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Web-Based Toolbox for Professional Development

Posted 2 days ago - by Jessica Shawley

 

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

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

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

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

Gopher Education Center: 

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

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

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

 

Podcasts:

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

 

Webinars:

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

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

 

Social Media: 

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

 

Blogs:

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

 

Other Noteworthy Tools: 

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

 

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

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Spikeball®: Developing Movement Competence in Net Wall Games

Posted 1 week ago - by Carolyn Temertzoglou

As Health and Physical Education teachers we are lifelong learners continuously reflecting on our practice, the needs of our students and the needs of our schools within our communities. There has been no greater time then now in the history of HPE that we need to expose our students to a variety of physical activities and sports to increase their movement vocabulary and ensure they acquire the skills necessary to become physically literate throughout their lives.

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An alarming stat shared recently by PHE Canada states that, “all Canadians — from children to adults — are living increasingly unhealthy lifestyles. Screen addiction, hours of prolonged sitting, processed food and favouring an iPad® over time spent outdoors have become the norms for many in our society. The average adult works 40 hours a week, but the average child today is spending upwards of 42 hours a week in front of a screen.” (Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology. Obesity in Canada: A Whole-of-Society Approach for a Healthier Canada. March, 2016)

As physical educators we have a huge role to play in developing the physical literacy of our students. This requires us to continually learn new games and forms of physical activity to implement into our PE programs to ensure all students find enjoyment, increased confidence, and competence to be active throughout their lives.

Spikeball® is a new game I learned this year from my student teachers, a game developed by the Volleyball Association of Ireland to support PE teachers to introduce the game of volleyball through a small 2 vs 2 player game.  With its inception into PE and community programs in the last 3 years, Ireland has seen participation levels increase by 300%! Evidence how a new game beyond the traditional North American sports is promoting activity among students.

Spikeball® uses the principles of Teaching Games For Understanding (TGFU) allowing students to develop transferable movement skills (e.g., sending and receiving skills, ready position, hand-eye coordination), concepts (e.g., spatial awareness, force, anticipation), and game strategies (e.g., court awareness, placement to open space, defending court space) related to net wall games such as volleyball, badminton, tennis and pickleball. 

How to Play Spikeball®:

Object of the Game: To hit the ball off the net where the opposing team can’t return it. Games are typically played up to 11, 15 or 21 points. The rally ends and a point is awarded when the ball contacts the ground or it is not returned in 3 touches. Points can be awarded by the serving or the receiving team.

Basic setup and play: 2 vs 2 with net in the centre, opposing players line up across from each other as indicated in the diagram. Winner of rock, paper, scissors gets to pick side or serve. The server stands across from the receiving player. Before the serve, all players stand 6’ from the net; only the receiver can stand whatever distance from the net he/she chooses. Once the ball is in motion, players can move 360° around the net with possession changing when the ball contacts the net. Each team has 3 hits per possession, and alternates hits between teammates. The ball must be hit with 1 hand only – use of other body parts is not allowed (e.g., head, foot, knee). No catching, lifting, or throwing.

 Faults: The rally ends and a point is awarded when;

  • The ball hits the rim of the net at any time, including on a serve
  • The ball bounces and falls back onto the rim or net
  • The ball clearly rolls across the net

These are enough rules to get you started. Don’t worry about moving too quickly to the adult mastery level of the game as small-sided game modifications encourages students of various levels of skill and ability to experience success. We will start to hear students say, “I can do this, now I can do this,” and in turn they will acquire an earned sense of confidence, competence, and enjoyment of physical activity!

Some suggestions for modification:

  1. Allow the players to catch and throw the ball to increase skill development of hand-eye coordination, reaction time, court awareness, placement and teamwork. Similar to the game of Newcombeball, a throwing and catching modified game of volleyball is a good progression before bringing volleyball-specific skills such as volleying and forearm passing into the game.
     
  2. Increase the numbers of players on each team to 3 vs 3 to increase opportunities to cover space and return the ball. Make sure players are aware of their space and communicate with each other. Players on each team can rotate in and out of the space near the net.
     
  3. Use a larger ball (e.g., playground ball or tchoukball) to allow for more progression of skill development of sending and receiving skills.
     
  4. Increase the number or touches per possession from 3 to 5 to allow for more ball control, teamwork, and increased reaction time.
     

Learn more about Spikeball® or see the game in action. Get your Spikeball® Game Set today!

What new novelty type games have you and your students discovered? 

