November 27, 2012

So..You Think You Can Dance?

Dance What...!?!

As a young male teacher I never envisioned myself teaching dance. When I was in college and even my first year of teaching, I had already decided I was too cool to have to teach dance. I am not a good dancer, nor do I enjoy dancing in public. It really was not until this year that I found my confidence with dancing in my classroom. I don't know if it was because I was starting over at a new school or that I just realized that it the kids don't care what look like and neither should I.  From the first day of school I was dancing while we played music for our stations, (looking like a total dweeb to any outsider who might have walked by the gym) but that was that. It is not about me anymore! It is now about showing my students you do not have to be good at something to try it, nor do you have to be good at it to have fun doing it.

Some of you are thinking to yourself "what are you talking about". You  have no problem dancing in public, so dancing in front of the kids is probably a cinch. Dancing might be your thing, but I am sure you can relate with me on some level because, most teachers have at least one area where they are not as comfortable with than everything else they teach all year long. 

This year my co-teacher and I decided as a buffer between our Thanksgiving and Christmas activities we would incorporate dance into our curriculum through line dancing. We are teaching the Cupid Shuffle, Cha Cha Slide, Electric Slide, Cotton Eye Joe, and we may (depending how brave we are) try and tackle the ever so popular, yet difficult Gangnam Style dance with our older students. We chose line dancing not only because it is easily organized, but it also gives students who are not as good a place to blend in the crowd without getting embarassed unlike square dancing or partner dancing where there is no place to be just OK.

Every so often, since this blog is meant to be one that shares ideas and best practices, I will ask for help from my followers. My challenge or question to you is what kind of dance do you teach in your gym, and to those who are not teachers (or are not teachers yet), what would you teach in your gym if you had that chance?

Please click the comment link below to answer the above question!

November 26, 2012

Can Whole Brain Teaching Work in Your Gym?

Whole Brain What?

I have been teaching for three years now and I have used three different styles of classroom management. Before this year I had not found something I absolutely loved. I did however know some of things I did not want. I did not want to have to talk over students or have students raise their hand to ask a question, me stop class and them ask if they could use the bathroom.  I did not want to have to send my upper elementary students to "timeout". Oh and I definitely did not want to go home with a headache everyday with whistle echoes in my head. So it happened that when moving to a new school, the Whole Brain Teaching philosophy fell right into my lap.

Let me first say that I am not saying this is the only way or best way to teach your class, but as one of my new favorite TV characters Uncle Si from Duck Dynasty might say "Hey, It works for me Jack". What is Whole Brain Teaching? The concept of whole brain teaching is to engage a student’s entire brain, which will increase learning ability.  It is a teaching style which introduces concepts and ideas to a student in a way they are most likely to retain it as well as providing the best atmosphere emotionally which allows a greater degree of comprehension and retention. In laments terms it means that you teach or manage your class using a variety of senses and using both sides of the brain. In my class we do not use all of the WBT concepts. They just will not work in a gym setting. But as for the classroom management portion and a few other concepts, my co-teacher and I have adapted WBT in a way that works for us.


The First part of WBT that we us is called "Class-Yes". It is the most simple and quickest way that I have seen to get students quiet. The teacher says "Class Class" the students then respond "Yes Yes" However you say Class Class the students respond with Yes Yes that way. For example Classidy Class turns in to Yessidy Yes. Class Sir Turns in to Yes Sir. You can even invent you own. Some that we have come up with so far are:

Teacher: Class Train, Student: Yes Woo Woo
Teacher: Class Cowboy, Students: Class Yee Haw
Teacher; Class Turkey, Students: Class Gobble Gobble.

The Five Rules

The Second part of WBT that we use is the 5 rules. Each rule is posted on the wall and has a gesture that goes with it. We call them our “5 Procedures”. The Rules are listed below followed by a video of a third grade class of mine demonstrating the motions.

Rule #1: Follow Directions quickly (the gesture: make your hand shoot forward like a fish)

Rule #2 Raise your hand for permission to speak (the gesture: raise your hand, then pull it down next to your head and make a talking motion.

Rule #3 Raise your hand to leave your seat or area (the gesture: raise your and, and then make a little walking figure with your index and middle finger.)

Rule #4 Make Smart Choices (the gesture: tap one finger to your temple as you say each word.)

