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Fitness Testing: Helpful or Hurtful?

Posted 2 weeks ago - by Carolyn Temertzoglou

Pacer testWhen pre-service teachers are asked to reflect on their experiences of fitness testing, few of them recall why they were participating in them or learning how these activities could help them make healthier choices throughout their lives.

Many recall having to do the “beep test”, but were not made aware of how this could be an indicator of one’s cardiorespiratory fitness or how the results could be used to create an action plan to improve one’s physical fitness. In addition, they dreaded the experience as it was a public display of who was fit and who was not in their PE class.

A recent article in the Sport, Education, and Society Journal shed light on a research study, involving adolescent students using wearable trackers, such as a Fitbit, for eight weeks to see if their levels of motivation to be physically active changed over time. Very interesting results were found; over time many of the students wearing the digital fitness trackers were less motivated to take part in physical activity as they felt pressured and had feelings of guilt or inadequacy if they couldn’t beat their peer’s step count or achieve 10,000 steps. Those who were already active could easily achieve the goal of 10,000 steps per day. End result, students felt devices shouldn’t be used as it made some students feel less confident in their physical ability.

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Too often, fitness testing can do more harm than good. It can be a very intimating and threatening experience for our students leaving them with feelings of inadequacy and less confidence in their abilities; moreover, students can become less motivated and less engaged to be physically active. Yet, we know that physical activity is paramount for one’s physical, mental, spiritual and social health and that physical fitness is a changing condition throughout one’s life.

Do you remember the last time you formally assessed your physical fitness? Or perhaps while running for the bus or walking a few flights of stairs, you felt a shortness of breath and said to yourself…“ I need to do more aerobic activity!”

This raises the question, “What are the most effective means to assess physical fitness in physical education classes to help students monitor changes in their physical fitness overtime?”

The framework “why, what and how” can be easily applied to guide PE teachers to deliver effective fitness testing that can be helpful.

 

Why implement fitness testing?

  • Students can identify their strength and weaknesses related to personal fitness, participate in a variety of fitness appraisals that are suitable to their own stage of development and physical fitness, gather data from the appraisals and use this data to set personal goals using the SMART principle.

What and How to implement essential learning outcomes of physical fitness?

According to the Ontario Health and Physical Education curriculum, the following outcomes help students understand the importance of being physically active, develop a commitment and motivation to be physically active and provide them with the tools to assess and refine their fitness plans over time.   

  • Participate regularly in sustained moderate to vigorous physical activity to the best of one’s ability for a minimum of 20 minutes
  • Describe short-term and long-term benefits of developing health-related fitness (e.g., cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility) and skill related fitness (e.g., power, speed, agility, balance, reaction time, coordination) 
    • Students communicate the benefits of various types of fitness and why they may choose to include them in their fitness plan.

For example, a one student might describe “I am a soccer goalie so engaging in activities that help me improve my hand eye coordination and reaction time such as a wall ball toss is important for me to be able to react quickly in a game situation to stop a goal”. While another student might share, “I want to be able to run a 5km community race with my friend so focusing on aerobic activities that help me run continuously for a period of time without feeling fatigued are important in my fitness plan”.

  • Assess level of health-related fitness and monitor changes over time  
    • Students understand that fitness is a changing condition and apply various ways to assess their fitness that might be best suitable to their physical fitness at a given point of time
      •  Caution: the beep test, a maximal 20 m shuttle, is not the only appraisal to be used to assess cardiorespiratory fitness – it is a great tool for those students who are physically fit but can be discouraging for those students who are less fit and lack motivation
      • Consider providing a variety of appraisals for students to choose from, however be sure to be consistent with the same choice of appraisal for the next testing round. A variety of cardiorespiratory appraisals are listed below:
        • Cooper Test: 12 Minute Run – maximal running test where participants try to cover as much distance in 12 minutes
        • Rockport One-Mile Walking test – submaximal walking test where participants walk for one mile as fast as they can; very good for those with lower aerobic fitness level
        • MCaft (modified Canadian Aerobic fitness test) – submaximal test where participants move up and down a few steps to a cadence/rhythm.
        • YoYo Intermittent Test – variation of Beep Test with short active breaks
        • 30:15 Intermittent Test – participants run 30 seconds alternated with 15 seconds of walking repeatedly
           
