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

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Old School Laps to Modern Apps: Part 2

Posted 5 months ago - by Dr. Lisa Witherspoon

Part One of Old School Laps to Modern Apps assists physical education teachers in learning what to consider when choosing a specific App for their classrooms. The most complicated aspect of choosing an App is to answer the question “which one?” There are thousands of Apps available, but not all Apps are a good fit for all teachers.  In Part Two, teachers will be provided with a variety of Apps with brief descriptions to possibly reflect upon using as a part of their curriculums.

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Many teachers need to understand that Apps are not necessarily meant for use simply for the students’ benefit. There are a variety of Apps that teachers can use to make their jobs easier, more effective, and efficient. To start, Apps can be used for attendance, grading, behavior management, music, communication with parents, presentations, content video capturing, etc. Below is a list of a variety of appropriate Apps that can be used in physical education classes. Please remember that this is not a conclusive list, and there are many Apps not listed that may be a better fit for your classroom. 

APP

Category of Assistance

Brief Description

Tone (iPhone)

 

Ringdroid

Music

Splice music to use in instant activities, stop and go signals, background music

QR Codes

Content

Easy to generate and fun to implement – scavenger hunts, bulletin boards, fitness principles, reviewing a unit

Class Dojo

Attendance

Communication

Behavior

Assists teachers in taking attendance, tracking positive and negative behaviors, provides feedback, and immediately provides communication to parents

iMuscle 2

Fitness Content

Weight Training

Identify muscles in the body, learn muscle development, and experience new exercises

Team Shake

Partners/Groups

Avoids favoritism, creates partners or groups immediately, and imports class lists

FitBreak

Fitness Content

Interactive fitness sessions ranging from short warm-up activities, to full 45-minute sessions based on popular TV shows and board games from around the world

Coach’s Eye

Video Capturing

Video playback, slow motion, draw to teach, compare videos side by side, share videos, audio commentary

Go Noodle

 

Brain Breaks

Indoor/Classroom

Quick activities that can be performed in limited space, assists with difficult content such as yoga, martial arts, dance, etc.

Scoreboard

 

Bracketmaker

Score keeping

 

Tournaments

Simulates a real scoreboard

 

Assists when making teams when designing tournaments

QR Stopwatch

Timer/Stopwatch

Timing app that utilizes QR Codes to start & stop a timer. Automatically generates your name and a new individual stopwatch will be started

Educreations

 

Explain Everything

Presentations/

Deliver content

Create powerful, innovative presentations, upload pictures or videos, draw to teach, manipulate the screen

 

While the above list is just a few of the many Apps available for use in a physical education classroom, there are others that will accomplish the same task at hand. This is merely a list to get you started and feel more comfortable finding Apps that best fit your program. Searching for Apps in the App Store is not difficult. Simply type in the key word you are looking for (“physical activity”, “fitness”, “physical education”, etc.) and read the description to see if the App may be useful for your curriculum. As suggested in Part One of this blog, make sure to read reviews and have a plan for using the App before purchasing.

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

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Old School Laps to Modern Apps: Part 1

Posted 7 months ago - by Dr. Lisa Witherspoon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Exergaming: Pedagogy, Play, or Pointless? (Part 2)

Posted 11 months ago - by Dr. Lisa Witherspoon

Part 1 of Exergaming: Pedagogy, Play, or Pointless?, discussed the concept of exergaming and what physical education teachers need to consider when choosing a technology-driven activity. Space limitations, financial responsibilities, and technological difficulties were mentioned as important aspects related to deciding to integrate exergames in a curriculum. This blog, Part 2, will discuss important pedagogy considerations for teachers once an exergame has been chosen as a tool for teaching students in physical education and connecting them to the out-of-school environment.

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Teachers often have their curriculum planned for the entire year. This obviously changes due to unforeseen obstacles such as presentations, field trips, testing, and weather issues; but quality programs typically have a plan established at the beginning of the year. The next part of planning is figuring out which equipment is going to be used to accomplish the objectives of the unit/lesson. Exergames should be included in a curriculum only if they are going to make the lesson more efficient and/or more effective for the teacher and student.  Multiple factors are involved in implementing exergames. Consider the following aspects of using exergames in the classroom:

1. Station Work:

Many exergames provide a small number of students an opportunity to participate at a time. This is acceptable if the teacher plans other stations focusing on the same skill development to maximize participation with all children. Having a way to project the game on a wall or large screen is one way to incorporate more student involvement. However, if this is not available, multiple stations should be set up to increase repetition and activity levels for all students.

