Physical Education Curriculum & Software #QPE

Posts tagged ‘education’

Where in the World is Jacob?


By: Ron Malm

I often wonder what has become of Jacob, even though it has been 15 years since he was a student in my physical education class back at Franklin Elementary. It seems odd to me that I would be wondering about Jacob when I taught thousands of students over the course of my career, but I just can’t shake the impact Jacob had on me professionally.

Jacob frustrated me to no end. He was one of the smartest students I ever had the privilege to teach, but Jacob was LAZY! Have you not had a lazy student or two in your career? A typical day teaching Jacob’s class had him entering the gym and choosing to walk during our instant activity, pretend to be doing exercises when we were doing circuits and move at 1/100th the speed of the other students when we were doing a large group activity. I could have understood if the instant activity was lame, the exercises were too technical and the activity was ultra competitive, but not mine! All one had to do is look at all the students laughing, breathing hard and sweating to realize my class was the “place to be”… for most of the students.

In reality, Jacob was far from lazy… he simply saw no relevance in the activities, lessons and units in my PE class to HIS life.  Jacob, like other students in school had already figured out that he was not the fastest, strongest or most coordinated kid on the block and therefore saw no purpose in trying to scale the traverse wall, jump rope or practice his forehand striking with a racquet. Many of the activities I planned for the students did not resonate in Jacob’s life outside of school. Certainly there were other “Jacobs” (Students that had already given up on the physical aspect of life, but faked it and “flew under the radar”).

I think about Jacob often. I think about him because I fear that my blind spots got the better of me more than I care to admit. It was not hard for me to watch students throwing and immediately see the baseball players among them, yet I was blind to the students that saw no purpose in my teaching. I think about Jacob because he pushed me to SEE physical education and physical activity from HIS perspective.

If it doesn’t connect with all the students, then why are we teaching it? I often hear, “because it is good for them”. Sure, it is good for them. It is good for them the same way feeding your own kids vegetables, but if they don’t understand how it relates to them, it is worthless. Everybody deserves the right to be taught the WHY and not just the what, and how.

If you want to find out if your teaching is connecting with your students, I challenge you to give them an anonymous survey asking for their feedback. They will tell you. You may not like what they say, but honest feedback is rarely fun to hear. Although if your goal is to get better, then “SUCK IT UP, BUTTERCUP!” and do what you know you must. Find YOUR Jacob. He exists in all of our classes, you just have to look for him.

If I ever run into Jacob, I will share with him that he pushed me as a physical education teacher more than any other student ever did. He pushed me to see physical education from his perspective and therefore see what at one time was blind to me.

Thank you Jacob!




National PE Institute 2015: Teacher Interviews

Kids pe institute

The 2015 National PE Institute was held at UNC Asheville in North Carolina. It was an incredible experience for everyone involved. Each day had a central theme and a question corresponding to the theme. Alex O’Brien spent his mornings asking participants of the #PEInstitute15 the question of the day. He then complied them into a video that streamed live to the world before the afternoon keynote of that day.

The following videos are the collection of the questions and answers. As the summer months begin to shrink and the new school year approaches, we trust you will find motivation and inspiration in these videos to make this year the best experience for your students. Thank you for being a positive influence for so many young minds!

Oh the Places You’ll Go and The People You’ll Meet

oh the places ron blog

By: Ron Malm

When I was young I dreamed of playing pro baseball. My backup plan was to be a barber or a bartender. What do all 3 of these occupations have in common? Working with people! Quite simply, I am an extrovert. Connecting with people is my passion; that and learning about and sharing what I believe to be Quality Physical Education (#QPE).

For the past 15 years, I have had the incredible opportunity to travel the country and meet, dialogue and work with physical educators from every corner of the US. I have been to Alaska, all the way to Florida, Upstate NY, and to the border of California and Mexico. My work has taken me to REALLY big school districts – with hundreds of PE teachers (750) – and to very small school districts with 1 PE teacher. I have seen extremely affluent communities, where students drive golf carts to school, and communities so depressed that city parks do not exist and schools serve ALL students free breakfast and lunch. What do all of these experiences have in common? Unbelievably innovative, courageous, smart and flat-out awesome people!

This brings me to the title of the blog. Sure, I have literally hundreds of memories of the places I have been, but the ones I will cherish forever are the ones that involve thousands of #QPE teachers I have met. In the last 10 days, I have had the opportunity to connect with three such people, and feel compelled to share these stories for three distinctly different reasons.

