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Show Students the Value of Fitness Testing

Posted 1 year ago - by Jonette (Jo) Dixon

How do you present fitness testing to your students?

Are you solely outlining the tests and the steps to complete them? Or are you explaining the value behind fitness testing and why it is important? 

It's important for everyone involved, including students, to understand the “why”.  Fitness testing is a health-related youth fitness assessment that uses evidence-based standards to measure the level of fitness needed for good overall health.  That, partnered with good teaching, leads to students understanding the value behind the testing and having some fun with it too. 

The intent of fitness testing is to help each student achieve or learn how to achieve a health enhancing level of fitness.

4 purposes of fitness testing:

  1. Recognize current fitness-level
  2. Set realistic goals based on current level
  3. Learn how to become more fit and have fun doing it
  4. Reflect on goals and lifelong fitness intentions
     

There are many reasons to assess fitness testing, but not grade it.  We want students to value their fitness and their own personal results, but never to be graded by their scores. Instead of grading, we should focus on assessing students on demonstrating the value of it. 

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4 reasons not to grade students on fitness test scores:  

  1. Genetic factors/Heredity
  2. Environmental factor
  3. Nutritional factors (little acsess to fresh foods)
  4. Home factors (is it encouraged?)
     

6 essential phases to make fitness testing worthwhile:

  1. Delivering the goods at the beginning of the class or semester. Students need to understand the relevance and value behind fitness testing.
  2. Completing the pre-tests with a fitness partner. Partners should be selected randomly (Team Shake app.)
  3. Goal-setting for the final test and the end of the class or semester.
  4. Practicing (team, individual, fitness, and FUN). This is what my program is about and majority of class time is spent in this phase.
  5. Post-test with a partner
  6. Reflection and lifelong fitness intentions
     

Fitness Testing Assessment Criterion:

8-Point Scale used in conjuction with fitness testing rubric.

Achievement Level

Level Descriptor

Fitness Testing

7-8

The student:

  1. Demonstrates and applies a range of skills and techniques
  2. Demonstrates and applies a range of strategies and movement concepts
  3. Outlines and applies information to perform effectively
  • Demonstrates that fitness is a valued life skill.
  • Strives for healthy fitness zone scores in the Advanced or Proficient category.

5-6

The student:

  1. Demonstrates and applies skills and techniques
  2. Demonstrates and applies strategies and movement concepts
  3. Identifies and applies information to perform effectively
  • Demonstrates that fitness is a life skill and that it is mostly valued.
  • Strives mostly for healthy fitness zone scores in the Advanced or Proficient category.

3-4

The student:

  1. Demonstrates and applies skills and techniques with limited success
  2. Demonstrates and applies strategies and movement concepts with limited success
  3. Identifies and applies information to perform
  • Rarely demonstrates that fitness is a life skill and that it is valued.
  • Rarely strives for healthy fitness zone scores in the Proficient category.

1-2

The student:

  1. Recalls and applies skills and techniques with limited success
  2. Recalls and applies strategies and movement concepts with limited success
  3. Recalls and applies information to perform
  • Does not demonstrate that fitness is a life skill and it is not valued.
  • Does not strive for healthy fitness zone scores in any category.

0

The student does not reach a standard described by any of the descriptors below.

 

 

Check out AssessPro®, the most convenient and efficient fitness testing equipment available! 

  

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Quality Assessment Practices for PE

Posted 1 year ago - by Carolyn Temertzoglou


Several years ago, I was fortunate to work on a project with colleagues of mine, on the OASPHE (Ontario Association for the Support of Physical and Health Education) Executive, who share a similar passion and focus for lobbying and advocating for quality programming in HPE.

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We explored fitness assessment practices in schools, investigated the research, engaged in intriguing discussions while respecting differing opinions and agreed upon six key messages for fitness assessment. The key messages were to facilitate discussion amongst HPE teachers to reflect and consider how these key messages inform their practice to assess students’ fitness. 

