New Products from Gopher Sports

PE Blog

Read and discuss the most current PE topics.

  Log In or Register

Fitness Testing Devices: Pedometers and Heart Rate Monitors

Posted 1 month ago - by Dr. Lisa Witherspoon

Fitness testing devicesAssessing our students’ fitness levels is an enormous task for physical education teachers. Continue reading to see how fitness testing devices like heart rate monitors and pedometers can help! 

Unlike regular classroom teachers, we have to assess a large number of students on a daily basis. The standardized fitness tests, such as FITNESSGRAM®, can only play a small role in assisting our students unless we are able to set goals for each student and continue to assess them throughout the school year. The question for many teachers is, “How can we do this when there are so many students with individual needs?”

Continue reading...

Fitness Testing Devices

Most of you have heard about heart rate monitors, accelerometers, and pedometers. Depending on the type chosen, data that is collected on the device can be automatically downloaded and stored for easy access. This is a great way to hold students accountable, increase motivation, and communicate with parents.  Generally speaking, see the following as a quick definition of what each of these devices accomplishes:

  1. Heart Rate Monitors:  Allows teachers and students to monitor the heart rate of the individual wearing the device.  Teachers can set the monitor for the appropriate heart rate zone in which the student should try to reach and maintain. This helps students understand the appropriate exercise level as well as help teachers assess the students on a daily basis.
     
  2. Accelerometers:  These devices are also worn by the student and can measure anything from heart rates, steps taken, calories burned, etc. depending on the particular device purchased.  This is another great tool to hold students accountable for accomplishing goals that have been set.
     
  3. PedometerPedometers:  These tools are typically restricted to simply counting the number of steps taken by the student. Yet, another great device to assist teachers in monitoring student progress and assessing fitness levels. It is very important to understand that students’ strides will vary so setting steps between students should not be compared.

The FITstep Pro Uploadable Pedometers track steps, activity time, and MVPA. Best of all, students can upload their data to the free software in less than 2 seconds. Learn more about FITstep Pedometers here

Heart Rate Monitor Experience

I personally had an eye opening experience when I used heart rate monitors for the first time during one of my elementary classes. I had a student that seemed to be lazy and dislike physical education in general. I tried to encourage her and at one point just got frustrated with her lack of effort.

When I received the heart rate monitors, I thought this would be a great way for me to show her the level in which she needed to be exercising on a daily basis. I set my monitors to beep when the students were too high or too low. During the instant activity (warm up), we were playing a fun game.  I heard her heart rate monitor beeping. I slowly approached her and what I saw was simply shocking and scary. Her heart rate was approximately 210 bpm. Had I not had a heart rate monitor on her, I may have pushed her to work harder and something terrible could have happened. It was truly an eye opener for me, and one that left me feeling terrible about the way I had stereotyped this young child.

Not only can these devices help us monitor a student’s exercise level during class, but they can help us set goals and assess students daily, weekly, or monthly. There are a plethora of products that can also assist with monitoring students muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, and even body composition if desired. Check out a variety of fitness assessment tools that may be of interest to your classroom needs.  In conclusion, technology really is the most realistic way to assess students’ fitness levels efficiently and effectively as well as help accomplish your goals and assist students in accomplishing theirs.



Back to School: Tips to Tackle the New School Year

Posted 2 months ago - by Dr. Lisa Witherspoon

It’s hard to believe another school year is right around the corner. For many teachers, the thought of getting back to it is overwhelming. Thinking about organizing new students, new schedules, equipment, paperwork, etc. can be stressful. However, if you get started early, the transition back to the classroom can be enjoyable.  I have provided a few tips to help teachers at least “get the ball rolling” before that first day back with students is upon us.

Continue reading...

TIP 1:  Curriculum

Many of you have been teaching for years, so understanding the scope and sequence of your lessons is not as difficult. However, having new lesson ideas for the students, whether it is new activities or trying out the use of infusing technology, is a great way to continue teaching quality physical education lessons. Many successful teachers have suggested laying out your units ahead of time to make sure you have the necessary equipment to ensure developmentally appropriate practices. Check out Nutrition Curriculum and Physical Education resources here.