The first connection I’d like to talk about involves a woman named Colleen, who has taught for 20+ years at all 3 levels. She is currently at Elementary, but strives to go back to teaching middle school students one day. She asked me to observe her teaching and give her feedback on what I saw that she could work on. This is courage! After over 20 years of teaching, this person is still willing to receive feedback and is thoroughly committed to getting better. This reminds me of what many physical educators ask their students to do every day: to never stop learning. Thank you, Colleen, for your courage to keep learning!

The second connection happened when I had the opportunity to listen to, and then meet, Crystal Gorwitz (@clearlycrystal). She is from Wisconsin and teaches Middle School. She was a keynote speaker at the SEA Summit Conference in South Padre, TX this week. I was amazed at Crystal’s drive to keep looking for ways to connect with her students. In the short time that I listened to Crystal, it became CLEAR that she would never stop striving to connect. She will use technology, costumes, humor, personal stories and more. It made my heart sing to see an educator who had one singular goal: to positively affect the students and the teachers she came in contact with. Thank you, Crystal, for your amazing ability to look at YOUR teaching through the eyes of YOUR students!

The last connection I’d like to share was with the person, whom I met at a deeper level – Dolly Lambdin (@dollylambdin). This was not my first time meeting Dolly; but over the past 3 days, I was able to witness what many other people may already know about her: she has an amazing ability to lead through pulling, NOT pushing. Pushing people to “see the light” or do what is in the best interest of #QPE is counterproductive to the end goal, and Dolly fully realizes this fact. Pushing people creates resentment. Nobody wants to be told what to do. This holds true for children, as well as adults. The first time I met Dolly, I did not know what to think, because she did not say much when I was around her. After more opportunities to talk to Dolly and watch her in group settings, it became evident that her leadership magic lies in her ability to pull you ever so gently to where you already know is the right place to go. Thank you, Dolly, for demonstrating great leadership!

If I could do it all over again, would I choose to play pro baseball, serve drinks or cut hair? Truthfully, yes – I would play pro baseball in a New York minute! However, in reality this was never going to happen, and therefore, the real answer is NO! The job I have is not a job, but a calling. It is who I am, and what makes me alive. Meeting the people I do makes me think critically about who I am and what I stand for. I stand for Quality Physical Education for ALL! I have strong opinions about where OUR profession needs to go, and I am not afraid to share those opinions with the people I meet; for it is because of the people I have met over the past 15 years that I believe and stand for what I do!

I want to thank all of the amazing #QPE people that I have met and all of those whom I have not yet met, but sincerely hope to in the near future.

The Story of the Un-Fit Kid

unfit kid

By: Yuliya Davis

Do you recall Adam Marshall’s post from April 29, titled “Fitness Knowledge for Everyone”? It brought to light the issue of the nutrition and fitness knowledge disparity that really struck a chord with me. In the story, Adam talked about his lifelong love of sports and movement, his positive experiences as a school athlete, and his work as a personal trainer and fitness professional. With that, Adam also described the struggles that he witnessed: teenagers and young adults (barely out of high school) seeking professional fitness and nutrition help to try to get their health back – with mixed success. Why were they in that situation? What about the Physical Education they should have received as children? And in the back of my mind, as I read Adam’s post, I realized that I could have very easily been one of those people.  So I decided to tell their – and my – side of the story.

The issue of sharp division between the “haves” and “have nots” in the context of nutrition and fitness education is not new. Thankfully, this is not a heavy, in-depth discussion of the existing disparities, but rather a quick tale of how access to knowledge transformed the life of an overweight, uncoordinated, and insecure kid – me. As you read my story, I only ask that you allow yourself to be open and curious – and to ponder the why’s as they present themselves.

I was born and raised in Southeastern Siberia, Russia. That’s right: the scary place we all heard about with bitter cold winters, old prisons, bears, and… a normal Western city, not unlike many here in the United States. I went to a small school, studied all the usual subjects, and hated Physical Education (PE), which in Russian is referred to as Physical Culture (in a literal translation). I was overweight since early childhood and due to family circumstances and other factors outside my control, didn’t get much chance to engage in active play or spend a lot of time using playground equipment outside. Thus, I entered school lacking proficiency in many essential motor skills and fundamental movement patterns. Our bi-weekly PE class very quickly became sheer torture. We ran laps around the old gym – or the track around the school – and then worked on sports skills for Russian favorites such as basketball, volleyball, soccer, and lapta (a version of baseball). Being that I lacked many basic motor skills, I wasn’t successful in trying to figure out how to use an implement or become proficient with a ball. Instead, I watched the kids who were good at sports get better, while those of us who weren’t went largely unnoticed and got poor grades. Luckily, I still liked to move – especially when there was music – and my parents signed me up to attend a dance studio.

