Using Technology as an Organizational Tool in PE
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.
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:
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).
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.
Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more great trends, ideas, and tips!
Check out more Blogs by Jessica!
3 Ways Pedometers Enhance Cross-Curricular Connections
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.
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:
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.
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?
Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more great ideas, trends, and tips!
Check out more Blogs by Jess!
The Under Construction Mindset: Home is Where the Heart Is
A recent five-month delay in gymnasium renovations tested my level of grit, flexibility, and creativity, as our department was relocated and divided between several empty science labs and general classrooms.
From start to finish it would be over a full year of interruptions. I found out that packing and unpacking a gym is like moving into a new home and can be quite the process.
In the end, I came away with a new appreciation that quality learning can take place in a non-traditional environment. It’s not about the facility. Your teaching “home” is where your heart is, and it is really about what you do with what you have.
Whether or not you have a traditional facility, I believe every physical education teacher can relate to the phrase: “No Gym? No problem!” as our classrooms are regularly borrowed throughout a school year for picture day, special assemblies, book fairs, or even evening activities. Our ability to remain flexible in these situations is a badge of honor in the physical education world, and creative ways in which we handle these situations could be a blog of its own. Coping with temporary setbacks or lack of facilities is an important question of mindset.
Here are five takeaways from my year “under construction” that aims to help teachers gear up for a great year no matter their environment.
1. Keep Your Eye on the Prize - Resilience & Relationships
Students are resilient and will rise to the occasion when challenged. I was proud of the way my students adjusted to the challenge of our temporary relocation.
In turn, students also need a teacher to model for them how to handle adversity and exhibit resilience when things don’t go as planned. I had a choice to make each day: complain and pout that the gym wasn’t ready yet or push through the adversity and find a way to design lessons so student learning outcomes could be achieved within my small classroom space.
Relationships are also critical here. Success stems from our positive attitudes as teachers and our ability to build relationships with students. My relationships come first. The learning happens as a result of those relationships. The adversity the construction process threw at my program reminded me that I must never forget the importance of building strong relationships with students and colleagues. We spent a lot of time in close quarters doing active lessons, and this required a special setup and uniquely designed environment.
2. Keep It Simple – The K.I.S.S. Principle Is King
As a department, we pledged to continue to have high expectations for student learning yet remember to embrace the “keep it simple” philosophy as our temporary relocation was a new frontier for our department. I couldn’t get frustrated with myself if things weren’t as they used to be...I was in a new situation. I had to remember to be flexible and have some grace with my new reality.
3. Be In Tune With Technology
Technology and accountability are prime motivators for students. Thankfully, we use Gopher FitStep Pro downloadable pedometers. Our students continued to wear them daily, and we set realistic activity time goals all students could achieve. This helped students gauge their level of participation, and we were able to use their data for feedback of our teaching overall.
We used the computer lab for cognitive quizzes, Fuel Up to Play 60 activity and nutrition logs, and goal-setting lessons based upon Fitnessgram results. A small set of iPad Minis allowed students to use video analysis apps to learn the biomechanics of movements, record workouts, and try out fitness apps. We found online websites such as HOPSports that provided free workouts and activity breaks.
4. Be Family Friendly
Remember that you are a part of a larger community, and one goal of a quality physical education program is to help students connect what they are learning in class with the rest of the world. I called upon community partners to help me showcase to my students the opportunities available in our community and surrounding area. Students learned about local classes offered by our Parks & Recreation department and how to sign-up. The Parent Support Team helped with our physical education fun run, and I collaborated with my technology and math colleagues, which may have not happened had it not been for my relocation. I also depended upon the support of my incredible colleagues, my district department, and I began participating more in my extended social media family by joining Voxer support groups, searching Twitter, and reading SHAPE America journal articles for new ideas. Overall, this experience gave me an even stronger appreciation for my value in the larger school community and my professional learning family network both local and through social media.
