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Archive for the ‘PE’ Category

Logo from the Twitter page of thephysicaleducator.com

The BETA version of thephysicaleducator.com is now up and running. The site is designed for those PE teachers who love technology and want to find new exciting ways to incorporate it into their classroom. I definitely recommend the site to any teacher who is looking to increase their personal learning network. There are real teachers, currently teaching who are easily accessible if you have questions. In fact, if you want to collaborate, the site encourages its visitors to share and publish their own information. If you are even interested in being a part of the sites rapid growth, you might be able to participate in a collaboration project on Google Wave. If you are interested contact me or Joey Feith, the site creator.

You can follow the site on Twitter @phys_educator or go to http://twitter.com/phys_educator.

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Last week, I tweeted:

A bullying incident occurred today in the locker room that has me questioning the value of even dressing out in #PE classes. ;( Thoughts?

From going into the locker room with lack of supervision, to being completely uncomfortable changing your clothes, almost everyone can recall an embarrassing situation or an encounter with a bully that can be traced back to a locker room in PE class. I work really hard to provide a very positive classroom climate where kids feel comfortable taking risks in front of their peers. I know that on most days I am successful because I give class evaluations that tell me so. However, at the end of the day, there are still kids that predict their success in my class based on how many days they have been dressed out.

In most PE classes the grading procedures are very similar. You receive a daily grade for being prepared, having a good attitude, and participating. In addition, some teachers have quizzes and written work that might account for another percentage of the grade. My ratio, is 75/25. 75 percent for being prepared (on time and dressed), participating, and contributing towards a positive atmosphere. 25 percent for completing written quizzes, tests, evaluations, and portfolio assignments.

You see, part of what motivates me as a teacher,  is the fact that when a student of mine recalls their time spent in my class, I would like them to think about my enthusiasm for learning and being active. I clearly do not want them to think, I dressed out everyday in Mr. McKune’s class so I must have done good. I want them to know how to evaluate their own personal health and I want them to gain an interest and awareness of how their actions affect their mental, physical and social health.

Currently, if a student does not dress out in my class they lose three out of ten daily points.  In addition to that, they are required to wait on a wall near my office located in the gym. This is usually no more than 5 minutes. Through trial and error over 9 years this has become the best way for me to deal with non dressers. It provides a disincentive for students who enjoy being active, and for those who do not enjoy being active, it reveals the symptoms of discomfort. This allows me the opportunity to talk and counsel those students and assure them that I can protect them and that others are feeling the same self-conscious feelings as well.

Even though the procedures for the most part work for me, there is no doubt that the locker rooms are a black eye on my class legacy. During the final six weeks of school, I am contemplating removing any dressing requirement and seeing how the atmosphere is affected. I am going to still allow students to dress but make it optional. This will allow kids who are not comfortable the opportunity to not have to deal with embarrassment. To determine which procedure yields the safest atmosphere while maintaining high academic standards, I will take data from my course evaluations and compare them to those after completing the final six weeks. I will also consider anecdotal evidence and observations to determine the best possible method for me going forward. Key phrase there, is “for me.”

I would really love for people to comment on this post and provide experience and suggestions. Maybe I can provide feedback periodically or create some type of journal so that at the end of my experience I can help everyone. The goal of this blog is to create better PE programs across the world, starting with mine.

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I have always allowed students in my classes to listen to their iPods (it used to be discman, prior to MP3 players) when it is appropriate. Key word, appropriate. Since I am the leader in my class I deem what is and is not appropriate.

To me, it just makes sense to encourage the use of iPods when students are exercising because whenever I run, or exercise I always have my iPod cued up to my favorite playlist or podcast. It is such an efficient way for me to manage my time. Why should I prevent my students from having the same opportunity?

This year, my school has taken a strong stance against iPods all across the board. In fact, for the first month of school the daily announcements end with, “Students, just a reminder that cell phones, iPods, and electronical devices are not allowed out during the school day, if they are they will be confiscated.” My contention is that teachers should be able to have the discretion as to what is and is not appropriate in their classes.

Now, my school is no different from most other schools out there. Administrators are quick to just outlaw anything that might get students off task, instead of just adapting to new technologies that engage new learners. Just as, with filters on the internet, students are  teaching themselves new ways to being sneaky. In my opinion, educators are encouraging and fostering that negative quality which is far worse than just teaching them appropriate etiquette with the new advances in technology.

It simply comes down to classroom management. Do I permit students to have earbuds in when I am teaching content? Absolutely not. I taught (keyword there, taught) them that it was rude and they would lose the privilege to have them in class if they violated that procedure. Now as a result, I have a lesson that strictly tells them why iPods are great tools to motivate kids to exercise and be active, but not a tool that we can practice in my class.

The over arching theme though is that administration reacts to the negative behaviors of students and simply bans or blocks content that can be valuable teaching tools. Students are going to learn what they want to learn. With the power of the internet, they can learn anything they want. Schools hold the responsibility to teach them what practices are appropriate and what are not.

My school district, Jefferson County Public Schools, has recently unblocked the social networking site Twitter. Prior to that they unblocked YouTube. I see that as a very progressive move by the district. There are too many opportunities that are denied when simply blocking a site because it could be used for personal email, as filters usually proclaim.

Give teachers the power of their own class and let them teach students proper usage. If a teacher is uncomfortable with it, then they simply so no. Case closed.

If we don’t teach them they will teach each other as the video indicates. By the way, I am a borderline digital native, as Marc Prensky would suggest, and I can remember doing a very similar rig as the kid in the video to listen to University of Kentucky basketball games in March during tournament time. I made all A’s.

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