  • Develop, implement and revise a personal fitness plan
    • Students create an action plan using various training principles such as the FITT principle, overload principle, SMART principle
    • In a student led interview, peer sharing or fitness journal, students describe how they developed, implemented and revised their plan throughout the school year. What were some barriers? How did they overcome barriers? What do they wish to focus on in the summer and into the following year?
       

How to implement effective fitness testing into your PE program?

Explore these resources to create meaningful experiences for fitness testing for students.

flexibility test

1. OPHEA’s Quality Assessment to Support the Development of Physical Literacy Skills in HPE Position Paper - Provides guidelines for appropriate use of assessment methods and tools e.g., physical assessment results/scores should not be used as a grade, assessments should be inclusive, student-centered, personalized and consistent throughout the year. 

2. PHE Canada’s Passport for Life  - A K-12 Program that supports the understanding, assessment and development of physical literacy among students.

3. Thompson Educational Publishing - resources that support the delivery of quality well planned inclusive HPE programs.

4. Gopher Fitness Testing Equipment - a variety of fitness testing equipment that can be used for your PE program. 



How to Perform a Push-Up Assessment [Instructional Video]

Posted 4 weeks ago - by Gopher Community
 

Teach students how to properly perform the push-up test with this helpful video and detailed instruction. Make push-up assessments even easier by using the Rep-Addition Push-Up Testers to increase accuracy and efficiency. 

Push-Up Assessment Set-Up:

  • Before performing the push-up test, adjust the height of the console so your arms are bent at a 90-degree angle when your chest touches the console
  • Press and hold the “Reset” button to clear the settings back to zero

 

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Free Downloadable Resources:

View the video on the right for a full demonstration of the push-up assessment. Click the download button to save the video to your computer for your students follow along! An audio file is available for your download as well.

Assessment Instructions:

  • Kneel and place your hands flat on the hand pads at shoulder-width apart, face your fingers forward. Straighten your legs and lift onto your toes with your arms perpendicular to the ground.  
  • Once you begin the push-up test, wait for the instructor to call out, “down.” With your head, back and legs creating a straight line, bend your elbows, until your chest touches the console. Once the tester beeps, your rep has been counted.
  • Slowly push back up once the instructor says, “up”, returning to the starting position, keeping a straight-line posture and only using your chest and arms to propel you! Continue to follow the prompts performing push-ups until you are not able to continue.
  • The test is complete once you perform 75 push-ups or you cannot continue anymore. Once testing is complete, look on the tester for your results and report your score to your teacher!

Good luck on your assessment!



How to Perform a Sit-and-Reach Assessment [Instructional Video]

Posted 1 month ago - by Gopher Community
 

Use the above video to demonstrate the sit-and-reach assessment to your students. Don’t forget to download it for future use! Make flexibility testing even easier with Gopher’s UltraFlex Testers – giving you the ability to test two to four students at the same time!

Sit-and-Reach Assessment Instructions

You can perform the sit-and-reach test as a traditional test or the back-saver test. The back saver test measures the flexibility of left and right legs separately and avoids the hyper-extension of both knees.

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  1. To perform the back-saver sit-and-reach test, remove your shoes and fully extend one leg, placing the sole of your foot flat against the tester. Bend your other knee with the sole of your foot flat against the mat.
  2. Extend your arms and place one hand over the other. Slowly reach forward four times and hold the positon on the fourth reach for at least one second.
  3. You may repeat the test up to three times, recording your best score to the nearest ½ inch.
  4. Switch legs and repeat the test.

Good luck on your assessment!