5. Be A Risk Taker – Try New Things
I knew it would be a crazy year, so I thought why not try out some new things? Little project challenges kept me going, and I embraced doing the things I’ve always wanted to do but didn’t have the time for previously. I took on one project at a time, my colleagues also joined in on the challenge, and before we knew it, we had implemented new lessons and even new units. We found new ways to use existing technology and enjoyed the challenges our new technology brought us (iPads through grant money). We added things we could do in a small space such as juggling, balance boards, activity breaks and fitness trampolines to our curriculum. We used iPads for video analysis and fitness app reviews. I was proud of the way we found new ways to reach our student learning objectives.
Despite this being one of the more unique and challenging years in my teaching career, it was also one of the most rewarding. It is one that truly helped me see the value of having a growth mindset, a positive attitude, and an incredible professional family. I want to encourage others to look to these five tips as a foundation for embracing these types of challenges in our profession and also wish them luck!
Continue the Conversation: What “under construction” situations have you faced, and how did you handle the adversity? What went well? What could you have done to make it better? What tips do you have that can help others in similar situations?
Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more great tips, trends, and ideas!
Check out more Blogs by Jessica!
Fuel Up to Play 60: Promoting School-Wide Wellness
Have you heard of Fuel Up to Play 60?! Wondering how it can impact your school and program?
Find out more about the program and how it promotes school-wide wellness below.
What attracted me to the Fuel Up to Play 60 (FU2P60) program is how the mission aligns with my goals as a physical educator AND it isn’t just a physical education-only grant.
You're probably thinking, "Wait. Say that again?! You were looking for something that wasn't just a PE grant?"
Yes, I was looking for an opportunity to emphasize wellness as a school-wide initiative. FU2P60 helps schools build comprehensive programs that promote a culture of wellness school-wide, which includes and supports health & physical education, and is built upon student leadership. This is what I was looking for to help me team up with colleagues and cultivate wellness partnerships.
This is my fourth year as a Fuel Up to Play 60 Advisor and each year the program expands throughout our school. For example, near the end of last year, the technology teacher at my school approached me with the idea of bringing Fuel Up to Play 60 into her classroom. A little back story, with previous funding, I had provided teachers with some of Gopher’s Active & Healthy™ Schools program materials to bring ‘brain energizers’ into classrooms to help students take breaks from prolonged sitting. This teacher had successfully added these brain energizers to her teaching and now wanted to educate students on the importance of regular breaks from sitting and emphasize making healthy choices, especially if their career choice would include sitting in front of a screen.
The technology teacher became a program advisor with me. With FU2P60 grant funding, we purchased equipment to keep at her end of the school for physical activity breaks from prolonged periods of sitting. Other teachers were allowed access the equipment as well. The students loved being able to get outside or into the hallway to move and then return to their work, often with more vigor. This was made possible through the “In-Class Physical Activity Breaks” Play.
Next, we purchased an iPad mini™, GoPro® camera, and educational materials/posters for the “Snack Smarter in School” Play. Students utilized the technology equipment to take videos, interviews, and snapshots of our students in action during a variety of activities. The technology teacher used Food Cards to review nutrition content previously taught in physical education. Students built healthy plates, analyzed food labels, and formatted information into tables as part of their technology skill building. Students created original posters with healthy messages and participated in contests for giveaways. Students even developed a FU2P60 student website we will use to post pictures and promote the program overall.
The technology teacher developed several activities that infused nutrition with technology skills. It truly is a successful cross-curricular partnership.
Fuel Up to Play 60 is a natural platform to help teachers collaborate and enhance their curriculum through student health and wellness. The possibilities are endless! This blog is only one success story from my Fuel Up to Play 60 experience. There are many more and you can view other stories here. Overall, the initiative is an excellent way to help establish partnerships within your school that promote the importance of physical activity and nutrition.
The program provides the option to apply for grant funding annually. You are not required to apply for funding to be a part of the program. It is completely FREE. As an experienced grant-writing teacher, the FU2P60 application process to be very user friendly, even for first time grant writers. Your local dairy council will provide support with the application process and overall program. All you have to do is ask. There are two upcoming deadlines for 2015-16 school year grant funding cycle (June 16 & November 4, 2015) where your school can qualify for up to $4,000 in funds to support the Healthy Eating & Physical Activity Plays.