2. Rotations:

As mentioned above, sometimes station work is the most effective way to include exergames in a lesson.  Some exergames can take 3-4 minutes to complete the game while others can take much longer. It is common for children to get in the middle of these games and be reluctant to simply “rotate” when the whistle is blown. Understandable. Children like to finish what they have started and they also prefer not to pick up in the middle of another student’s game play.  Teachers certainly need to keep this in mind when dealing with time constraints if exergames are involved. 

3. Specific Feedback:

Quality programs focus on providing feedback to students that is directly related to the stated objectives of the lesson.  Exergames are fun and have a component of a “game” that tends to lead to more general feedback related to the score of the game or the level of the game accomplished. Although it is exciting to see the students involved and improving in the game, teachers must remember that the reason these games are being used is to improve skill levels. It is the teacher’s job to provide the more specific feedback related to the objectives of the lesson.

4. Technology Troubles:

Let’s face it, technology is going to breakdown.  There are many troubleshooting concepts to consider before letting dust collect on a “broken” game.  Common issues are as simple as the game being on the wrong channel, unplugged, or batteries needing to be changed.  The plug and play concept of many exergames may seem complicated but at the end of the day the problem may not be anything serious. Often, the students are able to figure out the issues themselves. It is important that teachers are familiar with the games they are implementing and are capable of working through the more simple problems. Teachers should also make sure they have the service number related to the game and feel comfortable working through other troubleshooting issues with the manufacturer.

5. Practicality:

Quality teachers do a good job of connecting the lesson in school to a home environment.  This is extremely important for children to understand how they can successfully use exergames at home.  Discuss the use of technology-driven games as a great indoor activity and develop a positive correlation to video games and physical activity. This is important especially if children are not allowed to be outside for a variety of reasons. Educate parents on purchasing active games over sedentary games as a gift for various occasions (Christmas, birthdays, rewards, etc.). This is another way to support the desire to play games but in a healthier manner.


Exergames can be a positive addition to a physical education curriculum but there are many aspects teachers must consider. When the teacher is comfortable with the five points discussed above, using exergaming as a fun, effective tool in the curriculum can be a successful equipment choice for both the teacher and the students.
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Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more great ideas, trends, and tips!

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Web-Based Toolbox for Professional Development

Posted 1 year ago - by Jessica Shawley

 

Quite often I am asked: “With all the information that’s out there on physical education, what’s the best way to stay up-to-date and get new ideas?” While there are many good resources out there, let me share with you my personal resource toolbox, which should help get you started.

My toolbox is primarily web-based which provides me instant and constant access to a much larger professional development community than just my annual local and regional workshops.  So, whether I am in my pajamas on a weekend morning before the household awakes, in the car during my commute, or out on a walk, I can utilize my toolbox to stay up-to-date and maximize my time.

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Before you dive into the toolbox, here is the ultimate disclaimer: a web-based toolbox will not and should not replace face-to-face interaction. Be sure to attend conferences and get involved in your professional association. Face-to-face interaction helps you maintain professional relationships, strengthen your professional network, and sustains you with positive energy that lasts. Using technology is just an aide that helps you be more consistent especially in a day and age when schools are reducing professional development funds.

Although not all-inclusive, here is a sampling of my favorite web-based professional development resources. I grouped them into a “Big Three” by various categories. And did I mention they are all FREE?!?

Gopher Education Center: 

Did you know Gopher offers three incredible sources of FREE Professional Development? Check them out in the Gopher Education Center!

  1. Gopher Solutions Webinar Series: By far the most thorough database of quality, physical education specific webinars for physical educators. These monthly webinars also provide a certificate of contact hour credit.

    • Tip: With all webinars, be sure to register no matter what. As a registered attendee, if you can’t make it you will receive the link to the recording to watch later. There is also a backlog of all of the Gopher webinars in the link above! Some of my favorites include those with Dr. Bob Pangrazi and Maria Corte.
       
  2. PE Blog: The most consistent and quality blog for physical education teachers available, written by today’s top names in the profession. You can search the blogs by topics/tags to get specific ideas or enjoy the weekly releases for your overall engagement and enjoyment. 
    • Tip: Schedule a reminder on your phone or calendar for your weekend or early morning reading time where you get to sit down, enjoy a cup of coffee and read over a good blog.
       
