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5 Tips for Effective P.E. Class Management

Posted 2 months ago - by Peter Boucher

Hello fellow PE, Fitness & Wellness Teachers, or aspiring movement instructors! As a PE Teacher of 20+ years who evolved into administration as a Principal and K-12 Wellness Director/Athletic Director, I can absolutely attest that teaching Physical Education Class is an amazing and rewarding teaching position!  However, as we all know this Physical Educator position does require a very particular skill set. 

Most “strictly academic” teachers shudder at the thought of covering a PE class and most substitutes do not really want to be a substitute for Physical Education.  The large open spaces, the students’ ability to move around freely, and the potential for students to jump off task so quickly can intimidate most teachers. This is completely understandable if a teacher has not been properly trained to handle movement activities in multiple large open area arenas (gym, multipurpose room, track, outdoor fields, pool, fitness center, etc…)

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So, armed with this information, what are some critical skills or components that a new or even a veteran PE teacher could incorporate to help maximize ALT (Active Learning Time)? I went into my notes and archives to grab the “Top 5” management skills that I share with our K-12 Wellness/PE staff.  Take a read and see what you think:

1. Engage immediately and know names

I grouped these together as I believe them to be symbiotic and critical! It is so important to know EVERY student’s name! All current data indicates that students respond so much better when they are directed by name rather than a “hey, you”, “friend”, or any other type of general label.

This can be difficult for elementary PE Teachers as they typically instruct the entire school (which can be as much or beyond 500+ students) however it is still super helpful to know their names.  I also encourage the PE Teacher to engage the students the moment they enter the instructional environment (and engage them by name of course.) Immediate warm-ups, some sort of dynamic or static stretch, or a quick regimented sport specific movement sends a message that “what we are doing is important” and “we can’t afford to waste ANY time…so let’s get moving now!” 
 

2. Organization, routines, and start on time  

These skill springboard off of #1, as I feel it is important to have a routine opening class exercise/warm-up that is familiar and known to the students.  This creates an immediate and specific message that you are starting class and is less intimidating to students of all ages as they know and expect what is coming for a warm-up before any new material/movement is broached. 

Another routine that data shows to be important is “framing the lesson.” Quickly explaining the 1-2 or even 3 lesson goals AND the activities that you’ll be using to achieve those goals will decrease student anxiety and hopefully increase enthusiasm related to what is coming next for movement. A skilled PE teacher can “frame the lesson” in 1-2 minutes and then get the class moving.  Some teachers even frame the lesson during warm-ups/stretching.

 

3. Plenty of perfect practice

I remember learning this at Bridgewater State during my undergrad years for Physical Education and I still utilize it to this day.  Basically, what we are encouraging is that students should be practicing (“Skill & Drill”) in a fun movement session as much as possible during the class. Maximizing movement (fitness) and skill development is integral in the 21st Century educational world.  More student movement and repetition increases the student’s ability to grasp the skill and improve their fitness and skill level which in turn will increase their confidence in the intended movement or skill.

 

4. Organization! (Color coding and coordination)

This recommendation also connects with Organization (#2) and Plenty of Practice (#3). Organization is paramount to an efficient and effective lesson and it is the one component that if not deployed properly can derail a lesson into the Physical Education abyss.  Basically, the more organized you can be with your equipment and the more organized you are with your students then the better the lesson should progress. 

I have become a big fan of “color coding” student groups and even equipment if you can do so. This is especially important for the elementary levels where organization can complicate their movements and stunt a lesson.  I purchase colored or rainbow sets of equipment for our staff whenever possible to help maximize our efficiency and organization. For example, the “blue team” would utilize the “blue basketballs” while the red team would use the “red basketballs” in a particular lesson.  It’s much easier for the students to follow along.  Another great example would be color-coordinated cones as this helps frame practices.  The options are endless with the colored sets of equipment and being organized in every way imaginable can only increase Active Learning Time for students. For a wide-variety of equipment in Rainbow colors, look here

 

5. Have a back-up plan… always!

Having a back-up plan and some ancillary activities ready to go in a heartbeat should be common for every lesson every day.  So many PE plans can get disrupted by inclement weather (a planned outdoor lesson that needs to move inside for example), unforeseen speed bumps in the schedule (fire drill), technology not working, and any number of other hurdles that could present themselves.  A strong PE Instructor will have back-up plans that coincide with the planned goals of the day to make sure that students are receiving the physical, affective, and cognitive activities that they need and deserve.

