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Serve, Set, and Smash with Spikeball!

Posted 1 year ago - by Jonette (Jo) Dixon

Taking the newest and hippest recreational sport into Physical Education class with learning targets, assessment, and FUN!

If volleyball and foursquare had a baby - it would be called “Spikeball®.” It’s mission: to build the next great American sport.

Spikeball is a great recreational sport for your Physical Education classes, the beach, grass, or just about anywhere. There are more than 250,000 Spikeball players in the US, and over 1,000 nationally ranked teams.

Not only is it a challenging game, but it is a lot of fun! Learning the “striking” skill is a hard skill for many students. It takes about 2-3 times before you get good at it. It took my middle school students about 3 times to develop the skills and learn how to work together.

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How to Play:

Spikeball is played 2 versus 2, with players spaced out equally around the net.

When the ball hits the net, it changes possession (like in volleyball, this is the equivalent to the ball passing over the net).

The opposing team has 3 hits or less to spike the ball back off the net. Players cannot hit the ball twice in a row, so they must spike to their teammate or the net before they can catch again.

There are no sidelines or boundaries - the ball can be hit in any direction, with any amount of force. When a team fails to hit the net, the opposing team gets a point. If the rim is hit at any time, a point is awarded to the opposing team. The ball can only bounce once on the net per turn. If it bounces twice, the opposing team earns the point.

You can use any part of your body to spike the ball! Players may not interfere with another player’s attempt to hit the ball. If so, the point must be replayed.

Play until one team scores 21 points, or whatever number you decide! Check out official tournament rules at

How to Play– Video Demonstration



● Spikeball™ Game Set

● The ball should feel like a cheeseburger! Weird, huh?

● Don’t inflate the ball much

● The nets are an easy set-up that you can take anywhere


Learning Targets:

1. I will show that I am a team player by demonstrating Spirit of the Game.

2. I will show caring for others and responsible social behavior during game play by showing correct etiquette.

3. I will show that I value physical activity by being able to demonstrate and explain the benefits and joy of physical activity.

4. I will show that I can recall and apply a range of skill and techniques, and strategy to perform at a high level.


How We Play:

Volley for the first serve (2 v. 2). Hit the ball back and forth until one team drops it, alternate serving between team members, and don’t use the legs or feet to hit the ball.


To win a point, you have to be serving. It’s called side-out-scoring. Rally scoring is too hard to keep track of. Switch places with your partner if you keep winning the serve. If the receiving team fails to return the ball properly, the round is over and the serving team earns a point. If the serving team fails, the round is over and the receiving team earns the serve.


The only hit that counts is the one that bounces off the net, and only the net. If the ball bounces off the ground before touching the net, the round is over. If the ball touches the rim, the round is over. If the ball hits the net but doesn’t bounce clear of the rim, the round is over. If the ball hits a “pocket,” the space between the net and the rim where the clips join the two, the round is a do-over.


I would play for “time” ANY DAY in my classes over playing to 21...however, if you are playing “points” and play to 21 points, a team must win by 2. So if one team reaches 21 and the other has 20, the game continues until the two-point separation is met.


Spikeball Standards Based Grading Assessment Rubric:

8 Point Scale


The student recalls and applies a range of skill and techniques, recalls and applies a range of strategy, and recalls and applies information to perform at a high level.



The student recalls and applies skill and techniques, recalls and applies strategy, and applies information to perform effectively.


The student recalls skill and techniques, recalls strategy, and applies information to perform.



The student rarely/never shows skill or techniques, does not show strategy, and rarely/never works for achieve success.



Lead Up Drills and Games:

● Stationary ball handling

● Jog and ball handle

● With a partner, hit back and forth over a line, then in a hula hoop or net

● Pass and chase tag

● 3 v. 1 tag (pass the ball in a circle of 3 trying to tag the person in the middle with the ball)

● Check out more! 



● 2 v. 2 (4 min)

● Switch partners (4 mini games)

● Kings and Queens of the net (4 mini games) - move up and down the row



● Use a bigger ball

● Allow one bounce on the floor


Unit Concept: Benefits of Physical Activity

● Become stronger and feel better physically

● Improves self-esteem

● Have fun

● Improves cardiovascular health

● Builds friendships and social connections

● Stimulates the brain

● Burns calories


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

Check out more Blogs by Jo!

