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The LEARN Model for Effective Lesson Planning in PE

Posted 1 year ago - by Chad Triolet

The state of Virginia has recently adopted new state standards for the 2015-2016 school year.  Changes in existing curriculum must align with the new standards. Change is often very difficult for seasoned teachers who are very comfortable with standards that have been around since 2008. 

With new changes in standards, teachers will have a unique opportunity to rethink and realign their lessons to meet (in many cases) new learning objectives.  This is also a chance to re-evaluate the process for lesson planning so that the plans follow current best-practices for quality instruction. 

The first questions to ask is, what are the elements of a traditional lesson?

Below are some general components of most quality physical education lessons (in no particular order):

  • Warm-up
  • Stretching
  • Fitness Component
  • Main Lesson
  • Cool-down
  • Closure

It is important to realize that these components should not exist in isolation from each other.  If possible, every effort should be made to connect learning and concepts during a lesson and from one lesson to another. 

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To assist with this, there is a lesson plan model which helps teachers organize these basic concepts.  The LEARN lesson plan model uses the acronym L-E-A-R-N to assist with writing the individual components of the lesson plan. 

L = Link to Background Knowledge

E = Engage and Explain

A = Active Learning

R = Reflection

N = Next Steps

Free Download: LEARN Lesson Plan Template

After stating an objective for your lesson, the LEARN model provides guidance for developing lessons that meet all the basic criteria for a high-quality instruction and focus on key components of effective instruction.  The most important thing to notice is that the lesson plan format is designed to encourage users to connect lessons (using background knowledge) and be more reflective in the process to connect learning outside of physical education class.   Although the look and the order of the lesson plan may appear different, all the components of a basic lesson are included. 

Now I know what you’re thinking- why do I need to re-write all my lesson plans?  For me, it is not about re-writing my lesson plans but being more reflective about how my lessons connect together and what my expectations for student learning really target.  Educational best practices should be used in every content area, including health and PE. 

For our school division, there has been a huge shift in the requirements for classroom teachers and lesson planning.  Those expectations will likely make it to “resource” classes eventually so this is a timely subject for our health and physical education teachers.  With that being said, I think it is important to be pro-active rather than re-active.  I do, of course, realize that a great lesson plan that has all the right elements does not always equal great instruction but I would like to think that being thoughtful and prepared would help a teacher at any level be more successful when actually teaching the lesson.  I think the key word is “thoughtful”.  Teaching with intention and with a clear learning target in focus should result in student learning…we hope. :)

Feel free to share your favorite lesson plan template for comparison purposes.


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

Check out more Blogs by Chad!

Whatever Happened to Old What's His Name?

Posted 1 year ago - by Dr. Steve Jefferies

I need help. Well, actually, you do too! Even if perhaps you don’t realize it.

Although we may not know one another, the fact you’re reading this says a lot about you. You want to teach physical education well. The impact your teaching has on the kids in your school concerns you. You like learning new things and you’re willing to try new ideas. In all likelihood, you’re a member of your state professional association. You like attending conferences, hanging out and chatting with teaching colleagues. You’ve probably presented and maybe been recognized by others as a skilled teacher.

Physical education teaching for you is not just a job. It’s a way of life. You don’t seek out ways to improve because you have to. Rather, it’s a choice you make every day. I’d be surprised if you even think much about making these choices. It’s more like a habit. Not a lot different from brushing your teeth. It’s just you. It’s who you are and what you want to be. Doing all of these things enriches your life and brings joy to your being.  You are exceptional. Sadly, you are also the exception.

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You see, far too few of your colleagues feel or behave the same way as you about teaching physical education. They don’t do what you do. And this frankly, is a bit puzzling.

If you think about it, most of us started in this profession the same way. We learned to move and moved to learn. It was fun to play games. We loved to be physically active, learn skills, and play sports. As young adults we decided that we wanted to share this passion with children and teens. Teaching physical education was an obvious career choice. College courses prepared us with the skills and knowledge to change kids’ lives. To get them as excited as we were about being physically active and making healthy lifestyle choices. Each and every one of us began our first teaching job knowing the difference between good, bad, and non-teaching. And I suspect that most of us when we graduated felt ready for the challenge. But then something inexplicable happened. I don’t know what it was but the impact was plain to see.