How about you and your classroom? What are some other Fantastic PE Class Management tips? I know there are far more than five, what are some that you feel are critical too? Thanks for sharing…

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3 Types of Adventure Programming for P.E.

Posted 3 months ago - by Peter Boucher

Physical Education and Wellness classes have come a long, long way in the 21st Century.  Gone are the “Friday Dodgeball” bashes from the 1970s-80s – they’ve been replaced with a healthy smattering of fitness, team and collaborative sports, and individual skills classes.  Much of the credit for these improved physical offerings goes to the colleges training our PE/Wellness teachers, improved knowledge/technology, Wellness Directors leading the curriculums, and certainly the physical education teachers whom are deploying and designing these types of cutting-edge classes. And there certainly is worthy acknowledgement to the administration and communities that have demanded and/or supported these types of Wellness classes.

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However, there is one offering that I’d like to encourage teachers to consider— adventure programming.  This programming has multiple references; many would know it as “Project Adventure,” which is the name of the group that pioneered this type of curriculum back in the 1970s and continues as a leader in the field today.  Many schools, camps, businesses, and community/recreation programs have adopted and utilized adventure programming with great success and tremendous feedback.  Adventure Programming is a “challenge by choice” type of fun, experiential, learn-by-doing series of sequential activities that EVERYONE can participate in. There are 3 major types of adventure programming that I am familiar with and very supportive of at all levels:

Adventure-Fitness Programming

The basic premise of these types of lessons and programming is perpetual movement in fun, challenging activities where all students/campers are included for the entire duration of the activity.  Teachers are taught to combine fitness principles with adventure philosophies in some of the most fun and creative activities I’ve ever seen, taught, or experienced. And there is a cognitive/academic connection, too, with body awareness and the 5 major fitness principles.  It’s a fun and creative way to teach fitness where the students/campers don’t really know they were working on cardio until the class is over.

Social/Emotional Programming

This is an incredibly powerful programming model that teaches self-efficacy, empathy, and overall teamwork and cooperation. Social Emotional Learning (SEL) strategies are introduced along with academic content in an adventurous, fun, and exciting movement manner. Students are challenged and learn through sequential thought-provoking physical initiatives designed to encourage teamwork, cooperation, and collaboration. Goal setting, decision-making, and teamwork are essential components and outcomes of this type of curriculum.

Adventure-Based Programming

This is probably the more “traditional” adventure programming that people visualize when they hear “project adventure”. Ropes, carabiners, harnesses, helmets, belaying, etc. But there is so much more to it than the rope climbing and it doesn’t need to be so expensive or so high off the ground. Ropes courses are definitely a worthy financial endeavor; however there are low-element, ground games, and lead-up activities that do not require such a financial commitment.  The low element and ground games can be so powerful for students to learn problem-solving and teamwork in a fashion that other physical activites simply cannot offer. This type of programming is the type of programming that can reach and positively impact many students’ lives due to the adventure it offers and confidence it creates. 

 

Adventure programming opened my eyes to a whole new world of learning for me, my students, and my colleagues. This type of programming can and will engage EVERY student in your classroom.  If delivered with knowledge, confidence, and enthusiasm this type of programming can truly transform some of your students and help them to grow and mature socially, emotionally, and also from an activity standpoint, too.  I encourage you to do a little investigating and research on adventure programming and “take the leap” – pun intended! It will be an exciting journey for you and your students. 