Continuing the Conversation: What do you currently do to support wellness in your school beyond your classroom? What partnership opportunities might there be in your school or community that could begin next year?
Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more great ideas, trends, and tips!
Check out more Blogs by Jessica!
How to Develop an Effective Communication Plan
When physical education was relocated to regular classrooms due to gym construction, a parent commented on how they felt nothing was happening in P.E. due to the construction. This was far from true, and several non-P.E. teachers were quick to inform the parent about the wonderful learning happening regardless of the temporary relocation of P.E. class. When word got back to me about this exchange it made me realize I needed to communicate better with parents, especially during this time of construction.
What should we do to ensure our partners (parents, students, administration, colleagues, school board, local media, etc.) understand and support not only what is going on in our classrooms but also our profession as a whole?
Answer: Develop and implement a simple, consistent communication system.
In my previous blog post, I unveiled 3 basic steps to a communication plan: Capture, Convert & Communicate Content. Here, I will expand upon step 3 on how and why to communicate with your various partners.
Parents & Students:
Let’s face it, these are our #1 partners. If they are happy, we are happy. At the start of each year, I compile an iMovie of the previous year as a “promo” highlights video. I use this as a kick-off to our annual parent informational night. Usually there is barely enough time to say hello and go over a few expectations. This traditional context at parent night seemed useless. I wanted to add more sustenance. I decided to mix it up and show parents what their child was going to experience. I wanted to inspire these parents to be a part of our superhero support team. The first time I showed the highlights video parents were thrilled. It made our presentation much more fun and focused on the positives of P.E. class while covering basic expectations for student success.
I show this same video to students at the start of the year. At the end of units I show students the video clips and pictures I took during the unit to create a lasting memory of their success. They really enjoy seeing themselves in action. I can then recycle these for the next year to kick off that same unit and as part of a ‘shuffle’ playlist of highlight movies at our annual family fitness night.
You may not realize it, but the power of email (or a phone call) cannot be underestimated. I have made it a goal to send at least one positive email per week to the parents of at least one student per class. Throughout the week, I write a quick note on my attendance sheet of a highlight I can share with a parent. The response from appreciative parents is priceless. I save these in an email folder so I can demonstrate parent communication to my principal. Remember to celebrate student success. Don’t just leave it up to the student to tell their parents – sometimes they forget.
Colleagues & Administration:
Share student success within your building by sending out regular emails with a note and picture of a moment with students. For example, when playing disc golf, a student got the first “hole in one” of the unit. It was a great shot! I took his picture standing next to the disc golf target and emailed it out to my colleagues later that day. I used it as a teachable moment with students as well, explaining how you get your picture in the paper when you get a hole in one on the golf course. The staff really appreciated the email. In fact, our school now regularly emails “shout out” moments. This helps spur conversations and congratulations among staff and students creating a positive community.
Another tip is to invite staff and administrators to in-class events or celebrations. You never know when a staff member is willing to come down and see students in a different setting during their prep time. Our administration participates in end-of-the-unit tournaments. Having the opportunity to play against your principal in Pickleball is a treasured moment.
School Board, Local Media & Community:
At the start of each school year, collect contact information for the current school board members and local media liaison. The school district administrative office usually has this information.
Anytime you put on an event, send an invitation to the school board and media liaison. If you put together a new and innovative unit and have some corresponding pictures, send a good news email to the school board and media about it. They really appreciate the invitations and enjoy supporting the students.
Our mayor recently attended our breakfast taste test event and expressed his interest to be more involved. Our annual fun run has made the front page of the local paper. I like to present annually to our school board on the success of physical education in our district. I share our highlight video and talk about any new grants we’ve been awarded or national initiative participation (Let’s Move, Fuel Up to Play 60, etc.). Community leaders and the local media rarely miss a chance for a constituent photo opportunity.
Parent Support Team/PTO:
Never underestimate the power of your building-level parent support team. These superheroes will help build program advocacy and support events, and they love to be involved. Take advantage of their desire to help with school activities and initiatives. Keep them in the loop. Attend parent support team (sometimes called PTO) meetings regularly; I suggest quarterly or at least twice a year. All of the previous suggestions and methods of communication apply to the parent support team as well.