Instead of changing kids’ lives, it was our teaching colleagues who changed. They took a different path. Almost immediately they sought out the “easy button” and they’ve remained on the same path their entire careers. Today, they just do enough to stay employed but little more. They embarrass us. Gone is any interest in truly meeting the physical activity and health needs of their students. Sure, they go through the motions of teaching although mostly just keeping kids busy, maybe even having fun, but there’s little learning. Lesson planning is ignored and curricula decisions are mostly determined by season and weather. They not only aren’t interested in learning more, but also consciously choose to teach less. Day in day out, week after week, year after year, their teaching changes little. A career of pitiful mediocrity evidenced by a landscape of thousands of missed opportunities to make the world a better place for hundreds of kids. What a terrible waste! Of their own lives as well as a cruel injustice to the children whose trust and futures they betray.


Whatever happened? I wish I knew because “old what’s his name” is also destroying our profession. Non-performing physical education teachers are giving you and I a bad name. Just recently on SHAPE America’s Exchange a teacher asked for advice on how to respond to an administrator who didn’t value physical education teaching. I commented that the problem wasn’t the administrator’s but OURS. We are responsible and accountable for the bad impressions others have of what we do. There’s a reason people don’t respect what we do. Badly behaving PE teaching colleagues aren’t just hurting themselves or their kids, their poor performance threatens your job, my job, and our profession’s future.

What can be done? Sadly today’s schools simply aren’t set up to wean out ineffective and unmotivated teachers. Confronting these individuals may be an option but it’s not easy when we often have to work with them daily. And it’s presently unrealistic to expect school administrators to hold underperforming physical educators accountable when we’ve done such a lousy job of making our value clear. There’s much to be done and if your career in physical education still has many years ahead it’s a topic that should concern you. Personally, I’m convinced that SHAPE America’s “50 Million Strong by 2029” target  (check out my previous blog post) can be the impetus to change the profession if you and I seize the opportunity it provides. But in honesty, as I started out this essay, I need help. I’m sadly confident that you know “old what’s his name.” Tell me, please, what happened to him? 


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

Check out more Blogs by Steve!

8 Strategies for Creating a Positive Fitness Experience

Posted 1 year ago - by Maria Corte

How well a fitness program is taught increases the possibility that students become hooked on the activity.

A fitness activity, in and of itself, is neither good nor bad. Instead, how fitness activities are taught influences how students feel about making fitness a part of their lifestyles.

Physical educators should keep in mind that the majority of youth (unless it is a class designed for athletes) are more interested in good health than high levels of skill-related fitness.

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8 Strategies for Creating a Positive Fitness Experience:

1. Individualize Fitness Workloads

Students who often find difficulty during fitness activitties, are less likely to develop a positive attitude towards physical activity. 


Strategy: Use time rather than reps and distance as the lesson objective and encourage students to do the best they can within the time limit.


2. Present a Variety of Fitness Routines & Exercises

Teaching a wide variety of  fitness activities decreases the monotony of doing the same routines week after week and increases the likelihood that students will find their fitness experiences enjoyable.


Strategy:  Frequently change fitness activities by changing the design, music, equipment and exercises. 


3. Provide Meaningful Feedback

Teacher feedback is instrumental in the way students perceive fitness activities. Immediate, accurate, and specific feedback regarding performance encourages continued participation.


Strategy: Provide feedback in a positive manner, this feedback can stimulate youths to extend their participation habits outside the PE class. Reinforce everybody, not just those who perform at high levels. All students need feedback and reinforcement, even if they are incapable of performing at an elite level.


4. Teach Physical Skills and Fitness

Physical education programs teach skill development and fitness. Some states mandate fitness testing, which may make teachers worry that their students “will not pass.” This concern can lead to the skill development portion of physical education being sacrificed in order to increase the emphasis on teaching fitness.


Strategy: Teaching various skill-based activities such as tennis, badminton, swimming, golf, basketball, aerobics, cycling, and the like will give students the tools needed to maintain fitness.  People have a much greater tendancy to participate as adults if they feel competent in an activity. Skills and physical activity go hand in hand for an active lifestyle.


