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Enriching Participation in P.E. with Progressions & Equipment

Posted 8 months ago - by Jessica Shawley

Though fitness is a primary focus of my middle school physical education program, I also teach a lot of skill development through sports-based (team and dual) activities. A foundation of my program includes a large selection of versatile equipment. I wish I would have known earlier in my career how to identify and purchase the right equipment to adapt and use in a variety of ways to meet the needs of my students; in other words, how equipment could be used in multiple areas and not just for its original purpose. Below I provide some insight.

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The equipment selection I inherited was very traditional even though my student’s ability levels were extremely diverse. Through ongoing experimentation, including many trips to the local “dollar” store, tracking the superstore sales racks, and gathering ideas at conferences and via social media, I have compiled a large variety. Having diverse options, choices, or levels of equipment helps keep activities interesting, provides differentiation, and challenges students in a fun way. 

Activity and Equipment Examples:

  1. When teaching softball, my progression starts with large cones (Oversized Cones) as batting tees and a safety bat and ball (Rainbow® UltraGrip™ Foam Baseball Bats). What’s nice about the tall cones is their versatility; they can be used throughout the year for stations, goal posts, agility course markers, and a million other things! Students hit off the tall cone for batting practice warm-ups and in small-sided game play before playing the larger game. I also use hoops (an equipment staple for most) as an on-deck batting circle and larger bases in modified games that sometimes allow multiple people on a base or can be used as the pitcher’s circle. 
  2. A specific small-sided game example is “Cricket-style softball,” where students hit off the cone and run back and forth between two cones to score points while the defense fields the ball and makes a specific number of throws before running in to touch the home plate cone to stop the play. 
  3. Another idea to include once you work into the larger softball game format is to allow “Freebies to first base.” The batter becomes a live runner at first, even if they get out. This allows the batter to do more than just go back to the end of the line after getting out and challenges the defense with runners on base. If first base was already occupied during the out, you can bump up the runners to the next base. The possibilities are endless and having progressions keep things engaging and fun within the spirit of the game. 
  4. In target games, one of my go-to choices is the Elite Hoop Disc Target Set. It provides a variety of target heights and works for multiple activities including Disc Golf and Disc Lacrosse, as well as modified Handball goals or small-sided Speedball hoops. The targets also work for general throwing games, yard game targets, and for “Creation Stations” where students design the activities. Students think they are very “Harry Potter-like” and ask if they are playing Quidditch! 
  5. Along the lines of disc/Frisbee® activities, offering large or soft discs is important and helps when you need an indoor option. If you have never played Speedball, check out Joey Feith’s breakdown via

As you can see, a few pieces of select equipment (tall cones, targets, and hoops) have become critical in enhancing several activities in my curriculum. The versatility of equipment also helps stretch my budget. I enjoy perusing through equipment catalogs for new ideas and more efficient choices.

Finally, there are a few questions I use to prioritize my purchases. When planning lessons and progressions, I now think about...

  • How can I change the size, speed, color, and feel of the object, goal, or target?
  • How can I modify the game so everyone will be successful and be able to choose their level of challenge while maintaining the spirit of the game?

This thought process is not just for my special needs students with physical limitations, it’s for all students. I’ve seen a greater return on student participation levels and overall enjoyment of trying a new activity.

I look forward to sharing more ideas on adaptations and progressions in upcoming blogs. Thanks for reading!   

Considerations for progressions:

  • Provide various levels of challenge in the activity while still maintaining the spirit of the game.
  • Vary the speed of game (fast, slow), and intensity level of defense (hot, cold). Provide scoring variations.
  • Vary the size of space and teams (small, large). Develop small-sided progressions: 1 vs. 1, 2 vs. 1, 2 vs. 2, 3 vs. 3 and so on.
  • Versatility: Equipment may be used in several situations.
  • Have choices in overall size (small, big), height (short, tall), color, feel, or size of objects and types of goals or targets.