PE Essentials You Can't Live Without!

Posted 1 year ago - by Donn Tobin

There are many pieces of equipment that I use on a regular basis, year after year.  Although the activities may change and the units tweaked, I always seem to have my go-to favorites on hand.  I had never given it much thought until a hypothetical discussion I had with my co-worker one day.

While planning and discussing the next several months of our PE curriculum, I had asked him a difficult question, "What equipment do you like using the most?".  This question not only stumped my co-worker, but also myself.  I use so many different items throughout the year it is hard to pinpoint specific ones.  He was able to rattle off about ten to twenty different items, most of which I agreed with.  But could he narrow this list down?  This was hard to do.

I took a long hard look at myself and my teaching.  I thought about the various equipment I use, how important and frequently I needed them, and pinpointed those that help me teach my lessons.  The following is a list of my most frequently used equipment in no particular order:

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1.  MP3/CD Player or Speaker System. 

I use music ALL THE TIME!  I have found (as many of you already have) that music can easily enhance a lesson or activity.  I can play a popular or fast-paced song which can pump up the children and cause them to move more.  I can set the tone on a softer, more relaxed pace with the opposite one.  I can effectively start and stop an activity just by hitting play or pause.  If I get sick of hearing songs the kids like, I can expose them to a more versed type (80’s, heavy metal, reggae, or softer style). A sound system is something I couldn't go without in my classes. Check out great electronic options for P.E.!


2.  Jump Ropes.  

Our kids jump rope very frequently.  This practice is an instant activity for warm-ups during attendance.  Starting in Kindergarten, we break down this skill and teach the children how to jump.  What was once a common practice among children at home now has dwindled down to what seems like a few.  I don’t have to tell you the wonderful benefits a child can get from this (hand-eye coordination, low impact, cardiorespiratory endurance, etc.).  We use a variety of ropes from the heavier segmented ropes to the lightweight speed rope.  One thing is for sure, by the time the children leave our elementary school in the fifth grade, they are proficient at this fundamental skill. 


3.  Dry-Erase Boards. 

This one speaks for itself.  I cannot always use my laptop and projector in my classes and certain activities may put these electronic devices at risk, yet I need to disseminate information regularly.  I believe children should be able to read in the majority of my classes.  Not only does it reinforces their ELA and math skills, but adds a dimension that enhances my lessons. I use it to write instructions, directions, cues, scoreboard, diagrams…the list goes on.  I have unfortunately broken several over the years, however, this is a go-to demand in my P.E. classes. Dry-Erase Boards


4.  Cones, cones, cones. 

Doesn’t matter if it is a 6”, 36”, dome or traditional type, I use cones constantly.  We have amassed many over the years ranging from multi-colored, to slotted (for holding poster boards).  Some have been “borrowed” by custodial staff, broken by overzealous children, or used by co-workers.  Whether I am indoors or out these are necessities. Check out the varoius cone options here.


5.  Interval Timer. 

An interval timer could possibly be one of the best investments ever.  I purchased a large display interval timer/clock for many activities and what a God-send it has been.  There always seem to be a use for them.  I like the basic features of having a clock count down the remaining time with a loud beep at the finish.  Children can easily pace or monitor themselves when working through an activity.  I challenge children with timed tasks and can be used as another great motivator in class. 


Most items on this list are teaching aides rather than true physical education equipment. What are five pieces of equipment you couldn't teach without?  Leave a comment and let us know!


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

Check out more Blogs by Donn!


3 Non-Traditional Games for PE

Posted 1 year ago - by Chad Triolet

One of my favorite subjects for presentations has been how to use non-traditional gaming concepts in physical education. 

There are many awesome games that have been created using unique scoring concepts, defensive strategies, and/or tactical rules of play.  In this particular blog, you will find some of my favorite non-traditional games and some background on the history of each game. 


Let’s start with a French-Canadian game that is now played as a World Cup sport in over 20 countries around the world…any guesses?  If you guessed KIN-BALL®, then you got it right!  KIN-BALL® is a unique game concept played using a non-traditional ball (a giant 40” inflatable ball) and an equally unique playing format that pits 3 teams against each other to determine a winner. 