I was thrilled, but after the first few lessons, my excitement somewhat faded. It was very difficult – and embarrassing – trying to keep up with my agile peers, who were not overweight. And while I diligently worked on steps and techniques that helped me become more coordinated and comfortable with movement, my weight held me back and kept me from being able to successfully compete. It was at the end of the school year at the age of 12 that I got truly lucky – my aunt gave me a book. It was one of those oddball Reader’s Digest hardcover compilations (Reader’s Digest was just becoming popular in Siberia), and it had a Health and Fitness section. Being that we just got tested, and I, once again, was classified as significantly overweight, it was an auspicious coincidence that the Health and Fitness section caught my eye – and changed my life. Looking back, there wasn’t any extraordinary information in the book – just the basics – but the basics were enough.

I learned about energy in/energy out (it felt like a revelation!), macro and micro nutrients, calories, energy content of some of the common foods, intensity levels, and some of the ways to improve fitness through simple exercises and lifetime or daily activities. Believe it or not, I actually remember most of what I learned that summer, because it was so important and helpful to me, because it made so much sense in my life, and because I wished that I would have known it earlier. Next year, I returned to school and dance a different kid – fit, healthy, confident, and happy. I never became proficient in sports – our PE classes didn’t allow the opportunity to go back and re-build missed skills – but I went on to become a regional dance champion and a successful power lifter.

Fast-forwarding a few years into the future, I ended up moving to the United States, got married, and became a parent. I was able to help my son avoid weight issues, develop good nutritional habits, and share my love of movement and exercise. I now work to further Quality Physical Education (#QPE) alongside an amazing team of dedicated educators at Focused Fitness. We help provide kids with movement opportunities and the access to health, fitness, and nutrition awareness. We help teachers gain the knowledge and skills they need to guide their students toward a healthy, happy, and active life. Why do I do it? To make sure that no kid’s health and happiness has to depend on luck or the chance of stumbling upon the right book at the right time. My 12-year-old self would be very proud – as am I!

Share your PE Techno-Savvy!

robot  playing soccer

By: Jabet Wheeler

In today’s technology age, PE instructors not only need to be sound in skill development and content knowledge, but also techno-savvy to support the new approaches to learning. Regardless of the mixed reviews regarding the value of “distance” or “online” courses we can be assured that there will be more and more school districts adopting these practices. There is also a plethora of other technology uses that have crept into the gymnasium including; teaching from tablets, recording student fitness scores on your smart phone, utilizing the newest activity and heart rate monitors, interactive video activity leaders and on and on…

To be competitive in the Physical Educator job market and highly evaluated in our own positions, in addition to modernizing our curriculum, we also need to make sure that the Physical Education profession is up to date on how to meaningfully integrate technology in support of student learning. We need to become more purposeful; be content experts AND be technically sound.

We’d love to hear some of your “winners” and “losers” in bringing technology into your Physical Education classes so we can all learn from each other’s successes and avoid the mistakes. Are you embracing new technology and why or why not? Share some of your recent experiences and tell us how they worked out.

Fitness Knowledge for Everyone

Fitness on Black-Golden Watch Face.

By: Adam Marshall

I grew up in small farming town in north central Montana with a graduating class of 16. Growing up I loved competitive sports and almost 20 years later I still do. Fact is, in my school, probably 90% of the students engaged in some form of sports. Because of that love for sports and physical activity I stayed active and enjoyed exercise through my college years while pursuing a degree in exercise science. I don’t ever remember a time when I felt intimidated or discouraged by participating or engaging in physical activity or fitness. I’ve probably taken for granted how easy it is for me to pursue a lifestyle like this because it really is all I know.

My first job, after receiving my degree, was as a personal trainer in Spokane, Washington. I didn’t really know what I was in for. Because of where I grew up, and the activities I liked to participate in, I didn’t realize how bad the obesity epidemic was. It was definitely a fair portion of my clientele. However, the people who I remember the most during my days as a personal trainer were the young people (16-25 years old) who came to me for help. Whether they already had a severe weight problem, were starting to gain weight, or just felt the need to exercise, there was one common denominator: They had no idea what to do or where to start! Again, coming from my sheltered little corner of Montana, I couldn’t understand how someone could know literally nothing about fitness. I was starting from scratch with these kids. This got me thinking. Surely this information has been shared with them before? They had to have heard this at some point in school? Maybe in physical education? I’m not going pretend like I learned about health and fitness in school, because I didn’t. My PE classes were as ‘old school’ as they come. The three things I remember from my PE were: dodgeball, floor hockey and being “turned loose” in the weight room. However, I didn’t have to be taught or motivated about physical activity; I just did it because I liked it. That’s all I knew.