Fast forward 8 years to the release of the Ontario Health and Physical Education document that positions physical and health literacy as core concepts of our curriculum outcomes for our students to learn, demonstrate, and embody throughout their lives. It can be viewed as one of the largest health intervention strategies the province has even seen.

HPE teachers have a responsibility to ensure that quality assessment practices are being implemented to support all of our students’ to learn and apply the knowledge and skills necessary to lead healthy active lives - regardless of their abilities, previous exposures and opportunities related to physical activity.

Check out the recent document on Quality Assessment To Support the Development of Physical Literacy Skills in Health and Physical Education, part of OPHEA’s Open Dialogue Position Paper Series.

This document stems from the work done previously on the key messages for fitness assessment and provides updated guidelines that include:

  -  The purpose of assessment and evaluation in a Health and Physical Education context

  -  The relationship of physical literacy and personal fitness to support students to be physically active throughout their lives

  -  Key messages to guide educators in selecting assessment methods and tools to improve students’ learning

 

Let’s Take a Closer Look at some of the key messages and things to consider when planning assessment tasks in PE…

  • Key Message # 1 suggests assessments be done in a physically- and emotionally-safe environment for increased student success and enjoyment
  • Key message # 2 points out that assessment is an educational process with the student and teacher working together
  • Key Message # 3 suggests that educators provide multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning over time

Achieve Quality Assessment with 3 Tools:

  1. Assessment Methods: Ensure a variety of assessment methods in which students can demonstrate the expectations of HPE – "say, write, do"... students can communicate it, write about it, and/or perform it. Triangulating the dataing results in more rich and authentic assessment
     
    • Example: Imagine your student, Rebecca, is demonstrating a movement skill, such as a volleyball serve, however, she cannot get it over the net for whatever reason. Perhaps it is an entirely new sport specific movement she has encountered, or she hasn’t had enough time to practice the movement skill during the sessions in PE.  Despite not being able to make the serve over the net, Rebecca can explain what is needed to get the ball over the net, “I can apply more force on my forward motion or I need to transfer my weight and follow through more in the direction of my target”. This response demonstrates the student’s understanding of the movement concepts and principles necessary to perform the particular movement skill and with practice in a fun and enjoyable learning environment in PE, application of knowledge will occur, and more importantly the development of physical literacy skills.

       
  2. Assessment Tools: Use a variety of assessment tools to provide many opportunities for assessment; “for” (teacher and peer feedback), “as” (self-assessment) and “of” (judge/evaluate) learning. With increased opportunities to learn, practice and demonstrate students will develop the desire, ability and confidence in their acquisition of a variety of movement skills, concepts and strategies thereby developing physical literacy.  ​

     
    • Assessment tools can range from Rubrics to Checklists with clear student friendly language. Remember to co-construct the success criteria for active participation with your students so they can understand and apply these skills on a daily basis. Check out my previous blog on co-construction of success criteria for active participation, How to Teach Life Skills through Physical Education.
       
    • Consider conferencing with your students periodically to check for understanding and help students be more aware and self-monitor/self-regulate their own learning and progress.

       
  3. Choice: Provide choice for students to develop their physical literacy as a foundation for programming and assessment. Learning spaces in HPE, whether in the gym or classroom, need to be inclusive, safe, and respectful of diversity in order for all students to thrive. Teachers can be culturally relevant and responsive to student needs and allow choice in assessment practices. The Ontario curriculum does not state that students perform a particular movement skill, such as cradling a ball in lacrosse; however, students will perform movement skills and apply movement concepts in a variety of physical activities.
     
    • Example:When program planning, consider usuing the Teacher Games for Understanding model to teach movement skills, concepts, and strategies for grades 4-12.
      • In grades 7-9, plan a 3-week outdoor territorial games unit in the fall and expose students to 4 days of lead up games to soccer, lacrosse, ultimate Frisbee, and flag rugby or football. At the end of the unit, allow the students to choose a sending, receiving, or carrying skill that they feel confident demonstrating. This provides opportunities for students to improve their skills and helps them make connections of transferable movement skills and game strategies from one sport or physical activity to th enext, contributing to increased confidence, competence, and moveitvation, which equates to physical literacy.