5. Be a Positive Role Model

Appearance, attitude, and actions speak loudly about teachers and their values regarding fitness. Teachers who display physical vitality, take pride in being active, participate in fitness activities with students, and are physically fit positively influence young people to maintain an active lifestyle.


Strategy:  “Walk the Talk”.  It is unreasonable to expect teachers to complete a fitness routine each period, 5 days a week. However, teachers must exercise with a class periodically to assure students they are willing to do what they ask them to do.


6. Foster the Attitudes of Students

Attitudes dictate whether youths choose to participate in activity. Teachers and parents sometimes take the approach of forcing fitness on students in order to “make them all fit.”  This can lead to resentment and insensitivity to the feelings of students. Training does not equate to lifetime fitness. When students are trained without concern for their feelings, it is possible the result will be fit students who dislike physical activity.

Once a negative attitude is developed, it is difficult to change. This does not mean that young people should avoid fitness activity. It means that fitness participation must be a positive and success-based experience.  


Stategy:  The fitness experience must be a challenge rather than a threat. A challenge is an experience that participants feel they can accomplish.

In contrast, a threat appears to be an impossible undertaking—one where there is no use trying. As a final note, remember that whether activity is a challenge or a threat depends on the perceptions of the learner, not the instructor. Listen to students express their concerns. Don’t tell them to “do it for your own good.”


7. Start Easy and Progress Slowly

Fitness development is a journey, not a destination. No teacher wants students to get fit in school only to become inactive adults.


Strategy: A rule of thumb is to allow students to start at a level they can accomplish. This means offering the option of self-directed workloads within a specified time frame. Don’t force students into heavy workloads too soon. It is impossible to start a fitness program at a level that is too easy.

Start with success and gradually increase the workload to avoid the discouragement of failure and excessive muscle soreness. When students successfully accomplish activities, they learn a system of self-talk that expresses exercise behavior in a positive light. This avoids the common practice of self-criticism when students fail to live up to their own or others’ standards.


8. Encourage Activites that are Positively Addicting

Teachers want students to exercise throughout adulthood. Certain activities may be more likely to stimulate exercise outside of school. Glasser, (1985) in his book Positive Addiction suggests that if the following activity conditions are met, exercise will become positively addicting and a necessary part of one’s life.

These steps imply that many individual activities, including walking, jogging, hiking, biking, and the like, are activities students might regularly use for fitness during adulthood.


Strategy: The following strategies will help students “get hooked” into physical activities:

  • The activity must be noncompetitive; the student chooses and wants to do it
  • It must not require a great deal of mental effort
  • Choose activities that can be done alone- without partners or teammates
  • Students must believe in the value of the exercise for improving health and general welfare
  • Participants must believe that the activity will become easier and more meaningful if they persist. To become addicting, the activity must be done for at least 6 months.
  • The activity should be accomplished in such a manner that the participant is not self-critical


Easily introduce fitness circuits into your class with UltraFit™ CircuitPro™ Circuit Training Packs


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

Check out more Blogs by Maria!


No More Draggin' with Drag'N Tails!

Posted 1 year ago - by Shannon Jarvis Irwin

Are you looking for the next big thing in the PE market? 

Searching for equipment that is new, innovative and exciting? What that awesome energy that gets your students excited about moving and working together?!

Well, stop looking because this set is for you! Gopher’s new ACTION!™ Drag’N Tails™ has been all the rage in our gym since it came out in January of 2015.

  Dragon Tails

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Drag’N Tails is a new and creative twist to flag belt games with flags that drag…that’s right, DRAG! These longer style vinyl flags are 60” and students use their feet to stomp and detach their opponents’ flag to create turnovers. Students use teamwork to advance the coated foam ball and score a point in their team’s goal. When you purchase Drag’N Tails, instructions for various games using the equipment are included. I have included even more games listed below, but the fun doesn’t stop there; the gaming possibilities with this equipment are endless. Imagine all flag belt games you already play with your you can play all those games with flags that drag!


I teach grades K-8th and we were able to adapt and modify this equipment set to play with all grades. I highly recommend this new product for your classes. Enjoy the games listed below!