TIP 2:  Equipment

Get in that equipment room and find out what you have and what you need.  This helps when laying out your curriculum by content area and/or units ahead of time. Over the summer many items, such as playground balls, soccer balls, and basketballs can deflate. Foam balls that you may not have used in awhile may not be in condition to be reused.  Getting that equipment room ready to go can really make your life easier once the year begins. Shop back-to-school essentials and replenishment items.

TIP 3:  Students

Regardless of how long you have taught, you are going to experience new students.  Getting your classroom schedule with student names early is a great way to get ahead and start planning how attendance will be taken, what kind of partners or groups you can begin thinking about, and how to plan the culture of your classroom atmosphere.  Another aspect of dealing with students early that is often overlooked is learning your students ability levels and those that will need more modifications depending on the content and activities involved in your planned curriculum.

TIP 4:  Technology

Realize that using technology in your classroom is not just for the students’ enjoyment and success. Many technology tools can assist you and make your day-to-day routine more effective and efficient. 

Start early and begin looking into what Apps or tools you can incorporate. Whether the reason is for assisting you with attendance, making teams/groups, music, curriculum ideas, or assessment, there is an App or tool to help you. Check out a quick blog for some immediate ideas about using Apps in your class. Read more blog articles about Technology in P.E.

TIP 5:  Activity Space

Make sure you walk your field or activity space to make sure it is safe before students are back. This often goes unnoticed and can be negligent on your part if something goes wrong during your class. Over the summer many things can happen to your space whether it’s a field or gymnasium. Check for glass, debris, fence or wall damage just to make sure your students are safe.

Although there are many more ideas to remember to start the new school year, hopefully these tips will get you back in the mode of planning.  Get moving and start organizing early!  Good luck! 



Yoga: Strike a Pose in P.E.

Posted 3 months ago - by Dr. Lisa Witherspoon

What is a “Downward Dog”, “Child’s Pose”, or “Mountain Pose”? The answer by many would be yoga poses, which is correct. But, what is yoga?

Some would simply define the term "yoga” as stretching. Others would dig a bit deeper and add the mental or spiritual benefit through the physical practice of yoga poses. Regardless, the discipline that originated in ancient India has been around for over 5,000 years and has now become an extremely popular part of a healthy fitness regimen all over the world. In fact, incorporating yoga as part of a quality physical education program is no longer considered a modern practice.

Continue reading...

Yoga enriches a physical education curriculum in many ways. 

  • First, yoga is relevant to all ages, skill levels, and diverse cultures
  • In addition, the discipline is developmentally appropriate and can easily translate from a school environment to a home environment
  • Furthermore, the practice of yoga builds basic physical fitness (muscle strength, bone strength, balance, flexibility, etc.) and mental wellness 

With all of the known benefits of yoga, why wouldn’t all physical education teachers currently be incorporating yoga in their curriculum? One defined answer: Yoga is not always easy to teach. Many teachers feel unable to discuss and demonstrate the many poses. The good news is that with our society being immersed in apps, teachers no longer have to feel uncomfortable adding the beneficial practice into lesson plans.

Below is a list of yoga apps that can assist teachers with learning more about yoga and/or providing visual demonstrations for students to follow. Keep in mind, this is a short list and does not include all of the apps available for teachers to consider.

App Name

Quick Details

Cost

 

YogaKids

 

Close to 40 poses for children to learn and follow.

$2.99

C-Fit Yoga

Series of four 10-minutes videos for children to follow.

$2.99

I Am Love

Aimed for ages 4-8. Visual examples of a variety of poses.

$3.99

Super Stretch Yoga

Includes storytelling, animation, and video examples.

Free

GoNoodle

Easy-to-follow videos in the yoga channel

Free

I Am Sun, I Am Moon

Provides a kids’ yoga journey and
a story of the tale of
yoga’s birth.

$4.99

Yoga Studio

65 ready-made yoga and meditation classes on video. Library of over 280 poses with instructions.

$1.99 +

Simply Yoga

Description of over 30 poses and 3
preset routines. Upgrades available
to advance.

