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Inclusion in P.E.: A Choice, Not a Mandate

Posted 7 months ago - by Maria Corte

I recently did a Gopher Solutions Webinar on this topic in July, and I was surprised at how many other PE teachers shared with me that they too are teaching special needs students in their regular PE classes.  Therefore, I thought I’d share this again, this time in blog style!

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Why This Topic?

Last year, I had the great fortune of having 15 special needs students added to one of my PE classes. Inclusion in my PE class did start out as a mandate, but something wonderful happened… it became a choice.  I currently teach a new course called Modified PE.  There are approximately 50 students in the class with a 1:1 ratio of students with disabilities and students without disabilities all working together to become physically active!

Embracing Inclusion

As educators, it is our moral obligation for all students to feel included.   There shouldn’t be one group that is considered more special than the rest.  They are all special.  Rather than a how-to approach, this blog will be an opportunity to share with you my experience with inclusion and how it impacted myself and my students—all of my students.  

Possibilities VS Disabilities

This is a mindset folks… if we look at these special needs kiddos as people with disabilities and what they can not do, it will be very difficult to have a vision of what they can do.  If you give them a chance and approach each lesson with the attitude (and patience) that they are capable of participating in the same activities as your other students, you will be so surprised and oh so touched as to what they can do! Finally and most importantly, all students deserve basic rights or the same opportunities. All students deserve to have a positive PE experience. I frequently remind myself, “It doesn’t matter how they got here; they are here now and all my students will be treated equally.”

Tips for Success

  • Be extremely structured with class format and rules
  • Repetition is key!
  • Practice management every day
  • Practice putting equipment away
  • Practice keeping hands and feet to themselves
  • Keep instructions short and simple
  • Discipline the students with disabilities the same as you would students without disabilities.
  • Have an emergency plan in place and practice it
  • Practice fire drills before they happen
  • Modify lessons and/or equipment for student success (but not too much)
  • Don’t assume they are incapable; they’re not
  • Be flexible
  • Create a positive working relationship with the SPED teachers and instructional aides
  • Get to know students, get them moving, play music, and have fun!

Final thought... Let’s be advocates of all students.They are all special.


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

Check out more Blogs by Maria!


Old School Laps to Modern Apps: Part 1

Posted 7 months ago - by Dr. Lisa Witherspoon

The last blog I wrote focused on how to revitalize a physical education teacher’s curriculum using a variety of technologies. 

In today’s society, the use of an iPad®, smartphones, Apps, exergaming, and pedometers is prevalent in physical education. The complicated part is to be knowledgeable about which technology to use in your curriculum, and deciding which one is efficient and effective both for you and your students.

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A popular, less expensive way to include technology in your curriculum is through the use of applications, or Apps, on a tablet or smartphone. There are hundreds of Apps, and deciding which ones to use is not an easy task. Below is a short list to guide you in your search, ensuring you choose credible Apps that fit your curriculum.

  1. Learning First: There are many Apps that the students will enjoy. Our job is to make sure there is first and foremost learning value in an App. Any App you choose should assist in accomplishing the learning objectives for the lesson.
  2. DAP in PE: An App may not meet the developmentally appropriate guidelines suggested by the National Association of Sport and Physical Education and other professional physical education organizations. For example, if a few students are active using the App, other activities must be used to maximize participation or the App should not be implemented.
  3. Buyer Beware:  Do not purchase an App until you have read the reviews. Even though $0.99 may seem inexpensive, dollars add up. Remember, you can delete an App to create more storage, but you cannot get your money back.
  4. Self-Explore:  Practice using any App you purchase and plan to implement in your classroom to ensure you understand what the students will experience and any glitches that may occur.

The bottom line is physical education teachers first need to know or understand what they need in their curriculum. Do you want an App to assist with assessments? What about an App to assist with content you are not comfortable teaching? Or, maybe one that adds a little exploration for your students during a fitness lesson? Once you decide your goals, the next step is to simply go to the App Store (Apple products) or Google play (Android products) on your device and type in keywords related to the content such as “physical education,” “physical activity,” “timers,” “attendance,” etc. Read the reviews and try a sample, if possible. Once downloaded, explore the App and ensure you understand its features and functionality.

