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Volleyball can be a hard unit to teach at the elementary level.  These games and activities have been successful with my students and have become some of their favorite activities. 

Big Ball Volleyball

Focus on skills like teamwork, catching, and throwing with this fun game! Place students into groups of four (2nd-5th grades) or groups of eight (Kindergarten-1st grade). Each group has a small parachute or a bed sheet. Groups must work together in order to get an Omnikin ball, lightweight oversized ball, or a beach ball over the net only using the parachute. The ball cannot touch the ground or it is a point for the other team. Groups must use teamwork to catch the ball and get the ball over the net.

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Get everything you need to play Big Ball Volleyball with this Team Launch Volleyball Set!

 

Volleyball Serving

Even though this activity is an easy setup, students enjoy it so much because they enjoy the challenge. I challenge the class to make a certain amount in the hoops, and I keep score.

There is a volleyball net set up in the gym to encourage the students to serve the volleyball high and over. Place students in lines along the baseline of the volleyball court. For younger students, you’ll want to start your lines within the volleyball court. Students serve the volleyball and try to make it into a hula-hoop on that is directly across from them on the other side of the net. On the count of three, the first person in each line servea. Students should serve quickly, but keep the students who waiting in line moving by doing various fitness or locomotor activities until it is their turn. Depending on their age or grade level, they can pass a ball to themselves in place or practice their serving form.

 

Newcomb

This game has been around since the early 1900’s and is great for 3rd-5th grade. Instead of bumping and setting, the students are learning rotation and focusing on three players playing or touching the ball after they receive a serve.

Two teams (12 players total) on the court at a time. Play begins with the student in the serving position serving the ball over the net to the other team. Students then catch and throw the ball back and forth over the net until it drops. Three players may play the ball before throwing it over the net. If it is more than three players or if the receiving team misses, the serving team scores a point. The serving team then rotates and the next play begins with a different server.  If the serving team does not get the ball over, it loses the serve and the opposing team scores a point. The next play begins with the opponents as the serving team. Each time a team wins a point, they rotate so a different player serves for the next play. This allows everybody to get a turn serving in the limited time. The first team scoring 11 points or the team with the most points after a set time limit wins the game.

 

Passing Challenge

Split players up into groups of five to eight and challenge each group of players to see how many times they can pass the volleyball to other players in the circle without letting it hit the ground.  Beach volleyballs, oversized volleyballs, or balloons can be substituted for a regular volleyball depending on the age and skill level of the players.  Older players can also do the same challenge but instead of passing they will set the volleyball to other players.

A variation of the passing challenge is to pair players up and see how many passes they can complete back and forth without the ball touching the ground. 

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How to Hit a Home Run Teaching Softball

Posted 2 weeks ago - by Jessica Shawley

THIS OR THAT? Which game will students get the most out of?

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As a former collegiate softball athlete and head high school coach you would think teaching the game is one of my favorite times of year. Well, to be honest, it wasn’t when I first started teaching but it definitely is now! It all started to really come together when I approached it from a small-sided games perspective and helped students focus on skill building and enjoyment of the game. Small-sided game play is one of the most game-changing best practices in physical education I have implemented to help students feel successful and build their skills. The visuals here are from my Small-Sided Games webinar  from the Gopher Solutions Webinar Series. Visit my website for the slides if you want to dive into this topic a bit further.

Softball is a great lifetime/recreational physical activity that students can enjoy outside of school. Issues arise when teaching this sport though with ill-informed lesson design and poor implementation of activities. Here are 5 keys to hitting a home run the next time you teach softball.

1. Use a progression of small-sided games.

The image below from my Gopher small-sided games webinar provides an example of game progressions from simple to more complex. In any of the activities, the success is in the smaller field and focusing on one or two key aspects of the game as a challenge so that students can get better. It allows you to layer in the rules and progress to the larger game context near the end of the unit. I am able to walk around and help students more. The students also get in a lot more repetitions.

  • Game #1 - 2 vs. 2 Hit for Points: The focus is for students to hit for points and for the defense to field the ball cleanly.

    • Basic rules – Offense: Track your points. Whichever cone you hit it past, you get those points. Hit twice and then rotate offense/defense. Defense: Track your points. Field it cleanly to get points. 1 point for a grounder. 3 points for a fly ball.
       