Continue the conversation: There are many creative equipment hacks that help teachers utilize equipment in a variety of ways. What are your favorites? #PEblog #physed #PEhacks #physedhacks @gophersport @JessicaShawley


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Get Moving: 24-Hour Movement Guidelines

Posted 1 year ago - by Carolyn Temertzoglou

For the first time in our society, kids are sitting more than they sleep.

According to the 2016 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity and Children and Youth, "Canadian kids are inactive and they may be losing sleep over it." For every hour that our kids spend in sedentary activities, their sleep is delayed by 3 minutes. With the average kid, age 5 to 17, spending 8.5 hours of sedentary behavior each day, this is having a negative effect on their sleep – so much so that it is being referred to as a "sleepidemic" (ParticipACTION, 2016). About one-third of Canadian kids are sleep deprived and it is effecting their ability to stay awake during the school day. 

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ParticipACTION (2016) quotes, "Kids aren't moving enough to be tired, and they may also be too tired to move". This alarming truth has urged Canada to develop the world's first 24-Hour Movement Guidelines that highlight the inter-relationship between physical activity, sedentary behavior, and sleep. 

Kids ages 5-17 need 60 minutes of heart pumping activity daily and need to limit sedentary behavior each day to develop strong bones, strong muscles, strong hearts, alert minds, improved self-esteem and confidence, and to do better in school.

The 24-Hour Movement Guidelines provide a practical framework that Health and Physical Educators can use to increase awareness and change behaviors regarding inactivity in their schools and communities. The 4 components of the framework for children and youth ages 5-17 include: 

  • Sweat – 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-physical activity
  • Step – serveral hours of structured- and unstructured-light physical activity such as active transportation, like waking to and from school
  • Sleep – uninterrupted 9 to 11 hours of sleep for 9-13 year olds and 8 to 10 hours of sleep for 14-17 year olds
  • Sit – no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time, limiting sitting for extended periods of time 

To support this "movement" in our HPE classes, classrooms, and whole school communities, here are some strategies to try... 

  1. Ensuring all students are in their target heart rate zone (moderate to vigorous intensity) for large portions of our HPE classes through the use of small-sided games, movement circuits and fun activity challenges. Check out these resources to get your students more active:

  2. Use pedometers and/or heart rate monitors to help students self-monitor their level of intensity and effort in a HPE class and throughout their day. Check out this success story, provided by Thompson Education Publishing, of how two HPE teachers use heart rate monitors to help students monitor their heart rates to make sure they are "in the zone" for 20 minutes or more. Check out these great pedometer and heart-rate monitor options from Gopher.
  3. Have students chart their movement over a period of a few days using the framework of SWEAT, STEP, SLEEP, SIT, to self-actualize their behaviors and set goals to icnrease their physical fitness, increase uninterrupted sleep and decrease sedentary behavior. Extend this to math and numeracy for younger students as they represent their data in varios graph forms. Students can create public service announcements to encourage their school community to "move more and sit less". 
  4. Brain Breaks/Fitness Buddies and Movement Breaks to help self-regulate their movement and readiness to learn. Read these two stories about how a kindergarten teacher and grade 7 classroom teacher increase opportunities for their students to move throughout the day. 

Finally, check out this amazing story about how a grade 4 student, Marian, took it upon herself to lead a fitness club for grades 1 and 2 during recess! 

Share your success stories that inspire others to get moving!


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One of the biggest concerns any teacher has is class size. We know class size impacts many aspects of teaching from management and safety within a crowded space to having sufficient supplies/equipment, to individual feedback opportunities.1  Regardless of our situation, we must remain positive among our students and provide them with the best learning environment possible while also continuing to advocate for improved class sizes with our administration.

