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10 Favorite Coated-Foam Ball Ideas and Activities

Posted 2 weeks ago - by Jessica Shawley

Just picture it... you receive an equipment order and go to open the box. In it is a package of shiny, new Rainbow® Set of foam balls. Ah, the coveted coated-foam ball! No, it’s not a dodge ball. It’s a coated-foam ball that is used in boundless ways in a quality physical education program. A variety of quality foam balls are an important staple in any physical education teacher’s equipment room. You can use them for just about anything!

Attending professional development opportunities and participating in social media has allowed me the opportunity to grow my repertoire of foam-ball based usage and games to expand beyond the traditional “dodgeball-esque” games. There are so many wonderful activities and games using foam balls. Here are my top 10 favorite uses and some “go-to” games:

 

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1. Foam ball as a medicine ball

I don’t have enough medicine balls for each student to have one so I turn to the foam ball where everyone can learn the exercises correctly before using the medicine ball for resistance. A new favorite has been the “plank tunnel” where teams of students line up in plank position and race against each other to the be first team to pass a foam ball through its “tunnel” and back to the start while maintaining the plank hold.

 

 

2. Foam ball partner activities

Students are highly social and our classroom is an important setting to allow for social interaction. I use foam balls for wacky relays (think “under-over-under-over” races), partner passing for throwing and catching development, and curl-ups with chest pass. I like to even extend the partner chest pass to one done while balancing on a BOSU® Trainer. This one gets a real smile out of students!

 

3. Target practice

Whether rolling or throwing, using foam balls to knock down pins or cones, hit targets on the walls, and throw through hula-hoops are essential to target games. The foam ball is a safe way to allow for high repetition practice for throwing development.

 

 

4. Racquet sports or striking development

Use high-bounce, small foam balls for indoor tennis, pickleball, table ball, or handball.

 

 

 

5. Beginner basketball skills

Try a high-bounce, larger foam ball for dribbling and shooting.

 

 


 

6. Indoor soccer and hockey

Foam balls for indoor soccer or floor hockey also work well.

 

 

7. Softball skill development

Place a small foam ball on a tall cone for indoor batting practice, or baseball/cricket-style games such as womba-ball and bonkerball (bonus: softer to catch).

 

 

8. Nutrition themes

Use Rainbow® colored foam balls for nutrition-themed integration games. Reinforce the food groups while also playing a coated foam ball game. Gopher has a ton of nutrition-themed games to check out!

 

 

9. Spikeball™

Grab a hoop and a high-bounce foam ball and you’ve got yourself a makeshift Spikeball™ game. Before I had multiple sets of the original Spikeball™ game I supplemented my unit with skinny hula-hoops and a high-bounce foam ball. It is an excellent progression for younger students and Jo Dixon has a nice Spikeball™ blog to get you started.

 

 

10. Invasion games

Invasion style games such as SturTee™ and Coneball using a coated foam ball are an important part of my physical education program. Check out my previous blog on these two games. Using a foam ball is less intimidating for students while still maintaining the spirit of the game. These Ultimate Frisbee style games are a favorite with my students.

 

Continue the conversation: What are your favorite ways to use coated foam balls? #PEblog #physed @gophersport @JessicaShawley

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Enhance PE Best Practices with Pedometers

Posted 1 month ago - by Jessica Shawley

If you ever have the chance to attend a workshop featuring high school physical education teacher Maria Corte, you need to do so. She is one of the most highly respected workshop presenters I’ve ever met. She teaches physical education best practices through her “M’s” of quality physical education: Manage, Move, and Motivate. We’ve got to be able to manage, move, and motivate our students. I would also add to this list: Measure. How do we measure student progress or program impact? There’s one measurement tool that has been a game-changer for my program when it comes to achieving the “M’s” of quality physical education, and that’s the FITstep™ Pro Uploadable Pedometer.

I classify the FITstep™ Pro Uploadable Pedometer as one of the most applicable and affordable teaching tools available today. It was specifically designed for physical education. I recommend it to anyone wanting to add meaningful technology to their program, especially one that measures student progress and can easily report this data to students, parents, and administrators. Data is a powerful tool.