Chasing Tails

Equipment: Drag'N Tails -- one long tail per set of partners

Activity: Have students gather in partners and spread out in the gym. Each partner should have their own Belt, and one partner should wear a long flag borrowed from the new game Drag’N Tails. Partners are only allowed to move in the small space given and turn on an axis. The partners without the flags try to stomp onto the flag to remove it from their partner’s belt. NO HANDS. If the flag comes off that partner takes a turn to wear the flag and vice versa. 


Chasing Drag'Ns

Equipment: Drag'N Tails Flags & Belts

Activity: Have all students with a long flag spread out in the gaming area. All other students form a line to wait their turn (line might seem long, but it will move fast as the game progresses). Students with flags are allowed to move anywhere in the gaming area and try to remove each other’s flags by stepping on them. Once you loose your tail, pick it up and bring it to the next person in line waiting their turn. 


  • Everybody vs. everybody
  • Yellow vs. green
  • Boys vs. girls
  • Homeroom vs. homeroom


May the Best Drag'N Win!

Equipment: Drag'N Tails Flags & Belts (enough for everybody)

Activity: (Elimination-style Game) Everybody has their own long flag and belt. Spread out into the gaming area. NO TEAMS. Everybody vs. Everybody trying to detach one another’s tails to eliminate them from the game. May the best Drag’N WIN!


  • All girls round
  • All boys round


Slaying Drag'Ns

Equipment: Drag'N Tails Flags & Belts (enough for everybody, minus 1)

Activity: Have all students with a long flag spread out in the gaming area. Choose one student to start without a flag. This student is the Slayer. The Slayer goes around trying to detach the Drag’N Tails. Once a Drag’N loses their tail, they become a Slayer too. Have students pick up their flag off the ground before they join the game as a Slayer for Safety. Play until all Drag’Ns have been slayed.


Drag'N Slayer

**Ideal for large class sizes where equipment is limited

Equipment: Drag'N Tails Flags & Belts (enough for half of the class)

Activity: (Elimination-style Game) Divide your class into two teams. One team wears the Drag’N Tail belts and flags. The team without the flags are the Slayers and try to eliminate the Drag’Ns by detaching their flags. Once your flag comes off you are out. Play until you have one Drag’N left and switch out the equipment between the teams to play again.


Check out this great informational video on Drag'N Tails!

Purchase Drag'N Tails™ for your program today!


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

Check out more Blogs by Shannon!







Back to School- The Importance of First Day Fun!

Posted 1 year ago - by Suzanne Hunter Serafin

The first month of school can be a challenging time for physical education departments... So, ensure your students bring a postive attitude to your class all year long with my tips below!

Tip 1: Save the "Business of P.E." for Week 2

Good teachers want to jump right in with energizing lessons but organizational tasks, including uniform checks and locker assignments. This often leaves teachers covering each others classes and trying to manage "glorified recess" in an environment where no one knows the kids very well. 

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My suggestion is to put the “business of physical education” off until the second or even the third week of school. In the first week, I recommend using low-skill, low-aerobic activities and cooperative games that require minimal equipment and space. Play music and have fun. Activity stations such as rock-paper-scissors, juggling, ring toss, and hula hoops can be a fun warm-up activities and everyone can hold onto summer a little longer with activities requiring beach balls

Tip 2: One Class Expectation Per Day

Quality physical education requires teachers to discuss class expectations with their students, and it is important to create a safe physical and emotional environment  from the first moment of class. 

I recommend dividing those discussions and activities up into four or five separate 10 minute lessons, one for each day of the first week, and you can reinforce lessons from previous days, and provide fun activities that support students getting to know each other and building fine motor skills.

Another great first week plan for any department is to teach what I call “General Games”. Our school has three games that are appropriate for all grade levels and work well with 30-100 students. Every teacher uses the same rules and strategies so that students from any combination of classes can play together. This helps the whole department because one teacher can supervise large groups of students while lockers and uniforms are being handled.

If the first few days of physical education class are fun and active, students will bring a better attitude to class all year long.


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

Check out more Blogs by Suzanne!

To Play or Not to Play? That is the Question...

Posted 1 year ago - by Peter Boucher

It’s probably becoming apparent that I welcome PE/Fitness topics that are debatable and encourage some thought and “spirited” discussion and this blog is no different; I am encouraging and hoping it causes some thought and professional conversation. 