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Back-to-School Tips to Make a Difference this Year

Posted 6 months ago - by Peter Boucher

With summer coming to a close and the fall quickly upon us, I felt it would be appropriate to share a few words of wisdom with all of us that work with children. 

I’ve been in education for 25+ years as a PE/Health/Science Teacher, Coach, K-12 Wellness Director, Principal, and collegiate and high school Athletic Director. I’ve been fortunate and blessed to have worked with many, many professional educators, tons of family & community supporters, and literally thousands of amazing students and athletes.  I have learned so much from this multitude of people and, even 25 years since my first day of teaching and coaching, I still wake up every morning excited to go to work knowing and hoping I can make a difference in the lives of children – the way the educational community did for me so many years ago.  

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In 2006, I was fortunate to be awarded the Sarasota County (Florida) Teacher of the Year Award which afforded me the opportunity to work with all sorts of teachers in my district and across Florida sharing my thoughts and perspectives on great teaching.  I was invited to speak to the many groups that year and the crowds grew larger and larger. To conclude my awarded year, I was invited to address every teacher in Sarasota County (51 schools at the time) the following fall to kick off the 2007 school year.  I worked hard to craft a message that was brief but to the point. I spent a lot of time reflecting, and making sure my message was clear. Here are my updated thoughts, please enjoy and let me know what you think…

Hello both veteran and new teachers! Congratulations on being chosen to undertake the daunting task of molding the future of our society and maybe even the world.  You are entering the hallowed halls of teaching my friends! You have been given a gift by the parents and administrators in your community.  Yes, a GIFT! Your gift is the mere opportunity to instill enthusiasm, education, encouragement, and empowerment.  If you cherish your gift and wield it wisely, you could potentially and positively impact a young person forever.  You could open doors to other worlds for some lucky kid; doors he/she thought impossible to open and walk through before meeting you.  You will have the power to make the wrong seem right, turn dark into light, and possibly transform the meek into might.  Please use this gift honorably, it is an awesome responsibility.

But the quest will not be easy. Education is the toughest profession in the world if you tackle it appropriately and it should not be entered into lightly.  Good things and favorable results do not happen “magically” or by chance.  Learning will occur when a compassionate, dedicated, enthusiastic, empathetic, organized, flexible, creative, intelligent and caring individual willingly desires to share his/her time, energy, emotions, soul, and character in order to ATTEMPT to make a difference in the lives of young people.  And there is no guarantee that success will take place.  However, if you “stay the cause” the odds will be in your favor.

I have given a ton of thought and reflection to what new and veteran teachers would both want or need to know before they embark (or continue to embark) on the journey to mold and shape the future of their community and possibly a portion of this great Nation.  I will simply mention what I wish someone had shared with me early in my teaching/coaching career as I navigated my path of trying to make a difference by making a connection.  I will let and encourage you to decide if these tips can help you on your trip. Here it is, plain and simple, from a guy who learned through education, experience, and “trial-by-fire”:

  • Set high expectations
  • Work hard
  • Be creative
  • Seek advice often
  • Over plan EVERYDAY
  • Be friendly, kind, and respectful  
  • Set up and follow routines
  • Be flexible
  • Encourage and reward kids
  • Use appropriate nicknames
  • Follow your heart and your deepest instincts
  • FIND YOUR OWN STYLE and use it
  • Have FUN!
  • Find a BALANCE between work and home
  • Never, ever give up on a kid!

Above all, please remember one simple rule > YOU are ALWAYS ON STAGE! Every time you look at or speak to a child/student/athlete you have the incredible power to hurt them or help them, break them down or build them up, insult them or inspire them, enable them or empower them. EVERY interaction is an opportunity to Make a Difference in their lives! Each interaction is an important opportunity to connect with and support children.  Good luck and please use your gift wisely and respectfully.  The future is in your heart, hands, words, and actions. Best of luck and above all else, do everything you can to Make a Difference!

