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!


  1. Casey,

    I don't teach PE, but I do coach soccer and I found that many of your suggestions can be applied to any subject. I really liked the approach you took when analyzing what you could change, you started by listing the things that you are not willing to or can't afford to get rid of. I have been guilty of dropping an intro in an attempt to save time and it is bad news. Thanks for your insight.


  2. Casey,
    I was a bit surprised that you only have 50 minutes of P.E. time per class per week. We are very lucky to have 30 minutes every day. You did a good job of listing your key priorities. The video you chose had some great practical ideas. I was surprised that the ideal PE class would not be a daily opportunity, but the idea of making sure kids are moving and engaged the entire time did resonate with me.

    Thanks for sharing,

    1. Hi Angela,
      It is very common for elementary schools in Maryland to have PE only once or if lucky, twice a week. The 6th graders at our middle school have PE every day. Hopefully one day we will catch up!

  3. Casey, I'm wondering if you are familiar with Gagne's nine events of instruction? I ask because it seems that many of the nine events are already part of your instructional thinking... :)

    1. I was at a time familiar with Gangne - but that is something I can review because it's been a while since studying him. Thanks for the recommendation.

  4. Casey, as an Art teacher I know just what you mean about crunching activities into the few minutes we get with each of our classes. My school has a 45 minute 3 day rotation for classes art, music, and PE. Our students also receive "Wellness' classes on twice a weeks.
    How many students attend your school?

    1. Hi Christina,
      A "wellness" class sounds interesting! Do you teach at a middle school? We have around 530 students at our elementary school.