Free

5-Minute Yoga

Great for students to follow for an instant activity or bell work.

Free

Daily Yoga

Describes a variety of poses and visual examples of how to perform the poses.

Free

* Prices as of 06/17

Although this list is, as mentioned above, just a few of the many yoga apps available, it is a great way to start searching and learning more about how these apps may be able to help incorporate yoga in the classroom. If there is still uncertainty, it is best to start with a free app and use the app personally to get a better feeling of how to incorporate yoga in the curriculum. Instead of planning an entire lesson around the yoga app, it can be used as an instant activity or a station as part of a fitness lesson until the students demonstrate success and a positive reaction to the content. Regardless, there is a yoga app available for any device, and the content provided can be extremely valuable for a teacher when incorporating yoga in the classroom.  

---------------------------------------

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

Check out more blogs by Dr. Lisa Witherspoon!



Focus on Fitness or Intertwine Your Fitness Focus?

Posted 5 months ago - by Dr. Lisa Witherspoon

For many years there has been a struggle with physical education programs as to whether or not we focus on fitness or continue to teach skills that can also lead to a lifelong physical activity for children. This is a valid contemplation based on the fact that obesity rates are an issue and physical educators feel that children need to be getting as much moderate to vigorous physical activity as possible during school hours.

Continue reading...

The major issue with this concept is that physical educators do not have enough time during a typical class or during the week at school to help children accumulate the recommended amount of physical activity. Furthermore, fitness testing conducted once or twice a year should be used to set goals to help students and parents understand what the child needs to work towards to achieve a health fitness level. There is simply not enough time to do this for every student during the school year. So, do we focus on fitness or do we try to intertwine fitness throughout our curriculum?

 

Over the years, physical education has shifted from teaching skill-related fitness to health-related fitness. Our goal is to educate children on how their body works and what choices they can make to be healthy; especially when they leave high school and are making adult decisions related to their individual health. Many quality physical education programs understand that it is important to teach skills related to sports at the primary level and then progress to allowing children to choose what sports or activities they enjoy and begin to focus on those for their future health. Where does that leave teaching fitness? We all know fitness is a prime importance on living an active and healthy lifestyle.

Having units each school year in a curriculum focused on fitness is of extreme importance. Educating students on their muscles and how they work, bones of the body, heart rates, etc. is essential to help them understand how the body works and various activities they can do to maintain healthy fitness levels. However, the focus on fitness does not need to stop during these specific units. Throughout the school year, physical education teachers can intertwine a fitness focus during most skill units taught.

For example, any instant activity provided could allow the teacher to ask children how their heart is feeling or what muscles they feel are working during the activity. If teachers choose to have children stretch before or after a class, this is a great time to discuss the importance of flexibility (one of the components of fitness) without having to spend several classes on simply stretching. When teaching a skill-related unit of throwing or catching, incorporate activity tasks at some point in the lesson to provide extra moderate to vigorous activity time and then discuss this during the closure. Below are a few suggestions to consider helping children continue to learn fitness concepts while accomplishing teaching a variety of skill activities during physical education class:

1.  Technology: 

Pedometers and heart rate monitors are impactful inclusions in class that allow children to see the feedback individually of how their body is working and what they still need to do at home to accomplish healthy fitness levels for that day. Allowing them to reflect, journal, or discuss at then end of class or for a homework assignment is one simple option to foster their learning about fitness and their body.

 

2.  Sport-Related Skills: 

We teach students skills related to a variety of sports so they can learn what they enjoy and what they may continue to do, as they get older. Although some tasks during these units may require more sedentary time to teach the correct cues or form for the skill, every lesson should try to include an opportunity for the children to be at least moderately physically active. Self or small group challenges can provide children with this activity so they understand or can learn that skill related activities are healthy and active.

 

3.  Interdisciplinary Focus: 

Many school districts and organizations are expecting physical education teachers to include an interdisciplinary focus in their lessons. While we teachers already naturally do this consistently, some quality teachers like to include a main focus on spelling words, math, nutrition, etc. These lessons are very important but can also include a great deal of physical activity and fitness focus content based on how they are organized. For example, set up a distance equal to the distance of the pacer test and have children run to retrieve a letter, number, or word to complete a spelling word, math problem, or nutrition concept to accomplish the objective of the lesson.