What, Why & Sources
Photo Slide Shows
Parents: Show at parent night.
Students: Start of year and end of unit highlights.
School Board: annual school board meeting presentation.
Parents: Good news on child, event invitations.
Colleagues & Administration: Learning highlights, event invitations.
Parents & School Board: Good news on learning and info on future events. Note: Most schools send e-newsletters. Be sure to have P.E. contribute a highlight to school e-newsletter, or create own to email/mail home.
Parents, Colleagues & Community: Regular blurbs on student success or action shots are fun to share. Include information on future events, and post reminders. Social Media options: School or PE Facebook/Twitter (as school policy allows)
Class website or Blog:
For ALL partners: regular entry to local media on events and participation in national initiatives demonstrates powerful P.E. program.
Class Dojo: Behavior tracking and communication
Remind: Allows one-way reminders to go home.
Communication Plan Example:
Weekly: Good news parent emails sent home.
Monthly: Update class website or blog.
Quarterly: Highlight email sent to colleagues and administration. E-newsletter home.
Semester: Same as quarterly but add in update to parents and school board.
Event Specific: Communicate with all groups.
This two-part series on communicating with partners may initially seem overwhelming for some but the importance of communication should not be underestimated. Take time to analyze your current communication plan and set goals for the rest of this school year and the next.
- Who are your most important partners you wish to communicate better with?
- What methods will you use to communicate?
- How often or when will you communicate?
Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more great ideas, trends and tips!
Check out more Blogs by Jess!
3 Critical Steps for Sharing Your Success!
The more I speak with parents, school board, administrators, local media, or other community members, the more I understand they DO want to share in our success and support us. They just don’t always know how, especially at the secondary level when students desire more independence. However, research shows that adolescents need as much adult support as elementary age youth. What should we do to ensure our partners understand and support not only what is going on in our classrooms (at every level) but also our profession as a whole? Answer: Develop and implement a simple, consistent communication system.
It’s time we stop hoping students will remember to tell parents about the great things they are learning or that our administrator will remember to share the wonderful things we do at school board meetings. It’s time teachers stop being afraid to regularly share student success. When you spread the word about the great things going on in your classroom, it is not (and should never be) considered self-centered bragging. It’s not about us! It’s about the students.
Here are three critical steps for establishing and implementing your communication system. In Part 2 of this series, we will discuss specific tips, tools, and information for communicating with each partner group to kick-start your communication system.
Step 1: Capture the Content
My iPhone/iPad go with me everywhere. Students love to be photographed, filmed, and will even help you capture class content. I take some sort of highlight clips or pictures of each unit we do, especially culminating events or new activities. Before smart technology, our department purchased a nice camera we would carry around at select times. Before this, I would write down great class moments to have them on hand to share later. Carry around that notepad in your clipboard or bring along your smart device, as both the techie and non-techie alike can and should capture class moments.
*Step 1 TIP: To get started, set a goal for how often you will start “capturing content,” whether it is writing down great moments or taking photos and videos. Will it be monthly, by unit, quarterly, etc.? You can even set a recurring reminder in your phone to help you remember it's time to capture content.
Step 2: Convert the Content
Depending upon your audience and selected method of your communication (presenting at a meeting, sending an email, creating a website or newsletter, etc.) you will want to use a photo and video program to guide and simplify your ability to convert content.
For example, Apple users can utilize iMovie on MacBook (advanced user) OR on iPad (beginning user) to easily put together great highlight videos that can be exported to YouTube, iTunes or saved as a file to use elsewhere. I use iPhoto to organize photos and video by year and by topic. This allows me to easily import content into iMovie or other applications and also allows me to show slideshows of pictures to students. *Note: I recommend purchasing a 1TB (or larger) external storage drive as content fills devices quickly (thankfully, these are more affordable than ever nowadays).