  • Game #2 - Back & Forth for Points: Everyone is against each other for points. The runner/batter gets 1-point for each touch of a cone. They run “cricket” style back and forth after hitting off the tee (large cone). Defenders field the ball and then make a throw to each person on defense. The last person to catch a throw runs it to the big cone to stop the play.
     
  • Game #3 – Hit & Run Through First: Focus on grounders and running through first base. Defense fields ball and throw to first for a point. The batter must hit a grounder for a point and then complete the run through first base. Rotate hitters.
     
  • Game #4 – Around the Bases for Points: The batter hits and then runs around the bases (scoring 1 point for each base touched) and keeps running until the defense has fielded the ball and thrown it to each person before running it home to stop the runner. Some students may get in two rounds around the bases (8 points)! This focuses on all aspects of the game.
     
  • Games #5 – 4 vs. 4 Softball: Put it all together and play on a smaller field. You can also see Figure 2 for a 7-person softball game with a rotation explanation.

 

 

Figure 1. Small-sided softball setup examples.

 

 

  

Figure 2.  Rotation for 7-person Softball

C=Catcher, B=Batter, P=Pitcher,
I=Infield, O=Outfield


2. Have a plan for indoor lessons when the weather doesn’t cooperate

The spring brings a mix of rain and sun. This year has been historically rainy, testing my ability to bring traditionally outdoor activities inside for longer periods of time. I appreciate how this challenge brings out the extra creativity in me. Here are a few favorite games and adaptions for indoor play, which can obviously still be used outside as well.

  • Play backyard baseball/wiffle ball (No peg outs, please. No one likes to get hit with a ball). Foam balls/wiffle balls and foam bats are essential for success here. Having a “double field” game such as Gopher’s DiamondDash would fit well here for indoor play.
  • Under “Activity Session Documents” on my small-sided game info webpage, there are a few more modified softball games you can use for indoors. Gopher has a great video demonstration of this concept in their Team Home Run Derby Set. I’d recommend this for anyone getting started with small-sided games in softball.
  • Use innovative indoor equipment and/or rules:
    • My students love the Big Hitter Game when inside because of the BIG bat!
    • “Wombat” uses a softball/kickball format where you pitch a light rubber ball underhand and it must bounce first before the batter hits the ball with a large bat. We use the bouncy SoffPlay Balls to add an element of bounce inside so we can play off the walls. For my older students, we combined this wombat game with the ramp from the ACTION! RampedUp game and the BigHitter Bat mentioned above to hit a SoffPlay ball!
    • Allow two runners on base. Use a large base system or a large cone as a base works well. Students learn by getting experience and having more than one runner on when indoors can add an element of complexity to situations.
    • “Freebies to first” is something novel to try out in certain contexts. Though the out is recorded for the defense (you can play 3 to 5 outs), the runner is safe at first so they can experience base running. This gives the defense some more action as well.

Simple field setup for small-sided games.

Hit off 3 pitches and/or hit off the cone as a tee.

 

3. Have an organized framework.

I now use Rainbow color-coded equipment for six teams throughout the unit and this has made a huge impact upon the flow of the lesson. Each team has a bucket of equipment they are responsible for. This makes setup and clean up super easy! I find the students take care of “their color” and there is no mistaking whose equipment it is. See images below.

 

Rainbow® Color-coded Equipment Team Buckets.

Yellow bag with lefty-throw gloves & extra gloves.

Teams of 4: 4 Gloves, 1 Foam Bat & Ball, 3 Softballs, 4 mini-cones, 1 large cone as a tee.

 

4. Use a sport education model when possible.

I like using a modified sport education model that emphasizes team roles so all students have a responsibility and a role to fulfill to help the lessons run more smoothly and give students the opportunity to learn responsibility and to be on a team. With small teams, this makes it easy. Here is a sample team form with the information.

 

5. Emphasize teamwork and teach empathy.

This is a highly skilled team sport that involves a lot of different rules and positions. For quite a few students, this is their first introduction to the game, making it a challenge to design a quality experience for all skill levels. Again, I focus on skill development and layer in progressions, emphasizing fun and personal challenge.  I remind students to have empathy for others as everyone comes in with different levels of experience in any activity we learn and that we are here to help make each other better so that when we want to play it outside of school there are others willing to play with us because they had a positive experience learning it in physical education. I think it is important to remind students that we are here to have an enjoyable experience, to improve our skills personally (and not at the cost of others), and to learn lifelong activities. So, let’s have fun and get better together!