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Keeping the "Physical" in Physical Education

Posted 2 weeks 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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PE Resources – The Books You Can't Live Without

Posted 3 weeks ago - by Michael Beringer


When I first started teaching Physical Education over 17 years ago, the only way to find new ideas, games, and activities for lesson planning was through collaboration with colleagues or purchasing books through P.E. equipment catalogs. I remember spending hours combing through various P.E. books looking for things I could use to teach K4 through 8th grade Physical Education.

In the process, I wasted a lot of time and money on books that weren’t worth it. The internet was just beginning, so the ability to search for quality resources was very limited. However, in today’s world the internet has changed everything. The way we search, research, and collaborate to find useful material has made books seem of little use. We can find information at anytime and from any place in the world. We can use desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones to gather information whenever we want instantly. However, books, of course, can still be very useful.

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Throughout my career, I have purchased numerous Physical Education books that have changed the way I teach today. Of course, I had to live and learn and waste money and time figuring out what was and wasn’t quality material. That is why I decided to create and share with all of you what I feel are the top quality Physical Education book resources that you should spend your hard earned money on!  These books are completely worth your time and money. I guarantee that you won’t regret adding these useful resources to your PE repertoire.  

1. Make It! Take It! by The Great Activity Publishing Company

A great resource for instant integration ASAPs. Just copy and use! 

2. Great Activity Magazine by The Great Activity Publishing Company

For just a few dollars a year receive this great PE Activity magazine subscription delivered to your door with activities for PE professionals from all over the country.

3. Physical Education Outside the Boxby Bud & Sue Turner

Here is another great resource for instant activities, as well as, skill related activities. What makes this a must in your PE tool box is every activity uses very little equipment, simple instructions, and minimal set-up time.

4. No Standing Around in my Gym by J.D. Hughes

This is a must have ready-to-use resource for teaching large classes! It is packed with 6 units, 70, games, 15 hints, and 39 special game variations.

  

5. No We Are Not Playing Dodgeball by Mike Bohannon

This book is a resource for fun, easy-to-use activities for promoting integration and fitness for all students. The book provides awesome warm-up, integration, and station ideas that get kids moving.

6. PE2theMax by J.D. Hughes

Another must have book for large classes! 

7. Spark byJohn J. Ratey, MD

A must have book for Physical Education Advocacy. Make sure to have your administrator read the first chapter!

8. SHAPE America Standards & Grade-Level Outcomes for K-12 Physical Education by SHAPE America

A must have resource that includes the National PE standards and outcomes that guide your instruction! This it non-negotiable!

9. No Gym? No Problem!- Physical Activities for Tight Spaces by Charmain Sutherland

This doesn’t need explaining. It is a lifesaver for every P.E. Specialist!

10. Journey Toward the Caring Classroom by Laurie S. Frank

This is a great resource for covering NASPE Standard 4 while building community in your classroom. I highly recommend!

 

11. Instant Activities Volume 1: Dice Games by Kevin Tiller

The title says it all! Easy to use with printable ready-to-use activities with math integration. Need I say more? 

12. The Great Games Handbook by Kevin Tiller

Recommended for skill based activities. This resource uses creativity to keep kids active and engaged. 

13. The First Six Minutes! by Hal Cramer

Here is another fantastic must have for getting your students active from the start. If you want to increase your students MVPA then get it now!

 

14. Phys. Ed. Fun & Fitness by Kevin Tiller

This book includes “Warm-up activities”, “Skill Builders”, and “QR Codes in P.E.”. The awesome part is that it includes reproducibles making it easy to implement. Love that!!

Check out other great PE reads here and don't forget to share your favorites below!

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What Students Should Learn in PE

Posted 3 weeks ago - by Jonette (Jo) Dixon

SHAPE America's National Standards define what a student should know and be able to do. States and local school districts use these standards as a platform to shape their own standards or adopt the National Standards to fit their needs. 

Greg Bert and Lisa Summers wrote the book Meeting Physical Education Standards Through Meaningful Assessment where they summarize the National Standards. These 6 heavy hitters that they call the “Power Standards” are really what I want students to learn, know, and takeaway from my classes. In “kid friendly” terms they are as follows: 

  1. How to move correctly.
  2. How to train themselves and others.
  3. How to be confident to participate in school and beyond school.
  4. How to be fit, get fit, and stay fit.
  5. How to play fairly.
  6. How to value movement.