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How to Play: 

Each team is made up of 4 players that work together to either serve the ball or catch the ball if their team has been designated.  With three teams on the court at one time, game play and strategies for success are vastly different than traditional sports, which adds to the intrigue of the game. 

Another significant element that impacts the game is the use of a 40” ball.  The size of the ball certainly impacts striking and catching the ball which adds another unique (and fun) element to the game.  All novelty aside, playing the game is fun and a tremendous workout! 

Click here to learn more, or Shop KIN-BALL®.


2. Tchoukball

Tchoukball is another exciting non-traditional sports game that uses a unique element for game play.  The game was invented by Dr. Hermann Brant and was designed to eliminate aggressive play and physical contact.  This throwing and catching game requires hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness. 

How to Play:

Dropping the ball or missing the target (A.K.A – the “frame”) will result in a turn over.  A “frame” is essentially an angled trampoline that must be used to attack.  When attacking, the objective is to bounce the ball off the frame so that it lands inside the boundary lines and is NOT caught by the opposing team. 

What makes this game so exciting is the fact that players on the offense may throw the ball off of the frames at either end of the playing area in order to attack.  As soon as the ball bounces off the frame, the defense must spring into action to cover the court and retrieve the ball.  It is important to note that the defense in this game may not interfere in any way with offensive game play until a player from the offensive team makes an attack by throwing the ball off one of the frames.  After the attack, if the ball is caught by the defense, the defense turns into the offense and the game continues. 

There are rules that require a minimum and maximum number of passes before an attack.  These rules keep the pace of the game at a high level and ensure that players maximize their MVPA throughout the activity.  My favorite part of the game is the non-traditional defense concept.  During defense, players must work together to cover the court which requires teamwork and organization. 

Click here to learn more, or Shop Tchoukball.



3. Ultimate®

I will finish with Ultimate®, which was once called Ultimate® Frisbee® and is a non-contact team sport that is played with a flying disc.  This game has been played for over 50 years and is played around the world.  It is a popular recreational game and is recognized as a sport by the International Olympic Committee although it is not considered an Olympic sport.  

How to Play: 

The objective of this game is to have a player catch the flying disc in the opposing team’s “end zone”.  When in possession of the disc, the player may not run with the disc but rather establish a pivot point.  The disc must be passed to teammates to advance it down the field.  If a disc is dropped, blocked to the ground, out of bounds, or intercepted, it is a turnover and the opposing team may start moving immediately. 

This is a non-contact game and traditional “in your face” defense is not allowed.  To begin the game, each team stands in their end zone and a player from one team will launch the disc to the opposing team.  This process happens each time a point is scored by catching the disc in the end zone. 

Because of the quick transitions in this game, there are limited rest periods which can lead to increased fitness levels.  I used the Ultimate concept for many of the activities that I shared with my students and demonstrate in presentations.  There are official Ultimate rules; however, based on ability and skill levels of the players, they may be modified.

Click here to learn more, or Shop Ultimate®.


Too often PE programs focus on traditional sports that are offered in athletic programs.  For those students who are not engaged in athletic programs, the traditional sports may not be appealing.  Maybe a non-traditional approach to sports is a way to motivate them to get more involved and more active. 

If you have never tried these 3 activities or similar activities with your students, I highly encourage you to change the pace and try something new!


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

Read more Blogs by Chad!

Top 5 Active Indoor Games for PE!

Posted 1 year ago - by Jason Gemberling

In Central Pennsylvania, Mother Nature keeps us inside for PE for many months during the school year and having games and activities that keep things fresh and exciting is a must!

My PE department is always looking for new and exciting activities to let our students try and over the years we have collected some excellent options. 

I will rank these in a top 5 countdown leading up to the top indoor game based on student request and excitement at my high school.  


#5 – Yuki-Ball™

This is a game I found from Gopher and was a little skeptical about at first because it is similar to dodgeball in that students are eliminated.  After having it in my closet for a year and waiting for the right time to try it, I brought it out and my students seemed to enjoy the concept.  Yuki means snow in Japanese, and snow ball battles in Central PE are very common.  This game smashes snow ball battles, dodgeball, and paintball into one game with barriers and soft coated “snow” balls that has students diving all over the gym and working as a team to secure a flag at the opposite end of the field. 