Regardless of your ability level or available tools, anyone can conquer this step. Before I had my own devices, I used school-provided technology. I met with my technology teacher to learn how to best store my files on the school server, how much space I was allowed, and what programs were available to meet my needs. I took an in-district workshop on Microsoft Movie Maker and I went in after school to use the program on school computers and to receive assistance from my coworker. Utilize your local resources.
*Step 2 TIP: Make it a professional goal to learn a new technology tool(s). For those who want to learn more about how to use Apple-based products, check out David A. Cox’s FREE PC Classes Online for informational tutorials on a variety of techy topics, including iMovie and iPhoto.
Step 3: Communicate the Content
There are many more avenues for communication these days, in some instances too many. Whether or not your school already has a media spokesperson or communication plan (regular newsletters to parents, etc.), this step is crucial. You can collect and convert content all you want, but if you don’t communicate the content to your partners then your content and effort is meaningless.
The challenge is establishing a communication plan that works for you. The goal of communicating student success is to generate support for student achievement and overall program advocacy. Keep it simple. Be consistent. Identify your partners or audience. Choose the type(s) of communication you will use with each group. Pinpoint when and how often you will communicate. See the table below for an example.
*Step 3 TIP: Choose one new method of communication to try and set a SMART goal for when and how to use it. Team up with a colleague or find a professional learning community online for support.
Developing a Communication Plan:
Identify Your Partners:
Select Method(s) of Communication:
Determine When/How Often:
Class website or blog, Social Media, Apps, Newsletters, Bulletin Boards
Email, Phone, Social Media, Parent Night, Family Fitness Night, Class website or blog, Apps, Newsletters, Event Invitation
Email, Class website or blog, Social Media, Newsletters, Event Invitation
Email, Staff Meeting, Social Media, Event Invitation
Email, Presentations, Social Media, Event Invitation, Newsletters
Class website or blog, Presentations, Social Media, Newspaper articles, Event Invitation
Social Media, Event Invitation, Newspaper articles
It’s important for students to see and hear validation of their hard work. Do you remember saving newspaper clippings of events you were involved in as a youth? I do!
In Part 2, we’ll expand upon the table in Step 3 providing specific tools, tips, and resources that will help you communicate your content.
Analyze your current communication plan. What do you do well? What is your weakness? What have you always wanted to learn? Think about these “3 Steps” and formulate or revitalize your existing communication plan.
Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more great ideas, trends and tips!
Check out more Blogs by Jessica!
The FUN Factor: Culminating Events in Physical Education
Think back to your school years (K-12) and recall a favorite physical education or physical activity memory. Does field day, a special field trip, a jump rope for heart event, or dance performance come to mind? Perhaps it’s your first athletic competition or a final state tournament appearance? As physical educators and coaches, we are in the ‘memory making’ business. I heard this term at a recent workshop and it really stuck with me. I can recall many favorite memories from childhood regarding my physical education and athletic participation. It was an indispensable part of my personal development.
When it comes down to it, students may not remember daily lessons but they will remember the “experiences” and the feeling of being successful at something in your class or the lack thereof. Students who leave with more negative experiences than positive create future barriers against our profession. We need to make sure our classrooms are emotionally and socially safe as well as be purposeful in creating positive memories. This will help students transfer their learning and become our advocates as the future parents and community leaders they are sure to become.
Learning should be challenging and fun. Culminating events are the ‘FUN Factor’ and a very effective way to create positive memories in physical education. Use this “FUN Factor Formula” to guide you and check out my “FUN Factor” blog resource page where you will find several go-to resources!
The “FUN Factor” Formula:
- Identify the need. Reflect on your teaching and ask: What area can I improve? What curricular units need some ‘jazzing’ up? What have I wanted to do and haven’t yet? What new tradition do I want to instill in my program or school to showcase student success?
- Identify the type of event. Will it be in-class, school-wide, or cross-curricular in nature? Here are some examples I’ve experienced (more can be found on the web and Twitter):
- In-Class Events: End of unit celebrations with goofy awards created by students (see badminton birdie picture above), Dance performances, “Design Your Own” game/routine, Obstacle courses, Sport-Education based tournaments, Jump Rope for Heart events, Speed Stacking or Jammin’ Minute activity break world record days, and Just Dance-a-thons.