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There is no magic formula for teaching large class sizes, but there are resources you can access on best practices for teaching large class sizes in physical education.1 Here are four of my ‘go-to’ strategies for keeping large class sizes moving and learning:

1. The On-Off Rotation Rhyme:

Here is my rhyme: “If you win, you stay IN. When it’s two-in-a-row, you GO.” Two teams are on the court or field playing and a third is off. After a short amount of time (e.g., a 3-4 minute round) the winning team stays in to play the waiting team. However, a team can win and stay two in a row only. This keeps things moving and reduces student wait time. Once a team wins two in a row, it rotates off giving the other two teams a fresh start. I enjoy the rhyme because it’s something students remember and allows them to rotate quickly on their own. The waiting teams complete a strategy session or a task.

2. The Sidelines:

When it comes to playing games indoors with limited space, especially certain invasion-style games such as basketball, ultimate Frisbee®, soccer, and modified handball where you may only want a specified amount of players on the field to reinforce certain concepts, you will have teams waiting to play. Here are two types of sidelines you can use:

  • The "Live" Sidelines: : Inactive team(s) along the sideline. They must actively move or side-shuffle along the sidelines with the game being played. They can receive and/or pass the ball down the court, but they may not score directly. They can only assist from the sideline. 
  • Fitness or Health Center Sidelines: Sideline teams work on personal fitness at stations. Have the sideline teams complete a mini-circuit for a set amount of time. You can also use this time for academic knowledge tasks using things such as Skillastics® Nutrition quiz cards, reflection journaling, or Plickers card questions.

3. The Strategy Session:

Any team waiting to play should be working together to strategize for its next game. For example, during Omnikin® where there are three teams of four players on the court at once, I create three teams of eight and divide them in two shifts for an on/off rotation. The waiting team records its “ON” team’s play (on our school iPads® and/or with a video delay app). When it is time, all teams switch from “on” to “off” and those teams who were playing now get to watch the video feedback. They identify something the teams did well and something to improve upon when they go back in. The team also records more live game-play footage for the next switch. If you are just using the camera app video function on a device and not a specific video delay app, I recommend a four-minute game where teams can watch themselves for two minutes and then record for two minutes. 

4. Small-Sided Games:

Small-sided game play is a key best practice that allows all students to be active and participate in game play. Teachers must learn how to break down larger games into smaller contexts or mini-challenges with smaller teams in smaller playing areas. Check out my Gopher blog: 5 Ways Small-Sided Games Make a Big Impact and my free Gopher webinar Enhance PE Participation with Small-Sided Games for more information. It is a real game-changer if you are not already utilizing this best practice. 


1 National Association for Sport and Physical Education. (2006).Teaching large class sizes in physical education: guidelines and strategies [Guidance document]. Reston, VA: Author.


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Parkour in Physical Education

Posted 1 year ago - by Jonette (Jo) Dixon

Parkour is a great way to get students active with their surroundings inside or outside, and to get them excited about taking safe risks and enjoying movement.

This can be a lesson, a unit, or if you need a day devoted to purely fitness, using your gyms wrestling room or outside area, this can be a fun way for students to get their CREATIVE on! 

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What is Parkour?

  • Parkour is an art of movement in which you train the body and mind to overcome obstacles.
  • It emphasizes strength, flexibility, balance, body control, creativity, fluidiyt, discipline, and precision.
  • Parkour movements include running, jumping, vaulting, climbing, balancing, and crawling.
  • Parkour training focuses on safety, responsibility, overcoming fear, and self-improvement.
    Source: Apex Movement

Student Learning Targets:

​I use four learning targets with my students throughout our Parkour unit and use a rubric to assess them on each.

  1. I can show body control by the way I use agility on the course. Agility is the ability to change directions quickly.
  2. I can show body control on the course by the way I maintain my balance.
  3. I can show power by the way I jump vertically.
  4. I can show coordination and use various parts of my body by the way I run, vault, climb and roll.

Once we've established and reviewed the learning targets, we move into the activity (sample below).

The Workout:

When teaching Parkour to my students, I first introduce various movements and have them practice each in 2-minute circuits. Next, I combine the circuits into a workout. Finally, I ask students to work in small groups to develop a parkour course or workout. 