  3. PE Universe: “Where physical educators come together to share and ideas and build community.” It’s a free community network of videos, discussions, and activity ideas all in one. 

 

Podcasts:

  • SHAPE America Podcast hosted by Collin Brooks and Matt Pomeroy. Bringing you interviews with physical education champions and leaders in our community to discuss important issue and give new ideas to try in our classes.
     
  • The PE Geek Podcast with Jarrod Robinson. “The number one destination for anyone interested in utilizing technologies within their physical education classroom.” I’ve learned so much from Jarrod on integrating technology which has inspired me to be a better teacher.  I was lucky enough to be a guest on episode #43 as part of the Listener Stories of Success series.
     
  • Voxcast Podcast with Jorge Rodriguez. A wide-array of conversations with connected educators and leading minds in our profession from around the world. I was honored to participate in a Voxcast, which you can check out here.
     
  • *New Release: The Fundamental Movement Podcast with Aaron Beighle, Andy Vasily, Dean Dudley, Joey Feith, and Nathan Horne.  “A no holds barred discussion on all things physical education...discussing the issues of the day from a range of academic and teacher perspectives.”

 

Webinars:

*You can view all past webinars – this provides a great list of professional development topics!

  • The PhysEd Summit Webinar Series by Physedagogy has a mission to provide “digital professional learning opportunities for physical education professional by sharing, discussing, and reflecting upon best practices.”  The “Summits” provide a plethora of ideas from educators across the globe. It is completely organized by teachers, put on by teachers.
     
  • Huddle Connect: Brought to you by some of the most prominent names in physical literacy, physical education and sport through Thompson Publishing, the premier choice for Healthy, Active Living Canada. The Huddle Resources includes activities, info-graphics, and videos to support teachers.
     
  • SHAPE America:  Both live and recorded webinars for all “physical educators, health educators sport coaches, PETE and HETE professionals and students” interested in physical education and health. All SHAPE America webinars are 1 hour long, and participants can earn a certificate of 1.0 contact hour.

 

Social Media: 

  • Twitter: Most of the physical education community uses hashtags such as #physed, #PEblog, and #PEgeek to post updates and share ideas of what is going on in their classrooms along with links to other things they find useful. New to Twitter? Accept the 14-day Twitter Challenge for PE Teachers from Jarrod Robinson, The PE Geek, who walks you through each step to get started and provides a beginning list of  “Who to Follow” (you can even follow me @JessicaShawley)
     
  • Voxer: It is much like using a walkie-talkie, but better. Leave voice and text messages, and attach pictures or documents—either for a specific individual or a group. It’s an ongoing conversation you can carry on at your own pace and time. It’s an “underground professional learning lab” of support groups on a variety of Physical Education topics. I’ve been able to dive into a FITstep™ Pro Pedometers, Technology, and Secondary PE chat groups to receive support and advice. This is where Twitter users go to continue their conversations.  New to Voxer? Check out the VoxerPE site to learn more, including “how-to use Voxer” videos and see the VoxerPE Chat Groups.
     
  • SHAPE America Exchange Community: Exchange is SHAPE America’s online community that provides a daily strand discussion board where colleagues can join conversations, share ideas and ask questions. There is a library and shared file database as well as blog posts.  

 

Blogs:

  • The Physical Educator – “Rethinking what can be done in physical education” by Joey Feith (@JoeyFeith).
     
  • The PE Geek – Physical Education and Technology. “Learning how to use game-changing technologies in your PE Classroom” by Jarrod Robinson (@mrrobbo).
     
  • iPhys-Ed - "...Highlighting best practice in inquiry-based learning and technology integration in Physical Education...” by Nathan Horne (@PENathan).

 

Other Noteworthy Tools: 

  • YouTube – Teachers share many video ideas. Find people you follow on Twitter and view their subscriptions to gather ideas. Some names to get started: Kevin Tiller, Benjamin Pirillo, Ryan Armstrong, Jarrod Robinson, Chad Triolet, Jo Bailey, Joey Feith.
  • Google Drive – Get connected on Voxer in the General PE group and ask to join the crowd-sourced physed file being shared by others from around the world. Be sure to share and contribute.  
  • Periscope – Physical educators share live video feed of events (usually conference session or speaker highlights), and Periscope makes them available for a short period of time. Follow #physed people.  

