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Tips for Starting a Fitness Club at Your School

Posted 1 week 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 2 weeks 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 3 weeks 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 1 month 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 1 month 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 2 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 2 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 3 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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MVPA Hops to New Heights with Jump Rope Program (Video)

Posted 3 months ago - by Gopher Community
 

Jumping rope is an excellent exercise for increasing activity time, coordination and confidence. While jumping rope is often used as a warm-up activity, one professor studied the health and social benefits of an after school jump rope program.

Minnesota State University Physiology professor, Dr. Jessica Albers, studied students as they spent 2 hours after school learning how to jump rope.

“It’s one of the more high-intensity activities that you can participate in,” Dr. Albers said. “You wouldn’t think that jumping this high over and over again would get your heart rate up that fast, but it does.”

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Students between the ages of 8-12 learned and mastered different jump rope skills throughout the 12-week program. At the end, students performed a group routine at the local high school.
 

Increasing MVPA through Jumping Rope:

Jumping ropeWhile Dr. Albers used a more scientific approach to determine MVPA (Accelerometer counts and intensity cut points developed by Freedson et al), Gopher’s FITstep™ Pedometers track step count, total activity time, and total time within the moderate to very vigorous activity zone. With the FITstep™ Pro Pedometer, teachers are able to upload data into the FITstep™ software to organize into printable reports.

“What it’s looking at are the intensity levels of your activity,” Dr. Albers said, “If you want to actually see changes in the cardiovascular system within the respiratory system and even musculatory system, depending on the type of activity you’re doing, you need to be at these higher intensities.”

She tested students three times throughout the 12-week, 90-minute program and concluded the following activity results:

  • 9.7 minutes (10.8%) in very vigorous activity
  • 7.6 minutes (8.4%) in vigorous activity
  • 28 minutes (31.2%) in moderate activity
  • 8.0 minutes (8.9%) in light activity
  • 36.7 minutes (40.7%) in sedentary

Dr. Albers admits that most of the sedentary time was spent learning new skills and the group routine.  

“When we broke down, just for sense of time, MVPA specifically - moderate, vigorous and very vigorous - they were meeting their recommendations.” Dr. Albers said.

Albers was surprised with how much very vigorous activity time students were getting and thinks jumping rope is a great way to keep students motived throughout the entire class period. 

“We could just make kids run for 30 minutes a day. PE - go run for 30 minutes a day! But that’s no fun.” Dr. Albers said, “With jump rope, hopefully you keep it interesting enough that they continue to be active enough during that period of time.”

 

Other Benefits of Jumping Rope

Beyond physical fitness, Dr. Albers explained that there may be other benefits to jumping rope.

“Jump roping is so unique, you learn skills every single day.” Dr. Albers said. “If you have success in something, it overall increases your self-competence, and then with that, you are more likely to try something multiple times.”

Dr. Albers uses Harter’s Competence Motivation Theory as a large motivation for her reasoning. According to Oxford Reference, Harter’s Competence Theory explains that a person’s confidence increases after they master a task, encouraging them to take on more challenges in the future.

“You master so many things [in jumping rope], as opposed to some sports, you might take longer to see those mastery attempts be successful.” Dr. Albers said.

 

Getting Started with your Jump Rope Program

Dr. Albers currently teaches a jump rope class at Minnesota State University – Mankato and has worked with multiple schools to expand their PE curriculum or add an after-school jump rope program.

 “I encourage you to just go try it and be out there with your students.” Dr. Albers said, “Kids figure out things faster than you would think. Even showing them a video, they can kind of figure out some things on their own pretty fast, which is always fun.”

Dr. Albers recommends using the photos and videos at Jump Rope for Heart to learn different skills and techniques. You can also use Gopher’s JumpSkillz™ Mountain, a 6’L x 4’W banner that offers step-by-step instruction for 20 progressive drills and is a great resource for increasing jump rope instruction into your program. Need to replace broken jump ropes or add more to your storage room? Check out these Jump Ropes all backed by an Unconditional 100% Satisfaction Guarantee! 

How do you use jumping rope in your PE curriculum? Share your ideas for increasing activity time by commenting below!

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Enhance PE Best Practices with Pedometers

Posted 3 months ago - by Jessica Shawley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MEASUREMENT

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

MOVEMENT

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


     

MOTIVATION

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


MANAGEMENT

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

 

*Table information adapted from Gopher website

 

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

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

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