  • 2-Minute Circuits for Practice
    • Jumps
    • Drop and Roll
    • Vaults
    • Vertical Wall Runs
    • Balance
    • Hand Stands and Wall Stands
  • Combine the circuits to create a workout
    • Students move through on their own
  • Design A Course
    • Have students work with a small group to develop a parkour course
    • Use the equipment provided without moving

Upon completion of the lesson, I use the below rubric to assess students on the learning targets as defined above.

Parkour Standards-Based Rubric/Assessment:


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.

Need additional resources? The Lets Parkour PRO app (available on iTunes® for $1.99) is a great resource for teaching Parkour in PE. The app features 112 elements or movements with a detailed lesson and video of each.


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We're Teaching What in PE?!

Posted 1 year ago - by Peter Boucher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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PE Resources – The Books You Can't Live Without

Posted 1 year 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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STEAM and Physical Education: Meeting the Curve

Posted 1 year ago - by Aaron Beighle

Science Technology Engineering Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) programs are popping up in high schools, middle schools, and even elementary schools across the country. (Note: Some use the acronym STEM and some include Arts in the acronym.)

To better prepare students in the fields of STEAM, the federal government has prioritized the development of programs, academies, and schools emphasizing these areas. This push, as well as data suggesting STEM jobs make up 20%, or 26 million, of US jobs (From leave me thinking that STEAM education is here to stay.

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As most of you would agree, in STEAM education, physical education is essential for all the reasons we support. However, as with any school, it is important that the physical education program “fit” into the school philosophy. I am not suggesting that physical education should exist in these schools simply as a support class for STEAM courses. In fact, I would suggest that physical education be a part of these programs because it would be the only course in which they learn the skills, knowledge and attitudes requisite for a lifetime of physical activity.

STEAM typically focuses on an integrated curriculum where multiple content areas are blended during learning experiences. Problem based learning (PBL), discovery, and exploratory learning are emphasized. Students are typically actively engaged in the learning experience looking for solutions. In my mind, this is where the excitement for a physical educator begins. How can we take those educational tenants, which are not unique to STEAM, and infuse them into a physical education program that maintains the goal of preparing physically literate students? Frankly, I think we do much of this already; we just need to let other educators know and highlight what we do.

Like most of you, STEAM is new to me, but I can’t help but wonder what STEAM physical education can look like. In the elementary ages, guided discovery could be used to initiate student problem solving. Cooperative, adventure education type activities could be used to further their decision making, problem solving skills with groups. This is an excellent strategy for teaching students about group dynamics, what leaders do, how to disagree, how to learn to cooperate and communicate. All are strategies many of us use but would lend themselves to PBL and exploration. Allowing students to invent games given a set of equipment. Exploring equipment uses. Physical education teachers could collaborate with science teachers to generate learning experience in both spaces, based on friction, momentum, force, etc. When learning about Internet searches in computer sciences, students could search for physical activity videos to do in the classroom, in physical education, or at home. Pedometers in physical education lend themselves to mathematics lessons with real data to calculate averages and generate graphs. Teachers could collaborate to infuse dance and music in an arts program.

In middle and high schools, the opportunities are endless as well, particularly if we provide students with a strong content foundation to build on. For instance, one approach might be to provide a lab/lecture/activity based course that on the surface resembles a traditional health and physical education class. This course, taught using PBL and exploration, would provide fundamental knowledge such as why physical activity is important, basic nutrition, stress management, the FITT principle, lifelong physical activity skills, etc. Once students have this knowledge, then the real fun would begin. For instance, in a computer engineering course students might be faced with the problem, “When students enter middle and high school their physical activity levels drop. Using app development skills and computer engineering skills, generate a strategy to get students more active.” Is that possible? I don’t know but is fascinating. In physics students might learn about viscosity and friction and be able to link that information to arteries, cholesterol, and heart disease that the learned about in the foundations course. And that is just a start of what could be accomplished. Letting young technologically savvy, physically literate students develop strategies to improve health is exciting and promising.