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A few of my favorite FITstep™ Pro Pedometer features include:

  • In less than 2 minutes, an entire class of 30+ can download their data.
  • The software program is free. No annual fees.
  • Students get immediate feedback: How active was I today? How do I feel?
  • I get immediate feedback: Did my lesson go as planned? How active was it?
  • I can print customized reports for each student, class or both.
  • I can use them in PE, for take-home projects, or staff wellness challenges.

I’m now expanding the use of pedometers to outside the general physical education classroom. Last spring my classes cycled through wearing a pedometer home for the week. Students filled in an activity log and analyzed their data in a Physical Activity Reflection assignment. This helped them develop a plan toward achieving the “60 Minutes a Day of Play” recommendation. Some of my special education students now wear the pedometers all day to measure daily physical activity levels at school. They enjoy the privilege of having their own pedometers. The purpose of expanding pedometer use outside of physical education is to help students begin to connect what they are learning in class to their personal lives. I want them to develop a physical activity plan that supports health-related fitness and achieves moderate-to-vigorous intensity levels in activities. The pedometers help teach these concepts. I want students to identify what they enjoy, the health benefits of these choices, and where they can access it outside of school.

The research shows active students are better learners. Elementary classrooms now have students wear pedometers all day to motivate students to be more active, help them reflect upon their activity choices in school, and help teachers integrate more movement-based teaching practices and activity breaks. Integrating movement in the classroom is now a respected best practice.

The opportunities pedometers can provide school systems are many. What an amazing time in our profession! Check out my website’s pedometer resource section for more ideas.

The FITstep™ Pro with the "M's" of Quality Physical Education:

MEASUREMENT

  • Simultaneously captures THREE Modes: Steps, MVPA, and Activity Time.
  • Achieve national and state standards to measure 50% or more MVPA time in class.
  • The free customized tracking software comes with free upgrades. No annual fees.
  • Data downloads in less than 2 seconds, maximizing class physical activity time.
  • Customizable reports for parents, students and administration are easy to create.
 

MOVEMENT

  • Analyze student and class activity time immediately. Are students really moving?
  • Concrete data. No more guessing.
  • Reflect upon MVPA & activity time. Did I implement an effective lesson?
  • Helps students understand what intensity levels they are moving at.
  • Helps students set movement goals and can challenge them to keep moving!


     

MOTIVATION

  • Students are empowered with the instant feedback from the pedometer.
  • Students can set goals, see if they are achieved and reflect upon the results.
  • These pedometers are very accurate. Reliable data helps motivate students.
  • The pedometer can be personalized to a child’s MVPA threshold each class, allowing for more success other single-mode pedometer.


MANAGEMENT

  • Attendance is quickly taken with the pedometers, helping lessons begin faster and reducing discipline issues.
  • Students put the pedometer on and can begin moving instantly.
  • The pedometers can be used each class period for different students.  
  • Students of all abilities can use this pedometer easily.

 

*Table information adapted from Gopher website

 

Today’s physical education programs must know how to effectively “Manage, Move, and Motivate” students. Programs must also be able to Measure student progress. The FITstep™ Pro Uploadable Pedometer supports all of these areas.

  • What is your current system for achieving the “M’s” of quality physical education? How might pedometers help you advance your teaching? 
  • Looking to purchase pedometers? Check out local grant opportunities through your hospitals and insurance agencies. Look into Donors Choose, Fuel Up to Play 60, and become a Let’s Move Active Schools champion. Many grant opportunities are available here and can include pedometer technology.
  • There is a Voxer group for physical education teachers using FITstep™ Pro pedometers or wanting to learn more about pedometers in physical education. Check out the FITstep™ Pro Pedometer group on Voxer

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

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Enriching Participation in P.E. with Progressions & Equipment

Posted 1 month ago - by Jessica Shawley

Though fitness is a primary focus of my middle school physical education program, I also teach a lot of skill development through sports-based (team and dual) activities. A foundation of my program includes a large selection of versatile equipment. I wish I would have known earlier in my career how to identify and purchase the right equipment to adapt and use in a variety of ways to meet the needs of my students; in other words, how equipment could be used in multiple areas and not just for its original purpose. Below I provide some insight.