  • At the elementary level, plan a variety of opportunities throughout the year for the students to practice movement exploration skills, such as sending skills, with a focus on aim and accuracy using different size implements and targets, as well as in various environments.

 Using stations/circuits can create a physically- and emotionally- safe environment, as students are not publically on display or assessed in front of their peers, connecting back to Key Message # 1.

 

For more information on quality assessment resources check out the following:

Continuing the Conversation: 
Which key message resonates with your practice? Which key message would you like to build upon more this term?

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3 Ways Pedometers Enhance Cross-Curricular Connections

Posted 1 year ago - by Jessica Shawley

If you are looking for more ways to incorporate meaningful technology that makes student learning more efficient, as well as builds bridges with other colleagues using a cross-curricular approach to learning, look no further than Pedometers.

Pedometers are one of the most affordable and efficient ways to take student learning to the next level. Using pedometers helps make connections in math, technology, history, and more.

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As a dual-certified educator, in Math and Physical Education, my first full-time job was teaching 7th grade math. I loved using practical projects that connected students to real life applications. For example, an engaging data analysis project asked students to select a topic or theme to analyze and apply statistics in a variety of ways. At times, students struggled with picking a particular theme. They didn’t always have a favorite “something”, like a sports team, where they could access easy statistics for graphing and data analysis. For these students I wished I had meaningful data for them to analyze. As educators, we know meaningful content is an important hook to connect students with their learning.

Fast forward ten years and I now have the perfect tool to make this all possible – the downloadable FITstep™ Pro Pedometer by Gopher (or wireless FITstep™ Stream™).  For three years now, students have been downloading their daily information into the FREE FITstep™ Pro Software  and I can now download a variety of reports with just the click of the button:

  • I can analyze and print reports by student, grade level, or class.
  • I can analyze and print daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, or custom date-range reports.
  • I can customize the report for the student to take home to increase family involvement and student reflection.
  • I can export the data into Microsoft Excel so I can further sort and analyze data.
  • I can email the information to my administration and other teachers with whom I collaborate.
  • Print outs can be given to students to take to other classes for cross-curricular projects.

Pedometers are an efficient tool for students to collect their personal data that can then be used for goal setting, cross-curricular applications and to enhance the Common Core approach for teaching and learning in physical education:

1) Math:

Send students to math class with their personal report. Email the math teacher an overall report or data file so they have the cumulative information by grade and class. Students can now analyze and reflect upon their daily, weekly, monthly, or unit averages. They can compare their favorite activities and analyze the amount of Activity Time and Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity (MVPA) in each.

The personal application of data is priceless and makes the learning more meaningful. Taking it one step further, teachers can share the overall data and ask students to compare data by grade levels, class period, time, or topic.

Students present the data in various ways (bar graph, line graph, line plot, etc.) that align with the curriculum and then analyze the information. Students can compare and contrast, and reflect upon the information. These findings can be brought back and shared in the physical education class.

2) Keyboarding & Technology Applications:

Taking a similar approach to the mathematical applications shared in #1, students use their pedometer data to apply their learning of computer technology skills. For example, keying in pedometer data into Microsoft Excel for graphing, charts, and data analysis. In a collaboration meeting, my technology teacher was talking about how she wished she had an easy to fix for when students forget to bring in a set of data points to practice their keying and graphing skills. I quickly chimed in that I had a solution – students’ personal pedometer reports. 

3) History:

My first cross-curricular project as a physical education teacher was with my Math and History Department. Using student pedometer step counts collected in physical education class, we tracked mileage over the historical Lewis & Clark Trail while the history class was simultaneously learning about this period of history and the math class was completing their graphing unit. It was the perfect trifecta and one that could have been made even more efficient had the downloadable pedometers been available at that time. With today’s technology, teachers can track mileage for a variety of step and activity time challenges that bring history, math, and physical education together.