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Honestly, I never thought in a million years this would be a game that my students would get excited about, but now if my students see a barrier come out they are ready to play instantly! Learn more about Yuki-Ball™.



#4 – Sabakiball

Sabakiball is a game I was introduced to at a conference and new instantly my students would be interested.  This is a non-stop game that keeps students moving and involved constantly.  My students love the concept of the game and the ability to use their hands and feet while playing.  They also do a fantastic job of utilizing teamwork to move the ball around the field of play. 

We play Sabakiball in our gym and can fit 2 games in a smaller sized gym going bleacher to bleacher.  It sometimes looks like chaos, but it is organized chaos!  You will need a student to play goalie in this game and they will get hit with the Sabakiball at times, so be warned.  They are aiming at a pin, but I have students that love to play goalie and they have no problem putting their bodies in front a ball thrown by our number one pitcher on the baseball team!  Again, this is a fast-paced game that is great to keep students’ heart rates up. 


#3 – Spikeball®

Spikeball® is a rather new game to my school and so far as worked really well at getting students active and involved.  This game has roots in volleyball and is played 2 on 2 in a small amount of space with little equipment.  Your set will included a rebounder and spikeball and that is really all you need.  With very few rules this is a game students can pick up quickly.  We have played this game both outside and inside, but my students prefer inside, although a couple prefer the sand at the beach.

My students have really been enjoying playing this game and some have said they have even played at home or on vacation with sets their family has purchased. Check it out here!



#2 – Tchoukball

Tchoukball is one of my favorite games and also close to first place in the minds of my students!  This game is fast, non-stop action from end to end.  The part I love most about Tchoukball is that you can play absolutely NO defense!  I do not have to worry about students hitting each other to get the ball or running each other over.  If your team does not have possession, you are only allowed to position yourself on the court to catch the ball after the other team shoots at the rebounder.  There are also no specific ends to shoot at, so teams can throw from end to end and back and shoot.  The hardest part for my students to understand is the no defense! 

After playing for a couple years now, they have the concept and strategy of the game and when they are done, heart rates are up and sweat is pouring.  Again, I think everyone should have this game and if your school has it and you want to set up a match let me know, because my students want to start a high school league! Check out Tchoukball here!




#1 – PickleBall

If you are ever in Central PA around December and January, feel free to stop by my high school for some PickleBall.  The only problem you might have is finding a spot to play in my gym.  My students beg to play this game all year long and honestly for some of them I have considered it, because they love it so much and play this game harder than anything else I throw at them.  PickleBall is a combo of tennis and table tennis played with wooden paddles and a plastic PickleBall.  I actually have teachers stop during their plan periods to play this game because I have hooked them as well.  


Again, these are the top 5 indoor games in the eyes of my high school students and in my eyes too!  There are several others that we do, but with these 5 I know my students will be excited, active, and sweating at the end of class. Feel free to share your schools top 5 and maybe I will find a new game to add to my school!


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

Check out more Blogs by Jason!

  • Halloween is quickly approaching and if your students are like mine, they are starting to get squirrely and excited.  Not to mention their increase in sugar intake from CANDY!!!! 
  • In order to embrace their enthusiasm and not go “crazy” myself, I like to incorporate a few activities into my curriculum that will not only celebrate this special time of year but get them moving. 


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3 Spooky Fun PE activities for Grades K-12!

1. Spider Web Team Challenge: 

Objective: Pass each student from one side of the web to the other without touching the web.  

I use the Spider's Web Team Challenge™ from Gopher for this activity. 


2. Zombie Tag:

Objective: Be the last "human" remaining.

How to Play:  Turn out the lights in the gym (mine has a few emergenc lights, so it doesn't get too dark... safety first!). Then, play spooky music. Everyone starts out as a "human" and walks (no running!) around the designated space (I recommend the basketball court). If a "zombie" taps a student on the shoulder, both arms go up in front of them and they are now a zombie. The zombies walk around with their arms up trying to tag the remaining humans. I am the first zombie to start the game off. I only tag one studenta nd get out of the game and monitor. Zombie tag runs itself from tht point on. Once you see that all students are now zombies, the game is over. 



3. Glow in the Dark Ball Toss:

Objective: Be the 1st team to get the glow in the dark ball(s) from one end of the gym to the other using parachutes (or sheets), without dropping the balls.