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The equipment selection I inherited was very traditional even though my student’s ability levels were extremely diverse. Through ongoing experimentation, including many trips to the local “dollar” store, tracking the superstore sales racks, and gathering ideas at conferences and via social media, I have compiled a large variety. Having diverse options, choices, or levels of equipment helps keep activities interesting, provides differentiation, and challenges students in a fun way. 

Activity and Equipment Examples:

  1. When teaching softball, my progression starts with large cones (Oversized Cones) as batting tees and a safety bat and ball (Rainbow® UltraGrip™ Foam Baseball Bats). What’s nice about the tall cones is their versatility; they can be used throughout the year for stations, goal posts, agility course markers, and a million other things! Students hit off the tall cone for batting practice warm-ups and in small-sided game play before playing the larger game. I also use hoops (an equipment staple for most) as an on-deck batting circle and larger bases in modified games that sometimes allow multiple people on a base or can be used as the pitcher’s circle. 
     
  2. A specific small-sided game example is “Cricket-style softball,” where students hit off the cone and run back and forth between two cones to score points while the defense fields the ball and makes a specific number of throws before running in to touch the home plate cone to stop the play. 
     
  3. Another idea to include once you work into the larger softball game format is to allow “Freebies to first base.” The batter becomes a live runner at first, even if they get out. This allows the batter to do more than just go back to the end of the line after getting out and challenges the defense with runners on base. If first base was already occupied during the out, you can bump up the runners to the next base. The possibilities are endless and having progressions keep things engaging and fun within the spirit of the game. 
     
  4. In target games, one of my go-to choices is the Elite Hoop Disc Target Set. It provides a variety of target heights and works for multiple activities including Disc Golf and Disc Lacrosse, as well as modified Handball goals or small-sided Speedball hoops. The targets also work for general throwing games, yard game targets, and for “Creation Stations” where students design the activities. Students think they are very “Harry Potter-like” and ask if they are playing Quidditch! 
     
  5. Along the lines of disc/Frisbee® activities, offering large or soft discs is important and helps when you need an indoor option. If you have never played Speedball, check out Joey Feith’s breakdown via www.thephysicaleducator.com.

As you can see, a few pieces of select equipment (tall cones, targets, and hoops) have become critical in enhancing several activities in my curriculum. The versatility of equipment also helps stretch my budget. I enjoy perusing through equipment catalogs for new ideas and more efficient choices.

Finally, there are a few questions I use to prioritize my purchases. When planning lessons and progressions, I now think about...

  • How can I change the size, speed, color, and feel of the object, goal, or target?
  • How can I modify the game so everyone will be successful and be able to choose their level of challenge while maintaining the spirit of the game?

This thought process is not just for my special needs students with physical limitations, it’s for all students. I’ve seen a greater return on student participation levels and overall enjoyment of trying a new activity.

I look forward to sharing more ideas on adaptations and progressions in upcoming blogs. Thanks for reading!   

Considerations for progressions:

  • Provide various levels of challenge in the activity while still maintaining the spirit of the game.
  • Vary the speed of game (fast, slow), and intensity level of defense (hot, cold). Provide scoring variations.
  • Vary the size of space and teams (small, large). Develop small-sided progressions: 1 vs. 1, 2 vs. 1, 2 vs. 2, 3 vs. 3 and so on.
  • Versatility: Equipment may be used in several situations.
  • Have choices in overall size (small, big), height (short, tall), color, feel, or size of objects and types of goals or targets.

