reflect to think “…did I include any elements of P.R.A.I.S.E? Could I include more?” I think the answer will be, “Yes” to both. And your students will be better for it. Give it a shot and see if it helps. Thanks for being teachers and THRIVE!


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