 

4.  Weekly or Monthly Focus Vocabulary:  

Some quality teachers have found it beneficial and fun to create a “Muscle of the Month” and/or a “Bone of the Month” to be able to focus on a certain part of health fitness for the children during lessons. They are able to integrate/intertwine short discussions or content based on the monthly focus. Check out the Teach-nique Bones Instructional Banner and Teach-nique Muscles Instructional Banner! These enormous 5'W x 3'H banners, made from heavy-duty vinyl, allow for easy display and can be seen from across the gymn. 

 

While these are just a few suggestions for how to intertwine fitness into your every day classroom content, there are so many ways a teacher can incorporate fitness while still conducting skill-related physical education classes. Fitness is a huge responsibility for physical education teachers to instill in children. There is not enough time to do this during a unit or two during the school year.

Sport-related skills are also essential to teach children in order for children to feel comfortable and confident possibly pursuing an activity related to an activity outside of a fitness gym experience. Intertwining fitness make take some additional time to consider and plan. In the long run, children will benefit from continuing to understand and learn their bodies while also learning the important part of a skill based fitness curriculum.

--------------------------------------------

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

Check out more Blogs by Lisa!



Rainy-Day Activities to Keep Students Moving

Posted 6 months ago - by Dr. Lisa Witherspoon


There are some days that you're left without your gymnasium or field, so how can you keep students moving when physical education is moved into a classroom?

When it comes to weather such as rain, snow, or extreme heat, sometimes it is difficult to find indoor activities that keep students motivated and moving. Some teachers do not have an indoor facility such as a gymnasium or multi-purpose room available, and for those that do, sometimes you're "kicked out" for a school assembly or other school-wide function. Many physical education teachers have experienced conducting their classes in a small classroom with desks. While this is sometimes a great opportunity to teach content involving wellness topics (nutrition, safety, health, etc.), many times we want students to be able to get up and move, which is difficult considering the physical environment available.

Continue reading...

Two activities that have become more popular and successful with teachers and students for an indoor activity are GoNoodle® and HOPSports Brain Breaks®.  Both simply require the Internet and a source to project what is displayed on a device (computer, tablet, smartphone) onto a large screen or wall space. Students are able to stand by their desk or in personal space to participate in the activities chosen.  See below a quick contribution and comparison of the two:

 

 

GoNoodle®

Brain Breaks®

Age-appropriate activities

 

Yes

Yes

Variety of activities

 

Yes

Yes

Available for classroom teachers to encourage more physical activity time

Yes

Yes

Teacher-friendly (usage)

 

Yes

Yes

Easy-to-follow for students

 

Yes

Yes

Unique content such as yoga, martial arts, and dance
 

Yes

(Not martial arts)

Yes

 

With the simple click on a device, both GoNoodle® and Brain Breaks® can offer teachers a large variety of activities for students. One unique feature with both websites is that teachers can choose content areas that they may not feel comfortable teaching, such as yoga and dance, so students are able to participate in these activities that are developmentally appropriate and healthy. Students simply follow the instructors on the screen while teachers are able to walk around and provide feedback to assist the students’ learning.

Another way teachers can implement these activities is through an instant activity or bell work before class instruction begins. Rainy or snowy days or limited space situations do not have to be bothersome. These are two of the many ideas teachers can explore to get their students up and moving while enjoying being physical active.

Learn more or shop Brain Breaks® today!

Looking for more ideas? Check out No Gym, No Field, No Problem! by Shannon Jarvis.

-------------------------------------

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

Check out more Blogs by Lisa!



Old School Laps to Modern Apps: Part 2

Posted 10 months ago - by Dr. Lisa Witherspoon

Part One of Old School Laps to Modern Apps assists physical education teachers in learning what to consider when choosing a specific App for their classrooms. The most complicated aspect of choosing an App is to answer the question “which one?” There are thousands of Apps available, but not all Apps are a good fit for all teachers.  In Part Two, teachers will be provided with a variety of Apps with brief descriptions to possibly reflect upon using as a part of their curriculums.