 



How to Perform a Curl-Up Assessment [Instructional Video]

Posted 1 month ago - by Gopher Community
 

Explaining how to perform national curl-up assessments to students can be difficult. The video above provides detailed, yet easy-to-comprehend instructions for completing a curl-up assessment. Use Gopher’s AssessPro Rep-Addition Curl-Up Tester to make measuring students’ abdominal strength and endurance even easier and more efficient!

Curl-Up Assessment Set-Up

  • To perform the curl-up test, lay down, rest your head on the mat, and straighten your arms with your palms resting on the mat.
  • The first line of the tester is a 4.5-inch test, designed for students ages 10 and up, while the second line is a 3-inch test designed for students between the ages of 5 and 9.
  • Rest your fingertips at the edge of the correct line and place your feet on the tester, keeping your feet flat to the floor. Your heels should be about 12 inches from your fingertips. 
  • Press and hold the “reset” button to clear the tester to 0.

 

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Free Downloadable Resources

View the video on the right for a full demonstration of the curl-up assessment. Click the download button to save the video to your computer for your students follow along! Download the free audio file below. 

Curl-Up Assessment Instructions

Once you begin the curl-up test, wait for the instructor to call out, “up,” then curl up slowly, keeping your arms straight and feet on the ground while sliding your fingers along the mat to push the big orange button. Once the tester beeps, your rep has been counted.

Slowly curl back down once the instructor says, “down”. Continue to perform curl-ups until you have to stop or record two form breaks.

Your teacher or you partner will be assessing your curl-up form and will keep track of form breaks. Once you record two form breaks, testing is complete.

Form Breaks

There are four form breaks that can occur.

  • If you do not reach up and touch your fingertips to the button.
  • Your feet lift off the ground during a curl-up.
  • Back, shoulders and head doesn’t touch the mat in-between reps.
  • Or movement is inconsistent and you are not able to keep up with the instructor.

The test is complete once you perform 75 curl-ups or you cannot continue anymore. Once testing is complete, look on the tester for your results and report your score to your teacher.

Good luck on your assessment!



Using Fitness Testing Data in P.E.

Posted 1 month ago - by Jason Gemberling

Fitness testing

You decided to have your students do some fitness testing and you have all of the results collected, now what?  It is a great question and one that I am sure has a variety of answers, anywhere from putting the results in a file drawer to analyzing the results in great detail.  My hope is that you are pushing more toward the analyzing the results end of the spectrum, or honestly, why else are you testing your students?

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Fitness Testing Practices

First, let me start with a few thoughts on testing itself.  I have struggled with subjecting my students to fitness testing and whether or not I am getting true results.  There are several well-known physical educators who are against testing students for various reasons, one of which is it can turn kids away from physical activity, especially kids who are not very physically fit. 

Others take the extreme position in handing out awards to those that are fit and dominated the testing.  I place myself in the middle of this all, in that I do not grade students based on their results nor do I punish them for not making a certain standard. 

My goal is to encourage my students to give me their best effort on that particular day and always to try to do better than before.  I know I have some students that are out to set records in my class and they do, but I also have those students that are obese and hate exercise so by asking for their best and encouraging them to beat their personal best, I see first-hand that students are working harder.

What to do with the Results

With that said, what do I do with my results?  As a PE department, we test our students three times a year and inform the students that the results are used to guide our instruction. Again, this helps to motivate some students.  At the end of our school year, we look at what areas of fitness our students performed well and which areas show us we need improvement.  We break these results down by age and gender to help us better understand the results. 

For our school, we have noticed a downward spiral in muscular strength and endurance, but a slight upward spike for cardiovascular endurance over the past 3 or 4 years.  We attribute this spike in cardio to a switch in our focus from team sports to a more fitness-based curriculum.  As we continue to gather data, we will work to continue the growth in cardio.  Likewise, we know that we need to increase our focus in strength areas to help create a more well-rounded fitness level for our students.