Finding and implementing Apps and technology can be overwhelming. Take small steps and start with just 1 App until you feel more comfortable with the transition.  Part II of this blog will providing specific examples of quality physical education Apps and their value in your classroom.


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

Check out more Blogs by Lisa!

Get Moving: 24-Hour Movement Guidelines

Posted 7 months ago - by Carolyn Temertzoglou

For the first time in our society, kids are sitting more than they sleep.

According to the 2016 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity and Children and Youth, "Canadian kids are inactive and they may be losing sleep over it." For every hour that our kids spend in sedentary activities, their sleep is delayed by 3 minutes. With the average kid, age 5 to 17, spending 8.5 hours of sedentary behavior each day, this is having a negative effect on their sleep – so much so that it is being referred to as a "sleepidemic" (ParticipACTION, 2016). About one-third of Canadian kids are sleep deprived and it is effecting their ability to stay awake during the school day. 

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ParticipACTION (2016) quotes, "Kids aren't moving enough to be tired, and they may also be too tired to move". This alarming truth has urged Canada to develop the world's first 24-Hour Movement Guidelines that highlight the inter-relationship between physical activity, sedentary behavior, and sleep. 

Kids ages 5-17 need 60 minutes of heart pumping activity daily and need to limit sedentary behavior each day to develop strong bones, strong muscles, strong hearts, alert minds, improved self-esteem and confidence, and to do better in school.

The 24-Hour Movement Guidelines provide a practical framework that Health and Physical Educators can use to increase awareness and change behaviors regarding inactivity in their schools and communities. The 4 components of the framework for children and youth ages 5-17 include: 

  • Sweat – 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-physical activity
  • Step – serveral hours of structured- and unstructured-light physical activity such as active transportation, like waking to and from school
  • Sleep – uninterrupted 9 to 11 hours of sleep for 9-13 year olds and 8 to 10 hours of sleep for 14-17 year olds
  • Sit – no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time, limiting sitting for extended periods of time 

To support this "movement" in our HPE classes, classrooms, and whole school communities, here are some strategies to try... 

  1. Ensuring all students are in their target heart rate zone (moderate to vigorous intensity) for large portions of our HPE classes through the use of small-sided games, movement circuits and fun activity challenges. Check out these resources to get your students more active:

  2. Use pedometers and/or heart rate monitors to help students self-monitor their level of intensity and effort in a HPE class and throughout their day. Check out this success story, provided by Thompson Education Publishing, of how two HPE teachers use heart rate monitors to help students monitor their heart rates to make sure they are "in the zone" for 20 minutes or more. Check out these great pedometer and heart-rate monitor options from Gopher.
  3. Have students chart their movement over a period of a few days using the framework of SWEAT, STEP, SLEEP, SIT, to self-actualize their behaviors and set goals to icnrease their physical fitness, increase uninterrupted sleep and decrease sedentary behavior. Extend this to math and numeracy for younger students as they represent their data in varios graph forms. Students can create public service announcements to encourage their school community to "move more and sit less". 
  4. Brain Breaks/Fitness Buddies and Movement Breaks to help self-regulate their movement and readiness to learn. Read these two stories about how a kindergarten teacher and grade 7 classroom teacher increase opportunities for their students to move throughout the day. 

Finally, check out this amazing story about how a grade 4 student, Marian, took it upon herself to lead a fitness club for grades 1 and 2 during recess! 

Share your success stories that inspire others to get moving!


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

Check out more Blogs by Carolyn!


National Standards: A Recipe, not Dessert

Posted 7 months ago - by Dr. Steve Jefferies

This summer, my wife got hooked on the delightfully polite Great British Baking Contest. According to Entertainment Weekly, the show has "wooed Americans largely for being what so much of American reality TV isn't—nice." Similar to other televised competitions, a group of enthusiastic and unknown amateurs are pitted against one another until they’re whittled down to a final winner. The British show however distinguishes itself by how graciously and respectfully it treats all participants. It's fun to watch and reminded me of the way many of us would like to see American youth sports organized—competitive but fun for everyone, win or lose. But beyond sports, the more I watched this show about baking, the more it made me think about our physical education national standards.