So whether you are a veteran or brand new PE teacher, I am certain that if you attended a reputable teacher education college then you can certainly recall a few critical “do’s” and “don’ts” that your college professors instilled in you related to instructing Physical Education classes.  The one that I struggled with the most, and flip-flopped on many times during my 25+ year career, is considered one of the “ten commandments” of Physical Education instruction:  To NEVER play/practice with your students during Physical Education class. 

Generally, there are two steadfast camps involved in this ongoing debate and there is usually a solid line drawn in the sand. Some teachers and administrations feel that PE teachers playing during class inspires and encourages the students to participate while professionals on the other side of the line feel that it is a gargantuan liability and typically can only bring potential physical/emotional injury or worse…and both sides have validity from my perspective.  

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The professional disagreement seems to mirror the age old argument of “textbook vs. reality”. You know, the argument where we all learned the textbook application, which is typically in opposition to the real life application.  Obeying the speed limit, textbook law vs. trial law, the legal alcohol drinking age of 21, Cliff’s or Spark notes vs. reading the book for a book report, “do as I say not as I do”, etc… There are too many to mention here but I am sure everyone can conjure up some sort of textbook vs. reality struggle…

I can share with you that I flip-flopped on the subject more times in my career than I care to count.  Many of my perspective changes occurred during specifically identified stages of my career.  In my first 2-3 neophyte years I followed all the college’s expectations and didn’t play during PE classes.  Once I grew more comfortable and confident (4-5 years into my teaching career) as a teacher, and became embedded in the school culture, I did begin to play and help physically facilitate classes as a participant.   The kids definitely loved it and certainly looked forward to those classes when I played. 

About 15 years into my career I chose to take a job as a K-12 Wellness Director at another district and part of my responsibility was to set policy and teach a few classes too.  You can bet as a part-time administrator I saw things a little differently (I was also a little older and wiser too).  I definitely felt that a teacher playing during class was a liability for the district and for the individual teacher who chose to do so.  But this doesn’t really settle the disagreement, does it?

So I am curious what our readers and professionals think on the subject; which side of the fence do YOU identify with?

Do PE Teachers who play during class encourage and inspire their students to participate at a higher and more enjoyable level  or do these participating PE Teachers only increase the potential injury to themselves and possibly their students? 

The disagreement remains: 
Should PE teachers be encouraged or even allowed to play during PE classes?  What do YOU think? 

Furthermore, does your district have any policies in place that prevent teachers from participating?  Please share your thoughts in a comment or response…


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

Check out more Blogs by Peter!

The Under Construction Mindset: Home is Where the Heart Is

Posted 2 years ago - by Jessica Shawley

A recent five-month delay in gymnasium renovations tested my level of grit, flexibility, and creativity, as our department was relocated and divided between several empty science labs and general classrooms.

From start to finish it would be over a full year of interruptions. I found out that packing and unpacking a gym is like moving into a new home and can be quite the process.

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In the end, I came away with a new appreciation that quality learning can take place in a non-traditional environment.  It’s not about the facility. Your teaching “home” is where your heart is, and it is really about what you do with what you have.


Whether or not you have a traditional facility, I believe every physical education teacher can relate to the phrase: “No Gym? No problem!” as our classrooms are regularly borrowed throughout a school year for picture day, special assemblies, book fairs, or even evening activities. Our ability to remain flexible in these situations is a badge of honor in the physical education world, and creative ways in which we handle these situations could be a blog of its own. Coping with temporary setbacks or lack of facilities is an important question of mindset.


Here are five takeaways from my year “under construction” that aims to help teachers gear up for a great year no matter their environment.


1. Keep Your Eye on the Prize - Resilience & Relationships

Students are resilient and will rise to the occasion when challenged. I was proud of the way my students adjusted to the challenge of our temporary relocation.


In turn, students also need a teacher to model for them how to handle adversity and exhibit resilience when things don’t go as planned. I had a choice to make each day: complain and pout that the gym wasn’t ready yet or push through the adversity and find a way to design lessons so student learning outcomes could be achieved within my small classroom space.  


Relationships are also critical here. Success stems from our positive attitudes as teachers and our ability to build relationships with students. My relationships come first. The learning happens as a result of those relationships. The adversity the construction process threw at my program reminded me that I must never forget the importance of building strong relationships with students and colleagues. We spent a lot of time in close quarters doing active lessons, and this required a special setup and uniquely designed environment.