 

I hope these tips help you hit a home run the next time you teach softball!

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Tips for Starting a Fitness Club at Your School

Posted 1 month ago - by Peter Boucher

Reach and teach the benefits of an active and healthy lifestyle to more students at your school by starting a fitness club. Continue reading to learn helpful tips and strategies for launching a fitness club at your school!

For at least the past decade or more, K-12 Physical Education teachers have been encouraged to focus on fitness and activity in our classrooms to help combat the rising obesity rates in the U.S. The vast majority of P.E. and Wellness teachers are incredibly dedicated in their commitment to “reach and teach” all of their students from a fitness perspective. One of the biggest challenges to this commitment or goal is that students typically only have Physical Education classes once or twice a week due to budget and schedule restraints. Others have it for one quarter or semester and then not at all for the remainder of the school year. As fitness professionals, we all would likely agree that challenged scheduling is not going to help our students achieve any long-term fitness goals during school hours.  So if these schedules appear to not be changing (and most will not unfortunately), what is the next step or potential genesis of helping students achieve some authentic fitness goals?

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Many schools are now looking at Fitness Clubs either before or after school to help augment the PE staff’s and curriculum’s fitness pursuits.  Establishing a fitness club is a tremendous opportunity to build school spirit, galvanize staff and students, and make fitness and activity a healthy focus at your school.  Here’s what we did at my school and what I would recommend as the critical steps to getting a Fitness Club up and running, literally! 

Obtain approval

I always recommend seeking approval from the Principal, Athletic Director, or staff member in charge of clubs and activities before doing anything else.  Being certain you have followed all of the district’s protocols for starting anew club is significant and can help you avoid unnecessary hurdles, speed bumps, and potholes down the road.

 

Seek “People Power”

Approach staff and/or parents that you have connected with who share your desire for fitness.  Plant the seed about your idea and see who would be willing to help.  Once you have some committed staff and parents, you’ll probably need both, you can then begin to forge a game plan.  Committed adults will be critical to your successful club launch.

 

Build a Plan

This part is tri-fold and important, as your infrastructure will be paramount to your success.  You will want to complete the following three initiatives before you seek out students:

  • Determine whether your club will be pre- or post-school and what days you will meet
  • Build a “curriculum” of fun activities for your club sessions
  • Secure space outside of your school for good weather days and explore space inside your school for the inclement or cold weather days

 

Put the Word Out

Begin to announce to the student body, staff, and your families that you have limited space and are launching a fun fitness club.  Morning announcements, flyers around school, social media, and newsletters proved very helpful when we launched our fitness club.  I recommend the “limited space” verbiage because it is probably true that you can only host a certain number of kids (safe supervision) and it also adds a little positive pressure to sign-up quickly so as not to be left out of the limited number of spaces in the club.

 

Launch with Energy & Enthusiasm!

Kick off the Fitness Club with all the energy, enthusiasm, and excitement that you can muster! We had a blast!  Everything was meticulously planned for maximum activity and movement. We had the music pumping, actions planned for almost zero transition time, and the very best fun and active games that we could design so that the morning session (we chose mornings twice a week for our Fitness Club) was active and awesome for the students and staff.  Everyone couldn’t wait for day two!

 

Additional components you can explore and expand with once your club is up and running:

  • Have fun formulating a cool and fun name for your fitness club
  • Consider finding financial support for club t-shirts for students and staff
  • Healthy snacks for after the club is fun, too.  Our parents were so supportive that they worked with our cafeteria staff to provide a modest healthy breakfast for all of our fitness club members.
  • Determine a culminating goal for each season (fall, winter, spring); our fitness club started with a 1-mile, then a 2-mile fun run in our community, and now (4+ years into existence) evolved into attending an annual 5K that all of the fitness club student and staff members run and walk.

So these are the tips and strategies that we used to start a small club that has become a beloved and very successful fitness club to augment and support our physical education and fitness curriculum. I recommend utilizing these steps to explore and ultimately launch your club too. 

What other ideas do other professionals or parents have? Are there other steps that could help or streamline the process? Check in and let us know what you think or if you have a question about starting your own fitness club. 