How to Play: Students get into teams of 8-12. Half of the students use 1 parachute, and the other half uses another. They work together, using the parachutes, to catapult the glow in the dark balls to the parachute in front of them. Students may not use their hands to catch the balls. If the ball drops on the floor, the team must start back at the starting line.

You can use the FireFly™ Flow in the Dark Dodgeballs and 6" or 12" diameter Parachutes for this activity.


Check our more great Halloween Games & Activities


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

Find more Blogs by Maria!


It’s back to school time and PE teachers everywhere are energized to achieve a well-planned, inclusive, high-quality HPE program.

I believe that it is a shared responsibility amongst all staff in a school community to provide a healthy school environment – one that supports the promotion of well-being that all students will develop mental and physical health, a positive sense of self and belonging, and the skills to make positive choices. Research has proven that healthy students are better prepared to learn. But we know that every school needs a champion to promote and advocate for high quality HPE programming. Perhaps your department is thinking about how you might just do that this school year.

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Reflect on how the key messages of your HPE program are reflected in your school. When someone enters your school, can they feel or observe the pulse of your school?  When our son was in second grade, he came home and said, “Mom, I got caught!” I paused for a moment and thought “Oh no…what do you mean you got caught?” He responded saying, “ I got caught eating something healthy!”

The HPE specialist at the school was promoting the key messages of the HPE program with a healthy eating initiative, “Who Got Caught?”, and posted images on the wall, near the gymnasium, of students and staff eating a variety of healthy foods. Before long there was this excitement in the school about healthy eating that supported the students to learn and promote overall well-being.

The revised Ontario Health and Physical Education curriculumestablished on five fundamental principles, ensures the implementation of a well-planned, inclusive and high-quality program.

Let’s take a look at the 5 Principles and think about how they can guide your implementation of your HPE program this school year…

  1. Health and physical education programs are most effective when they are delivered in healthy schools and when students’ learning is supported by school staff, families, and communities.  

Initiatives such as “Who got Caught” certainly can lend to building a healthy school and allow opportunities for students, staff and the community to connect. Adults in the school act as positive role models for healthy active living.

The Healthy Active Living: Keep Fit, Stay Healthy, Have Fun (Grades 9/10) resource by Thompson Educational Publishing, allows teachers to connect with families on a regular basis about their son or daughter’s progress in Health and Physical Education. Outcomes of HPE affect people throughout their lives from womb to bloom and so this resource can help bring back the important conversations about healthy active living on a daily basis between school and home. 

This resource uses a “flipped classroom” model where content is read prior to class and then knowledge is applied in the context of a HPE classroom or gymnasium.

  1. Physical activity is the key vehicle for student learning.

We know that there is a positive correlation between physical activity and student learning. Active kids are more fit to learn; they are more attentive and focused and show increased positive mood and behaviour. So think about your HPE class…

  • Are you maximizing participation of all of your students?
  • Is joy of movement emphasized to ensure students become and stay active throughout their lives?
  • Do you expose your students to a wide variety of physical activities and movement forms in multiple environments to develop physical literacy?
  • Are all students given the opportunity to develop their physical fitness through moderate to vigorous exercise?
  • Are differentiated opportunities provided to allow students to practice to increase their skill through physical exploration?


  1. Physical and emotional safety is a precondition for effective learning in health and physical education.

Students may not always remember all that you taught them but they will remember how much you care. Creating a safe respectful learning environment can provide a sense of belonging for students, increase student confidence in their own ability and increase student engagement and outcomes. 

Reflect on how you ensure a positive learning space that is safe, inclusive and supportive for all your students. Check out a previous blog of mine how to make your PE class more engaging and inclusive. 

In addition here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  1. Do you ensure that all students can “start where they are” meaning activities are modified or adapted as needed to ensure all students have a entry level to participate?
  2. Do you ensure that exercise is presented always as a positive healthy experience and not as punishment?
  3. Are the activities chosen and health related topics that are introduced reflective of your students’ diverse backgrounds so that there is personal relevance?  
  4. Are explicit steps taken to support students to develop healthy relationships and ensure that bullying and harassment are prevented in all learning spaces? 