2. Keep It Simple – The K.I.S.S. Principle Is King

As a department, we pledged to continue to have high expectations for student learning yet remember to embrace the “keep it simple” philosophy as our temporary relocation was a new frontier for our department. I couldn’t get frustrated with myself if things weren’t as they used to be...I was in a new situation. I had to remember to be flexible and have some grace with my new reality.


3. Be In Tune With Technology

Technology and accountability are prime motivators for students. Thankfully, we use Gopher FitStep Pro downloadable pedometers. Our students continued to wear them daily, and we set realistic activity time goals all students could achieve. This helped students gauge their level of participation, and we were able to use their data for feedback of our teaching overall.


We used the computer lab for cognitive quizzes, Fuel Up to Play 60 activity and nutrition logs, and goal-setting lessons based upon Fitnessgram results. A small set of iPad Minis allowed students to use video analysis apps to learn the biomechanics of movements, record workouts, and try out fitness apps. We found online websites such as HOPSports that provided free workouts and activity breaks.


4. Be Family Friendly

Remember that you are a part of a larger community, and one goal of a quality physical education program is to help students connect what they are learning in class with the rest of the world. I called upon community partners to help me showcase to my students the opportunities available in our community and surrounding area. Students learned about local classes offered by our Parks & Recreation department and how to sign-up. The Parent Support Team helped with our physical education fun run, and I collaborated with my technology and math colleagues, which may have not happened had it not been for my relocation. I also depended upon the support of my incredible colleagues, my district department, and I began participating more in my extended social media family by joining Voxer support groups, searching Twitter, and reading SHAPE America journal articles for new ideas. Overall, this experience gave me an even stronger appreciation for my value in the larger school community and my professional learning family network both local and through social media. 


5. Be A Risk Taker – Try New Things

I knew it would be a crazy year, so I thought why not try out some new things? Little project challenges kept me going, and I embraced doing the things I’ve always wanted to do but didn’t have the time for previously. I took on one project at a time, my colleagues also joined in on the challenge, and before we knew it, we had implemented new lessons and even new units. We found new ways to use existing technology and enjoyed the challenges our new technology brought us (iPads through grant money). We added things we could do in a small space such as juggling, balance boards, activity breaks and fitness trampolines to our curriculum. We used iPads for video analysis and fitness app reviews. I was proud of the way we found new ways to reach our student learning objectives.


Despite this being one of the more unique and challenging years in my teaching career, it was also one of the most rewarding. It is one that truly helped me see the value of having a growth mindset, a positive attitude, and an incredible professional family. I want to encourage others to look to these five tips as a foundation for embracing these types of challenges in our profession and also wish them luck!


Continue the Conversation: What “under construction” situations have you faced, and how did you handle the adversity? What went well? What could you have done to make it better? What tips do you have that can help others in similar situations?


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

Check out more Blogs by Jessica!

Why Should You Use Plickers in PE?

Posted 2 years ago - by Michael Beringer

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if all of our students had their own electronic device? 

If these devices aren’t available in your school then Plickers is definitely for you!

What are Plickers?

Plickers stands for “paper clickers.” They are 40 pre-made cards that let teachers collect real-time formative assessment data without the need for student devices.

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Students are given or assigned a card to hold up to answer questions given by the teacher to check for understanding.

All the teacher has to do is scan the room with any IOS or Android device. Results are given instantly as to which students understand and which do not.  

The results can be shown for each individual student or you can have it show the overall percentage for the class.  

Get the pre-made Plickers cards for free! Or you can purchase a laminated set on Amazon for $20!

The Benefits of Plickers:

  • Easy to use
  • IOS- and Android-friendly (phone or tablet)
  • Totally free 
  • Infuses technology into your program
  • Quick and paper-less
  • Grades instantly – No grading at home
  • Allows you to plan questions ahead of time or on the fly
  • Great tool for pre-assessments, checks for understanding, polls, class surveys, and exit tickets
  • Free! (Print your free set)



Check out the following tutorials for setting up and using Plickers!