 

Continue the Conversation: In what ways have you used pedometer technology to create cross-curricular connections in your classroom? 

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FITNESSGRAM® Testing: Data vs. Results

Posted 2 years ago - by Chad Triolet

Now that the President’s Physical Fitness Council has adopted FITNESSGRAM® as its fitness assessment tool, most school divisions across the country are now using it as their assessment tool for measuring student fitness levels.
But, are they using it correctly?

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According to the Cooper Institute, “FITNESSGRAM® is a comprehensive educational, reporting and promotional tool used to assess physical fitness and physical activity levels for children. It was first developed in 1982 by the Cooper Institute and is the most widely used children’s health-related physical fitness assessment in the world.”  

As a teacher, I find a great deal of value using a fitness assessment.  Being able to effectively measure upper-body strength (90-degree push-ups), abdominal strength and endurance (pacer curl-ups), aerobic capacity (PACER), and flexibility (Back Saver V-Sit & Reach and Trunklift) provided me with data that we used to design and cater our physical education program to our students.  It was also a valuable tool that we used for student goal setting and basic fitness planning.

In the state of Virginia, all schools with students in grades 4-12 are supposed to report FITNESSGRAM® data with the Department of Education.  The Department of Education (DOE) makes the yearly results available on the DOE website.  Using that information, teachers can compare their school’s scores to other school divisions and the state average and identify strengths and weaknesses in the different fitness areas for their students. 

Since all schools need to submit the test results, teachers are trained using the FITNESSGRAM® assessment.  An essential component of the training should be a connection between performing the assessment and using the data to drive decisions to focus programming that bolsters areas of weakness that were determined by data analysis.  Students can use their own data to begin analyzing personal fitness data and planning, which is clearly a higher-order thinking task that requires students to know and apply what they have learned about health-related fitness through effective instruction.  Ultimately, FITNESSGRAM® should be used as a tool to guide students to make healthy decisions regarding physical activity and personal fitness.

Sadly, there are schools were physical educators have not taken advantage of these best-practices and learning opportunities.  Some teachers see the fitness assessment as a requirement that they must complete but fail to use the data to adapt their program to meet the needs of the students that they teach.  Another troubling practice is grading students based on FITNESSGRAM® results.  Based on research, a considerable portion of student performance is based student age and heredity.  These facts may cause fitness results that do not reflect the efforts of a child who is working hard to improve scores.  Many teachers defend the use of grading for fitness scores because they measure the amount of improvement.  Although that is a better option, there are still challenges determining the level of effort that student give when participating in the pre-assessment.  It also has the potential to penalize skilled athletes who may perform well in the pre-assessment because they are “in season” only to perform at a lower level on the post-assessment.

To wrap it all up, FITNESSGRAM® is a tool designed to measure student fitness levels.  This tool should be used to empower student to take ownership of their personal fitness and learn a variety of ways to increase fitness levels, improve areas of weakness, and increase physical activity levels.  Most importantly, teachers need to discontinue the inappropriate practice of grading fitness assessments and focus on student learning and application of important fitness concepts.

Take the stress out of fitness testing with AssessPro®, the most convenient and efficient fitness testing equipment available! (Compatible with FITNESSGRAM®)

 AssessPro® Testing

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The emphasis in physical education classes throughout the country is seeing a major paradigm
shift from an old-style curriculum, where sport skills and athleticism were paramount, to an
emphasis of fitness and well-being for all students.
One driving force behind this shift has been the use of technology in PE.

Polar Go Fit, GoFit, gofit, go-fit, heart rate monitor, HRM

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Technology initiatives can be seen in classrooms across the nation, and physical education is no different.  Various successful platforms exist to meet the goals of promoting cardiovascular health and student wellness; one such system used in the St. Anthony – New Brighton (SA- NB) School District (Minn.) is Polar® GoFit.