In sum, STEAM education is here to stay. From my perspective, physical education has a tremendous amount of upside in this approach to education. With some thoughtful preparation and creativity the possibilities are truly endless. As I said, this is not to say physical education is a primer for other course work; this is to say our existing content can be strengthened to fit perfectly in a STEAM approach and strengthen the learning experiences as well. Given the push for STEAM programs, I think it is essential that physical education begin considering how what we already do can lend itself to these programs. 


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Why Teach Dance?

Posted 1 year ago - by Suzanne Hunter Serafin

I had a long conversation with a frustrated father last week. He wants his son to study in the library instead of coming to physical education because the dance unit is a “waste of his son’s time”.

He stated that his son is an “elite athlete, who should be training not dancing, and if he can’t train he should use the time productively in the library”. I explained to the father that dance is an important part of movement development and social development but he was not going to be convinced.

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This conversation left me asking myself, “why teach dance”?  Of course the national and state standards require it, but that’s not enough to persuade over 50% of the physical education teachers I know.  That’s right, half of the teachers I know don’t teach dance! It will come as no surprise to you that those teachers don’t like to dance because they don’t think they are good at it and find it embarrassing.  I’m sure it will also come as no surprise to you that 95% of these teachers are men.  Another supporting fact about these men is that they did not learn to dance in their physical education classes, probably because they were all “elite athletes”.

So, again, the question on my mind is “why teach dance”?  How about this, it could be the most important skill that students will learn in physical education.  Dance is a series of support skills and fitness options that enhance every other activity a person will do.

For example, spatial awareness and movement development are necessary in every sport an “elite athlete” will participate in.  Rhythm and timing are essential in most activities, and cardiorespiratory endurance and flexibility are important for maintaining fitness, improving performance, and injury prevention. 

Beyond the physical advantages, dance also provides social opportunities for students to work together in a non-competitive co-ed environment.  Finally, we should teach dance because it’s fun and it feels good to move freely, jumping and spinning, leaping and dancing.

I have been teaching dance to 7th and 8th grade students for 15 years. My unit has been praised by students (boys and girls alike) parents, colleagues, and administrators, so I want to share my recipe for success.

What Students Need to Know:

  • Show students that dance is part of their pop culture through YouTube videos, movies, and TV. Ask students if they know of any good videos to show as well.
  • Tell them why dance is a great skill physically, physiologically, and socially.  Emphasize how it can enhance different aspects of their lives such as athletic performance, personal enjoyment, and social interaction.
  • Find a dance that they can relate to culturally. I am in San Diego so my “square dance” is a Circle Meringue. 
  • Encourage students who have dance skills to perform for the class. Make it “cool”. This may result in anything from break dancing to tap dancing so be prepared.


How I Teach Dance:

  • I teach two days of “partner dancing”. I use a very watered down west coast swing.
  • Partners are assigned and change every 3-5 minutes and I give everyone a squirt of hand sanitizer.
  • Before we begin I have a serious talk with the students about behavior including eye rolling and body language.
  • I also bring in a specialist. In my case this is our Vice Principal who is tall and fit and loves to dance.  He talks with just the boys about why it’s cool to dance and very un-cool to be rude. I talk with the girls about how they have a big responsibility to help the boys enjoy dancing so that they will have someone to dance with at their senior prom in 4 years.
  • Finally I teach a flash mob dance to the graduating class that they perform on an unspecified day to surprise the younger students and faculty.

I realize that one important reason my dance unit is successful is because I love it so much, and we all teach what we love with more passion than things that we don’t love. But I hope my passion and my commitment to the importance of teaching dance will influence even the most elite athletes to open their minds and bodies to the opportunities dance can provide.


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The LEARN Model for Effective Lesson Planning in PE

Posted 2 years ago - by Chad Triolet

The state of Virginia has recently adopted new state standards for the 2015-2016 school year.  Changes in existing curriculum must align with the new standards. Change is often very difficult for seasoned teachers who are very comfortable with standards that have been around since 2008. 