  1. YouTube Plickers Tutorial by TeachPhysEd (Benjamin Pirillo)
  2. Plickers Blog Post by TeachPhysEd (Benjamin Pirillo)
  3. Plickers Blog Post by Phys. Ed. Review (Kevin Tiller)
  4. Plicker Questions Blog Post by Phys. Ed. Review (Kevin Tiller)

Check out my website, PE-4-Kids --- Movement Matters

See you on Twitter at @PEberingmx!


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

Check out more Blogs by Michael!

Teaching Yoga in Middle School

Posted 2 years ago - by Jonette (Jo) Dixon

The thought of teaching yoga to my “middles” (middle school students) was a bit frightening.  However, I knew the benefits would far outweigh the challenge, so I went for it. 

I had previously only taught yoga on a “Viking Day” (workout day), and the thought of teaching it as an entire unit was almost overwhelming.  But, putting some authenticity and genuine thought into how my middles would buy-in made this a favorite unit for them and myself. 

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Our students, at any age, need to be taught how to coordinate their body and mind, and maybe most of all, be taught how to relax.  We have technology at our fingertips every day that allows us to always be “on”.  It’s time we teach the benefits of being connected with your body.

I built the unit around the “Yoga Studio App”. 

This app really helped me to pull it off.  It was always so hard to teach yoga, manage students, and correct form.  With this app, I could pick their level of ability, hit “play” on my iPad and really engage and help students with form and technique, and manage my students when needed. 

There are so many great teaching points and learning targets that can come with this unit.

Within the app, there are beginning, intermediate and advanced workouts for strength and flexibility.  You choose what fits your students. 


Below are the "nuts and bolts" of the unit, be sure to check out the full-version!

First, some history and interesting facts!



Then, the major benefits and our specific learning targets...

Check out my teaching and grading criterion!

Lesson Plans:

Day 1:

  1. Sun Salutation Warm-Up with the "Yoga Studio" App (12 min.)
  2. Tabata Yoga (20 min.)
  3. Beginner Combination (30 min.)
  4. Relaxation (5 min.)
  5. The importance of water

Day 2: 

  1. Sun Salutation Warm-Up with the "Yoga Studio" App (12 min.)
  2. "Goal" Pose
  3. Tabata Yoga (20 min.) Skills Assessment/Partner Practice
  4. Water Challenge (water bottle and 64 oz.)
  5. Intermediate Workout (30 min.)
  6. Relaxation (5 min.)
  7. The importance of doing something good for yourself

Day 3:

  1. Sun Salutation Warm-Up with the "Yoga Studio" App (12 min.)
  2. The importance of nutrition (re-visit do smoething good for you/water challenge)
  3. "Goal" Pose
  4. Advanced Strength (15 min.) (6th grade = advanced strength only)
  5. Advanced Flexibility (30 min.) 
  6. Relaxation (5 min.)

Day 4:

  1. Sun Salutaiton Warm-Up with the "Yoga Studio" App (12 min.)
  2. Advanced Combination (40 min.) (6th grade = 15 min.)
  3. Teaching Practice wtih Partner and Sequences (7th and 8th grade only)
  4. Relaxation (10 min.)

Day 5: 

  1. Sun Salutation Warm-Up with the "Yoga Studio" App (4 min.)
  2. Teaching
  3. Advanced Strength Workout (15 or 30 min.)
  4. Do we have any "goal poses" to share?
  5. Group yoga pose for a picture
  6. Relaxation (5 min.)
  7. My gift to you... handouts and packets
  8. "Namaste"


Goal Pose:

Group Pose:

As Yoga for Classrooms mentions, Yoga helps to:

  • Develop a strong and flexible body
  • Increase balance, body awareness, and coordination
  • Improve posture
  • Help reduce injuries
  • Relieve anxiety and stress
  • Teach students how to relax
  • Improve concentration
  • Help students get creative
  • Help develop discipline and self-control

Teaching lifelong health and fitness is our job.  Exposing students to something new can be a great way to get out of your own safety box.  


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

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Make Every Minute Count... Including the First One!

Posted 2 years ago - by Aaron Beighle

Do you make every minute with your students count?

Even the first one?

Continue reading for three simple and quick ways to get your students instantly active! 

It’s a cool fall day (we can all dream, can’t we?) and Ms. Pitsburg’s 3rd grade class enters the gymnasium and reports to their individual jet logo painted on the floor.