 

Continue the Conversation: What is in your toolbox for technology-based professional development?

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Exergaming: Pedagogy, Play, or Pointless? (Part 1)

Posted 1 year ago - by Dr. Lisa Witherspoon

Exergaming or Exertainment has been defined as technology-driven activities that require participants to use their bodies in order to play the game.

What was once a popular fad ten years ago when DanceDance Revolution hit the market is now a common activity in schools all over the world. Video game bikes, motion sensor games, touch walls, dance games, etc. are just a few of the many exergames that can now be found in schools, community centers, arcades, and homes.

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Children in this generation are drawn to the technology and video game aspect. The opportunity to receive immediate feedback and gratification while exercising is rewarding. Many say children do not realize they are exercising because the activities are fun and different from traditional activities.

 

How does a teacher choose exergaming activities for his or her physical education classroom?

This is actually a complicated question and one that is often overlooked.  Some teachers choose what the kids “like or want”.  This is certainly not how quality physical education programs need to select exergames for their program. In a nutshell, we should think of exergaming as a modern jump rope. An exergaming activity is simply another piece of equipment that is going to be used to accomplish objectives by assisting the development of technical and tactical skills. Teachers need to think about the scope and sequence of their program and then determine which exergaming activities, if any, would be appropriate.

Another common misunderstanding is what the role of the teacher becomes when exergaming is implemented.  Pedagogy strategies may change to fit the activity but the concept of pedagogy should not.  Often, teachers become more of a cheerleader providing feedback on the score of the game instead of specific feedback related to the objectives of the lesson. For example, it is easy to see the excitement on a child’s face after winning a level in a game. Teachers naturally want to congratulate them with comments such as, “Good job!”, “That was great!”, or “Did you beat your score?” While this is not completely wrong, the idea of the activity should be for the teacher to continue to teach the objectives of the lesson providing positive, specific feedback related to the cues or main purpose of the lesson.  There may be an on/off button to the game, but teachers should take this opportunity to provide extensions, refinements and challenges when applicable.

Things to consider before purchasing exergaming activities for physical education:

Dedicated Space

Many exergames need a dedicated space in order to play. Some need to be mounted to a wall while others need outlets to plug and play. Teachers should first consider if there is appropriate space for the need of the activity.

Financial Strain

Exergames can be very expensive. Some exergames are affordable and cost as little as $50.00 while others can cost as much as $20,000.  Teachers need to investigate the cost of activity and make sure to include all accessories that will be needed.

 

Technological Difficulties

 

Technology of any kind (cell phones, televisions, computers, etc.) will typically face technological difficulties. Cracked screens, lost cords, and broken sensors are common and should be prepared for before purchasing an exergame.  In addition, teachers should make sure to ask about warranty and service options depending on the durability of the activity.

 

Incorporating exergaming into a physical education program can be fun and effective. Teachers need to make sure they continue to focus on teaching objectives, providing specific feedback, and assessing the students.  If pedagogy while teaching exergaming is replaced by children simply playing games, then exergaming in physical education has become pointless!

Check out these great Exergaming Options for your PE class!

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Voxer: Instant PE Professional Development & Collaboration

Posted 1 year ago - by Michael Beringer

What is Voxer? 

Well simply put, it’s a walkie talkie app that lets you talk to anyone, anytime. All you need is the app, which can be downloaded for free on both iOS and Android devices. 

The app allows you to use voice, text, and photos in a group message. What’s great about this professional tool is that you can instantly communicate with Physical Education professionals from all over the world. Of course, there are upgrades that cost money, but the free subscription should get you what you need.  If you choose to upgrade, Voxer Pro is $3.99 a month or $29.00 a year and adds extras like larger group chats, share from Dropbox, increased storage, Walkie Talkie mode (instantly receive messages even when you’re not in the app) and downloading messages to your desktop or laptop.

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Learn more about Voxer on their Facebook or Twitter
 

Get started with Voxer in PE:

  1. Download the App and create a free account
    • Watch Jo Bailey’s (@LovePhyEd) YouTube Tutorial, #Physed Voxer Guide. She explains how to download the app and what you need to get started with this awesome professional development collaboration tool.
       