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For quite some time, I've debated with colleagues about the purpose and value of national standards.  Exactly three decades ago in 1986, NASPE appointed an Outcomes Committee to answer the question, “What should physically-educated students know and be able to do?”  The committee defined what a “physically-educated” person looked like.  Based on this definition, in 1995 NASPE published the first “National Standards for Physical Education.” In 2013, the standards were revised and embraced the term "physical literacy." 

Since we’ve had national standards with us for quite some time, it’s reasonable to ask the question, “So what?”  “What’s been the impact?” One of the early arguments for having national physical education standards was to align us with other curriculum subjects. Having national standards showed others that our subject matter was more than just organizing and playing games and sports. The standards were a way to help physical educators understand what they should be teaching and also to change public perceptions. So to reflect, how successful have they been?

Clearly they have not completely transformed either the profession or public perception of the value of physical education. Who of us can’t point to examples of poor or non-teaching by colleagues who are fully aware of the national standards? And all of us are familiar with PE programs and positions that have been eliminated or reduced over the past 20-30 years. It’s reasonable to argue that we would be in an even worse position without national standards and this may be true, but the evidence is pretty clear, national standards have not proven to be a silver bullet— they haven't resolved many of the professional challenges we continue to face today.

Which brings me back to the Great British Baking Contest. These aspiring bakers face various tasks; some of these test their creativity and imagination while others challenge contestants to follow a recipe. Interestingly, regardless of the task, the ultimate assessment of success is pretty clear cut: do the baked items look and taste good?  Surprisingly, there is little debate or disagreement about what constitutes “good.” Absent rubrics, a couple of judges taste-test the items, express their opinion, and everyone, including the contestants, nod in agreement.

So what struck me while watching this drama unfold was both the lack of ambiguity in judging the outcome and also the simplicity. Success in baking was self-evident. There were no disputes, and I think the same is true in physical education. The outcome of successful physical education teaching is whether or not students are choosing to be physically active in their lives. Achieving national standards is NOT the most important outcome we are seeking. National standards are like baking recipes, follow them and there’s a good chance you’ll get the right outcome. But, it’s not guaranteed. Simply teaching to standards yet failing to inspire students to be physically active is akin to following recipe instructions but not turning out good-looking or tasty treats.  No cause for celebration in either case.

It worries me to hear colleagues place so much emphasis on teaching to standards because I fear it neglects and risks missing the real purpose and value of physical education teaching. I get that our national standards provide excellent teaching guidelines, no dispute there, but if as teachers we allow ourselves to be consumed with assessments of standards, it’s easy for us to confuse successful teaching with successful student outcomes. Just as with baking, the success that we should be seeking and indeed the success that people outside of the profession value, is whether or not our students actually are healthy and physically active. 


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

Check out more Blogs by Steve!

Five to Thrive: Tips for Physical Education Teachers

Posted 8 months ago - by Aaron Beighle

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Respect yourself and others

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

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

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

3. Believe what you do matters

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

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

4. Relationships precede learning, and well, everything

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

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

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

5. Live with purpose

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

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


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

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


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

Check out more Blogs by Aaron!

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

Posted 8 months ago - by Jason Gemberling

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

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

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What do you need to play?

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

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

How to Play:

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

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

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


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

Check out more Blogs by Jason!



Revitalizing Pedagogy and Content for Today’s Generation

Posted 8 months ago - by Dr. Lisa Witherspoon

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

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

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

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

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


Example Tools

Curriculum Ideas


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

Apps on iPads, Tablets, Smartphones

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


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

Presentation Methods

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

Brain Breaks

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

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

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

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

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


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

Check out more Blogs by Lisa!



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.


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

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

Posted 9 months ago - by Peter Boucher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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15 Instant Activity Songs for Elementary PE

Posted 9 months ago - by Michael Beringer

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

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

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

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


Top 10 Instant Activity Songs by The Learning Station:

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

Top 5 Instant Activity Songs by Greg & Steve: 

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


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

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