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Curriculum Organization Tips for Physical Education

Posted 1 month ago - by Jessica Shawley

Purposeful planning, organizing, and reflection are key components to quality teaching. I’m always asking myself: How can I be more mindful in enhancing the learning experience for my students? The answers to this question help refine my curriculum organization practices. It is important for teachers to develop an organized and dynamic curriculum, one that can be modified and grow with time. Teachers must have a plan for implementing and assessing curriculum progressions to help students achieve learning outcomes. So how do I keep it all organized? Here’s a look into a few of my curriculum organization practices.

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1. Develop a purposeful plan

Identify the key standards and grade-level outcomes you will be addressing or measuring. Determine how you will measure this. Develop learning activities to help students achieve these outcomes. My department has created a curriculum map. It’s a large document that has all the nitty-gritty details of everything we want to do including learning targets, essential questions, learning activities, assessments, and a timeline. From this larger curriculum map, I created an “at-a-glance” chart that acts like my Cliff Notes. This helps me see overall progressions quickly to assist my lesson planning. All documents are in a shared Google Drive folder (there is a Team Drive option if you collaborate with others or a department). This allows our department to collaborate easily. There are a lot of resources available on how to map out a curriculum and design-standards-based lessons. Here are just a few:

 

2. Develop a lesson plan library 

Now that I have a curriculum map and “at-a-glance” chart in hand, I need to organize all my ideas, lessons, and activities and link them together for easy access. Everything is saved in the shared Google Drive folder mentioned earlier. The warm-ups are in a “warm-ups library” folder, fitness activities are in the “fitness library” folder and these are linked to the headers in my “at-a-glance” chart so I can easily access them from one main planning document. Check out the screenshot below to help clarify. Physical Education Specialist, Kevin Tiller, has a YouTube video explaining his Google Drive Lesson Plan Library organization here. It is similar to how I organize my folders that I link to my overall planning documents – the curriculum map and “at-a-glance” chart. Terri Drain has an excellent video on “Planning a Standards Based Lesson” on YouTube if you’d like more on that topic as well.

 

 

3. Post essential questions and learning targets

What does it mean to be fit? Why should I be fit? How will I know if I am fit? These are important essential questions for students to think about in physical education. Fitness is a year-round focus in my physical education program. It manifests itself through a variety of activities. Some activities may or may not look like “traditional fitness” yet all activities are designed to help students achieve the goal of lifelong fitness. My learning activities help students reflect upon their interests, strengths, and weaknesses and help them develop a lifelong fitness plan.

Having essential questions and learning targets in view helps communicate what students need to know and be able to do. This information also guides my opening and closing class discussions. Utilizing essential questions and learning targets are an important component to your teaching. Use them! I have fallen in love with the ClassCue Sign Holder to post my learning targets, essential questions, and station signs. It is the feature image for this blog.

 

4. Reflect and Record

Reflect upon your planning and implementation and record it so you can enhance the learning experience next time. I use Google Drive to develop and organize my lesson content. I write lesson Cliff Notes and reflections in a small notebook that accompanies me wherever I go along with my iPad open to my Google Drive app lesson content. I write follow-up notes and reflections in my small notebook. I then transfer the notes to my Google Drive lesson plan library. When I go to teach this content again, I know how to make it better.

 

Bonus Tip: Relationships. In all things, it always comes back to relationships. It starts with us. The teacher is the catalyst for the positive learning environment. Regardless of learning outcome, the curriculum content, or the weather, the teacher’s mindset lays the foundation for success. Build relationships with your students. Be positive and have fun teaching!

 

If you need new curriculum ideas, here are two great places to start:

  • SHAPE America offers awesome webinars, trainings, and their Exchange forum allows you to post questions where you receive supporting answers and ideas from other professional members.
  • The Voxer Physical Education community is very supportive, and you can join in discussion groups to gain new ideas. You can also check out a previous post “My Web-Based Toolbox for Professional Development” for more ideas on how to keep learning. 

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Focus on Fitness or Intertwine Your Fitness Focus?

Posted 1 month ago - by Dr. Lisa Witherspoon

For many years there has been a struggle with physical education programs as to whether or not we focus on fitness or continue to teach skills that can also lead to a lifelong physical activity for children. This is a valid contemplation based on the fact that obesity rates are an issue and physical educators feel that children need to be getting as much moderate to vigorous physical activity as possible during school hours.