  2. Join PE Voxer groups
    • Find a list of great PE-related Voxer chats below or check out Mike Graham's (@pe4everykid) full list in the Google Doc, Physical Education Voxer Chat Groups
    • To join a group, just contact the administrator of the group on Voxer and let them know you’d like to be added. 
       

My Recommended PE Voxer Groups:

  • Adapted PE – Admin: mikegraham (Mike Graham)
  • Elementary PE Group – Admin: hbaert896 (Helena Baert)
  • Explain Everything – Admin: endli613 (Nick Endlich)
  • Field Day Chat – Admin: dcarne681 (Dave Carney)
  • Fitness Testing Chat – Admin: snelso9384 (Samantha Nelson)
  • Health Chat – Admin: jwamsl224 (Jenny Wamsley)
  • PE Technology Chat – Admin: bassett1976 (Matthew Bassett)
  • PE Large Group Classes – Admin: bpiril593 (Ben Pirillo)

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Using Technology as an Organizational Tool in PE

Posted 1 year ago - by Jessica Shawley

The bell rings and class begins. We press start on the department Apple iTouch using the Seconds Pro app. The timer announces, “dressing down” over our sound system and students know they have four minutes to get ready for class. Many finish dressing early and head out to the gym to get their pedometer secured and do a ‘walk and talk’ around the main court with their peers or help finalize lesson setup.

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After the four minutes of locker room time the timer says, “warm-up time” and upbeat fitness music begins playing. Students immediately go to the nearest warm-up station and begin the dynamic warm-up of movement progressions. The music starting also signals to students they should be out of the locker room and have on their assigned FITstep™ Pro pedometer. Teachers now take attendance by looking at the remaining pedometers in the numbered wall pouch. The current warm-up is a perimeter of station cone signs where students rotate from station to station in a designated manner. After four minutes of warm-up time the timer says, “Warm-up Complete” and the music stops. The students report to their teacher and the rest of the lesson continues.

I have learned to use technology as an organizational tool to help make my daily routine more efficient. 

This routine is built around the daily warm-up timer and a well-stocked teaching cart. I recommend using any wheeled utility cart or ClassPlus™ Pedometer Cart.  A wheeled cart is a priceless necessity for the gymnasium and helps keep all your teaching tools accessible, yet out of the way of your movement-based classroom. At any given time there’s a mix of paperwork, pencils, Plickers cards, pedometers, downloading station, laptop, sound system, LCD projector and more.

What technologies are organizational tools for you? What does your daily routine entail? These are great questions for teachers to consider regularly and I get asked these frequently when I share in professional development workshops. Here are the details on my current set-up routine.

 

Daily teaching station set-up routine:

Pedometer setup:

1) Set-up FITstep Pro Pedometer Software on laptop and check that FitStep data readers are in place.

2) Hang up FITstep Pro Pedometers in their QwikID™ storage case using Command hooks (large 5 lb. capacity).


Sound setup:

1) Samson bluetooth, rechargeable speaker and iTouch with the day’s music selection and timers ready.

2) Turn on wireless Satechi remote to run sound if I am not going carry the iTouch during the lesson.

3) Put on personal PA/Shure wireless headset mic pack. Extra batteries on cart.

Having a portable, wireless, Bluetooth sound system with a wireless mic adapter is a necessity nowadays in physical education. Music highly motivates students and saving on your voice with a headset mic will not only allow students to hear instructions correctly but also prolong your career and increase the amount of energy you have left at the end of the day.  

Additional support pieces in my routine:

1) Get Team Shake app going on my teacher iPad for placing students into equitable teams for the lesson.

2) Hang up my pocket chart for storing Plickers assessment cards, handouts or portfolio pieces.

3) I use my teacher iPad for attendance, fitness apps, taking photos and videos of students in action, and for use with my Apple TV and LCD projector.   

 

Continuing the conversation: What technologies are organizational tools for you? What does your daily routine entail? Share your ideas in the comment section. 

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

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Twitter is Dumb!

Posted 1 year ago - by Aaron Beighle

This was my quote about two years ago. My guess is that some of you read that quote and thought, “Finally someone who will agree with me that Twitter is not all that.”

Unfortunately I am probably going to disappoint you, but please keep reading.

I am going to share my hesitant, maybe even reluctant, journey into Twitter, my experiences as a relative newbie, what I have found to be the benefits, and one concern I have based on my experiences. My hope is that this can be shared with the Twitter naysayers as a way of getting them to at least look into Twitter because I think there are many benefits. My perspectives are fluid, so I welcome discussion.

