Wellness Wednesdays__Instructional Strategies to Spark Student Interest

Today, my Wellness Wednesday reflection is dedicated to my occupational health.

Sometimes we have to go against the grain, in the face of conformity.

In university, I took a "Literacy in the Classroom" course with other education majors. Despite my personal love of reading, at the time I thought it was a big waste of time.  Why would I need to teach students reading and writing strategies if we would be busy playing sports?  I remember my professor identifying and defining many strategies that we could use, but we never had an opportunity to apply this knowledge in that classroom.  Needless to say, I sold that textbook back to the bookstore soon after the class concluded!

Now fast forward 8 eight years, I can't speak enough praise for these same strategies.  After practicing these strategies for the past three summers in my Masters studies, and now with my diploma in School Administration in hand, I fully appreciate the potential of literacy in ALL classrooms, including Physical Education.  I have learned how important it is for administrators to support literacy efforts in ALL classrooms in order to maximize student success, differentiate instruction, offer accommodations to visual learners and to second language learners.

In the spirit of beginning the BEST YEAR EVER, I'd like to recommend a few strategies I've used to enable students to work in collaborative, productive ways (while also incorporating literacy!). 

The "Remembering" Lesson:

To begin your unit, I recommend using a "Question Carousel".  Simply post five questions around the room with blank pieces of paper for students to write their answers.  I would recommend having students travel around the learning space using specific locomotor skills as they visit each question.  You could also have them dance, move into a balance, or practice a skill in the middle of the teaching space while music plays.  When the music stops, they can stop what they're doing and run to respond to a question on the "carousel".  You could also make text posters and have the answers already written out in QR form.  Students can then visit each poster and scan/review the information using a QR code reader.

David demonstrating the "Question Carousel" in my Masters class.

The "Understanding" Lesson:

Marzano stresses the importance of comparing and classifying information, processes and/or events.  This can easily be accomplished in the physical education classroom by using an "Ordering Game".  

One idea: List muscles and bones on slips of paper (laminated of course!) and have students sort the terms from "head to toe". 

Michael and José demonstrating the "Ordering Game".
This challenge can be completed for a quick warm up activity.  In a relay fashion, students can perform an exercise from a fitness deck, earn a term for their team to organize and sort.  First team to organize the terms in the correct order wins the challenge.

The "Applying" Lesson:

 Towards the end of your unit, I recommend using a "Toss Across".

You can use this strategy to address NASPE Standard 4: Responsible Personal and Social Behavior, especially during a cooperative games unit.  Each student can write their name at the top of a paper and describe how they were a good teammate.  They can then toss the paper to their other classmates, until everyone has written a nice compliment.

Or, you can use it as a reflection tool during rock climbing, as students work through a challenge and/or after they have completed a challenge.

Also in the "Applying" Lesson:

Have students apply their knowledge by answering a guiding question and organizing their thoughts into a positive/negative chart.  You could also post multiple charts and use the "Question Carousel" method.  This could be utilized during a nutrition exercise, with pictures of "healthy" foods (granola bars come to mind!) and their corresponding food labels and the question, "Could this be considered a healthy food?".

Last but not least, for classroom teachers, use a mini xylophone to bring your class to attention!  
PE teachers, use an electric whistle (much better than a mouth whistle)!
Dr. Copeland with his mini xylophone and digital xylophone on his laptop.

Sometimes physical education doesn't get the academic respect it deserves.  How could it, when as of 2010 (in spite America's serious obesity problem), no federal law requires physical education to be provided to students in American schools.  In fact, only five states in the country—Illinois, Iowa,
Massachusetts, New Mexico and Vermont—require physical education in every grade K-12.
Thankfully, I'm proud to say (as I'm certified there), New Jersey and Rhode Island require physical education in grades 1-12.   

However, physical educators don't have to settle for being second rate.  Physical educators can strive to unite in collaboration with other teachers, use literacy and instructional strategies that are common within the school, and strive to incorporate other academic disciplines.

I hope you found these strategies useful, and please stay tuned for more teaching tips!

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

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