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The major issue with this concept is that physical educators do not have enough time during a typical class or during the week at school to help children accumulate the recommended amount of physical activity. Furthermore, fitness testing conducted once or twice a year should be used to set goals to help students and parents understand what the child needs to work towards to achieve a health fitness level. There is simply not enough time to do this for every student during the school year. So, do we focus on fitness or do we try to intertwine fitness throughout our curriculum?

 

Over the years, physical education has shifted from teaching skill-related fitness to health-related fitness. Our goal is to educate children on how their body works and what choices they can make to be healthy; especially when they leave high school and are making adult decisions related to their individual health. Many quality physical education programs understand that it is important to teach skills related to sports at the primary level and then progress to allowing children to choose what sports or activities they enjoy and begin to focus on those for their future health. Where does that leave teaching fitness? We all know fitness is a prime importance on living an active and healthy lifestyle.

Having units each school year in a curriculum focused on fitness is of extreme importance. Educating students on their muscles and how they work, bones of the body, heart rates, etc. is essential to help them understand how the body works and various activities they can do to maintain healthy fitness levels. However, the focus on fitness does not need to stop during these specific units. Throughout the school year, physical education teachers can intertwine a fitness focus during most skill units taught.

For example, any instant activity provided could allow the teacher to ask children how their heart is feeling or what muscles they feel are working during the activity. If teachers choose to have children stretch before or after a class, this is a great time to discuss the importance of flexibility (one of the components of fitness) without having to spend several classes on simply stretching. When teaching a skill-related unit of throwing or catching, incorporate activity tasks at some point in the lesson to provide extra moderate to vigorous activity time and then discuss this during the closure. Below are a few suggestions to consider helping children continue to learn fitness concepts while accomplishing teaching a variety of skill activities during physical education class:

1.  Technology: 

Pedometers and heart rate monitors are impactful inclusions in class that allow children to see the feedback individually of how their body is working and what they still need to do at home to accomplish healthy fitness levels for that day. Allowing them to reflect, journal, or discuss at then end of class or for a homework assignment is one simple option to foster their learning about fitness and their body.

 

2.  Sport-Related Skills: 

We teach students skills related to a variety of sports so they can learn what they enjoy and what they may continue to do, as they get older. Although some tasks during these units may require more sedentary time to teach the correct cues or form for the skill, every lesson should try to include an opportunity for the children to be at least moderately physically active. Self or small group challenges can provide children with this activity so they understand or can learn that skill related activities are healthy and active.

 

3.  Interdisciplinary Focus: 

Many school districts and organizations are expecting physical education teachers to include an interdisciplinary focus in their lessons. While we teachers already naturally do this consistently, some quality teachers like to include a main focus on spelling words, math, nutrition, etc. These lessons are very important but can also include a great deal of physical activity and fitness focus content based on how they are organized. For example, set up a distance equal to the distance of the pacer test and have children run to retrieve a letter, number, or word to complete a spelling word, math problem, or nutrition concept to accomplish the objective of the lesson.

 

4.  Weekly or Monthly Focus Vocabulary:  

Some quality teachers have found it beneficial and fun to create a “Muscle of the Month” and/or a “Bone of the Month” to be able to focus on a certain part of health fitness for the children during lessons. They are able to integrate/intertwine short discussions or content based on the monthly focus. Check out the Teach-nique Bones Instructional Banner and Teach-nique Muscles Instructional Banner! These enormous 5'W x 3'H banners, made from heavy-duty vinyl, allow for easy display and can be seen from across the gymn. 

 

While these are just a few suggestions for how to intertwine fitness into your every day classroom content, there are so many ways a teacher can incorporate fitness while still conducting skill-related physical education classes. Fitness is a huge responsibility for physical education teachers to instill in children. There is not enough time to do this during a unit or two during the school year.

Sport-related skills are also essential to teach children in order for children to feel comfortable and confident possibly pursuing an activity related to an activity outside of a fitness gym experience. Intertwining fitness make take some additional time to consider and plan. In the long run, children will benefit from continuing to understand and learn their bodies while also learning the important part of a skill based fitness curriculum.