St. Anthony Village High School Principal, Wayne Terry, explains that by using heart rate monitoring the physical education staff has reinvented itself and found an “innovative way to incorporate technology into the PE curriculum – motivating students to take an active role in monitoring their fitness.  The results have been very impressive.”  For her efforts in leading the class monitoring initative at SA-NB, St. Anthony Middle School physical education teacher, Amber Potts, was recently honored as a TIES Exceptional Teacher.  The TIES Exceptional Teacher Award recognizes teachers who model best practices in their classrooms and engage students in learning.  

Class monitoring systems, such as Polar® GoFit™, pair the use of Bluetooth® enabled Heart Rate Monitors worn by all students.  Teachers see the data from all students at once and in real- time via an iPad (or iPhone) app. The app allows teachers to set individual exercise criteria and performance standards by which students are assessed. This enables teachers to objectively assess and grade students based on their individual needs and efforts in class. While using projection technologies, students monitor their own work against mastery criteria while receiving high-quality feedback instantly.  At SA-NB, teachers use Apple TV, a projector mounted in the gym rafters, and a portable projector to provide authentic objective data on a daily basis.  This information is also stored throughout the course to be used as reference / growth points.  This information can then be accessed by teachers, the student, and parents to reflect on performance and track progress over time – helping motivate students reach their fitness goals.

The Polar® GoFit™ system has been integrated into all PE curricular activities, easily used by both students and teachers. This teaching and learning technology allows physical education staff to provide individualized performance criteria, assessments, and feedback within a group setting.  Teachers now have an impartial tool for grading and providing differentiated instruction.  This system has helped students make a personal connection with the content as the goals, assessment criteria, and activities are designed based on what is best for their body; gone are the days where all students are given a blanket exercise prescription. As technology continues to be a normal part of students’ lives, the use of tech tools in PE can serve as the starting point of learning to use technology resources for future fitness monitoring. Many adults will pair technology and fitness on a daily basis with the use of heart rate monitors, Garmin™, Fitbit®, and many various Smartphone apps and programs.  Likewise, the Polar® GoFit™ system has been revolutionary in shifting physical education pedagogy from acquiring specific sport skills to learning and understanding how to have a healthy body.

There are many great tech advances occurring in our schools every day.  Physical education curriculums now also have the ability to utilize technologies in the classroom as a literal game-changer for delivering content and assessment.  

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Music: Increasing Student MVPA and Steps!

Posted 2 years ago - by Maria Corte

Increase your students' steps and MVPA during class with this tip!

Fit Step Pro, Fit Step Pedometer, Fit Step, Gopher Fit Step, Pedometer

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A HUGE strategy that I use to motivate my high school students is to play loud, fun and powerful music while they move.  My student teacher and I recently did a study to test the impact music has on student motivation and movement.  We used our GOPHER FITstep™ Pro Uploadable Pedometers with our students to compare how many steps and how much MVPA time they got with and without using music while participating in the same exact fitness lesson.  As you could imagine, the day we used music the students increased their steps and MVPA time significantly!   Their steps increased by 16% and their MVPA time was increased by 12%

The key, however, is to pick music that is popular with the students, clean from inappropriate lyrics and meanings, has a fast BPM (beat per minute), and has a powerful feel. 

These are my three favorite websites that I use to download the perfect music:

  1. Instructor Music
  2. Power Music
  3. iTunes store/Genre/Fitness & Workout

Check out this great article on 7 Reasons You Should Listen to Music When You Work Out!

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Every Minute Counts: The Art of Using Instant Activities

Posted 2 years ago - by Jessica Shawley

From when students first enter the gym to when they leave, every minute counts. Employing instant activities as part of your daily routine prepares students for learning both physically and mentally and helps you capitalize every minute. 