  1. Learning in health and physical education is student-centred and skill-based.

This principle reminds me of one of my mentors and great leaders of Health and Physical Education, the late Dr. Andy Anderson, an international scholar, researcher and teacher of Health and Physical Education at OISE. Andy’s educational philosophy was “every child is a champion” meaning, we as HPE teachers need to meet the diverse needs and abilities of all our students and ensure that they all experience success. Modified, small-group activities can allow for maximum participation and opportunities for skill improvement. Student choice and challenge of activities keeps the focus student-centred and maximizes student learning and improvement.

I like to use the idea of “choose your challenge” whereby students can adapt the level of challenge of activities with different types of equipment used, complexity of movement form, group sizes as examples. Finally, remember to share learning goals at the beginning of every class and co-construct success criteria of learning with your students to encourage student engagement and self-assessment.

  1. Learning in health and physical education is balanced, integrated, and connected to real life.

Think about ways in which you can integrate learning in health education and learning in physical education so it is reflected in both home and community environments. Students can apply their knowledge in various settings in the community; for example, a family wellness night whereby the community is invited to share in the learning of the students with respect to healthy active living. Perhaps a pedometer challenge following Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope can enable students to make cross-curricular connections between health and physical related learning with curriculum initiatives such as literacy, numeracy and environmental education.


A final thought…

I will leave you with a healthy school initiative that an elementary principal once shared called:


This initiative resonates with the fundamental principles of a high quality HPE program. At the beginning of the school year the staff decided on this shared initiative to build a healthier school environment for their students to learn and thrive.

What 3 things would you want to increase in your school to improve student learning? What 2 things would you like to decrease that may impede student learning?

The staff at this elementary school decided on and acted as role models for the following:

3 UP  = Increased opportunities for physical activity, increased opportunities that all students start their day with a healthy breakfast via a school breakfast program, and increased awareness of the importance of sleep

2 DOWN = Decrease sugar intake and decrease screen time


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

Check out more Blogs by Carolyn!






3 Ways Pedometers Enhance Cross-Curricular Connections

Posted 2 years ago - by Jessica Shawley

If you are looking for more ways to incorporate meaningful technology that makes student learning more efficient, as well as builds bridges with other colleagues using a cross-curricular approach to learning, look no further than Pedometers.

Pedometers are one of the most affordable and efficient ways to take student learning to the next level. Using pedometers helps make connections in math, technology, history, and more.

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As a dual-certified educator, in Math and Physical Education, my first full-time job was teaching 7th grade math. I loved using practical projects that connected students to real life applications. For example, an engaging data analysis project asked students to select a topic or theme to analyze and apply statistics in a variety of ways. At times, students struggled with picking a particular theme. They didn’t always have a favorite “something”, like a sports team, where they could access easy statistics for graphing and data analysis. For these students I wished I had meaningful data for them to analyze. As educators, we know meaningful content is an important hook to connect students with their learning.

Fast forward ten years and I now have the perfect tool to make this all possible – the downloadable FITstep™ Pro Pedometer by Gopher (or wireless FITstep™ Stream™).  For three years now, students have been downloading their daily information into the FREE FITstep™ Pro Software  and I can now download a variety of reports with just the click of the button:

  • I can analyze and print reports by student, grade level, or class.
  • I can analyze and print daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, or custom date-range reports.
  • I can customize the report for the student to take home to increase family involvement and student reflection.
  • I can export the data into Microsoft Excel so I can further sort and analyze data.
  • I can email the information to my administration and other teachers with whom I collaborate.
  • Print outs can be given to students to take to other classes for cross-curricular projects.

Pedometers are an efficient tool for students to collect their personal data that can then be used for goal setting, cross-curricular applications and to enhance the Common Core approach for teaching and learning in physical education:

1) Math:

Send students to math class with their personal report. Email the math teacher an overall report or data file so they have the cumulative information by grade and class. Students can now analyze and reflect upon their daily, weekly, monthly, or unit averages. They can compare their favorite activities and analyze the amount of Activity Time and Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity (MVPA) in each.

The personal application of data is priceless and makes the learning more meaningful. Taking it one step further, teachers can share the overall data and ask students to compare data by grade levels, class period, time, or topic.