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5 Nutrition Games for Physical Education (Video)

Posted 2 months ago - by Gopher Community

Incorporate nutrition concepts and national physical education standards into your classes with these nutrition-based games! All games align with choose my plate guidlines.
 

 

 

NutriPlay™ Harvest Hustle™

Students work together to grab ingredients to complete their team’s shopping list! In a relay style, players run to the center of the gym and find the ingredient that they need. This game is great for introducing meal planning, choosing healthy ingredients, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The recipe cards also offer basic preparation instructions to introduce students to cooking. The included shopping list gives students a realistic shopping experience. The first team to complete its recipe, wins! To extend the game, see who can complete the most recipes. 

 

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NutriPlay™ Healthy in a Hurry™

Students will have so much fun strategizing and playing this game, they’ll have no idea they’re learning the difference between healthy and unhealthy food options. Players race to the other end of the gym and either select a healthy or unhealthy beanbag. Students must collect the healthy beanbags, while giving the unhealthy beanbags away to their opponents. Students must “burn off” the unhealthy food by performing a designated exercise. The team with the most healthy food beanbags at the end of the game is the winner! 

 

NutriPlay™ Nutringo™ Nutrition Bingo

This game makes bingo active and healthy! Teachers select a Nutringo™ card and read off the name of the food, a fun fact and the exercise activity. Students look at their board and if they are able to mark the spot off, they must perform the exercise first! The first team to get Nutringo™ is the winner. Since students stay by their Nutringo™ mat to perform the exercises, this game is great for any space! 

 

NutriPlay™ Food-Tag Frenzy

It’s a race to fill your team’s plate in this fun, action-filled nutrition game! Team’s scramble to gather food beans bags and place them in the proper food group on the large MyPlate mats. Watch out for junk food taggers! If they tag you, you must perform an exercise until a healthy food tagger frees you. The team with the most balanced diet at the end of the game, wins! 

 

NutriPlay™ HealthySpots™

These versatile, healthy spots are great for teaching food groups and can be incorporated into any nutrition game! Food groups are organized by rainbow colors and the food items are molded in to the HealthySpot™. Use these spots for relays, strategy, or bombardment games. Take your favorite go-to game and add a nutrition twist! 

Check out more active and educational Nutrition Games for PE!

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Rainy-Day Activities to Keep Students Moving

Posted 2 months ago - by Dr. Lisa Witherspoon


There are some days that you're left without your gymnasium or field, so how can you keep students moving when physical education is moved into a classroom?

When it comes to weather such as rain, snow, or extreme heat, sometimes it is difficult to find indoor activities that keep students motivated and moving. Some teachers do not have an indoor facility such as a gymnasium or multi-purpose room available, and for those that do, sometimes you're "kicked out" for a school assembly or other school-wide function. Many physical education teachers have experienced conducting their classes in a small classroom with desks. While this is sometimes a great opportunity to teach content involving wellness topics (nutrition, safety, health, etc.), many times we want students to be able to get up and move, which is difficult considering the physical environment available.

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Two activities that have become more popular and successful with teachers and students for an indoor activity are GoNoodle® and HOPSports Brain Breaks®.  Both simply require the Internet and a source to project what is displayed on a device (computer, tablet, smartphone) onto a large screen or wall space. Students are able to stand by their desk or in personal space to participate in the activities chosen.  See below a quick contribution and comparison of the two:

 

 

GoNoodle®

Brain Breaks®

Age-appropriate activities

 

Yes

Yes

Variety of activities

 

Yes

Yes

Available for classroom teachers to encourage more physical activity time

Yes

Yes

Teacher-friendly (usage)

 

Yes

Yes

Easy-to-follow for students

 

Yes

Yes

Unique content such as yoga, martial arts, and dance
 

Yes

(Not martial arts)

Yes

 

With the simple click on a device, both GoNoodle® and Brain Breaks® can offer teachers a large variety of activities for students. One unique feature with both websites is that teachers can choose content areas that they may not feel comfortable teaching, such as yoga and dance, so students are able to participate in these activities that are developmentally appropriate and healthy. Students simply follow the instructors on the screen while teachers are able to walk around and provide feedback to assist the students’ learning.