Continue reading...

Many teachers need to understand that Apps are not necessarily meant for use simply for the students’ benefit. There are a variety of Apps that teachers can use to make their jobs easier, more effective, and efficient. To start, Apps can be used for attendance, grading, behavior management, music, communication with parents, presentations, content video capturing, etc. Below is a list of a variety of appropriate Apps that can be used in physical education classes. Please remember that this is not a conclusive list, and there are many Apps not listed that may be a better fit for your classroom. 

APP

Category of Assistance

Brief Description

Tone (iPhone)

 

Ringdroid

Music

Splice music to use in instant activities, stop and go signals, background music

QR Codes

Content

Easy to generate and fun to implement – scavenger hunts, bulletin boards, fitness principles, reviewing a unit

Class Dojo

Attendance

Communication

Behavior

Assists teachers in taking attendance, tracking positive and negative behaviors, provides feedback, and immediately provides communication to parents

iMuscle 2

Fitness Content

Weight Training

Identify muscles in the body, learn muscle development, and experience new exercises

Team Shake

Partners/Groups

Avoids favoritism, creates partners or groups immediately, and imports class lists

FitBreak

Fitness Content

Interactive fitness sessions ranging from short warm-up activities, to full 45-minute sessions based on popular TV shows and board games from around the world

Coach’s Eye

Video Capturing

Video playback, slow motion, draw to teach, compare videos side by side, share videos, audio commentary

Go Noodle

 

Brain Breaks

Indoor/Classroom

Quick activities that can be performed in limited space, assists with difficult content such as yoga, martial arts, dance, etc.

Scoreboard

 

Bracketmaker

Score keeping

 

Tournaments

Simulates a real scoreboard

 

Assists when making teams when designing tournaments

QR Stopwatch

Timer/Stopwatch

Timing app that utilizes QR Codes to start & stop a timer. Automatically generates your name and a new individual stopwatch will be started

Educreations

 

Explain Everything

Presentations/

Deliver content

Create powerful, innovative presentations, upload pictures or videos, draw to teach, manipulate the screen

 

While the above list is just a few of the many Apps available for use in a physical education classroom, there are others that will accomplish the same task at hand. This is merely a list to get you started and feel more comfortable finding Apps that best fit your program. Searching for Apps in the App Store is not difficult. Simply type in the key word you are looking for (“physical activity”, “fitness”, “physical education”, etc.) and read the description to see if the App may be useful for your curriculum. As suggested in Part One of this blog, make sure to read reviews and have a plan for using the App before purchasing.

------------------------------------------------

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

Check out more Blogs by Lisa!



Old School Laps to Modern Apps: Part 1

Posted 1 year ago - by Dr. Lisa Witherspoon

The last blog I wrote focused on how to revitalize a physical education teacher’s curriculum using a variety of technologies. 

In today’s society, the use of an iPad®, smartphones, Apps, exergaming, and pedometers is prevalent in physical education. The complicated part is to be knowledgeable about which technology to use in your curriculum, and deciding which one is efficient and effective both for you and your students.

Continue reading...

A popular, less expensive way to include technology in your curriculum is through the use of applications, or Apps, on a tablet or smartphone. There are hundreds of Apps, and deciding which ones to use is not an easy task. Below is a short list to guide you in your search, ensuring you choose credible Apps that fit your curriculum.

  1. Learning First: There are many Apps that the students will enjoy. Our job is to make sure there is first and foremost learning value in an App. Any App you choose should assist in accomplishing the learning objectives for the lesson.
  2. DAP in PE: An App may not meet the developmentally appropriate guidelines suggested by the National Association of Sport and Physical Education and other professional physical education organizations. For example, if a few students are active using the App, other activities must be used to maximize participation or the App should not be implemented.
  3. Buyer Beware:  Do not purchase an App until you have read the reviews. Even though $0.99 may seem inexpensive, dollars add up. Remember, you can delete an App to create more storage, but you cannot get your money back.
  4. Self-Explore:  Practice using any App you purchase and plan to implement in your classroom to ensure you understand what the students will experience and any glitches that may occur.