- Large Group or School-wide Events: Family Fitness Night, All-school fun-runs (can align with holiday celebrations), Field trips, Special schedule tournaments (I’ve seen an all-school bowling tournament blow me away!), and Fuel Up to Play 60 events.
- Cross-Curricular Events: Working with math and social studies teachers to use student pedometer steps to track progress along the “Oregon Trail.” History facts and math skills are reviewed in PE and students take their step data to math to graph and analyze. Working with the technology teacher to integrate use of fitness apps (students develop reviews and then try out in PE class) and tech students develop a PE website.
- Keep it simple and start small. You can’t do it all, all of the time. As teachers, we usually have too many things we want to do. Remember to choose one new thing and build from there.
- Develop a support team. Involve parents (superhero volunteers!) and students (the more they are a part of the planning, the more successful the event will be as it increases buy-in). Depending upon the event you will also need one or more colleagues on board. Ask early and stay organized so their time is valued. Remember to return the favor when they need it.
- Follow through and just go for it (and more than once!). Every event has areas of improvement. It is crucial to reflect, improve and do the event more than once before throwing it out because “it didn’t work.” Sometimes you just have to go for it and enjoy the moment with students. If they see you having fun, they will have fun too. Before you know it you will have a wonderful tradition at your school such as my program’s annual fall fun run (see picture above).
- Document and share your success: Sometimes this critical step is overlooked. Have students send invitations to parents, administrators, school board, the media and local leaders (mayor, etc.). Have a plan as to who will help take pictures and video of the event so you can share it with students as a way to cement the positive memory.
With these factors in mind you have the perfect formula to get yourself started with integrating more or improving existing culminating events in physical education. Remember, we are in the memory making business, so be sure to create positive memories that will last a lifetime and help support the development of lifelong learners and movers. Contact me or visit my resource blog for more information, handouts, and ideas. Best of luck!
Continue the conversation: What culminating events have become traditions in your teaching and how have they helped your program? What event have you always wanted to do and haven’t yet?
Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more great tips, trends and ideas!
Check out more Blogs by Jessica!
Changing the Physical Education Running Experience: Running for Something Better
Remember your first 5k, fun-run or other event? Remember the excitement and anticipation?
When the day arrived you placed the bib number on your shirt and away you went.
The result ended in smiles, sweat and a feeling of sweet-sweet accomplishment.
This is the inspiration that helped me change my one-dimensional running program into one that had more purpose. We are an ‘ING Run For Something Better’ School now and two-time recipient of the ING running grant. Though the grant has provided extra support for our program, you don’t need it to get started. There are several free resources available. Here are four key “P” components and resources that can help guide your running program planning this year.
Personalized Progression: My students choose a personal “marathon” goal: half (13.1 miles), three-quarter (19 miles) or full (26.2 miles). They follow a personalized progression two days per week to build up the miles towards their goal. Students complete journals and a log throughout the program. All goals can be achieved in the allotted time and many exceed their original goal. Use the resources at the end of this article to help you design a progression and gather ideas. These will help you integrate fun, exciting ways to train (intervals, etc.) and plan innovative lessons that keep students engaged. A running program is also a fantastic medium for teaching the health-related fitness component cardiovascular endurance.
Pedometers: Students wear Gopher FITstep™ Pro Uploadable Pedometers daily and download into the FitStep Pro software program (which comes free with pedometers).
The pedometers are helpful in two main ways:
1) Increased personalization. We know each student is different. Since the “one size fits all model” does not work (or should not be forced to) the pedometers provide the student the opportunity to personally self-assess daily effort, achievement toward goals, and work to their ability level.
2) Improved accountability. My students spend 20-30 total ‘physical activity-time’ (PA Time) minutes on the track, twice a week. They complete their goal’s laps, accumulate the minimum level of PA Time and also work to achieve a personal MVPA goal (we start low and build it up depending on ability. Students can help set their goals). Since the data is all quickly downloaded it is easy for me to see and share the results with students. Overall, there is better ‘buy-in’ from my students when using the FITstep™ Pro Pedometers than in previous years because these pedometers helped students achieve a realistic pace while also providing a challenge. And running activities are not limited to a track because the pedometers record students’ efforts no matter their activity or location.