 

Continue the conversation: There are many creative equipment hacks that help teachers utilize equipment in a variety of ways. What are your favorites? #PEblog #physed #PEhacks #physedhacks @gophersport @JessicaShawley

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Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more ideas, trends, and tips!
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Teaching Skill-Related Fitness Concepts in All Spaces

Posted 4 months ago - by Jessica Shawley

There are two areas of fitness that must co-exists within physical education—health-related and skill-related. My students enjoy activities that challenge any of the six skill-related fitness components: Balance, Agility, Speed, Power, Coordination, and Reaction Time.

During an extended period of construction in our district, I taught without a gym or cafeteria and provided physical education from a traditional classroom space for a year. Things got interesting when we were inside for the winter, and I had to get extra creative. This is when I had fun with skill-related fitness challenges that could be performed in small spaces.

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Teaching skill-related fitness is an important part of physical education and just plain fun. Developing skill-related fitness increases student success in the activities they enjoy, or may come to enjoy later in life. When a student feels successful in an activity, he/she will most likely continue to participate in it. This can then increase his/her overall health-related fitness level and continue to enhance his/her ability to participate in activities.

At the middle school level, the SHAPE America Grade Level Outcomes state students should be able to identify the components of skill-related fitness (S3.M7.6) and distinguish between health-related and skill-related fitness (S3.M7.7); thus, I design and incorporate a variety of skill-related and health-related fitness-based lessons where students reflect upon both areas of fitness and apply them to their lives. In my end of lesson debrief, I ask students to choose one activity they currently enjoy (or would like to learn) outside of school and identify the skill-related and health-related components it addresses. Allowing students to listen to their peers’ activity interests and tying in the learning targets is very effective.

Here are some ideas for teaching skill-related fitness and lesson breakdowns. These can be adapted for use inside or outside of the traditional physical education setting or can be used as part of warm-ups, in circuits or stations or as a full lesson.

Option 1: Four corner stations.

  • Set up stations in each corner of your space and use station task cards or a PowerPoint slide of the four stations (see blog image above).
  • Mix in two or three skills at a time with or without previously learned content. I like to mix in cardiorespiratory endurance exercises to further enhance student fitness levels.
  • Here is a breakdown for introducing skill-related fitness in a 4-corner circuit over two lessons:

 

Skill-Related Fitness 4-Corner Circuit

Lesson #1 Stations

Concept:

Activity:

Station 1: Skill-themed

Agility

Footwork Drills

Station 2: Skill-themed

Balance

Balance Disc

Station 3: Skill-themed

Reaction Time

Reaction Ball Drop

Station 4: Cardio-themed

Cardio Exercise

Jumping Jacks

 

Skill-Related Fitness 4-Corner Circuit

Lesson #2 Stations

Concept:

Activity:

Station 1: Skill-themed

Power

Squat Jumps

Station 2: Skill-themed

Coordination

Juggle

Station 3: Skill-themed

Speed

Speed Jump Rope

Station 4: Cardio-themed

Cardio Exercise

Jog in Place/High Knees

 

Option 2: Introduce skill-related fitness as a single focus topically.

  • It can be as part of a larger lesson, circuit, or as the lesson itself depending upon your program needs and learning targets.
  • You should loop back to skill-related fitness often as it is a natural fit in most aspects of the overall physical education curriculum.
  • The following table provides ideas to help guide your skill-related fitness activities.

 

Skill-Related Fitness Activity Ideas:

Concept:

Activity Ideas:

Equipment Ideas:

Agility: Your ability to move quickly, easily, and change directions.

  • Footwork Drills

  • Dot Drills

  • Line Hops

Tip: With agility ladders, have students follow footwork pattern station cards. No ladders? Create your own using floor tape, floor spots or small cones for your own agility course.

Balance: Your ability to maintain body control in any position or when moving.

  • Balance Discs

  • Balance Boards

  • Yoga Balance Poses

 

Tip: Use balance discs with task card challenges for students to try out. Work up in complexity, including having students toss a ball back and forth while balancing.

Reaction Time: Your ability to quickly recognize the situation and move accordingly.

  • Reaction Ball Drop

  • The Classic Ruler Drop

  • Agility Dot Drill Mats

Tip: The reaction ball game is played in groups of any size. Catch the ball off the bounce in a sequential order of bounces without losing control. How many bounces in a row can you go?