When we teach our units, we need to teach more than just the skills of that unit, sport or activity, but teaching to the national, state or district standards as well, and making it relevant for students. 

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1. How to move correctly

Teaching this concept is important because in order to enjoy a sport or a fitness workout, they need to know the skill or activity and experience some success at it. Also, learning strategies of the game or sport such as the biomechanical principles, moving to open space, hitting to an open area, and concepts of offense and defense help us to be a more skillful mover. Knowing how to use equipment properly is another key component of this standard.
 

2. How to train themselves and others

I want students to know the 5 components of fitness, the FITT principle, and the many great benefits of exercise. This can be taught and applied in any unit.  Incorporating this information is paramount. Students need to know the knowledge behind “why” we move.
 

3. Being confident to participate in school and outside of school

Participating beyond their 12th grade year is really a major component of this standard. Loving to move, loving some type of activity to maintain health and fitness beyond school and into adulthood is my goal for students.
 

4. How to be fit, get fit, and stay fit

We utilize fitness test to set goals and see where we are at with our own fitness. We should not use fitness testing for a grade, as that isn’t fair. Testing our fitness isn’t always fun or easy, but it’s the only way we know where we are at. The Cooper Institute recommends the Fitnessgram® test, and has benchmarks set for advanced, proficient, partially proficient, and needs improvement per age level.  I always recommend a pre- and post-test, and to set goals. Setting goals for our fitness is a life skill.
 

5. How to play fairly

Spirit of the Game (SOTG) is a way we promote healthy competition. We can be competitive, but within the rules of the game. We can also self officiate. Managing games and our emotions are a life skill. Enjoyment of the sport or activity is what keeps people coming back.
 

6. How to value movement

This is the “fun”. We need to show students that movement is fun and why they should value activity for a lifetime. Keeping lessons novel is a great “hook” for students.
 

Teaching all of these standards in your classes, no matter what age level, really gives meaning to your teaching, Physical Education, and life. They are all life skills, and they are all important. Happy teaching!

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Motivating Students? I'm not a Sport Psychologist

Posted 1 month ago - by Aaron Beighle

Motivation, and the fundamentals of motivating youth, is something we know is important, but I think it’s something we don’t fully grasp and fully optimize. In my experience, some of this disconnect has been that the nuggets of valuable, applicable information for teachers is buried under theory. While theory certainly has its place, weeding through theory can be confusing, frustrating, and at times futile (at least for me). Further, while most teacher preparation programs have a Psychology and Sociology of Sport class, covering the content of what could be at least two courses during one course doesn’t provide much time to dig deep into how to motivate students.

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In my schooling, specifically my graduate work, I have had the opportunity to take three or four Sport/Exercise Psychology courses. I approached all of these courses knowing I wanted to work with youth. While I probably should have been listening more intently during classes, I was doodling ways to make the theories come to life for teachers. To this end, the following acronym was created. It combines parts of Achievement Goal Theory and Self-Determination Theory and attempts to make them applicable. To quality, I understand that some disagree with combining theories and borrowing pieces and parts, but in my experience this has worked for teachers and therefore I am sharing it here.

P.R.A.I.S.E.

Perceived Competence – 

In a nutshell, this is a student’s beliefs about her abilities. The key is that it is the student’s beliefs. So how do you make a student perceive herself as being competent? Provide her with successful experiences. Start with the easiest activity first and then invite students to try more difficult skills or activities. Ensure the number of repetitions they receive is maximized. How do you do that? See my previous management blogs, but in short, be efficient with management and instruction. Provide individual, meaningful feedback to allow students to refine their skills. Repetition and refinement are essential. Focus on the process…the product will follow (sometimes).

Encourage students to perform your cues. Most students can perform the cues to hitting a tennis forehand. They might not be able to hit a cross-court game winner, but focusing on the process provides the chance for success and learning. I am not an “everybody gets a trophy” advocate, but I am an “everybody gets a chance to be successful in physical education” advocate. 


Relatedness – 

In brief, this means make a connection. This connection can be with you and the students, student to student, or student to activity. Build relationships with students. Focus on “getting to know” your students…more than you know your content. Sometimes we focus so much on outcomes, objectives, and our perfect lessons/activities and lose sight of building relationships with students.

Try to find something with which you can connect with each student. I used to get up and watch cartoons on Saturday morning because I knew my students watched “Recess”. I knew as much about T.J. Detweiler and the Ashley’s as they did. I also listened to music that made my ears bleed, but it was what middle schoolers listened to. And I wanted to make sure it was appropriate.