Pedometer, Instant Activity, Instant Activities

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Starting with even the simplest routine makes a difference. My middle level students no longer enter the gym and sit (Boring! Not to mention counter-intuitive to an active learning environment). Now, they walk around the perimeter of the gym, enjoying music and talking with one another. Once the music stops they go to an assigned location for announcements before further activity. This is our basic warm-up. It has reduced behavioral issues and the use of music really ‘hooks’ the kids. While students are warming up I am finishing preparations, checking in with students, and taking attendance via my pedometer system.

As you get more comfortable with a basic routine, you can begin to differentiate or add layers that align with your current objectives and help review previously taught content. Instant activities can vary from locomotor movements to dynamic warm-up progressions to small-sided games to skill review or skill-related movements. Once you establish and practice the given expectations as to how the warm-up routine will work (safety, use of and set up/take down of equipment, amount of pedometer time they need to earn, where it is posted each day, how it works with attendance, etc.) the instant activity runs itself. Our entire department uses the same routine. We have three classes going at the same time and it works really well. The teachers work together on developing new progressions and at teaching it to students.

Once our students learn the basic walking warm-up the next routine has them perform dynamic movements that prepare their bodies for further movement. We pre-teach our students these movements and they perform them in a “Four Corner” layout. Another progression is to add the game of “Active Rock-Paper-Scissors” to this format for a different level of fun and social interaction. I’ll leave you with a description of this routine below and a video of my students in action. I hope this blog inspires you to re-examine your current routines and work to make them more active, purposeful and fun for students. Keep it simple at first and build from there.

Activity Description: Rock-Paper-Scissors Warm-up

The classic game of rock-paper-scissors (R-P-S) can be used in the physical education classroom in many ways. Here’s a video of a recent favorite we have used as a large group fitness activity and warm-up challenge.

Students continuously travel from one corner to the next performing previously learned dynamic warm-up movements. Before moving to the next corner, students must challenge someone to a game of ‘action-based’ R-P-S where they jump up and down four times and show their choice on the fourth landing (count out loud: 1-2-3-show). To play “Rock” students land with both feet together and hands down at sides, “Paper” is landing with hands straight out to side and both feet spread apart (make a flat wall), or “Scissor” is landing with both feet spread apart front to back (like open scissors).

If a student wins the R-P-S challenge, they read the Four Corner Fitness Activity sign (sample included) for movement to perform as they travel to the next corner to find someone new to challenge. If a student loses they find another person in the same corner to challenge. If they lose three times in a row they travel to the next corner regardless. The activity is inclusive for all abilities, can go on for any amount of time, can be used as a warm-up or a longer large group fitness activity (though I’d recommend you change up the different versions of Rock-Paper-Scissors or types of dynamic movements) and can be used to promote positive relationships amongst peers.  The combinations are endless!

Check out my students in action performing the R-P-S warm-up!

Extensions:

  • Use a different version of R-P-S: Bear-Fish-Mosquito.
    • Bear = arms up and arched in claws.
    • Fish = hands together making a fishy swimming motion.
    • Mosquito = hand(s) pinched close like a stinging bug.
      • (Bear eats Fish. Fish eats Mosquito. Mosquito zaps Bear.)

  • Have students jump up and down six times instead of three.

  • Promote positive relationships: Challenge students to play against a different person each time so they interact with others. They can shake hands after and say, “thank you”. Or have them introduce themselves before play, etc.

Continue the Conversation: What are your favorite instant activities or warm-up routines you use with your level of students? What are some of your favorite websites or resources with physical education warm-up ideas?

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Is it realistic to expect all students to reach specified fitness standards?
What factors control fitness performance, and how much control do children have over their fitness accomplishments?

PE Testing, Phys Ed Test, Physical Education Testing

Heredity directly impacts all aspects of health-related fitness. Various factors, such as environment, nutrition, heredity, and maturation, affect fitness performance as reflected in physical fitness test scores. In fact, these factors may have more to do with youth fitness scores than activity level. Lifestyle and environmental factors can also make a difference. For example, nutrition is a lifestyle factor that can influence test scores, and environmental conditions (heat, humidity, and pollution) strongly modify test performances. Fitness performance is only partially determined by activity and training.

