Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Students Need Recess

A fellow classmate of mine passed along an article to me that I thought deserved some attention.

Despite Benefits, Recess for Many Students Is Restricted

State Senator of New Jersey, Shirley K. Turner, has proposed a bill that would require schools to implement 20 minutes of recess. This may not seem like a lot of time, but it is when your school doesn't make anytime.
The article points out obstacles that many schools face with recess - not enough staffing, no time in the academic schedule, the potential for behavior issues between students, etc. What is great about these obstacles is with a little creative thinking by the school administration and teamwork amongst educators, these problems can be eliminated. There shouldn't be any excuses! Students need recess. 

Check out these two articles regarding this topic:

Pediatricians say kids need recess during school

The Rebirth of Recess

Thursday, July 25, 2013

If You're a Kid.....

I think many elementary PE teacher's would agree, teaching kindergarten has it's challenges. Students this young are in the early stages of learning social skills, understanding their bodies, and developing communication skills. Playing music can help these developing skills and really get the kids movin' and groovin'! They (we), find the music to be motivating, fun, and encouraging.

My favorite songs to play are the ones where students have to listen to directions as they move.

Here is an example:

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

We Need More Physical Education in Schools

Dr. Thom McKenzie explains why it's so important for children to have quality Physical Education in school and how caring adults can support it. Designed especially for parents, teachers, school board members and administrators.

Kids and Exercise: How much is enough?

At some point in the beginning of my fitness unit, I ask my students how much time they should spend exercising every day to keep their body fit and strong. As one could imagine, I get all sorts of answers! When I finally reveal the answer, I sometimes see shocked looks or hear gasps. Our discussion then turns to what kind of exercise makes up for that time.  We talk about climbing the monkey bars out on the playground during recess, riding our bikes after school, playing tag with a neighbor, or even walking to school.  Most students then realize, maybe they aren't so far from that number of minutes.

This week I want to ask my readers....

How much physical activity do children need?

Find out the answer here!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Shape of the Nation

NASPE's infograph based on the findings of the 2012 Shape of the Nation Report. 

  Which fact intrigues you the most? 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Examining Generational Differences

This blog entry is in response to a professor’s prompt: “As educational technologists, what did you take away from these generational differences readings? How would you handle a colleague who bought into the notion of digital natives?” 
The readings included:
Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants – Part II: Do they really think differently? On the Horizon, 9(6). Retrieved from,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf
McKenzie, J. (2007). Digital nativism: Digital delusions and digital deprivation. From Now On, 17(2). Retrieved from
Reeves, T.C. (2008). Do generational differences matter in instructional design? Online discussion presentation to Instructional Technology Forum from January 22-25, 2008 at

The order I read the readings was in the order shown above.  In prior graduate school class, we were assigned a reading by Prensky when studying the topic of Digital Natives vs. Digital Immigrants.  Prensky’s article makes sense to me mainly because I categorize myself in the Digital Native group. Although the technology used during my schooling in the 1990s looks way different than it does now, it was still present.  We had a computer class that we attended and teachers used different types of media to support their lessons.  Many of my teachers I would classify under Digital Immigrants, and I must admit, I work with teachers today who would also be in that group too.  A big different between then and now is many forced to change.  
I think what I took away most from the readings was from the Digital nativism: Digital delusions and digital deprivation.  McKenzie makes you think twice about how quickly you had agreed with Prensky’s ideas of the digital world.  Mckenzie nitpicks several claims in Prensky’s article – mostly all revolving around the lack of evidence Prensky used to support his claims.  The one claim that surprised me the most was Prensky citing the name of the doctor incorrectly for one of the studies used about brain structures, and also not citing that doctor’s work. I don’t know if this would have even crossed a reader’s mind if not for McKenzie’s findings.  Although McKenize basically finds Prensky’s article insulting, I don’t know if I can agree with that feeling.  Maybe if I was from a different generation or if I was being categorized as Digital Immigrant, I might have some resentment towards Prensksy.  I wonder what generation McKenzie is from considering how much steam was released in his article.

Most of my colleagues have or are in the process of understanding and teaching to the Digital Native. I see the younger generation of teachers at my school using technology constantly in their lessons whether it is by the use of their white boards, bringing their classes to the computer lab for assignments, or using ActiVotes for classroom discussions.  The teachers who are still adapting to technology show frustration at times, but do see the benefits with using different technology tools, and therefore do not give up. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Guest Blogger: Susan Gavin - Elementary Technology Teacher/My Mom

As a computer teacher in an elementary school, I have had the privilege to work with many classroom and special area teachers over the past 6 years.  Students come to the computer lab for class once a week for 40 minutes during each six day cycle.  What I truly love about my role is that I can listen to the teacher’s needs and then plan my lessons accordingly.  