Provide time and activities that allow students to connect with each other. Cooperative activities early on and throughout the year lend themselves to this, but any small group or partner activity does as well. Let students invent games…and use some of them later. Using the game invented by a student you struggle to connect with just might be the key to getting him/her to connect with you and others.

 

Autonomy –

This simply means to let students have some say in their learning experiences. For instance, provide an easy (catch the beanbag with one hand), and medium (catch the beanbag with two hands) or a difficult (catch the bean bag with the back of your hands) activity. Or simply teach by invitation and say, “If you like that activity, keep doing it. If you want something that might be a bit more difficult try this.”

During fitness activities use music to time an activity and let students choose the workload. “While the music is on, pick your favorite upper-body challenge and see how many times you can do it.” This lets students select the intensity.

Allow students to opt out of participating two times per semester or grading period. No excuse needed, they just don’t have to be active and it doesn’t impact their grade. Sometimes you don’t feel like being active; afford that opportunity to students. I use this with university students and it works well.

And please consider your dress out policy. This is a topic for a different blog or discussion, but I find it hard to believe that failing students because they don’t want to change clothes in a locker room full of their peers does much to motivate them. (Stepping off my soap box). Create tracks/sub-courses (e.g. Team Sports, Innovative, Individual, and Fitness) at the high school level and allow students to choose the track they want to take that grading period.

 

Individuality –

In full confession this isn’t a part of either of the theories I mentioned above. However, my acronym was PEARS before that….and that just didn’t work. This too involves getting to know your students. Treat them fairly. Meet them where they are, not where you are.

Emphasize that activity choices are individual. Physical education is exposing them to as many as possible, and they get to pick what they enjoy and what has meaning to them. Ask students what they like and don’t like. Treat students as individuals once you get to know them. I hope I am making it clear that I firmly believe the first step to motivating students is to get to know them as individuals.

 

Social Support – 

Keep in mind the role peers play in student decisions. Involve family when possible. At the middle or high school levels this gets tough. This might be a good reason to ask students, “What kind of social support do you need to be active? Peers? Family? Significant others?” Physical activity clubs can also help create a culture of social support. Walking, hiking, intramurals (intramural does not mean just team sports), and orienteering clubs are all great ways for students to be active and connect with students who have similar interests.

Be a role model. Regardless of the age you teach, students watch you and emulate you. Be aware of your actions. Eye rolls, scowls, ignoring students, rude comments in a moment of frustration. They all leave an impact. Frankly, our students look up to us. Give them something good to look up to.

 

Enjoyment –

Essentially this means busy, happy, good. I am teasing. Just making sure you are paying attention. “FUN” is not the only thing we are about in physical education. We have content to teach and we are about education/learning. However, “FUN” should be a major part of everything we do, just as physical activity should be a major part of what we do. The challenge is to provide learning experiences to teach our content that are active and are fun.

One way to make lessons fun is to make students successful, which goes back to Perceived Competence. In her book, No Sweat, Dr. Michelle Segar provides an anecdote of a client who reports she has never had a fun experience being active. Never. Wow! Think about that. Did she have physical education? If she did, what does that say about her experiences? Eek. Creating a safe (physically and emotionally) environment through effective management increases the chances students will have fun. Using a variety of activities in a balanced curriculum also helps ensure students will experience fun activities in physical education.  

 

In summary, in our efforts to promote physical activity for all youth, I think we are wise to borrow from the exercise/sport psychology literature to seek ways to motivate students. Above are just a few ideas. My intent is for teachers, as they teach, prepare lessons, or reflect to think “…did I include any elements of P.R.A.I.S.E? Could I include more?” I think the answer will be, “Yes” to both. And your students will be better for it. Give it a shot and see if it helps. Thanks for being teachers and THRIVE!

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

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Fundraising Idea: Action Auction Parties

Posted 1 month ago - by Shannon Jarvis

Are you tired of your school's same old fundraising event? Are you wanting to incorporate physical activity into these fundraisers? Well I have the perfect solution for you – Action Auction Parties! 

Every year our school hosts an annual auction for our families to attend and help raise funds for our school. It’s a typical school auction, where each classroom contributes a handcrafted project that will go home with the highest bidder. 