“Pageantry” (...ok, so I had a hard time with “P” for how to say Culminating Event):
At the end of the program, students participate in a school wide Fun-Run. Road-ID donated race bib numbers for the event. A special assembly schedule allowed students to complete the fun-run at the end of the day (we walked students through the course in PE prior to the day). The course was the last 1.2 miles of their goal and around school grounds. We recognized students, had giveaways and took pictures in true fun-run style. The parent support team helped plan the event. See the sample running event checklist for ideas.
Promotion: The program and culminating event has helped build stronger relationships with parents, the community, news media, and local running clubs. Everyone WANTS to be included and is happy to offer support when it comes to student events; I found out they just needed the invitation. The fun-run provided such an opportunity. This has increased physical activity advocacy and our ability to promote the positive value of physical education. We continue to promote local runs and events to students throughout the year.
It all comes down to this: when you have a student who can barely complete one lap without feeling horrible go on to be one who shows up at a local community fun-run (and with her dad in hand!) you know you’ve made a difference with your physical education program. This is what it is all about. So get started today and Run For Something Better!
Visit my PE Champs website for running program resources mentioned in this blog.
Participate in the Conversation: What is your running program like? How do you incorporate run-walk-jog into your health-related fitness curriculum? Share your ideas here.
Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more great ideas, trends and tips!
Check out more Blogs by Jess!
How to Integrate Nutrition & Literacy into PE: Classics with Content
Our profession’s challenge to find balance between content rich activities and keeping students active has produced great strategies for blending content throughout student learning to provide more effective physical education.
The goal of this blog is to share how the USDA’s Choose MyPlate website can enhance classic game activities with valuable nutrition resources using the ‘10 tips’ Series.
Classic games such as tag, pin knockdown and bowling became revitalized when I began integrating the MyPlate content. Once pin knockdown was enhanced using colored pins to represent food groups and tag games could represent the balance between “energy in” (food consumed) and “energy out” (exercise) students became more engaged and this provided valuable talking points at the end of lessons that extended the bond across the psychomotor, cognitive and affective domains. It was the priceless trifecta I was looking for and has challenged me to continue to enhance other areas of my instruction.
Before I move into specific examples, here are 3 tips to help you get started with blending content into activities if you haven’t already done so:
1) Balance: Finding the balance between how much talking and moving is the first barrier to overcome. Realize effective physical education requires students to talk and interact with one another to help process learning. Challenge yourself to plan for these teachable moments and begin to find a balance that works for you and your students.
2) Purposeful Progressions: Analyze your curriculum and identify activity or skill progressions that may lend themselves well to integrating content progressions such as nutrition.
3) Start Small & Keep It Simple: Once you decide when, how and what to do...you just gotta GO FOR IT! Try it, and then try it again and again. It gets easier and better each time.
FREE Resource: One valuable (and FREE) resource that will enhance your current curriculum and/or offer a starting point if you have no formal curriculum is: Choose My Plate. Here I use the 10 Tips series and the .pdf handout of the MyPlate as a student game board.
The MyPlate 10 Tips Nutrition Education Series offers one-page, reader friendly handouts with ‘10 tips’ on nutrition based topics. From “Add More Vegetables to Your Day”, to “Snack Tips”, to “Build a Healthy Meal”, to “Be an Active Family” there are over 30 choices. An educator could easily have a theme for each week of the year and have great nutrition talking points that can be integrated throughout the week’s activities and sent home with students or put in newsletters to communicate with families and promote health literacy. The information can be adapted for use in most any activity in my class.
Here are three examples of how I have integrated the ‘10 tips’ handouts into activity. To prepare for these, take a 10-tips handout and cut each tip out to make “tickets” then place them in team envelopes or mix them together depending upon the activity (See ticket sample and detailed game ideas on my website). I have put the food group tips into a word document and will share them to help get your started.
