Posts Tagged ‘Physical Education’

I learned this warm up activity at a professional development where John Hichwa was the presenter. Kids were happy and active for the entire 3 minutes.

The basic premise is that the gym is divided into thirds, where each third represents each Olympic medal, bronze, silver, and gold. I use one free throw line, extending all the across the gym, as the bronze, then the halfcourt line represents the silver, and the opposite freethrow line represents the gold. The object, of course, is to stay at gold and win as many golds as possible.

All students begin at bronze level, music begins and kids find other kids to play against. Winner advances to next level up and loser falls back one level. Of course, you can go no further back than bronze.

It looks like students smiling and running to specified location in a controlled manner. Because you have to play against someone to move to the next level, kids will talk to and play against anyone who is available. Great activity, to do at the beginning of your program. It can be somewhat of a icebreaker.

Enjoy! I like to play with the students to increase and model enthusiasm. I like it as a warm up or instant activity. Today I did that, then did push up and sit up physical fitness tests, then did a small outdoor run. Good day.



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Two years ago, everyone dressed out in my class. When I say dressed out, they wore an assigned uniform where all kids looked the same. I had very few kids not dressing out for class. One a day maybe was probably my average.

Notice in this picture our PE uniforms. All people are wearing same thing. This picture is taken in 2007 most likely.

You were either wearing the Moore Traditional School uniform or you were considered unprepared for class. When I wrote this post, What is the importance of Dressing Out,  less than a year ago, I was toying with the idea of eliminating my dress requirements all together.  After reading that post again recently, I felt very ashamed of what I was doing to kids last year. I was making them wait on a wall for 5-7 minutes prior to the start of class and withholding them from “free time” which I use as a classroom currency.

At the start of the six weeks, when I introduce to students to what my class will be like for the term, I make it clear that two things are most important to me. Number one, is that they feel safe and comfortable in my class, and two is that they are active the whole time during their class time.

The irony was that I was making kids sit out and usually the kids that are not dressed out are the ones who are the least comfortable in my class. So that segment of my class was really receiving unjust treatment. That segment supposedly was the audience I was gearing my instruction to.

What motivated my post a year ago about the importance of dressing out was a bullying incident that I felt could have been avoided if the kid simply did not want to change for class. To date, that has been the most viewed post on this site. Dressing for class will always be a hot topic in the area of physical education.

For me, I believe I have found a procedure that creates comfort in students and makes my class more enjoyable for students. I also believe my activity level in kids has risen as a result. Now, kids are allowed to wear whatever they want with no restrictions. I leave open the option to tell a student that if I am uncomfortable with what the have on, I will ask that they do not dress and just not bring those clothes again. So far, that has not happened. If a student has opted not to change clothes there is no consequence other than a simple loss of 2 points out of ten. After a couple times, I council with the student and usually determine that they are just uncomfortable changing in front of peers. When that occurs, it’s likely that I will adjust their grade when the time comes to reflect their activity level. If I did not have the grade requirement in place then I feel there would be more kids come in and feel detached from the class and choose to sit out. So I think as a whole it helps somewhat.

Using anecdotal observations from class, the atmosphere seems much more positive (though the environment has always been positive for the most part.) About 3 kids a class are usually not dressed out for class. And I do not have that awful procedure where kids are waiting out prior to class! To be successful in middle school you have to be able to view life through their eyes. Every single situation is magnified to them. As adults we take for granted all the little nuances that affect them daily.

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On http://www.moorepe.com at the end of the year I would do a “State of Moore PE” post. Not sure I have the energy for that anymore, but I would like to share some ideas I have for the future of my program. I will start with short term goals and then finish up with long term visions.

Short term

At one point in my career, I was racking my brain to incorporate every single type of cutting edge technology I could find. It was at that point that I created some small video podcasts, had my students completing online work that accounted for 25% of their grade, and that was also the time when I first debuted http://www.moorepe.com.  From the outside looking in it was excellent, in fact, my program was highly regarded from our district Practical Living Department and Information Technology Department.  So it seems strange for me to proclaim this, but I think next year I will be cutting back on the technology I use.

Moorepe.com is too much for me to continually update as a blog, so I will be changing it too more of a static website over the summer. I am looking at it as a virtual companion to my class. It should serve the student who is interested in learning about the benefits of being active.

Much of this change, can be attributed towards the creation of this blog. I have learned that my time spent creating a content on the web is better served developing a professional learning network. It also forces me to understand that the most important time I have of the students is where they stand before me in my classroom environment.