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We are also known for what we call, "Wildcat Parties." These are fun planned outings sponsored by a family or a generous donor, where individuals can purchase a ticket to attend and all funds go straight back into the school. For example, 'Principle on the Patio' is a night out with administration and includes dinner hosted in someone's home. Another is a 'Mani/Pedi Night' hosted at a local spa. Tickets to attend typically are $25-$40 and parties vary year after year. I thought to myself, how can I get involved and raise funds in an active and healthy way? Action Auction Parties! Below you'll find the party ideas up for auction at my school this year.

Action Auction Party Ideas:

3rd Grade – ACTION! Drag'N Tails™

Students meet in the gym after school for two hours of play and have snacks. Cost is $20 with no limit on how many can attend; we typically have about 40+ attending. We run a game with the whole group for about 20 minutes, then run two separate (and smaller) games of Drag’N Tails™ and switch off opponents every 10-15 minutes.  

4th Grade – Human Foosball

Students meet on the field for two hours of fun and get pizza after. Cost is $25 and limited to 30 attendees. Check out ACTION!™ SynchroBall™ for your Human Foosball supply needs.

5th and 6th Grade – Gopher D-Lite™ Slip-N-Slide Kickball

These events will be held separately, but include the same idea for each grade level. This is our first time to try such an event like this. We got the idea from a YouTube video that went viral. If you have every tried this, I’d love to hear about your experience. This day lands on a half day, so students will bring a picnic lunch and we will play after for an hour and a half. Cost is $30 and limited to 30 students.

7th Grade – Human Hungry Hungry Hippos

This is based on another YouTube viral video idea. We will use the UltimateScooter™ Boards and the yellow balls from the ACTION!™ FoodFat™ Attack Set. Cost is $2 and limited to 32 students. See how to play here.

8th Grade – The Glow Games

We'll play glow in the dark dodgeball using FireFly™ Glow in the Dark Dodgeballs and glow in the dark Nine Square in the Air using a homemade PVC "court". This event has no limit and will be hosted at night for our students. Cost is $25. 

 

Comment below and share how your school raises funds!

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Professional Development: Opportunities are Out There!

Posted 1 month ago - by Jason Gemberling

Teaching in a rural school district with a staff of 7 health and physical education teachers, it is not often, if ever, that we receive any content-specific professional development. While I understand the importance of reading and math training, I also understand the importance of health and physical education professional development. Realizing that my staff doesn’t have these opportunities, I started searching for professional development classes and opportunities that we can either attend or create for ourselves.

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Below are my recommended physical education and health professional development opportunities you should be checking out!

1. National SHAPE America Convention & Expo

I think the most obvious, yet most likely not feasible, opportunity for all health and physical education teachers would be to attend the National SHAPE America Convention every year. If you have never been to this convention, I strongly encourage you to get to one at some point during your career! This year’s convention was in Minneapolis, MN last week and next year’s convention will be in Boston, MA in March!

2. State SHAPE Convention

My next suggestion would be attending your state SHAPE America convention. This is another great opportunity to gather information and ideas to help strengthen your own program. This convention is also a great opportunity to network with other health and physical education teachers in your state and potentially set up a site visit to see what those teachers are doing in their schools. Check your state association’s website for dates and location of your state convention.
 

The following suggestions are also excellent opportunities and in most cases are free! Who doesn’t love FREE?

3. Webinars

Webinars are everywhere and offer fantastic information in 1-3 hour sessions while covering a wide variety of topics. SHAPE America puts out great webinar opportunities, as do most state associations. Gopher has also been hosting some fantastic webinars with a variety of topics, and again they are free with the added bonus of having the opportunity to win free equipment! One of my favorite things about webinars is that I can be sitting in the comfort of my own home and still getting fantastic professional development.

4. Email, Newsletters, and Social Media

I also love getting emails from SHAPE America with articles about what other health and physical education teachers are doing around the country. While this might not appear to be professional development, it is an excellent way to get fresh ideas. I have taken several ideas from these emails and implemented them into my teaching and program with great success. Health and Physical Education Journals are another excellent source of information and ideas!

5. In-House Professional Development

In-house professional development is another option. It will take some planning on your part and support from your administration. I suggest examining your program from all grade levels and determining what areas are in need of ideas for improvement and then networking with other schools to determine if someone local is doing something in their program that fits your needs. I can’t imagine a teacher not willing to share ideas with other educators in an effort to help students at another school.

This might cost your district a small amount of money to cover travel expenses. But in my eyes if it helps build a stronger program and you can justify the need, it will be hard for your administration to turn this down. And if you can’t bring someone in to provide professional development, take the opportunity to be a leader in your own department and research and develop a topic that you can present to your fellow teachers.
 