Students present the data in various ways (bar graph, line graph, line plot, etc.) that align with the curriculum and then analyze the information. Students can compare and contrast, and reflect upon the information. These findings can be brought back and shared in the physical education class.

2) Keyboarding & Technology Applications:

Taking a similar approach to the mathematical applications shared in #1, students use their pedometer data to apply their learning of computer technology skills. For example, keying in pedometer data into Microsoft Excel for graphing, charts, and data analysis. In a collaboration meeting, my technology teacher was talking about how she wished she had an easy to fix for when students forget to bring in a set of data points to practice their keying and graphing skills. I quickly chimed in that I had a solution – students’ personal pedometer reports. 

3) History:

My first cross-curricular project as a physical education teacher was with my Math and History Department. Using student pedometer step counts collected in physical education class, we tracked mileage over the historical Lewis & Clark Trail while the history class was simultaneously learning about this period of history and the math class was completing their graphing unit. It was the perfect trifecta and one that could have been made even more efficient had the downloadable pedometers been available at that time. With today’s technology, teachers can track mileage for a variety of step and activity time challenges that bring history, math, and physical education together.


Continue the Conversation: In what ways have you used pedometer technology to create cross-curricular connections in your classroom? 


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

Check out more Blogs by Jess!

Interview Strategies and Tips for PE Teachers

Posted 2 years ago - by Scott McDowell

When you successfully complete your student teaching and walk out with a degree in hand, you should feel empowered, proud, and eager to earn that first job.  But the hard truth is, you're not alone. 

Over the last 17 years I have had the chance to be a part of many interview teams looking for qualified candidates in specialized fields such as physical education, as well as, classroom teaching and administration. 

During this time, I have also had the opportunity to bomb interviews of my own in front of both small and large crowds.  While there have been successes I have learned more from my failures. 

So, what is an administrator or an interview team looking for as they search for the ideal teacher?  In short, they are looking for an enthusiastic, caring, child-centered teacher that is able to work with a team and make a positive impact on the school’s culture. 

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7 Interview Strategies and Tips You Need to Know!


1. Dress for success. 

It may sound like common sense, but your appearance matters, and too often young professionals over look this simple step.  Look your best and save your sneakers, polo, or hoodie for after you get hired.

2. Make it personal. 

The interview team wants to feel a connection.  Give them insight into who you are during the interview, however, don’t overdo it.  They don’t want to hear your life story.  If the first question is, “please tell us about yourself,” don’t take the first 15 minutes of the interview to explain. 

Throughout the interview they are deciding if your personality is a good fit with the school, staff, and community.  Make sure you smile and show you have a sense of humor, but remember that it is not open mic. night at the Apollo.  

3. It’s all about the kids. 

Common sense tells us that the candidate needs to love working with children but you have to convince us that the students will actually like working with you, too!  It is the bottom line.  If this doesn’t come across, you won’t be coming back, so make it evident throughout the interview.

4. Beyond the box. 

During the interview, you need to demonstrate that you think outside of the box, have dreams and aspirations, and continually seek out new ideas.  Your answers need to convey to the interview team that you have plans and ideas that are broad and extend beyond the walls of the gym with involvement from all stakeholders.  What sets you and your ideal program apart from anyone else walking through that door?

5. Know why you teach. 

They want to know why you want to be a teacher but they really want to hear why you want to teach physical education.  You may have a passion for working with children but why did you choose this specialized field?  Why is your program as important as any core subject or the fine arts?  Be confident in your answer and believe in what you do.

6. Decipher the code. 

One of the most challenging parts of the interview is figuring out what they are really asking, what they really want to hear.  Sometimes a question can seem so simple it throws you off and you fail to produce a quality answer.  

For example, “What is something you are good at?” sends my mind into a spiral- I make good chili and I am really good at sleeping.  (Not what they want to hear).   They want to know that you have something to offer to the staff and what strengths will shine on a daily basis.  Do not simply answer “technology.”  Explain how technology will impact your teaching and how you will utilize this knowledge to be a positive part of the teaching team. 

To help decipher what they may be listening for, do your research before the interview.  Learn about the school, it’s programs, and the community. 