The bottom line is physical education teachers first need to know or understand what they need in their curriculum. Do you want an App to assist with assessments? What about an App to assist with content you are not comfortable teaching? Or, maybe one that adds a little exploration for your students during a fitness lesson? Once you decide your goals, the next step is to simply go to the App Store (Apple products) or Google play (Android products) on your device and type in keywords related to the content such as “physical education,” “physical activity,” “timers,” “attendance,” etc. Read the reviews and try a sample, if possible. Once downloaded, explore the App and ensure you understand its features and functionality.

Finding and implementing Apps and technology can be overwhelming. Take small steps and start with just 1 App until you feel more comfortable with the transition.  Part II of this blog will providing specific examples of quality physical education Apps and their value in your classroom.

-------------------------------------------------------

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

Check out more Blogs by Lisa!



Revitalizing Pedagogy and Content for Today’s Generation

Posted 1 year ago - by Dr. Lisa Witherspoon

Teaching year after year creates a sense of confidence and maturity among children. In addition, finding activities that are successful is something all teachers want in their curriculum.

Experience is the key factor for many quality physical education programs to flourish.  However, it is also easy to become so comfortable with what we are teaching that a reluctance to change is naturally created.  Six-year-old children will always be six. However, the way they play and learn will constantly change with time as our society continues to change.

Continue reading...

It is our job as teachers to continue to learn how to adapt in order to most effectively continue to teach children. In today’s society, using technology to reach children is necessary.

SHAPE America (Society of Healthy and Physical Educators) states that quality physical education programs should be incorporating technology in their classrooms.  Thinking about using technology as a teaching tool can be overwhelming. From apps and iPads to exergaming and interactive fitness, there is a technology available for just about any need a teacher may have. 

Below are just a few categories of technology with possible curriculum ideas that teachers could consider incorporating in their classroom:

Category

Example Tools

Curriculum Ideas

Gizmos
&
Gadgets

  1. Have students wear pedometers and create activities that require higher step counts for success
  2. Have students calculate their target heart rate and try to remain in their zone during a fitness unit
  3. Have kids wear any gadget all day long and track their daily progress while setting personal goals

Apps on iPads, Tablets, Smartphones

  • Exercise Content
  • Workout Music
  • Music Splicers
  • Attendance
  • Behavior Tracking
  • Communication w/ Parents
  • Video Analysis
  1. Create a scavenger hunt with QR codes
  2. Teach a yoga class in stations, one station uses a yoga app on an iPad
  3. Use Class Dojo to track attendance, behavior, and instantly communicate with parents.

Exergaming

  1. Project games on a large screen or wall to play motion sensor games
  2. Use DDR during a fitness or dance unit
  3. Use sport games on the Kinect or Wii to teach tactical skills

Presentation Methods

  • PowerPoint
  • Educreation
  • Prezi
  • Explain Everything
  1. Use PowerPoint to create educational games for health classes
  2. Use Prezi as a different way to present to administrators or at a PTA event
  3. Use Explain Everything to upload pictures on the spot into a mini white board when teaching students a new skill

Brain Breaks

  1. Use as rainy/snowy day activities
  2. Use as an instant activity
  3. Incorporate in the regular classroom to increase daily physical activity

Incorporating technology in physical education should be approached in a similar manner as any traditional lesson plan. Teachers should decide what content they are teaching and the objectives of the lesson.

The next step is choosing what “tool” can and should be used to accomplish the objectives. The tool could be cones, jump ropes, or an app on an iPad.  Regardless, the lessons should be thought out and well orchestrated whether the teacher is using technology or not. Many technologies are inexpensive or free of charge; teachers should read reviews and have a plan of how the technology will be used in their curriculum before implementing anything.

At the end of the day, technology should be used only if the teacher feels like it will make their lesson more efficient and effective.  The one thing that is certain is that teachers must learn to adapt to our changing society and try to reach children in new ways.

Technology has a large influence in our children’s everyday life and should be a part of the physical education curriculum.

-------------------------------------------------------------------

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

Check out more Blogs by Lisa!