Be creative and persistent in your wanting to have meaningful professional development at your school. I have been trying to organize and implement a professional development day for health and physical education at my school for a couple years. My goal has been to bring in several presenters that I have personally seen in action to my school and have them provide ideas and information to any health and physical education teachers who would like to attend. Thankfully, in getting to know many fantastic people at Gopher and working with them, this is finally going to happen. Gopher has been in three states already doing professional development days with great success and this August they are coming to Central Pennsylvania and I couldn’t be happier! This day is going to be filled with excellent professional development and I encourage anyone that wants to attend to reach out to me, and I will get the information to you.  

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Creative Ways to Integrate Fitness with Team Building into PE

Posted 1 month ago - by Jessica Shawley

Fitness can be fun - and it doesn't have to be just traditional fitness!

Integrating intentional fitness into every lesson is a goal of my physical education program. I have found it successful to balance individual challenge or traditional fitness activities with partner fitness challenges and cooperative/team-building activities to keep students interested and motivated.

I teach such a wide array of abilities, both physical and mental, that I found my students’ young bodies appreciated the “break” from the nature of a traditional fitness workout to include fun group activities (which still included fitness). The results? Their participation levels were great, working harder during the fitness-focused stations. Now I incorporate this throughout the year as part of my ‘go-to’ strategies.

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An easy way to start implementing this is with the Partner A – Partner B or Group A – Group B method. I also call it the “ON – OFF” method. With Group A starting on the intentional fitness station, circuits or exercises and Group B begins on the cooperatives. After a certain time period, they switch and go to what their partner or group was just doing. Switch back and continue where you left off and so on. 
[Photo: Group A on partner fitness challenges and Group B on resistance band trainers]

 

I also mix in team building and cooperatives into traditional circuits as part of stations students rotate to. For example, during my volleyball unit, we complete a fitness circuit that includes an emphasis on skill-related fitness that pertains to volleyball (jumping, agility, etc.) and I mix in partner volleyball challenges (bumping, setting, sequences or serve into a hula hoop station) or use the volleyball as a tool at a station (medicine ball twist – but with a volleyball). It’s a nice ‘hook’ in the lesson that carries out the volleyball theme and keeps things interesting.  

Recent team building and cooperative challenge activity ideas:

  1. Beanbag Partner Challenges:

    • Using the beanbag to do partner back and forth slides while maintaining a plank position. Counting repetitions (even counting in another language!). Then transition into beanbag slide air hockey while still in plank position. Partners face each other and remain in plank position while trying to slide the beanbag between their partner’s arms to score a point. The partner tries to stop the beanbag. They can keep score if they wish. You can even do various fitness activities with a beangbag and a partner – pretending it’s a medicine ball or a sand bell. I love Gopher’s beanbag bocce set so that I can also play bocce ball cardio style with my entire class as a warm-up.
       
  2. Balance Dome Challenges:

    • Each student in the small group has his/her own balance dome and goes through a progression of balance challenges by themselves at first (one and two legs, push-ups, agility jumps, etc.). Then I add in a foam ball for students to work with a partner on different balance or core work – completing sit-ups with a chest pass to a partner, balancing on the dome and tossing back and forth while counting repetitions to see which team can go for the longest.
       
  3. Character Education:

    • Take the individual stations or challenges from any character education set, selecting a few to focus on as designated stations. In small groups, students rotate at their own pace from challenge to challenge when not on their personal fitness portion of the lesson. Students are to take turns being the leader of challenges – reading and leading the challenge with their group. Different resources I use for this:

If you feel students just aren’t responding the same way they used to at the beginning of the year to fitness activities or if you haven’t tried this method yet, it’s time to mix in some partner games and cooperatives with your fitness activities. Student smiles, laughter, and enjoyment of the activities are sure to follow. I also like how this strategy brings in elements of student choice and gives students the opportunity to communicate, lead, and cooperate in a group setting, which is an important part of our national standards and student learning outcomes.

 

Continuing the conversation: What other partner or small group fitness challenges do you use to mix things up for your lessons? 

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

Posted 1 month ago - by Dr. Lisa Witherspoon

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Things to consider before purchasing exergaming activities for physical education:

Dedicated Space

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

Financial Strain

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

 

Technological Difficulties

 

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

 

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

Check out these great Exergaming Options for your PE class!

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