7. When it’s over. 

Have 3-5 questions prepared ahead of time and ask 2 or 3 good questions at the end of the interview.  Shake hands, smile, and tell them you appreciate the opportunity.  As soon as possible after the interview write down key questions that you heard and take time to reflect on your answers.  This will be beneficial with future interviews.  Broaden your horizon and apply for positions that may not be next door.  You want experience interviewing and you need that first job!


Do not get discouraged.  As an administrator I have interviewed three amazing teachers in one evening and wondered how we could pick just one out of the group. 

Sometimes it can come down to a single answer or a gut feeling.  Know that you are not alone when you let out a primal scream while pumping gas during the two-hour drive home in the dark realizing what they really wanted to hear during the 5th question.  Take a deep breath, reflect, and move on.  Learn from your mistakes, seek out more experience and knowledge, and know that everyone on the other side of the table has been there too.  


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

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3 Squats You Need to Add to Your Fitness Routines!

Posted 2 years ago - by Frank Baumholtz

Looking to add new exercises to your students' fitness routines? Learn more about the 3 squats that Personal Trainer, Frank Baumholtz, recommends adding to any lower-body workout. 

TRX® Single-Leg Assisted Squat:

* Shown using the TRX® Pro Suspension Trainer™

Split Squat:

* Shown using PowerBlock® Dumbbells, any dumbbell may be used to add weight.

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Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat:

* Shown using PowerBlock® Dumbbells, any dumbbell may be used to add weight.

Do you have a student who is struggling with squats?

Have you ever heard the saying,  "You're trying to pound a square peg into a round hole"?  Essentially, someone is telling you that your task, goal or idea, just aren't possible. Sometimes this is also the case with students and squatting. How many times have you run into a student that "just can’t" squat and you want to tell them to keep working on it and they’ll get better? After all, practice makes perfect, right?

Well, some never get better, because they just don’t have the prerequisites to complete the task.  It could be because they have poor ankle dorsiflextion or restricted hip, t-spine and/or shoulder mobility. 
Ultimatley, you’ll never know unless you run each student through a thorough screening process (i.e. Functional Movement Screen – FMS) and put daily measures (i.e. Functional Range Conditioning) in place to ensure that the prerequisites are attained prior to performing any movement.

Once you have a solid understanding of where your student, athlete or client is at, then and only then can you regress or progress forward.  


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

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Fun Friday- A Great Leadership Opportunity for Students!

Posted 2 years ago - by Tamesha (Graves) Connaughton

Do you reward your students with a free-play day or fun day during the week? If so, I'm sure you've experienced the chaos and frustration these fun days can create. Find out how to turn your free-play days into an organized, team-building, and leadership oppotunity for your students! 

First, a free-play day, or "Fun Friday" as we previously called it, is only earned by the students if the weekly program was successfully executed and they showed enthusiastic and supportive attitudes.

Fun Fridays typically consist of an open gym concept, with a team orientated theme. The challenge I often face, however, is due to the lack strict teaching format that's less focused on developing fundamental movement patterns or structural adaptive learning, finding an activity that can be agreed upon by the entire class is quite difficult. Sometimes having too many options is a bad thing.

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I've discussed with colleagues in the PE coaching community about how they mitigate the frustration of the free play concept and how to potentially back-door a less then obvious teaching opportunity in the mean-time. Those discussions have lead to some interesting and innovative perspectives on the free-play concept, from different takes on traditional games and team-work and leadership opportunities. After several unsuccessful attempts to refine the free-play day, I finally decided that "freedom" to choose can lead to contention, frustration and drowned out useful ideas.

So I decided that I'd ratchet back the plethora of options and designate two groups or teams, along with a team leader, that rotates from student to student throughout the semester. Each team is given two game options and must decide upon their favorite as a team. Then, the team creates a check-list of five reasons why their team's selected game is the right choice for free-play day, which is presented to the class by the team leader.

Essentially I've turned a fun, but potentially frustrating and worse, chaotic experience in the free-play day into an organized, team-building, public speaking opportunity. The students were initially reluctant to speak publicly in front of their peers, but with positive reinforcement, direction and fun environment, I've witnessed my young students blossom in this format. Allowing everyone, not just the athletic elite to hold a leadership role has become a very rewarding and fascinating experience.

Free-play-Friday has been now renamed to Leadership Friday, and for many of my students, this format has reignited their excitement and enthusiasm for PE.


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

Check out more Blogs by Tamesha!

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