Thanks for reading, please share your thoughts…I’d love to hear your tips for being an excellent teacher who expects excellence and looks to Make a Difference EVERYDAY.  Have a great year and make a difference!  

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We're Teaching What in PE?!

Posted 8 months ago - by Peter Boucher

I think most professionals reading this blog would subscribe to the professional opinion that PE/Wellness classes are probably some of the most important, if not the most important, classes that students can take in their K-12 educational journey. However, many PE/Wellness Departments are typically all defending their budgets, curriculums, and even our very “existence” as a necessary educational teaching staff at some challenging portion during our careers.

All educational departments typically have some sort of challenging component in their curriculum, for example: science has the creation vs. evolution argument, English/ELA has the ongoing battle that certain books may or may not be deemed “acceptable” for study in some districts, history has the debates related to which perspective the book or curricula is written from… I’m sure we could list every educational discipline and a related debate for a component of its curriculum. But PE/Wellness is different in its battles as they tend to take more heat than the other disciplines.

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PE/Wellness at times has to defend its very existence of necessity in general as a necessary department or entire curriculum (this is a potential volatile topic for an entirely other blog as PE/Wellness IS incredibly critical and necessary). However, there has been a trend in the last decade or so connected to one very specific PE/Wellness unit that I have found has generated particularly spirited discussion, unwanted attention, and interesting debate and consequently has been not as easy to defend.

As usual, there is the educated vs. uneducated perspective. This unit that has become very popular in the last decade or so is what many departments refer to as a “Recreational” unit. Some departments call it “Backyard Games”, others call it “Lifetime Pursuits”, and there are all other sorts of descriptive unit names for this nucleus of content.  Typically, this is a unit that teaches students how to be productive and enjoy their time with friends or family in an active sort of way. 

In the past, foundations of this unit usually would revolve around volleyball, tennis, ping pong, badminton, and maybe even some version of golf amongst other more traditional recreational activities. Most modern recreational units in the 21st century though have evolved into reflections of what used to be viewed as far more family gathering activities such as horseshoes, bocce, croquet and a variety of toss games such as ladderball, cornhole/bean bags, ring toss, lawn darts, etc. There are many, many versions of these backyard toss games, and I am constantly receiving reports from PE colleagues that there is a ton of resistance to this sort of curriculum from those within and without the educational world.  However, many PE/Wellness teachers are sharing that the vast majority of the complaints are coming from WITHIN their own school staff rather than from parents or taxpayers? I find this fascinating and troubling… we all would probably agree that education in general has had to take on more and more roles over the past 20 years or so; teachers used to strictly teach years ago and that was the job.

Now, teachers typically find themselves teaching AND acting as pseudo other forms of society, such as: parents, mentors, coaches, therapists, “nurses”, etc. Education has been tasked with doing more and more each year, so I find it troubling that other teachers are challenging the PE/Wellness staff related to their content and curriculum. Families don’t gather as much as they used to do so; kids don’t play outside in groups the way they used to. Consequently, kids are not learning to organize group games and they are not learning to spend their time recreationally the way we did 20-30 years ago at family/neighborhood gatherings. I see this evolving recreational unit as necessary and important to the social and affective development of many of our students. We are teaching and encouraging students to be social, active, and have fun while playing… isn’t this one of the critical cornerstones to PE/Wellness curriculum?

There is always going to be some sort of debate with educated and uneducated individuals related to comprehensive well-rounded education and usually the spark of resistance comes from outside the educational arena. 21st Century education is VERY different from its educational predecessors; it seems that we need to teach everything to every student today, recreational games and activities included.

What is your take as a professional PE/Wellness colleague? Is the recreational unit a necessary component or just “fluff” as some colleagues would seem to claim? Do we need the recreational component and can we make room for them in our already limited and “curriculum-cramped” timeframes?  Where do you stand on this growing curriculum debate?  

