When K–5 classroom teachers begin teaching PE, they’re likely to have many questions: What activities should I do with my students? What type of equipment should I use? What guidelines should I follow? These are challenging questions for classroom teachers who have no formal fitness background and no formal training in how to teach PE. Although most states have PE content standards designed to guide teachers, these standards can be overwhelming for classroom teachers. State PE standards tend to be very detailed. (In California, where I live, there are approximately 50–60 standards per grade level.)
I suggest a different approach for K–5 classroom teachers. SHAPE (Society of Health and Physical Educators) America is the most prominent PE advocacy group in the United States. SHAPE America has produced a set of 5 physical education standards. These standards are quite broad. They do not describe specific physical education activities, but they do capture the essence of what PE in our schools should emphasize—movement, creative expression, and developing a life-long appreciation for exercise.
In one area, SHAPE America’s standards may be too much for classroom teachers. SHAPE emphasizes gauging students’ progress over time. For example, Standard 1 states “The physically literate individual demonstrates competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns.” That word, demonstrates, is a call for periodic assessments. SHAPE America wants teachers to be able to prove that the standards have been met.
Asking K–5 classroom teachers to assess their students periodically may be unrealistic. Ideally, assessments would show progress, but classroom teachers have so much else to do, they’re unlikely to find time for multiple assessments.
If you are struggling with basic questions as you start creating your PE program, check out SHAPE America’s national standards. They will help you build a good ideological foundation for your program. Click here to view the standards.