They immediately sit on their spot, criss-cross. As Ms. Pitsburg has a brief conversation with the classroom teacher, the students peer around the room trying to determine the activities for the day by the equipment around the room. As the students begin to get fidgety, Ms. Pitsburg turns her focus to the class with “Wow! You all are sitting so quietly. Well done!”

Continue reading...

Okay, okay, anyone cringing at this scenario yet? In full disclosure, for the first 2-3 months of my teaching career, this is how I taught. Students entered the gym and immediately sat in the squad lines (and I won’t even start on how long it took to get them to remember their spots).

Around Christmas of my first year of teaching, I discovered the wonders of Introductory Activities (some refer to them as Instant Activities or Warm ups), and oh, how they changed my life.

As a field we are beginning to see ourselves as physical activity promoters, and engaging students in physical activity at least 50% of each lesson is accepted as a goal in physical education.

In my experience as a teacher and teacher educator, I have found that the first few minutes of any lesson set the tone for the rest of the class. In fact, I would argue that first minute is the most important. For this reason, I think introductory activities are pivotal for every lesson. An Introductory Activity (Intro) is the very first physical activity students engage in immediately upon entering the gymnasium.

Often, teachers do other administrative tasks while students wait for instruction on lines or in squad spots, and then they get to the activity. For example, I have worked with teachers who meet the class at the door, allow the class to enter to sit on spots, explain the day’s lesson, ask for questions, in some cases, take attendance, and then they move to the Intro. This is not truly an Intro.

The process I described can take anywhere from 2-5 minutes. In a 30 minute lesson, 5 minutes is 17% of the lesson. Thus, teachers striving to get students moving for at least 50% have an uphill battle for the next 25 minutes of a lesson. If you do have to take attendance, there are lots of strategies for doing this while students are active. While beyond the scope of this blog, if you need some attendance strategies please contact me.

Intros take place within 30 seconds of the teacher receiving the class from their classroom teacher.

Greeting a class might look something like this, “Good morning 3rd grade. I love those smiles. I have lots of fun Frisbee activities for us today and some great tunes. Let’s hit the floor jogging today. Go!” Students then jog in general space within the teaching area. After all the students have entered the space, the class is frozen on command such as “FREEZE” or a whistle, and the active lesson continues.

Beyond providing immediate physical activity, introductory activities allow the teachers to set the tone for classroom management. For instance, moving and freezing students three times assists in establishing effective management that will enhance lesson efficiency. The Intro also gets the students ready for an active lesson.

For me, Intros typically involve limited instruction. Complex rules or instructions yield decreased activity. Also, most of the Intros I use are designed for 2-4 minutes. Beyond that, students will lose interest. Besides, I have other activities for the lesson. I am just using the Intro to engage in activity, get them ready for physical activity, and establish management. To do this, below are some simple, but effective Intro samples.

Move and Freeze:

Students move using a teacher-instructed locomotor movement. On signal, students freeze in the pre-determined “freeze” position. I usually use hands on knees with elementary and hands on waist for middle or high. While simple, this activity works great at the beginning of the school year when establishing management protocol is the focus.

Walking Trail:

Students are instructed to enter the gym and walk on the perimeter. I use this sparingly because it reminds me of the ole “take a lap”. However, it can be fun for students and is an active way to start the lesson. Some teachers use the walking trail while students enter and then quickly move to another introductory activity after the first “freeze”.

High Fives:

This is my all-time favorite because it allows for integration and students love it. Students move in general space. When the teacher says, “High Fives” students give as many high fives as possible until the instructor calls out another locomotor movement. This process continues for 2-3 rounds. Modifications include counting by fives, “High Two”, behind the back fives, and my favorite, low fives and they only count if your feet are off the ground and your hand is below your knee. This one is great fun to watch!    

These are just a few. I encourage you to dig around and look for more. Intros or Instant Activities or Warm Ups can be found in lots of resources. The key is to truly use them instantly in a lesson. This will help maximize activity, prepare students for the lesson, and establish management procedures. Plus, students will “get their wiggles out” and be more willing to listen to your brief instructions following the Intro.

Give it a shot and make every minute count, including the first one.


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

Check out more Blogs by Aaron!

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