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Keeping the "Physical" in Physical Education

Posted 10 months ago - by Peter Boucher

 I was lucky enough to get on the phone recently with an old mentor and former superintendent of mine, you know, one of those leaders that you loved being around, learned a ton from, and just plain trusted. He had a saying that was way ahead of its time in the 90’s and rings even more true today when related to Wellness and Physical Education. During administrative or curriculum meetings when we would be setting district, school, and department goals, he would always whisper to me, “Remember Peter, don’t let folks take the “physical” out of Physical Education!”  That left a long-standing impact on my teaching career in wellness and PE. For the rest of my career, I battled to maintain equal (or longer) PE/Fitness classes and rallied to keep movement as a cornerstone for virtually every class I or my colleagues taught. The challenge continues to this day…

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That saying seems so much more important now. We live in the 21st century where technology and data reign supreme in American education, and I don’t necessarily disagree with that notion. Everywhere you go in education, someone says, “Show me the data!” Data-driven methods are powerful in student learning and overall forward progress. I am a former principal of a level 1 MCAS school (Massachusetts) and you can bet we took our data, overarching goals, standards, and academic time on learning very, very seriously. But when I was a principal, I was also incredibly protective of our PE/Wellness Teachers to make sure that we didn’t bog them down with all sorts of unnecessary or “busy” academic work just for the sake of appearing to be more academic in nature. Don’t get me wrong: reading, math, science, and many other disciplines can and certainly should be woven into the lessons and curricula, but we need to also stay true to the core value of Physical Education and Wellness… and that is movement!

 Activity should be the heart and soul of just about every Physical Education/Wellness/Fitness class today in the USA. Think about it, we are sadly evolving into one of the most sedentary first-world countries on the planet and we are already one of the most overweight countries. Please don’t misread my message, I love America, but we need to keep our kids moving! As each decade passes, it seems as though kids are playing outside less and are decreasingly involved with clubs and sports that keep them active; the trending data is serious and dangerous. That makes it all the more imperative that we keep the kids moving in our PE classes.

Think about this, when is the last time you drove for more than 10 minutes and saw a group of kids playing outside somewhere? Activity outside of school is almost becoming a thing of the past. So with that in mind, our PE classes NEED to keep kids moving, “We can’t take the physical out of Physical Education!” We have to walk a fine line between the academic world and the movement world. Every second that we can be creative and plan for movement in a lesson should be utilized and held sacred. Introductions, attendance, feedback, transitions, summary sessions, wrap-ups, etc., all can and should be held to some sort of movement standard in our classes and schools. Some sort of movement needs to be embedded in every moment of our Physical Education classes. For many of our students, PE class could be the most active part of their day and we need to make it count. So please, hold the line and don’t let 21st century education “take the physical out of Physical Education!” Movement is far too important to our students. 

How does your district operate on this topic? Are you moving toward more or less movement? 

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Competition: Preparing Students for the Real World

Posted 1 year ago - by Peter Boucher

Typically, when I am writing my Gopher PE Blogs, I prefer to pose a topic that encourages professional debate and ultimately causes educators to reflect on their own professional practices and foundational principles (check out my previous blogs).  Normally, I don’t give a solid opinion, I just share perspectives and facts…until now.  Today I’d like to discuss why PE/Wellness Classes SHOULD be incorporating competition into their programming.

 

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For quite some time many of our national youth athletic associations across the U.S. and even our own K-12 educational systems have been minimizing and decreasing the element of competition.  Think about all of the local youth athletic leagues that we all know.  These leagues typically don’t keep score of the games, they usually give out trophies for participation, and they normally do not recognize championship teams at the end of the season. We all can probably name at least 2-3 local examples, if not more, where children are taught that competition is not necessary.  And for some reason, our PE/Wellness classes (along with many other academic disciplines) have adopted this “no compete” model.  This is acceptable in the primary levels and the early elementary grades; however, competition is healthy and a necessary life skill, especially as children grow into adulthood.   Competition is a core concept in the real world, even if many choose not to embrace that idea. 