Fitness Report Card

Something we have considered doing with our results is creating a Fitness Report Card for students to take home to their parents.  Our hesitation lies in putting too much emphasis on testing and turning kids off on becoming healthier individuals because they fear repercussions from home. To ease these concerns, we make sure parents are aware of the testing and inform them that they are welcome to come into school and meet with us about the results and what we are doing to help their child improve, not just on the testing, but really on our main focus, improving wellness. 

We also talk with our students individually about their results and what they mean to them and how we can work together to create a fitness plan.  Again, the goal of our program is to get our students heading in a positive direction with their health and well-being.

A word of caution with your results – before you start testing, understand that fitness testing can be unreliable due to factors beyond our control and even the students’ control.  I say this because we all know that kids can be stubborn, they might feel ill, they might be hesitant of testing, etc., so be understanding and encouraging and you will find your data too be more reliable because your students will know you want them to do their best!

At the end of the day, what you choose to do with your data is up to you, but I do encourage you to use it. Let students know the value and what you are using the results for so they put more stock into what they are about to do. And above all else, MAKE IT FUN!!    



Show Students the Value of Fitness Testing

Posted 1 year ago - by Jonette (Jo) Dixon

Curl-Up AssessmentHow do you present fitness testing to your students? Are you solely outlining the tests and the steps to complete them? Or are you explaining the value behind fitness testing and why it is important? 

It's important for everyone involved, including students, to understand the “why”.  Fitness testing is a health-related youth fitness assessment that uses evidence-based standards to measure the level of fitness needed for good overall health.  That, partnered with good teaching, leads to students understanding the value behind the testing and having some fun with it too. The intent of fitness testing is to help each student achieve or learn how to achieve a health enhancing level of fitness.

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4 Purposes of Fitness Testing:

  1. Recognize current fitness-level
  2. Set realistic goals based on current level
  3. Learn how to become more fit and have fun doing it
  4. Reflect on goals and lifelong fitness intentions

There are many reasons to assess fitness testing, but not grade it.  We want students to value their fitness and their own personal results, but never to be graded by their scores. Instead of grading, we should focus on assessing students on demonstrating the value of it. 

Why You Shouldn't Grade Students on Fitness Test Scores:

  1. Genetic factors/Heredity
  2. Environmental factor
  3. Nutritional factors (little acsess to fresh foods)
  4. Home factors (is it encouraged?)

6 Essential Phases that Make Fitness Testing Worthwhile:

  1. Delivering the goods at the beginning of the class or semester. Students need to understand the relevance and value behind fitness testing.
  2. Completing the pre-tests with a fitness partner. Partners should be selected randomly (Team Shake app.)
  3. Goal-setting for the final test and the end of the class or semester.
  4. Practicing (team, individual, fitness, and FUN). This is what my program is about and majority of class time is spent in this phase.
  5. Post-test with a partner
  6. Reflection and lifelong fitness intentions

Fitness Testing Assessment Criterion:

8-point scale used in conjuction with fitness testing rubric.

Achievement Level

Level Descriptor

Fitness Testing

7-8

The student:

  1. Demonstrates and applies a range of skills and techniques
  2. Demonstrates and applies a range of strategies and movement concepts
  3. Outlines and applies information to perform effectively
  • Demonstrates that fitness is a valued life skill.
  • Strives for healthy fitness zone scores in the Advanced or Proficient category.

5-6

The student:

  1. Demonstrates and applies skills and techniques
  2. Demonstrates and applies strategies and movement concepts
  3. Identifies and applies information to perform effectively
  • Demonstrates that fitness is a life skill and that it is mostly valued.
  • Strives mostly for healthy fitness zone scores in the Advanced or Proficient category.

3-4

The student:

  1. Demonstrates and applies skills and techniques with limited success
  2. Demonstrates and applies strategies and movement concepts with limited success
  3. Identifies and applies information to perform
  • Rarely demonstrates that fitness is a life skill and that it is valued.
  • Rarely strives for healthy fitness zone scores in the Proficient category.