With new changes in standards, teachers will have a unique opportunity to rethink and realign their lessons to meet (in many cases) new learning objectives.  This is also a chance to re-evaluate the process for lesson planning so that the plans follow current best-practices for quality instruction. 

The first questions to ask is, what are the elements of a traditional lesson?

Below are some general components of most quality physical education lessons (in no particular order):

  • Warm-up
  • Stretching
  • Fitness Component
  • Main Lesson
  • Cool-down
  • Closure

It is important to realize that these components should not exist in isolation from each other.  If possible, every effort should be made to connect learning and concepts during a lesson and from one lesson to another. 

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To assist with this, there is a lesson plan model which helps teachers organize these basic concepts.  The LEARN lesson plan model uses the acronym L-E-A-R-N to assist with writing the individual components of the lesson plan. 

L = Link to Background Knowledge

E = Engage and Explain

A = Active Learning

R = Reflection

N = Next Steps

Free Download: LEARN Lesson Plan Template

After stating an objective for your lesson, the LEARN model provides guidance for developing lessons that meet all the basic criteria for a high-quality instruction and focus on key components of effective instruction.  The most important thing to notice is that the lesson plan format is designed to encourage users to connect lessons (using background knowledge) and be more reflective in the process to connect learning outside of physical education class.   Although the look and the order of the lesson plan may appear different, all the components of a basic lesson are included. 

Now I know what you’re thinking- why do I need to re-write all my lesson plans?  For me, it is not about re-writing my lesson plans but being more reflective about how my lessons connect together and what my expectations for student learning really target.  Educational best practices should be used in every content area, including health and PE. 

For our school division, there has been a huge shift in the requirements for classroom teachers and lesson planning.  Those expectations will likely make it to “resource” classes eventually so this is a timely subject for our health and physical education teachers.  With that being said, I think it is important to be pro-active rather than re-active.  I do, of course, realize that a great lesson plan that has all the right elements does not always equal great instruction but I would like to think that being thoughtful and prepared would help a teacher at any level be more successful when actually teaching the lesson.  I think the key word is “thoughtful”.  Teaching with intention and with a clear learning target in focus should result in student learning…we hope. :)

Feel free to share your favorite lesson plan template for comparison purposes.


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

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Create a Parkour Lesson in 3 Easy Steps!

Posted 2 years ago - by Maria Corte

Are you itching to get your students outside? Need a new outdoor activity that doesn't use equipment? 
Sometimes a new and innovative lesson is waiting for you right in your own back yard, well, your school’s backyard!  Find out how you can utilize your school campus to get your students moving in 3 easy steps!

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Living in Arizona, the weather allows me to take my classes outside most of the school year.  However, the track setting can sometimes get tiring.  One day while I was watching American Ninja Warrior on tv, I noticed the athletes were always talking about how they use Parkour training to prepare for their event. Parkour is an activity in which participants seek to get from point A to point B, like in an obstacle course, as quickly and efficiently as possible. Typically skills such as jumping, climbing, and running are used.

3 Easy Steps To Create a P.E. Campus Fitness or Parkour Lesson:

  1. First, walk around your campus find anything that can be used to work the upper body, lower body, cardio, and core.

    • Examples include, ramps, walls, picnic tables, benches, stairs, railings, hills, etc.

  2. Next, map out the campus to create a smooth flowing course. 

    • Example: I started just outside the gym, then worked my way around the campus and ended at the gym in time to dismiss class.

  3. Combine 3-4 items to make an obstacle.

    • Suggestion: I call or label each obstacle a Challenge and label them 1 through 5.  My objective for the students on Campus Fitness Day is to have them complete 5 Challenges before the end of the class period.  We do each Challenge together as a whole class and I utilize the “Never Leave Anyone Behind” philosophy.  My stronger students help and/or encourage those who need some extra time or assistance.  Once all students complete Challenge 1, we move to Challenge 2 and so on. 

Here are some photos of my students workin’ it during our last campus fitness day! 



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

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