The truth is we ALL compete on a daily basis.  Think about it for a moment; examples of competition are all around us.  Each and every day we are all trying to find the best parking spots, the shortest lines at stores, the cheapest prices for virtually any product from candy to cars; small but concrete examples. 

Now jump further into the real world. We all compete for companions, husbands, wives, etc…and most importantly, 99% of us compete for that coveted job that will pay our mortgages, car payments, utility bills, etc...  In the real world when you compete for a promotion or job there is one person who “wins” and a bunch that do not get the gold medal.  Competition is a fact of life that everyone should probably embrace, albeit they should ideally learn this competition at a progressive and age-appropriate pace throughout their K-12 careers and beyond…

How does this competitive concept tie into PE classes? Simple. 

  • Contemporary 21st Century PE/Wellness classes are a great segue way into safe, friendly, sportsmanlike challenges and they can be critical launching points for competition.  I fully understand that most districts and schools do not allot adequate time for PE/Wellness classes for students.  Therefore sitting out of blocks of time for not winning is not acceptable and nor should it be.  “Losing” is not a reason for kids to sit out of class; EVERYONE should be active 99.9% of the class.  Creative PE teachers can incorporate all sorts of ways to include all of their students during the active sessions of current PE/Wellness programming.   
     
  • For the traditional sports classes, it is very appropriate to run a round-robin or two-sided tourneys that have brackets which direct students, duos and/or teams to progress through the tournament depending on who they’ve played, defeated, and lost to in the intra-class tournament.  This is “real life” application. 
     
  • In the more cutting edge fitness classes, it is perfectly acceptable to have the students track how many exercises they have conducted.  Whether it be via numbers (ex: push-ups, crunches, Jumping Jacks, etc…); repetitions (either in resistance, weight, or time,  lifting weights, nautilus, or cardio activity); or in measurable fitness activities (ex: cardio machines, physical pursuits, walking, running, swimming, cycling, rowing, etc…) all of these actions/movements have some sort of evaluative component where competition can be monitored. 

I wholeheartedly recognize that competition is not the “end all be all” in PE/Wellness programming, nor should it be.  In fact, some professionals feel it has no place at all in these types of classes.  However, competition is a necessary life skill that we ALL need to learn to succeed in the real world.  It can even increase participation and make many classes more fun and exciting.

What are your thoughts as a professional?  Leave a comment and let us know how you feel about competition in PE/Wellness programming…

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To Play or Not to Play? That is the Question...

Posted 1 year ago - by Peter Boucher

It’s probably becoming apparent that I welcome PE/Fitness topics that are debatable and encourage some thought and “spirited” discussion and this blog is no different; I am encouraging and hoping it causes some thought and professional conversation. 

So whether you are a veteran or brand new PE teacher, I am certain that if you attended a reputable teacher education college then you can certainly recall a few critical “do’s” and “don’ts” that your college professors instilled in you related to instructing Physical Education classes.  The one that I struggled with the most, and flip-flopped on many times during my 25+ year career, is considered one of the “ten commandments” of Physical Education instruction:  To NEVER play/practice with your students during Physical Education class. 

Generally, there are two steadfast camps involved in this ongoing debate and there is usually a solid line drawn in the sand. Some teachers and administrations feel that PE teachers playing during class inspires and encourages the students to participate while professionals on the other side of the line feel that it is a gargantuan liability and typically can only bring potential physical/emotional injury or worse…and both sides have validity from my perspective.  

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The professional disagreement seems to mirror the age old argument of “textbook vs. reality”. You know, the argument where we all learned the textbook application, which is typically in opposition to the real life application.  Obeying the speed limit, textbook law vs. trial law, the legal alcohol drinking age of 21, Cliff’s or Spark notes vs. reading the book for a book report, “do as I say not as I do”, etc… There are too many to mention here but I am sure everyone can conjure up some sort of textbook vs. reality struggle…

I can share with you that I flip-flopped on the subject more times in my career than I care to count.  Many of my perspective changes occurred during specifically identified stages of my career.  In my first 2-3 neophyte years I followed all the college’s expectations and didn’t play during PE classes.  Once I grew more comfortable and confident (4-5 years into my teaching career) as a teacher, and became embedded in the school culture, I did begin to play and help physically facilitate classes as a participant.   The kids definitely loved it and certainly looked forward to those classes when I played. 

