I once taught with a 4th grade teacher who had a remarkably simple, yet effective, approach to teaching physical education. I’ll call her Brenda.
Brenda led her students out to the yard often. When she arrived at the edge of the grass field, she simply said “Go!” over and over again. Her students immediately started jogging around the yard. They continued for 5 to 10 minutes. Brenda brought her kids out more than any other teacher in our school, probably three days a week.
I noticed something remarkable when I tested Brenda’s students for the mile run. Her students outperformed not just the other 4th grade classes in our school, but all of the 5th grade classes as well! I attribute the success of her students in the mile-run test to the extra running they did with Brenda.
Brenda’s approach to teaching PE was to stick with simplicity, and it paid off. It would have been ideal if she could have built on her simple jogging program, adding other activities for variety. Yet the success of her students in the mile-run test illustrates that even short jogging sessions, carried out consistently over time, can have a great impact on your students’ performance!
I noticed this article from The Aiken Standard today, titled “HEALTH AND FITNESS: Preventing summer weight gain in kids.” The message of the article is a good one: Parents should me mindful of their children’s activity level and diet over the summer. However, I think the emphasis on preventing summer weight game taps into a delicate issue. In my K-5 PE classes, I intentionally avoid references to body-weight when discussing nutrition. I do this because I think elementary age students are too young to manage their weight with the same degree of responsibility as an adult. Instead, I focus on a simpler, kid friendly message in my classes: I often remind my students that they should eat healthy food and get an hour of physical activity per day.
I think the message of emphasizing to parents healthy body weight in children is fine. However, it’s worthwhile to mention that the message should be presented to kids in a way that’s appropriate. Over the summer, kids may be less physically active away from school. It would be totally ok to remind children that they should move throughout the day for a total of at least 60 minutes, while eating a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables.
Kids say funny things-I think most elementary school teachers would agree on this. I’ve noticed that kids are often at their funniest at times when they’re not trying to be funny; when they’re making a serious point. A while back, I decided to start writing down the funny lines spoken by my K-5 students. So here is the first installment of what I’m calling, “Kid Quotes.” I hope this brings a little humor to your day.
We had a very special guest earlier this week at Rancho School. For years, I’ve been telling my students about a man named Dr. Joel Kirsch. Dr. Kirsch is the President of the American Sports Institute in Mill Valley, California. He is extremely passionate about fitness, and it’s his goal to open a K-12 school that emphasizes both fitness and academics. In 2010, to gather support for his new school, Dr. Kirsch, performed burpee exercises with a push-ups, one step at a time, for 30 miles, from Novato to the Golden Gate Bridge. Dr. Kirsch did the burpees for 6 hours each day, for a total of 6 weeks!
On Monday, Dr. Kirsch visited our school and shared his personal story with our 4th and 5th grade students. Dr. Kirsch emphasized the fact that he was inspired to perform his amazing feat by others, and that our students should seek to set a positive example for others as well. And, yes…..he did perform some burpees! It was an absolute treat to host Dr. Kirsch!
To learn more about Dr. Kirsch and his amazing athletic feat, visit The American Sports Institute website by clicking here.
PE is about to begin. You’re walking with your students out to the yard. How should you start your class?
Your first item of business is to prepare your students to listen to directions. It’s tempting to ask students to gather loosely around you, but that’s not the best approach. All your students need to focus on you and be able to hear you. That’s easiest when each one has an unobstructed view of your face. Find a clearly defined area where your students can stand side by side in a simple formation—a single line, for example.
Here are some great ways to position your students for the listening-intensive start of your PE session:
Find a long painted line on the blacktop. Tell your students to stand with both feet on the line.
Tell your students to stand directly on the edge of the blacktop. If you have a grass field adjacent to the blacktop, tell your students to stand with their heels on the grass and toes on the blacktop.
If your blacktop has painted basketball courts, have your students stand along the curved arch of the key (which is near the free throw line).
Once the students are in position, and you have their attention, you can begin your PE class.
Our book, “PE by Design: The Classroom Teachers Physical Education Program, Grades K-5” includes many more class management tips. To purchase the book, click here.
On Friday, California State Superintendent of Public Education Tom Torlakson spoke in opposition to federal budget cuts that could impact school nutrition programs throughout the state. Torlakson was speaking at the Ninth Biennial Childhood Obesity Conference in San Diego. An article from the Santa Clarita Valley public television (click here) lists several programs which assist children and needy families that could be reduced or cut if President Donald Trumps proposals are carried through. I want to applaud Torlakson for his positions.
This article highlights concerns of local school food service managers that the progress made in the Obama administration to improve the nutritional quality of school lunches could be unraveling. Migual Villereal, the food services manager in my school district, Novato Unified, speaks to the issue in this article. (link here)
For many classroom teachers the thought of hauling equipment out and setting it up is a huge roadblock to teaching physical education. It’s enough to prevent some teachers from trying altogether. To counter their concerns, I tell them to focus on activities that use minimal equipment.
Are you wondering how to deal with this issue? Rest assured, there are plenty of fitness-based activities that require little or no equipment.
When you begin teaching PE, I recommend that you just bring your students out to the yard without equipment. Make things as easy as possible. Focus on simple activities, such as running. Once you are comfortable taking your students out, and the simple routine seems familiar and manageable, try adding activities that require equipment.
Here are 5 free activities for classroom teachers from the PE by Design website that require no equipment. Click on the link to view and download the activity PDF:
I spend a lot of time in PE class working with my students on the playground play-structure, doing exercises such as pull-ups and knee lifts. These exercises are great for children, and they are also great for adults too. Here’s a story about a mother in Florida who not only spends time with her children while exercising on a playground, but she also incorporates them into her workout routine. (see videos in the article) I love this back-to-basics approach to getting fit! (Click here for link)
I recently read a news story that caught my attention. (Click here for link)
A young woman in Florida purchased a school bus and spent a year refurbishing it, converting it into a mobile gym for kids. The best form of exercise is the one that is enjoyed, and it looks like the children that use her mobile gym experience something completely unique and fun as well.
Cheers to this lady for her creativity and hard work!