Power: Your ability to combine strength and speed quickly, creating force.

  • Medicine Ball Smash

  • Box Jumps

  • Standing Long Jump

Tip: – Have students perform a standing long jump and then measure their personal progress to incorporate personal goal setting and measurement skills.

Coordination: Your ability to perform complex movements, often doing two things at once.

  • Chinese Jump Rope

  • Juggling

  • Jump Rope

Tip: The “Chinese jump rope” challenge was a huge hit! I used Chad Triolet’s YouTube videos and skills cards via www.perocks.com and let students design their own jumps.

Speed: Your ability to move fast or perform a movement in a short period of time.

  • Agility Course

  • Speed Jump Rope

  • Relays

Tip: Students create an “agility course” and time themselves. Trying to beat their best times. This incorporates creativity, goal setting, measurement, and combines speed with agility.

Continue the conversation! What are some of your favorite skill-related fitness activities, especially those that can be done in circuits or a small space? Tweet me @JessicaShawley with #physed #PEblog @GopherSport to share your ideas!

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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 PE Teacher Checklist

Posted 7 months 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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Super-Size Your Target Games with SturTee!

Posted 7 months 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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Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more ideas, trends, and tips!

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Web-Based Toolbox for Professional Development

Posted 10 months 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. 

 

Podcasts:

  • 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.”

 

Webinars:

*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.  

 

Blogs:

  • 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?

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

Check out more Blogs by Jessica!



Creative Ways to Integrate Fitness with Team Building into PE

Posted 11 months ago - by Jessica Shawley

Fitness can be fun - and it doesn't have to be just traditional fitness!

Integrating intentional fitness into every lesson is a goal of my physical education program. I have found it successful to balance individual challenge or traditional fitness activities with partner fitness challenges and cooperative/team-building activities to keep students interested and motivated.

I teach such a wide array of abilities, both physical and mental, that I found my students’ young bodies appreciated the “break” from the nature of a traditional fitness workout to include fun group activities (which still included fitness). The results? Their participation levels were great, working harder during the fitness-focused stations. Now I incorporate this throughout the year as part of my ‘go-to’ strategies.

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An easy way to start implementing this is with the Partner A – Partner B or Group A – Group B method. I also call it the “ON – OFF” method. With Group A starting on the intentional fitness station, circuits or exercises and Group B begins on the cooperatives. After a certain time period, they switch and go to what their partner or group was just doing. Switch back and continue where you left off and so on. 
[Photo: Group A on partner fitness challenges and Group B on resistance band trainers]

 

I also mix in team building and cooperatives into traditional circuits as part of stations students rotate to. For example, during my volleyball unit, we complete a fitness circuit that includes an emphasis on skill-related fitness that pertains to volleyball (jumping, agility, etc.) and I mix in partner volleyball challenges (bumping, setting, sequences or serve into a hula hoop station) or use the volleyball as a tool at a station (medicine ball twist – but with a volleyball). It’s a nice ‘hook’ in the lesson that carries out the volleyball theme and keeps things interesting.  

Recent team building and cooperative challenge activity ideas:

  1. Beanbag Partner Challenges:

    • Using the beanbag to do partner back and forth slides while maintaining a plank position. Counting repetitions (even counting in another language!). Then transition into beanbag slide air hockey while still in plank position. Partners face each other and remain in plank position while trying to slide the beanbag between their partner’s arms to score a point. The partner tries to stop the beanbag. They can keep score if they wish. You can even do various fitness activities with a beangbag and a partner – pretending it’s a medicine ball or a sand bell. I love Gopher’s beanbag bocce set so that I can also play bocce ball cardio style with my entire class as a warm-up.
       
  2. Balance Dome Challenges:

    • Each student in the small group has his/her own balance dome and goes through a progression of balance challenges by themselves at first (one and two legs, push-ups, agility jumps, etc.). Then I add in a foam ball for students to work with a partner on different balance or core work – completing sit-ups with a chest pass to a partner, balancing on the dome and tossing back and forth while counting repetitions to see which team can go for the longest.
       