I’m currently an activity and curriculum trainer for Focused Fitness. I work with PE teachers all over the country on what it means to teach Quality Physical Education (#QPE). The four areas of #QPE are: academic content, fitness, motor skills and social/emotional content. I know a lot of teachers who have no problem incorporating some degree of fitness and motor/sports skills in their classes. After all, I think a lot of PE teachers have a similar outlook as me when it comes to fitness. They’ve always done it and it just comes natural.

Many teachers are realizing that kids aren’t participating as widely in sports these days as they used to, which may mean we need to shift our focus from sports and competition to preparing these kids to be fit, healthy and active for a lifetime. Of course, sports have a place when teaching kids about lifetime fitness, but it can’t be the sole focus. We have a saying here that pretty much sums up what our goal for students is: “Gain the essential knowledge and tools necessary to become their own personal trainer and nutritionist.” When we say, “gain essential knowledge” a lot of what we’re talking about is the academic content portion of #QPE. Chances are, the kids who love sports and being active are going to find a way to play sports and be active. Now, think of the rest of the kids…An 18 year-old should never have to pay for health and fitness information. Could your students be their own personal trainer and nutritionist?

When They Graduate…


Happy New Year! We are looking forward to 2015, and more specifically, the end of this school year. We are excited about the end of this school year because it marks another successful year of Quality Physical Education (#QPE) being implemented using the Five for Life program and WELNET software across the country. The end of this school year means that students will move forward with their lives to become happy, healthy, active members of society. As educators, it is our responsibility to make sure they are prepared for the adult world. The best way we can do that is by making sure they have the answer to the big question…the ‘Why’ question.

When a student graduates the 12th grade and is expected to positively contribute to society their health is instrumental in making a positive contribution become a reality. As a result, it is our job as #QPE teachers to make sure they are prepared and armed with the knowledge they need to be healthy and active for a lifetime. How do we do that? We have to make sure they know the answer to the ‘Why’ question that they so often ask. “Why are we running the mile?” “Why are we doing push-ups again?” “Why do you care if I eat Hot Cheetos and not an apple before I come to class?” “Why?” If we supply them with the easy way out answer of “Because I said so.” then we’ve not prepared them for graduation. In fact we have done quite the opposite. We have prepared them to pay a nutritionist and personal trainer to do the job that they should have learned from their Physical Education teacher. We may have even prepared them to not even bother with paying the nutritionist and personal trainer. Maybe they go about their days sitting at a desk for 8 hours only to grab dinner in a bag just in time to sit on the couch and catch the latest trend that is occupying their computer or television set. It is our duty as #QPE teachers to make sure they understand the reason they are exercising and developing motor skills; and why a healthy balanced diet is something that should happen every day of their lives.

“Why are we running the mile?” We are running the mile to build cardiorespiratory endurance, which is the ability of the heart and lungs to supply oxygen to the working muscles for a long period of time. Not only will it strengthen your heart when you work on cardiorespiratory endurance, but running the mile is a way we can measure if you have increased your endurance over the course of the school year. “Why are we doing push-ups again?” We are doing push-ups because they are what we are using to measure your muscular strength which is the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to push or pull with maximal force. Muscular strength is something that we use every day. For example, without muscular strength you wouldn’t have been able to get out of bed today. Furthermore, learning progressions of push-ups is a great tool that you can utilize for a very long time in your life. Not only to build or maintain upper-body strength but also core strength. “Why do you care if I eat Hot Cheetos and not an apple before I come to class?” I care that you skipped that apple in the lunch line to eat Hot Cheetos before class because you are getting to the point in your life when you need to make decisions that are going to help, and not hurt your body. We have looked at food labels this past week as we were playing ‘Swipe It’. You know that even though the Hot Cheetos has a fair amount of the quick burning macro-nutrient, carbohydrates it also has a lot of the fat macro-nutrient which has 5 more calories/gram than carbohydrates. On top of that, the amount of sodium in the Hot Cheetos isn’t going to help your daily hydration while the apple is a good source of Vitamin C. Students need to know why they are exercising and eating healthy. Not to mention, how to do it properly and the right amount. Making sure that our students are active when we have them in class is paramount as well. That being said, we see them for a fraction of their day, and in many cases a fraction of their week. If we are making sure that they are active and moving for as much time as we can during our class, without intentionally teaching them the answer to the ‘Why’ question, are we to believe that they will continue to be active and move when they are not in our classes?

When students graduate they have to know the that content is king. Teaching students how to move and helping them understand the reason why a healthy balanced diet is going to make them more alert than any amount of energy drinks is our job and duty as #QPE teachers. Giving a man a fish is like telling a kid to run. It will help them for that day. Teaching a man to fish is like teaching a kid the importance of a healthy heart. It will help them for a lifetime.