About 15 years into my career I chose to take a job as a K-12 Wellness Director at another district and part of my responsibility was to set policy and teach a few classes too.  You can bet as a part-time administrator I saw things a little differently (I was also a little older and wiser too).  I definitely felt that a teacher playing during class was a liability for the district and for the individual teacher who chose to do so.  But this doesn’t really settle the disagreement, does it?

So I am curious what our readers and professionals think on the subject; which side of the fence do YOU identify with?

Do PE Teachers who play during class encourage and inspire their students to participate at a higher and more enjoyable level  or do these participating PE Teachers only increase the potential injury to themselves and possibly their students? 

The disagreement remains: 
Should PE teachers be encouraged or even allowed to play during PE classes?  What do YOU think? 

Furthermore, does your district have any policies in place that prevent teachers from participating?  Please share your thoughts in a comment or response…

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To Dodge or Not To Dodge?

Posted 1 year ago - by Peter Boucher

As I have written previously, I believe there should be a balance between traditional sport offerings and 21st century fitness in physical education and wellness curriculums.  Both have a place in the wellness continuum from a cognitive, social/emotional, and certainly physical perspective.  

However, I’ve always felt that physical education classes should be fun too, which leads to a very relevant question and hot topic in P.E. these days—
Dodgeball.

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Should Dodgeball be included or banned in today's Physical Education classes? 

The conversations I have witnessed, read, and heard about are rather “spirited” to say the least, and that’s being polite!  Dodgeball has been a fan favorite for many kids at all levels of P.E. since the 1970s. It is an activity that is either loved or hated by kids, parents, and teachers. There simply is no middle ground on this one.  Ask anyone you know if they like or dislike Dodgeball and they will have an opinion. 

Here’s a test!  Ask the next three people you run into after reading this blog whether they think Dodgeball should be allowed or prohibited in schools and see what they say. They will definitely have an opinion. 

But the point runs deeper. Does dodgeball have any educational merit or is it simply a form of “survival of the fittest” gladiatorial-type of physical torture? Proponents of Dodgeball will espouse that the fast-paced activity encourages hand-eye coordination, reflex enhancement, decision-making skills, teamwork, throwing and catching skills, and the positive list goes on. Detractors of the game will tell you that it is a punitive and punishing game where the stronger kids pound the weaker kids.  And yet who is correct?

The argument gains traction with each discussion, blog, article, tweet, etc. and grows stronger each day. What about you?  As a professional, parent, or spectator, what is your perspective?  Should Dodgeball be banned or welcomed?  Check in and let us know what you think.  Thanks for sharing your ideas and opinions. 

 
Should Dodgeball be banned or included in today's physical education classes?

Banned

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Traditional vs Progressive Physical Education

Posted 2 years ago - by Peter Boucher

We all know that daily Physical Education is important; actually it is CRITICAL, to students being active and successful in multiple components and layers of their everyday world.   All trending data indicates that students who are active for 30-60 minutes each day are going to be healthier, feel better, and have a more positive academic attitude towards learning.  Simply put, it is great to be physically active every day!

And we could probably talk (or blog) at length about the lifelong benefits connected to physical education, as those benefits are multiple: the increased fitness, emotional, and social benefits are lengthy and well documented.  My guess would be that any professional reading this blog would concur wholeheartedly to the positive attributes of being in a Physical Education class as often as possible in the K-12 educational world, and in college too for that matter.  The question quickly surfaces these days though, WHICH type of Physical Education class are we referring to or Which type of Physical Education do we prefer, Traditional or Progressive?