 

 



Exergaming: Pedagogy, Play, or Pointless? (Part 2)

Posted 1 year ago - by Dr. Lisa Witherspoon

Part 1 of Exergaming: Pedagogy, Play, or Pointless?, discussed the concept of exergaming and what physical education teachers need to consider when choosing a technology-driven activity. Space limitations, financial responsibilities, and technological difficulties were mentioned as important aspects related to deciding to integrate exergames in a curriculum. This blog, Part 2, will discuss important pedagogy considerations for teachers once an exergame has been chosen as a tool for teaching students in physical education and connecting them to the out-of-school environment.

Continue reading...

Teachers often have their curriculum planned for the entire year. This obviously changes due to unforeseen obstacles such as presentations, field trips, testing, and weather issues; but quality programs typically have a plan established at the beginning of the year. The next part of planning is figuring out which equipment is going to be used to accomplish the objectives of the unit/lesson. Exergames should be included in a curriculum only if they are going to make the lesson more efficient and/or more effective for the teacher and student.  Multiple factors are involved in implementing exergames. Consider the following aspects of using exergames in the classroom:

1. Station Work:

Many exergames provide a small number of students an opportunity to participate at a time. This is acceptable if the teacher plans other stations focusing on the same skill development to maximize participation with all children. Having a way to project the game on a wall or large screen is one way to incorporate more student involvement. However, if this is not available, multiple stations should be set up to increase repetition and activity levels for all students.

2. Rotations:

As mentioned above, sometimes station work is the most effective way to include exergames in a lesson.  Some exergames can take 3-4 minutes to complete the game while others can take much longer. It is common for children to get in the middle of these games and be reluctant to simply “rotate” when the whistle is blown. Understandable. Children like to finish what they have started and they also prefer not to pick up in the middle of another student’s game play.  Teachers certainly need to keep this in mind when dealing with time constraints if exergames are involved. 

3. Specific Feedback:

Quality programs focus on providing feedback to students that is directly related to the stated objectives of the lesson.  Exergames are fun and have a component of a “game” that tends to lead to more general feedback related to the score of the game or the level of the game accomplished. Although it is exciting to see the students involved and improving in the game, teachers must remember that the reason these games are being used is to improve skill levels. It is the teacher’s job to provide the more specific feedback related to the objectives of the lesson.

4. Technology Troubles:

Let’s face it, technology is going to breakdown.  There are many troubleshooting concepts to consider before letting dust collect on a “broken” game.  Common issues are as simple as the game being on the wrong channel, unplugged, or batteries needing to be changed.  The plug and play concept of many exergames may seem complicated but at the end of the day the problem may not be anything serious. Often, the students are able to figure out the issues themselves. It is important that teachers are familiar with the games they are implementing and are capable of working through the more simple problems. Teachers should also make sure they have the service number related to the game and feel comfortable working through other troubleshooting issues with the manufacturer.

5. Practicality:

Quality teachers do a good job of connecting the lesson in school to a home environment.  This is extremely important for children to understand how they can successfully use exergames at home.  Discuss the use of technology-driven games as a great indoor activity and develop a positive correlation to video games and physical activity. This is important especially if children are not allowed to be outside for a variety of reasons. Educate parents on purchasing active games over sedentary games as a gift for various occasions (Christmas, birthdays, rewards, etc.). This is another way to support the desire to play games but in a healthier manner.


Exergames can be a positive addition to a physical education curriculum but there are many aspects teachers must consider. When the teacher is comfortable with the five points discussed above, using exergaming as a fun, effective tool in the curriculum can be a successful equipment choice for both the teacher and the students.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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

Check out more Blogs by Lisa!



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

Posted 1 year ago - by Dr. Lisa Witherspoon

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

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

Continue reading...

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

 

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

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

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

Things to consider before purchasing exergaming activities for physical education:

Dedicated Space

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

Financial Strain

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

 

Technological Difficulties

 

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

 

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

Check out these great Exergaming Options for your PE class!

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

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

Check out more Blogs by Lisa!

Gopher - Unconditional 100% Satisfaction Guarantee