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Twitter has been around since March 21st, 2006 (I looked it up). While many educators have been involved and were forward thinking enough to see the utility of Twitter since the early days, it seems that the use of Twitter by physical educators for professional development, learning, sharing, and interacting with a Professional Learning Network (PLN) has really ramped up in the last 3-4 years. The potential for Twitter is immense and many are starting to see this. I, on the other hand, am one of those slow uptake people.

One reason for my apprehension is my hesitancy to jump on the bandwagon of the next fad in physical education, and we have our share. Some of my apprehension is that I am a people person. I like face-to-face interaction. I think this interaction is the foundation of relationships. In workshops, gymnasiums, and classrooms, personal interactions provide energy, context, and opens doors for communications. While I present and listen to webinars, podcasts, etc., I thrive on face-to-face interaction with others. I like people (most of them). For these reasons, reading a tweet such as “Be sure to attend the #physed twitter chat 2nite@gophersport “ was not initially attractive to me. Please know, there is much more to Twitter than the simple posts you read; this was just my perspective early on.

So how did I get started? I started by following sports talk radio folks and some artists my daughters liked so I could find out if they were in concert near us. Over the next two years I listened to workshop presenters, colleagues, students, and teachers talk about their PLN. I saw them meet people at conferences who they knew from Twitter but had never met face-to-face. From there I started following some physical education folks. I was still against social media as a professional resource. It’s called “SOCIAL” media right? LinkedIn was for professional interactions. I was and still am a Facebook stalker. I rarely post other than to say, “Thanks for the birthday wishes” and to post the obligatory first day of school pictures for our four girls. Face-to-face I can do. I love presenting. Talking to physical educator teachers, hearing and seeing their passion is what I love. Typing to people I may or may not know just doesn’t feel right. I know this is a bit contradictory considering I am writing this blog and do my share of writing books and articles.

In the last 1.5 months I have ramped up my own involvement via tweeting, reading Twitter chats, even occasionally making comments (WHOA) AND I LIKE IT. I am guessing I like it for the reasons many others like it. It allows instantaneous interactions. I can see a teacher from Australia’s ideas instantly. While email would serve the same purpose, the teacher from Australia can share her work simultaneously to hundreds or thousands.  

Twitter provides physical educators with a support network/PLN. Considering many of us are literally on an island (our teaching space) and might have limited chances for interactions with other #physed teachers, this is a great benefit. PLNs are also significant given the trend for decreased professional development (PD) dollars and thus PD opportunities. Twitter also provides a national and global perspective. Posts and interactions with teachers from around the world has great potential for improving teaching and the field. While not as official sounding, Twitter is simply fun. Like Facebook, with Twitter you feel you know some of the folks you follow or are following you, but you may have never met them in person or haven’t seen them in 20 years. A bit weird, but fun. This list is limited and I am sure readers can come up with more reasons they love Twitter. My point is to let those riding the Twitter fence see that there are upsides and it’s worth looking into.

My only real concern about Twitter is the lack of accountability for posts. (Please know that I know that many forms of electronic media have similar issues, I am just focusing on Twitter.) There is no vetting or refereeing process associated with Twitter posts. This means anyone can post anything at any time. If you think about that it’s both scary and exciting. I understand that it is up to the reader to decipher the content and make judgments as the utility of a post. However, what if the reader is not as educated or up to speed on what #QPE is? What if the post is a video of poor teaching practices? Or inaccurately quoted research? I know reporters do this ALL the time, but at least they have the excuse that they are “outside the field”. With Twitter, it’s our own posting content that lacks evidence or contradicts what is generally accepted as best practice. I am not sure of an answer for this, but I believe it is worth discussing in the Twitter chat world.

I hope this blog will push #physed teachers and other professionals to look into using Twitter. The benefits outweigh the negatives, particularly if Twitter is used without accepting everything for face value. Yes, some folks are out to promote themselves and will use shameless self-marketing and some will post a quote that in no way reflects the research article it claims to quote; however, in a very short amount of time, I have learned to filter those posts (that means I don’t get bent out of shape over them) and focus on the positives associated with Twitter. If you have never used Twitter, I hope you give it a try. If you use Twitter, I hope you use it with a filter that helps you maximize its potential.

Follow me @AaronBeighle

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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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