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Physical Education has evolved significantly over the last decade. It’s not necessarily “good” or “bad” but it is a hot topic these days.  PE has journeyed a long way into the lifelong skills arena and progressive PE teachers are instructing a whole slew of “new” skills and activities in their physical education and/or wellness classes these days.   Physical Education in the 21st Century is not the same PE from the 80’s, 90’s or even early 2000’s.  Physical Education slowly transformed throughout the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. The PE that many of us grew up with was a healthy dose of team sports and traditional single and dual activities….basketball, floor hockey, tennis, soccer, etc.  Physical Education these days has steadily morphed into the fitness and lifelong skill zone…multiple fitness activities, skills, and etiquettes combined with boot camp classes, yoga, Pilates, tough mudder training, etc. Certainly both have an important place in PE moving forward.

So the question naturally jumps to “Which style of  PE is better?”  We all know that most schools do not provide enough daily PE or weekly PE which makes the limited active time on learning in Wellness or PE classes absolutely precious.  I have heard (and read) all sorts of spirited discussions related to which type of PE/Wellness class is better for the kids.  Traditional PE is highly touted for movement and social reasons with Progressive PE being encouraged for the fitness and lifelong skills.

I guess my question remains; Which PE Is better…Traditional PE or Progressive PE?  What do YOU think? Is one better than the other?  A hybrid format perhaps?  Tell us what you think…

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Traditional Sports with a Fitness Component

Posted 2 years ago - by Peter Boucher

Have you given thought or begun to investigate how you can infuse more fitness activities into your traditional physical education classes, wellness activities, or recreational sessions?  There is a powerful undercurrent right now in the U.S. to incorporate fitness pursuits into physical education classes.  With all of the focus appropriately on enhancing and improving fitness in the United States, most professional physical educators are striving to add fitness components to the more traditional sport activities typically taught in American PE classes.  Are you asking, “How can I add more fitness to my PE classes without compromising my traditional activities?”  Many Wellness and PE teachers have been trying to figure out how to do this, and thankfully many teachers have already figured out ways to do just that. With all of the nutritional hazards, sedentary trends, and climbing BMI’s in our nation, it is more important than ever that we help our children be more active and fit.  Here are a few specific ways that creative professionals have incorporated fitness into their current PE and Wellness classes:

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  • “Perpetual practice” is a term we use to add activity to traditional sport classes. Simply put, take the practice session and skill sessions and add a perpetual movement component to them.  Take every opportunity to morph the static and “standing around and waiting” practice lines into constantly moving practice lines.  Students should no longer be standing around waiting to practice; they should be jogging and moving throughout the entire session.  It takes a little more planning and a little more set up; however, it is worth the effort.  Just about every practice session in every traditional sport can be adjusted to be constantly moving if you give it some thought and preparation.  Keeping kids moving while they practice skills can be fun fitness if you plan for it.
  • Incorporate “Hybrid” Traditional Sports.  How you ask? Traditional sports such as soccer and basketball have a fitness component internally built in to them.  However, you can add a perpetual movement component to traditional sports such as football, baseball, softball, and most others by adding modified versions.  Football, and most sports, can be played in a similar fashion to Ultimate Frisbee or Speedball, where the football can be run, thrown, and defended but in a non-stop format. You are still utilizing the major rules and skills, but in a manner of perpetual movement.  Try it, the kids love it!
  • Utilize “Multi-Sports.”  Having already mentioned Speedball and Ultimate Frisbee, these fitness-skill activities and others like them are perfect examples of incorporating activities that require multiple skill sets from traditional sports into fun fitness games for PE/Wellness classes.  These Multi-sport activities have traditional skill practice embedded within them already, but more importantly host a fitness and constant movement foundation.

These are just a few ways to incorporate fitness into more traditional curriculums and classes. There’s a multitude of ways to add fitness activities to your PE/Wellness classes.

What are you doing in your classes or school that is similar?  What are you doing that is different and creative? I'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback.

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