1-2

The student:

  1. Recalls and applies skills and techniques with limited success
  2. Recalls and applies strategies and movement concepts with limited success
  3. Recalls and applies information to perform
  • Does not demonstrate that fitness is a life skill and it is not valued.
  • Does not strive for healthy fitness zone scores in any category.

0

The student does not reach a standard described by any of the descriptors below.

 

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

Check out more Blogs by Jonette!



Quality Assessment Practices for PE

Posted 1 year ago - by Carolyn Temertzoglou


Several years ago, I was fortunate to work on a project with colleagues of mine, on the OASPHE (Ontario Association for the Support of Physical and Health Education) Executive, who share a similar passion and focus for lobbying and advocating for quality programming in HPE.

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We explored fitness assessment practices in schools, investigated the research, engaged in intriguing discussions while respecting differing opinions and agreed upon six key messages for fitness assessment. The key messages were to facilitate discussion amongst HPE teachers to reflect and consider how these key messages inform their practice to assess students’ fitness. 

Fast forward 8 years to the release of the Ontario Health and Physical Education document that positions physical and health literacy as core concepts of our curriculum outcomes for our students to learn, demonstrate, and embody throughout their lives. It can be viewed as one of the largest health intervention strategies the province has even seen.

HPE teachers have a responsibility to ensure that quality assessment practices are being implemented to support all of our students’ to learn and apply the knowledge and skills necessary to lead healthy active lives - regardless of their abilities, previous exposures and opportunities related to physical activity.

Check out the recent document on Quality Assessment To Support the Development of Physical Literacy Skills in Health and Physical Education, part of OPHEA’s Open Dialogue Position Paper Series.

This document stems from the work done previously on the key messages for fitness assessment and provides updated guidelines that include:

  -  The purpose of assessment and evaluation in a Health and Physical Education context

  -  The relationship of physical literacy and personal fitness to support students to be physically active throughout their lives

  -  Key messages to guide educators in selecting assessment methods and tools to improve students’ learning

 

Let’s Take a Closer Look at some of the key messages and things to consider when planning assessment tasks in PE…

  • Key Message # 1 suggests assessments be done in a physically- and emotionally-safe environment for increased student success and enjoyment
  • Key message # 2 points out that assessment is an educational process with the student and teacher working together
  • Key Message # 3 suggests that educators provide multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning over time

Achieve Quality Assessment with 3 Tools:

  1. Assessment Methods: Ensure a variety of assessment methods in which students can demonstrate the expectations of HPE – "say, write, do"... students can communicate it, write about it, and/or perform it. Triangulating the dataing results in more rich and authentic assessment
     
    • Example: Imagine your student, Rebecca, is demonstrating a movement skill, such as a volleyball serve, however, she cannot get it over the net for whatever reason. Perhaps it is an entirely new sport specific movement she has encountered, or she hasn’t had enough time to practice the movement skill during the sessions in PE.  Despite not being able to make the serve over the net, Rebecca can explain what is needed to get the ball over the net, “I can apply more force on my forward motion or I need to transfer my weight and follow through more in the direction of my target”. This response demonstrates the student’s understanding of the movement concepts and principles necessary to perform the particular movement skill and with practice in a fun and enjoyable learning environment in PE, application of knowledge will occur, and more importantly the development of physical literacy skills.

       
  2. Assessment Tools: Use a variety of assessment tools to provide many opportunities for assessment; “for” (teacher and peer feedback), “as” (self-assessment) and “of” (judge/evaluate) learning. With increased opportunities to learn, practice and demonstrate students will develop the desire, ability and confidence in their acquisition of a variety of movement skills, concepts and strategies thereby developing physical literacy.  ​

     
    • Assessment tools can range from Rubrics to Checklists with clear student friendly language. Remember to co-construct the success criteria for active participation with your students so they can understand and apply these skills on a daily basis. Check out my previous blog on co-construction of success criteria for active participation, How to Teach Life Skills through Physical Education.
       