Another way teachers can implement these activities is through an instant activity or bell work before class instruction begins. Rainy or snowy days or limited space situations do not have to be bothersome. These are two of the many ideas teachers can explore to get their students up and moving while enjoying being physical active.

Learn more or shop Brain Breaks® today!

Looking for more ideas? Check out No Gym, No Field, No Problem! by Shannon Jarvis.

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Differentiation in HPE: Being Responsive to Our Students' Needs

Posted 3 months ago - by Carolyn Temertzoglou

“How can we organize and design activities to support students of various backgrounds, readiness and skill levels and interests in Health and Physical Education?”

This is a question I receive often from my student teachers as they begin to explore and discover the complexities of teaching health and physical education during a time in our society that finds us teaching in schools and communities that are more diverse than ever before. 

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Our students are coming with various prior learning experiences in HPE related to their cultural, gender, ability, interests, and opportunities. Teachers need to prepare and plan a quality and inclusive learning environment, one that allows all students to develop the motivation and confidence to engage in physical activity whether they are beginning their physical literacy journey in the elementary grades or making progress through their middle school and high school experience. A one size fits all approach does not support all students in HPE.  We need to be responsive to all students’ needs in HPE as their health and well-being depends on it! Differentiated Instruction (DI) is an effective approach.  

Differentiation is simply a teacher attending to the learning needs of a particular student or small group of students, rather than teaching a class as though all individuals in it were basically alike.” (Carol Ann Tomlinson)

The four components of Differentiated Instruction include:

  • Content – what is to be learned
  • Process –  how students acquire information 
  • Product – how students demonstrate their learning 
  • Learning Environment – where and with whom students learn

Let’s explore each of these components in relation to teaching HPE:

  1. Content – Help students identify areas of deficiency in movement skills and physical fitness while modifying the learning process to meet students’ needs; build on their strengths and provide multiple opportunities for formative assessment. LEARN, PRACTICE, DEMONSTRATE, More PRACTICE
     
  2. Process – Use a variety of instructional strategies, effective questioning, and flexible groupings to ensure learning is appropriately outlined for each student. DI strategies such as Tiering or Cubing with station-centered activities provide choice and modifications for gradual skill building, in turn building confidence, increased motivation and movement competence
     
    • Tiering or modifying activities provides multiple ways in which students can learn, practice and demonstrate movement skills or fitness skills according to their own readiness level, ability and interests. “Challenge by Choice” allows students to self-regulate and self-monitor their progress. For example, in a circuit/station format students can choose their challenge.
      • To develop balance and landing skills Power Jumps or Speed Skater Leaps 
      • To develop upper body muscular strength  Wall pushup, Modified pushup on knees, pushup from feet, Spiderman pushup as seen in the image below
      • To develop manipulative (carrying skills) dribble a basketball while stationary, in a forward straight-line motion, weaving through cones, in pairs mirror your partner’s movement while both dribbling 
         
    • Cubing involves selecting several activities to develop movement skills and/or fitness skills and a dice. For example, a cubing Yoga Circuit can include 6 different stations, #1–6 with various postures. In pairs, students roll the dice and move to the designated station number to try a posture and hold for a designated length of time, then repeat.
       
  3. Product – Employ several assessment strategies such as conversations, observations, or products for students to demonstrate what they know in a variety of ways. Included below are several assessment tasks to triangulate data of student achievement of learning expectations from the Ontario Elementary 2015 HPE Curriculum
    • Grade 4:  Movement Competence Strand with focus on specific expectations of movement strategies

      B2.3 apply a variety of tactical solutions to increase their chances of success as they participate in physical activities (e.g., individual activities: establish a breathing rhythm when swimming, use a video showing tricks and moves with a skipping rope to learn how to break down a new move into simpler steps; target activities: choose a larger target for optimal success; net/wall activities: assume a ready position that will allow them to be ready to move in a variety of directions to defend a space; striking/fielding activities: throw or kick the ball away from fielders; territory activities: help their team keep possession of the ball by making short passes to teammates in a keep-away game or by changing directions quickly when dribbling a basketball) [IS, CT]
       

      Grade 5: Living Skills Strand with focus on specific expectations of personal skills