Activity #1: “My Plate in Motion” Bowling. After students knock down certain colored pins, or combination of pins, or for a strike/spare (whichever situation) they collect a tip from their team envelope or the food bank bucket (where a mix of tickets is located). You can use the food group themed tips to have students build plates or collect all 10 tips from the envelope provided. You can do this style of activity with any skill development activity such as shooting in basketball or hockey.
Activity #2: “My Plate in Motion” Fitness. Set up fitness stations. After students complete a station they can earn a tip ticket for their team and take it back to their “home” location (hulahoop) and then go back out to exercise and earn more tips. Use the same strategy to build a plate or collect all 10 of one theme.
Activity #3: “My Plate in Motion” Relays & Tag. Take any standard relay or tag game and integrate the ‘10 tips’ tickets where students work together to collect all 10 tickets on a certain topic or theme.
Ultimately, I want to encourage our profession to keep students moving, having fun, and learning purposeful content. Use the Choose MyPlate resource as a springboard to promote nutrition and health literacy in a simple and fun manner as you continue or begin the journey of integrating content into your effective physical education program. If you are looking for some great ready-to-go activities, don't forget to check out these fun and easy-to-use Nutrition-Themed Games from Gopher!
Continue the conversation: What resources or tips have you used to help blend purposeful content into your activity and instruction?
Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more great tips, trends and ideas!
Check our more Blogs by Jess!
5 Ways Small Sided Games Make a BIG Impact
The use of Small-Sided Games, or SSGs for short, has given my program the biggest bang for my buck in terms of maximizing participation, inclusion, skill development, and assessment opportunities while keeping the learning environment enjoyable.
Small Sided Games re-create the physical or tactical demands found in game-play but in a smaller setting while still allowing for improvement to fitness levels. Using SSGs has challenged me to re-think the “traditional”.
I remember as a first year teacher, I’d take 35 students out to one field for the softball unit and try to go through drills, and then more drills, for skill development and only go into full game play at the end of the unit. Most everyone was unable to hit more than once in one period, especially with my larger classes, nor had they had enough opportunities to practice hitting because I had not maximized the learning environment through SSGs earlier in the unit. As a former collegiate softball player and the current high school coach, my favorite sport was my least favorite unit. It was terrible...until I learned about SSGs.
Times have changed in our profession and thankfully, so have I. You should no longer see a team of 10 students playing another for two straight weeks of softball (or anything for that matter), especially at the elementary or middle level. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for overall true game play, like they’d experience in adult recreational leagues, but this should often be saved for late-middle school or high school after a successful progression of other lessons and skill development through SSGs.
Below you will find out how your program will be impacted through the use of small-sided games.
Top 5 Ways Small-Sided Games Can Make A BIG Impact In Your Program:
- A purposeful progression of SSGs allows students to better learn concepts and tactical strategies. Example: A 3 vs. 3 or 4 vs. 4 game of mini-handball in a smaller space with adapted situations (single focuses on “finding an open space” or types of passes) enhances content knowledge more quickly. (See example above)
- SSGs allow for more successful inclusion of students of all ability levels. The layout of smaller teams and settings along with modified equipment is more manageable and flexible so that the needs of students can be met and all feel included.
Success Rate & Maximum Participation:
- The smaller the teams the more opportunity each player has for participation, which maximizes skill development and a student’s success rate (not to mention enjoyment). When students feel more competent and successful their overall participation also increases.
- The SSG environment allows for more authentic assessment situations because teachers are able to view all students in action in a specific situation with a select focus. Teachers can quickly identify needs and strengths of individuals and/or the class and make adjustments in instruction.
- Lastly, because participation is maximized with a specific focus in a smaller setting the teacher is able to give specific feedback more often. The teacher-student relationship is strengthened because students feel a sense of value when teachers are able to show and speak interest to their progress as well as provide feedback during their learning.
Continue the Conversation: What is one of your favorite ways to incorporate Small Sided Games into your program? What is a favorite SSG you use? You can leave a comment below. Thanks for sharing!
Continue reading the Gopher PE Blog for more ideas, trends and tips!
Read more Blogs by Jessica!