    • Consider conferencing with your students periodically to check for understanding and help students be more aware and self-monitor/self-regulate their own learning and progress.

       
  3. Choice: Provide choice for students to develop their physical literacy as a foundation for programming and assessment. Learning spaces in HPE, whether in the gym or classroom, need to be inclusive, safe, and respectful of diversity in order for all students to thrive. Teachers can be culturally relevant and responsive to student needs and allow choice in assessment practices. The Ontario curriculum does not state that students perform a particular movement skill, such as cradling a ball in lacrosse; however, students will perform movement skills and apply movement concepts in a variety of physical activities.
     
    • Example:When program planning, consider usuing the Teacher Games for Understanding model to teach movement skills, concepts, and strategies for grades 4-12.
      • In grades 7-9, plan a 3-week outdoor territorial games unit in the fall and expose students to 4 days of lead up games to soccer, lacrosse, ultimate Frisbee, and flag rugby or football. At the end of the unit, allow the students to choose a sending, receiving, or carrying skill that they feel confident demonstrating. This provides opportunities for students to improve their skills and helps them make connections of transferable movement skills and game strategies from one sport or physical activity to th enext, contributing to increased confidence, competence, and moveitvation, which equates to physical literacy.

  • At the elementary level, plan a variety of opportunities throughout the year for the students to practice movement exploration skills, such as sending skills, with a focus on aim and accuracy using different size implements and targets, as well as in various environments.

 Using stations/circuits can create a physically- and emotionally- safe environment, as students are not publically on display or assessed in front of their peers, connecting back to Key Message # 1.

 

For more information on quality assessment resources check out the following:

Continuing the Conversation: 
Which key message resonates with your practice? Which key message would you like to build upon more this term?

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

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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? 

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FITNESSGRAM® Testing: Data vs. Results

Posted 2 years ago - by Chad Triolet

Now that the President’s Physical Fitness Council has adopted FITNESSGRAM® as its fitness assessment tool, most school divisions across the country are now using it as their assessment tool for measuring student fitness levels.
But, are they using it correctly?

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According to the Cooper Institute, “FITNESSGRAM® is a comprehensive educational, reporting and promotional tool used to assess physical fitness and physical activity levels for children. It was first developed in 1982 by the Cooper Institute and is the most widely used children’s health-related physical fitness assessment in the world.”  

As a teacher, I find a great deal of value using a fitness assessment.  Being able to effectively measure upper-body strength (90-degree push-ups), abdominal strength and endurance (pacer curl-ups), aerobic capacity (PACER), and flexibility (Back Saver V-Sit & Reach and Trunklift) provided me with data that we used to design and cater our physical education program to our students.  It was also a valuable tool that we used for student goal setting and basic fitness planning.

In the state of Virginia, all schools with students in grades 4-12 are supposed to report FITNESSGRAM® data with the Department of Education.  The Department of Education (DOE) makes the yearly results available on the DOE website.  Using that information, teachers can compare their school’s scores to other school divisions and the state average and identify strengths and weaknesses in the different fitness areas for their students. 

Since all schools need to submit the test results, teachers are trained using the FITNESSGRAM® assessment.  An essential component of the training should be a connection between performing the assessment and using the data to drive decisions to focus programming that bolsters areas of weakness that were determined by data analysis.  Students can use their own data to begin analyzing personal fitness data and planning, which is clearly a higher-order thinking task that requires students to know and apply what they have learned about health-related fitness through effective instruction.  Ultimately, FITNESSGRAM® should be used as a tool to guide students to make healthy decisions regarding physical activity and personal fitness.