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Beyond heredity lies another factor that predisposes some students to high (or low) performance. Recent research has shown that differences in “trainability” are strongly influenced by genetic predisposition. Trainability explains why some individuals benefit from training (regular physical activity) more than others do. Suppose two students who are equal in ability perform the same workload throughout a semester. Student A improves dramatically, but student B does not. One can imply that student A has inherited a body that responds to training. Student A improves and scores well on the fitness test and concludes, “My hard work pays off.” Student B scores poorly and concludes, “Training doesn’t improve my fitness, so why bother?” Trainability and genetic endowment differences limit or enhance performance, making it important to have different expectations for students.

A recent study showed that about 20% of adults fail to improve aerobic capacity with intense endurance training and 30% do not enhance their insulin sensitivity. These authors concluded that life-style interventions must be tailored to each individual’s genotype. It shows the importance of explaining to students why some will perform well with little effort, whereas others, no matter how hard they try, will never perform at a high level. Many physical traits illustrate genetic differences, such as speed, jumping ability, strength, and physical size in individuals. Understand that a few students will work hard to improve their fitness performance because they respond well to training. However the goal for teachers is to help students who have less genetic ability learn how to play, be active, and enjoy their bodies without worrying about how they compare to others.

Students want to succeed. They try to behave in ways that please the teacher and impress their friends. When the teacher says fitness scores can be improved by working hard each day, most students are believers. Students who have been exercising regularly expect to do well on the fitness tests—and teachers expect the same. But if their scores are lower than expected, students can be disappointed. They are discouraged if the teacher concludes that their low fitness scores reflect inactivity and lack of exercise. Such conclusions as, “You weren’t as fit as some of your peers, therefore you must not have worked hard enough” can be destructive. Conversely, it can be incorrect to assume that students who score high on fitness tests are active. Students who are genetically gifted may be inactive, yet still perform well on fitness tests. If teachers do not teach otherwise, these students incorrectly develop the belief that they can be fit and healthy without being active.   

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Assessment in Physical Education

Posted 3 years ago - by Peter Boucher

In schools around the country, assessment and data are terms trending among teachers and administrators. It may be fairly obvious how educators can implement assessment and data when it comes to Mathematics or Language Arts; however looking through the lens of Physical Education may seem more difficult. There are a good deal of educators and school administrators who think assessing and tracking data on students during Physical Education class is unnecessary or even impossible. I, and many others in education, however, am in the other camp. I do see merit in using these tools with students when it comes to their personal fitness and Wellness. 

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I have been working in and around Physical Education, Fitness, and Wellness for my entire 20 year career (and counting) as an educator and administrator. One thing I can tell you is that education is always evolving, as it should.  Children are learning at a much faster and furious pace. As such, along with that rapid pace comes rising expectations for demonstrated skills by these children.  Since they are learning faster, they are also being expected to know more and “show what they know” in a more formal manner.  This 21st century learning is heavily embedded in data and the students exhibiting growth in their skill set.  By osmosis, these same expectations carry over into the realm of Wellness classes.  I say it is great that they do carry over; because with all the new technology and best practices available now, it is much easier and efficient to show this type of growth in PE and Fitness classes around the country.

 These assessments actually can provide many benefits to you as the teacher as well as your students.  Assessments and PE truly make a great partnership. As with any symbiotic relationship, they really do need each other. These assessments and the data they reveal, can be utilized in a multitude of ways in order to help encourage and support your school’s PE/Wellness program.  Still not sure how?  Take a look at these brief examples…

What better way to demonstrate growth in PE than to develop a Fitness or Wellness class/program along with a series of benchmarks and movements along the way to help children improve?  Education is about learning and improving your skill set (cognitive or physical). How perfectly this correlates to PE! 