      1. 1 use self-awareness and self-monitoring skills to help them understand their strengths and needs, take responsibility for their actions, recognize sources of stress, and monitor their own progress, as they participate in physical activities, develop movement competence, and acquire knowledge and skills related to healthy living (e.g., Active Living: monitor progress to- wards fitness goals, noting improvements or lack of improvement and making changes as needed; note how physical activity makes them feel, particularly when they are experiencing stress; Movement Competence: describe how knowing their strengths and areas for improvement can help when they are learning new skills; Healthy Living: describe some of the factors or situations that cause them to experience stress)


    • Listed are several assessment strategies for HPE adapted from OPHEA’s Inquiry Based Learning in Health and Physical Education Resource

    • Conversations

      Observations

      Products

      • Conference
      • Interview
      • Questioning
      • Small group discussions; e.g. think, pair, share; 2 stars and 1 wish
      • Large group discussions
      • Quick debriefs after a game or within a physical activity circuit
      • Observation of game sense in a game e.g., moving into open space to support team mate, communicating effectively to teammates
      • Student journals
      • Student/peer assessment of a movement skill or fitness skill using a 4 point checkbric – emerging, developing, competent, accomplished
      • Physical demonstration of performance of a chosen movement skill or fitness skill
      • Video or audio recording
      • Photograph or series of photographs to demonstrate phases of a movement skill
      • Report
      • Presentation
      • Pamphlet or Public Service Announcement
  4. Learning Environment - Consider ways to create a student centered, physically and emotionally safe environment that is relevant to your students’ lives.

    • Get to know your students’ interests, previous experiences, and goals related to HPE.

    • Co-construct success criteria with your students to ensure the learning targets are clear and transparent to them.

    • Understand the context in which you are teaching so that you can be culturally relevant and responsive to your students’ needs

Pause and Reflect:

In what ways, do you organize and design activities to support your students of various backgrounds, readiness and skill levels and interests in Health and Physical Education?

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5 Tips for Increasing MVPA Time in PE (Video)

Posted 3 months ago - by Gopher Community

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that children between the ages of 6-17 participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Physical Education is the main source of activity for many students. It’s extremely important to make sure that your curriculum is providing students with sufficient MVPA time. Here are five tips to increase MVPA time during your class:

1. Instant Activity

Create an activity for students to participate in as soon as they enter the gym! Have every student grab a basketball and make a hoop on every basket before class starts, Everybody’s It Tag or a quick game with Topple Tubes.  The video above asks students to perform today’s date by completing different exercises!


2. Active Roll Call

 

Tired of squads? Liven up your roll call by making it active! In the video above, students draw cards and perform a different activity based on the suit and number on the card. Every student must come to you to get a new card. This is a great way to see who is absent! Other easy ways to perform roll call is having every student grab a pedometer, if you don’t have data from the pedometer, then the student was not present in class. Establish pairs or teams for an entire quarter to be used for instant activities. You’ll know a student is absent if a partner is missing or a team is incomplete.
 

3. Smaller Games = More Participation

 

As Chad Triolet states in an earlier blog, group games can lead to a few players dominating the action. Increase activity time for all students by splitting a large group game into several smaller ones. Extra students can practice skills and rotate in once a mini game is over.

 

4. Circuit Stations

 

Tabata is a great way to increase MVPA time in PE! Check out Pete Driscoll’s webinar, “Introducing Tabata Workouts for PE.” He has some great ideas to get students moving. The video above is a non-stop circuit. Students complete one exercise and hustle over to the next piece of equipment for the next exercise. Perform 10 minutes of non-stop circuit action!


5. Active Time Fillers

 

Shannon Jarvis wrote a great blog featuring quick activity ideas for when there’s 5-10 minutes left in class. The video above is a variation of Shipwreck, but with a Basketball theme.

 

Bonus: Additional Ideas

  • Limit Transitions: Limit the amount of transitions in your class! Continue a lesson plan with the same groups of three or create easy commands for finding new partners.
  • Shorten Directions: Keep your directions short! Less directions = more activity.
  • Be Passionate! Your enthusiasm rubs off on your students. Students will want to be more active if they are inspired by their teacher. Be a great role model and your students will benefit from it!

 

Resources: Physical Activity Facts

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Step Count vs. Activity Time in PE

Posted 4 months ago - by Robert Pangrazi

Are you tracking step count or activity time in your physical education classes? Dr. Robert Pangrazi explains why activity time is a more fair and accurate measure for students. 

 

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