Sadly, there are schools were physical educators have not taken advantage of these best-practices and learning opportunities.  Some teachers see the fitness assessment as a requirement that they must complete but fail to use the data to adapt their program to meet the needs of the students that they teach.  Another troubling practice is grading students based on FITNESSGRAM® results.  Based on research, a considerable portion of student performance is based student age and heredity.  These facts may cause fitness results that do not reflect the efforts of a child who is working hard to improve scores.  Many teachers defend the use of grading for fitness scores because they measure the amount of improvement.  Although that is a better option, there are still challenges determining the level of effort that student give when participating in the pre-assessment.  It also has the potential to penalize skilled athletes who may perform well in the pre-assessment because they are “in season” only to perform at a lower level on the post-assessment.

To wrap it all up, FITNESSGRAM® is a tool designed to measure student fitness levels.  This tool should be used to empower student to take ownership of their personal fitness and learn a variety of ways to increase fitness levels, improve areas of weakness, and increase physical activity levels.  Most importantly, teachers need to discontinue the inappropriate practice of grading fitness assessments and focus on student learning and application of important fitness concepts.

Take the stress out of fitness testing with AssessPro®, the most convenient and efficient fitness testing equipment available! (Compatible with FITNESSGRAM®)

 AssessPro® Testing

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The emphasis in physical education classes throughout the country is seeing a major paradigm
shift from an old-style curriculum, where sport skills and athleticism were paramount, to an
emphasis of fitness and well-being for all students.
One driving force behind this shift has been the use of technology in PE.

Polar Go Fit, GoFit, gofit, go-fit, heart rate monitor, HRM

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Technology initiatives can be seen in classrooms across the nation, and physical education is no different.  Various successful platforms exist to meet the goals of promoting cardiovascular health and student wellness; one such system used in the St. Anthony – New Brighton (SA- NB) School District (Minn.) is Polar® GoFit.

St. Anthony Village High School Principal, Wayne Terry, explains that by using heart rate monitoring the physical education staff has reinvented itself and found an “innovative way to incorporate technology into the PE curriculum – motivating students to take an active role in monitoring their fitness.  The results have been very impressive.”  For her efforts in leading the class monitoring initative at SA-NB, St. Anthony Middle School physical education teacher, Amber Potts, was recently honored as a TIES Exceptional Teacher.  The TIES Exceptional Teacher Award recognizes teachers who model best practices in their classrooms and engage students in learning.  

Class monitoring systems, such as Polar® GoFit™, pair the use of Bluetooth® enabled Heart Rate Monitors worn by all students.  Teachers see the data from all students at once and in real- time via an iPad (or iPhone) app. The app allows teachers to set individual exercise criteria and performance standards by which students are assessed. This enables teachers to objectively assess and grade students based on their individual needs and efforts in class. While using projection technologies, students monitor their own work against mastery criteria while receiving high-quality feedback instantly.  At SA-NB, teachers use Apple TV, a projector mounted in the gym rafters, and a portable projector to provide authentic objective data on a daily basis.  This information is also stored throughout the course to be used as reference / growth points.  This information can then be accessed by teachers, the student, and parents to reflect on performance and track progress over time – helping motivate students reach their fitness goals.

The Polar® GoFit™ system has been integrated into all PE curricular activities, easily used by both students and teachers. This teaching and learning technology allows physical education staff to provide individualized performance criteria, assessments, and feedback within a group setting.  Teachers now have an impartial tool for grading and providing differentiated instruction.  This system has helped students make a personal connection with the content as the goals, assessment criteria, and activities are designed based on what is best for their body; gone are the days where all students are given a blanket exercise prescription. As technology continues to be a normal part of students’ lives, the use of tech tools in PE can serve as the starting point of learning to use technology resources for future fitness monitoring. Many adults will pair technology and fitness on a daily basis with the use of heart rate monitors, Garmin™, Fitbit®, and many various Smartphone apps and programs.  Likewise, the Polar® GoFit™ system has been revolutionary in shifting physical education pedagogy from acquiring specific sport skills to learning and understanding how to have a healthy body.

There are many great tech advances occurring in our schools every day.  Physical education curriculums now also have the ability to utilize technologies in the classroom as a literal game-changer for delivering content and assessment.  

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