While the technology in my class has been rich, I feel the activities that I offer have grown stale. I have recently been scanning the internet, mostly http://www.pecentral.com for new lessons and ideas that I can try in my class. I am going to get out of my comfort zone, and see if I can help kids find their comfort zone in my class. So far, I have located several lessons that interest me. Badminton Golf, and Ultimate Frisbee Hoops, are just two examples that have helped me start thinking outside the box.

Although I feel that my primary responsibility is that I get the students active, I want to create a more academic environment for my students. I have a moderate amount of written work for students and I teach them basic knowledge according to the standards set forth by NASPE and the state of Kentucky. I would like the students to leave my class with more knowledge about the anatomy and physiology of the body. Barriers that I have that prevent me from pursuing this is the lack of an actual classroom. When students enter the gym they want to be active. I would like to know what other teachers do to help improve the academic climate of there program with no access to a separate classroom. What procedures do you have in place that lead to more organized academic teaching in the gym or on the gym floor.

Another constant issue for me is the idea of dressing out for class. I do support uniforms in PE. I notice that when kids are dressed out they are more active, but cannot overlook the fact that sometimes I feel like kids feel that they are being graded on there ability to dress out. I also understand that many kids are just uncomfortable just entering the locker rooms. I am pursuing ways to approach this in a positive manner. In fact on my final exam in my classes, one of my essay questions asks what the students would do if they were in charge of creating a PE program. Feedback would be great.

Long term

Since I have went a bit long already I will just limit this to one major goal I have. I want to have a PE program where students where heart rate monitors for the duration of my class and at the conclusion I just scan and upload their data into my computer. Grades will then mostly be based on their ability to stay in their target heart rate zones.

Obviously, a lofty goal, which will require a lot of money. To raise that money, I have recently joined the Health Promotion Schools of Excellence program sponsored by a local university, the University of Louisville.  So this year I will be doing 3 days of professional development over the summer to be involved in this program. To be involved I have to collect data of all my students, pre and post testing physical fitness tests. I think this was obviously a positive decision for the future of my program. I would love to get feedback from any program that might be using a similar method of assessing students.

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Below, I have included the wording of the Jefferson County Teachers Association Bargaining Contract from 2005-2010.
Section B Pupil class size after the 20th pupil day from the beginning of the school year will not exceed the standards set forth by the state in laws and regulations with maximum limits established as follows unless the teacher agrees:
For Middle School
Grade 6 – 29 (150-daily load)
Grade 7/8 – 31 (150 daily load)
Physical Education – 50
Of course if you are a PE teacher you are well aware of the class size limit. In fact, you have likely been told by an administrator at some point, “You know you can have 50 kids, right?” I have. Trust me, when you are told that, you know were you stand with your administration.
Until we receive equal treatment as our peers in the classroom, you cannot expect equal results. Quality Physical Education is dependent on reduced class size. A simple Google Search of the benefits of reduced class search will yield endless data to support this. The problem is not the data but what the school systems find more important to spend resources on, overwhelmingly they have historically chosen that it is not Physical Education.
My claim is that large Physical Education organizations, such as http://www.aahperd.org/ and NASPE need to push the unions to modify the outdated contracts. Physical Education teachers are paying union dues as well and they should be represented equally. At the state level, state organizations need to do their part. At the local level, I was advised to speak at the SBDM meeting. SBDM is the Site Based Decision Making council that is responsible for making decisions at the school. It is composed of a couple teachers, parents, and administrators. My problem is that, if I were to do this, it would create a tension between the administration and myself because it would reduce the control that they have. At my school, I would not say they are pro physical education, but they are not anti physical education. I am given some respect because I run a program that very seldom requires an administration involvement. I do not write referrals and at students are always on task. I do get a high percentage of ECE students and students who “just cannot handle the rigors of the other classes.” My classes are usually large than any other classes in the building though (maybe average of 32-37). Ideally, a class size would be 28.
Certainly, their are PE programs where students are not learning anything and teachers are simply rolling out the balls. Their are PE programs where coaches are put in that position and do more coaching during class time than teaching. In fact, the motivation for many in our field to become a teacher, was because they wanted to coach, and they saw PE as an opportunity to do so. For full disclosure, it is important for me to share that I am a coach. However, I recognize myself as a teacher first and a coach second.
Our field desperately needs help and from my view point the best fix would be to reduce class size. It is very difficult to give administration a good interpretation of what a good PE program is if they are being judged on the basis of having class sizes at 50. And I did not even go into the fact that school systems are no longer assessing Physical Education classes in annual accountability assessments. This alone is causing PE programs to be dropped from the schools.
Contact your local unions.

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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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