  3. Character Education:

    • Take the individual stations or challenges from any character education set, selecting a few to focus on as designated stations. In small groups, students rotate at their own pace from challenge to challenge when not on their personal fitness portion of the lesson. Students are to take turns being the leader of challenges – reading and leading the challenge with their group. Different resources I use for this:

If you feel students just aren’t responding the same way they used to at the beginning of the year to fitness activities or if you haven’t tried this method yet, it’s time to mix in some partner games and cooperatives with your fitness activities. Student smiles, laughter, and enjoyment of the activities are sure to follow. I also like how this strategy brings in elements of student choice and gives students the opportunity to communicate, lead, and cooperate in a group setting, which is an important part of our national standards and student learning outcomes.

 

Continuing the conversation: What other partner or small group fitness challenges do you use to mix things up for your lessons? 

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

Check out more Blogs by Jess!



Using Technology as an Organizational Tool in PE

Posted 1 year ago - by Jessica Shawley

The bell rings and class begins. We press start on the department Apple iTouch using the Seconds Pro app. The timer announces, “dressing down” over our sound system and students know they have four minutes to get ready for class. Many finish dressing early and head out to the gym to get their pedometer secured and do a ‘walk and talk’ around the main court with their peers or help finalize lesson setup.

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After the four minutes of locker room time the timer says, “warm-up time” and upbeat fitness music begins playing. Students immediately go to the nearest warm-up station and begin the dynamic warm-up of movement progressions. The music starting also signals to students they should be out of the locker room and have on their assigned FITstep™ Pro pedometer. Teachers now take attendance by looking at the remaining pedometers in the numbered wall pouch. The current warm-up is a perimeter of station cone signs where students rotate from station to station in a designated manner. After four minutes of warm-up time the timer says, “Warm-up Complete” and the music stops. The students report to their teacher and the rest of the lesson continues.

I have learned to use technology as an organizational tool to help make my daily routine more efficient. 

This routine is built around the daily warm-up timer and a well-stocked teaching cart. I recommend using any wheeled utility cart or ClassPlus™ Pedometer Cart.  A wheeled cart is a priceless necessity for the gymnasium and helps keep all your teaching tools accessible, yet out of the way of your movement-based classroom. At any given time there’s a mix of paperwork, pencils, Plickers cards, pedometers, downloading station, laptop, sound system, LCD projector and more.

What technologies are organizational tools for you? What does your daily routine entail? These are great questions for teachers to consider regularly and I get asked these frequently when I share in professional development workshops. Here are the details on my current set-up routine.

 

Daily teaching station set-up routine:

Pedometer setup:

1) Set-up FITstep Pro Pedometer Software on laptop and check that FitStep data readers are in place.

2) Hang up FITstep Pro Pedometers in their QwikID™ storage case using Command hooks (large 5 lb. capacity).


Sound setup:

1) Samson bluetooth, rechargeable speaker and iTouch with the day’s music selection and timers ready.

2) Turn on wireless Satechi remote to run sound if I am not going carry the iTouch during the lesson.

3) Put on personal PA/Shure wireless headset mic pack. Extra batteries on cart.

Having a portable, wireless, Bluetooth sound system with a wireless mic adapter is a necessity nowadays in physical education. Music highly motivates students and saving on your voice with a headset mic will not only allow students to hear instructions correctly but also prolong your career and increase the amount of energy you have left at the end of the day.  

Additional support pieces in my routine:

1) Get Team Shake app going on my teacher iPad for placing students into equitable teams for the lesson.

2) Hang up my pocket chart for storing Plickers assessment cards, handouts or portfolio pieces.

3) I use my teacher iPad for attendance, fitness apps, taking photos and videos of students in action, and for use with my Apple TV and LCD projector.   

 

Continuing the conversation: What technologies are organizational tools for you? What does your daily routine entail? Share your ideas in the comment section. 

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

Check out more Blogs by Jessica!

 



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