Think about it, students enter your PE class, and then are presented with a series of challenges or “tests” to develop a foundational baseline, a baseline that is easily trackable and presentable.  Teachers then discuss with students individually where they are at relative to the program or personal goals and then send them off on individual plans and paths to improve their baseline scores and data.  Every move they make in class from then on is designed to help them improve their “fitness, fundamentals and fun” factors.  The journey begins!

Add to this programming the intrinsic factor of personal motivation and you are off and running even faster.  I have been around long enough to notice that once you add a quantifiable component, such as a number of crunches, pounds lifted, distance run time, enhanced flexibility, etc…, the internal competitive fires begin to be stoked.  People naturally want to improve, especially if someone is “keeping score.” In 20 years of teaching PE, I have seen very few K-12 students not want to better their scores for their benchmarks, no matter what the category.  The kids love trying to improve and surpass their own scores.  As long as you keep the scores individual in nature, then I believe this is a great way to motivate your students to improve their fitness levels.  They will jump at the chance to improve and the end result is kids being more active in you class. It’s a win for everyone!

Assessments are a necessary component in today’s world of education.  Teachers and students need to be able to demonstrate growth of student skills.  Armed with that premise, assessments and Physical Education really should not exist without each other. In today’s data-driven world, what better way to demonstrate students’ skills as well as motivate and encourage lifelong movement goals; inspire activity; and ultimately demonstrate improvement than to track the measurable progress of school children?

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It’s a New Year…How About a S.M.A.R.T. start for your students?

This is my inaugural blog so I thought I would focus on a timely topic as we begin 2014…New Year’s Resolutions.   We all know and understand the basic concept behind a New Year’s Resolution…come up with something that you can do, or stop doing to improve you in the New Year.  On principle, I really like the idea but the realities of the success of this “magical self-improvement effort” are tenuous.  This whole concept all boils down to goal setting.  For years, like many people, my quest to complete a New Year’s Resolution ended in failure. In 2001, I decided to try something different, can you say S.M.A.R.T. goal?  I wanted to exercise more and lose a few pounds so I decided to train for my first ever “road race”.  In early January I signed up for a local 8K (5 mile) race.  I did some research for this New Year’s Resolution and found an 8K training program that would get me ready in the 3 months I had to prepare.  I printed out a calendar and kept track of my progress until race day.   Over the 3-month span, I lost over ten pounds and felt the best I had in years.  I was hooked!  I continued to up the distances until I completed my first marathon in October.  For the first time, my New Year’s Resolution was a success because of the way I set my goal and kept track of my own progress.

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After my own personal success, I started using the concept of the New Year’s Resolution to teach goal setting using the S.M.A.R.T. goal concept each January.  With primary age students, I keep the concepts simple.  We talk about things that their parents have mentioned (they are going to exercise more, stop smoking, stop drinking sodas, etc.).  We discuss how to turn those open-ended goals into S.M.A.R.T. goals (see the S.M.A.R.T goal sample).  We also discussed practical ways to set measurable goals to increase the chance of success.  Having students write down a personal goal (with help) and share it with parents is a great way to reinforce this important concept. 

With the older students (4th and 5th graders), we focused on fitness.  We pulled out the fall fitness test scores and talked to the students (once again) about the importance of fitness and living an active lifestyle.  Based on the fitness data, we decided to focus on improvement using the PACER test (FITNESSGRAM®).  Using a 4x6 index card, we created a simple form so that students could track their progress and set goals as they perform the Pacer test each month until they took the final test in May.  Each month, the students set a new goal and try to improve or maintain their previous score.

Goal setting is a critical concept to teach students.  Not only is it a foundational skill for improving personal fitness, it also is a great lifetime skill that can be used in many different areas.  Physical education teachers have many opportunities to teach concepts and skills (like goal setting) that will have a positive impact on student development. 

So, the question is…What is your New Year’s Resolution and how can you help your students learn about this important goal setting opportunity?

Effective goal setting starts by being S.M.A.R.T.

S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable/Achievable
R – Realistic/Relevant
T – Timely

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