Although sometimes I will utilize websites to have students practice a certain skill that they have just learned, I definitely prefer to introduce a project that is more of a capstone piece for students.  They take what they have learned and, using an authoring application, create something of meaning to them.  

Here is a lesson in which I collaborated with the P.E. teacher.  

Fifth grade students in P.E. were learning about taking their heart rates at different intervals during various activities in P.E. class.   As they went through various activities at different stations, they recorded their rates with pencil and paper.  The next time they came into my class, they brought this information with them.  They were shown how to use Excel to create a line graph.  After plotting their points, they analyzed their graphs and were able to see how their heart rates changed over the course of their activities.  Because the P.E. teacher wanted to make sure they met the objective of the lesson, I asked them to type a short analysis of their findings below the graph.  Students also printed their work.  They were excited to see the visual representation of the line graphs and began comparing them and talking about what took place.  They had a deeper understanding of how their own heart rate increased and decreased depending on how active they were.  The classroom teachers decided to hang the pages in the classroom; they realized how much this project meant to their students and how proud they were of their work, both in P.E. and in computer class.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Maximize the Time!

At the end of each school year, I take time to reflect on what I would like to improve upon as far as my teaching strategies go.  It seems like I always come back to “How I can better maximize activity time for my students?

By the time the classroom teachers drop off their students to the gym, I feel as though five minutes goes by before the teacher is back to get them.  In actuality, the class period is fifty minutes long (which is plenty of time for a kindergarten class), however, not enough time to see first through fifth grade only one time a week.  On top of that, between all of the holidays, field trips, assemblies, etc., there are a few classes that do not get PE even four times a month.  

These factors bring me back to the point of how crucial activity time is for class.  What am I not willing to cut out of class?

-          The Introduction – We go over what was learned in the previous class, what the objective is for the lesson that day, and how we will meet that objective.
-          The Warm-Up:  Helps to prepare the students (physically and mentally) for lesson and activities that will follow.  It the time where I am able to fit in fitness concepts that may not be present in the actual skill or game for that class period.  
-          The Conclusion – Quiz the students on what was learned during the class period, revisit the objective.

And of course I can’t leave out the assessment or the skill building activities!  

In my search for resources online to help me with this matter, I came across a YouTube video where a man by the name of Paul Zientarski, a retired PE teacher, talks about an ideal PE class.  Although his background is secondary education, he mentions a few tips that I would be helpful in maximizing activity time in an elementary class setting.   

  • -        Engage the students with activity right away.  Take attendance during the time they are moving.

  • -       Add more equipment/ break down games into smaller groups.

  • -          If there are games where students are standing to wait, have them doing something active on the sides.

  • -          Incorporate technology with heart rate monitors.
Although I have heard these tips and used them in the past at some point, I think it is always refreshing to hear them again, as sometimes it helps to spark new ideas and jog the memory of what has worked well in past lessons.  Also, I find comfort in hearing veteran PE teachers talk about strategies that have worked for them.  It gives me that extra motivation to strive to be a better teacher!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Is Your School Helping Fight Childhood Obesity?

An article off the Huffington Post website addressed a concern our country has been facing for quite some time now – childhood obesity.  According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity effects 17% of all children and adolescents in the United States - triple the rate from just one generation ago. Solutions are not simple, but there are some choices that schools can make to help this matter. The Institute of Medicine is recommending that schools provide opportunities for at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day for students and that PE become a core subject.  (Klein, 2013) Good news is that most schools do have mandatory PE programs, however; most students do not meet the requirements of getting the recommended amount of time per week. 

CDC recommends the following:

-          All elementary school students should spend an average of 30 minutes each day in PE class.
-          Middle and high school students should spend an average of 45 minutes each day in PE class.

How does your school match up with the recommended amount of time per week students should have of PE?  Do you think Physical Education should become a core subject?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Top Ten Reasons for Quality Physical Education

In 2006, JOPERD (Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance) published an article titled "Top 10 Reasons for Quality Physical Education".  The purpose of the article was to document the need for quality physical education given the current trends of obesity and physical inactivity among youths and adults.
Reason 1: Regular Physical Activity Helps Prevent Disease

Reason 2: Regular Physical Activity Promotes Lifetime Wellness

Reason 3: Quality Physical Education Can Help Fight Obesity

Reason 4: Quality Physical Education Can Help Promote Lifelong Physical Fitness

Reason 5: Quality Physical Education Provides Unique Opportunities for Activity

Reason 6: Quality Physical Education Teaches Self-Management and Motor Skills 

Reason 7: Physical Activity and Physical Education Promote Learning

Reason 8: Regular Physical Activity Participation Makes Economic Sense 

Reason 9: Physical Education Is Widely Endorsed

Reason 10: Quality Physical Education Helps to Educate the Total Child

Masurier, G. L., & Corbin, C. B. (2006). Top 10 Reasons for Quality Physical Education. JOPERD, 77(6), 45-49. Retrieved July 5, 2013, from