Rule #5 Make your PE teacher happy  (the gesture: hold up each thumb and index finger out like an “L” framing your face; bob your head back and forth with each word and smile really big!)

Hands and Eyes

Whenever you want your students to pay close attention to an important point, say, "Hands and eyes!" Your students respond, "hands and eyes!," fold their hands and stare at you intensely.  We have found that this command is also very effective if you have said, "Class!" and your kids are not entirely focused on you when they respond, "Yes!" We use this mainly with K, 1, and 2, but I have seen this done with all grade levels.

Lines Lines Lines

The last major part of WBT that my co-teacher and I use to manage our class is Lines Lines Lines. We use this command to have students stop what they are doing and line up. When they hear lines lines lines they are to clean up what they are doing and walk to line up. We use another version of this where we say squads squads squads when we want them to walk back and sit in their squads.

Will the classroom management portion of Whole Brain Teaching work for you? Well first you have to buy into it. If you are worried that you will look silly this will not work, but then again if you are in the teaching field in general and are worried if students think your cool you might want to rethink your profession. In a later blog I will explain some of the other parts of WBT that works for us in our Gym, but if your interested right now check out the WBT website at

November 20, 2012

Organinzed Chaos!

Is Your Chaos Organized?

How many times have you had someone come into your gym and say "OMG this looks like chaos"? Do not worry even the most organized gym will look like this at times. How could it not look like chaos when you have 20-40 students moving at the same time or doing six different stations. Most classroom teachers do not understand a gym because they have to give up a little bit of control and trust students to follow the directions given to them. I am the opposite. I go into a classroom and try not to fall asleep because there is way too much structure.  The question you may need to ask your self about your gym is "is this organized chaos or just chaos in general"?   This post will explain what we do in our Gym at PKES to keep the chaos organized from the moment students walk in the door to the moment they leave. I am going to give you a heads up early so that you are not disappointed, some of the techniques we use will be talked about later in a later post called Will Whole Brain Teaching Work in Your Gym and I will not go into a lot of detail about these specific topics in this post.

Where am I supposed to sit?

(Squad sheet for easy roll call)

 This is question that many teachers run into at the beginning of class. If you have students sit in a different place every time they come into class then you have to answer this question every single class. If students have an assigned spot to sit in, then you will hear this question asked. If we can't have desks in our gym like they are used to in their  classroom then give the students an assigned spot on the floor that they can call theirs. I have seen this done in many ways. The two most common ways are "the circle" and "squads". If you have a circle on your floor you can have your students sit on the edge of the circle. In this method the students know where to sit and you can begin teaching from the circle. The downfall that I have run into with this method is that if you wanted to use the smart or white board then you have move the students from your circle. The other issue with this method is you do not know which students are here or not here. You may know that you have 25 students in the class, but what happens if one goes missing during a drill or in transitions.

The method that I have found most effective is the "Squad Method". I need to thank my former co-teacher Rose Clawson for this idea. In this method I give my students an exact spot to sit in infront of the whiteboard. If a student is not here on a certain day the other students still leave his spot open. The squads are marked with colored tape and the students sit in their order every class. Students never have to fight over a spot, ask where to sit, and I can use my squad sheet to quickly find out who is here and who is not. To the left is an example of my squad sheet. The tape on the floor is marked exactly like the squad sheet.

Whistle or No Whistle?

For the past two years I have used a whistle. This year I was introduced to the Class-Yes system. This system is the easiest and fastest way I have seen to get students quiet. The teacher simply says Class Class and the students respond with Yes Yes. This takes some practice, but it is well worth it in the long run. I will hit a little bit more on this system in the Whole Brain Teaching post that I will be working on soon.

Can I get some Water? Can I used the bathroom?

The first thing I say to these questions are "I don't know... Can you?" I do not say this to be a jerk, but in my class if you are asking these questions, you must not know our class rules.  We are fortunate to have a water fountain in our gym. The students know there are three times you can not get water. They are anytime we are in our squads, when we the teacher is talking, and when we are lining up to leave the gym. At any other point during class the students can freely get water.

This works the same way with the bathroom. While do not have a bathroom inside the confines of the gym we do have one right outside the door. Students will raise their hand to leave their seat or area that they are in and then tell me they are going to use the bathroom. If we are not doing any of the things mentioned above and the pass is available they are free to go. They also know if they abuse this privilege it will be taken away.

Is timeout just for Kindergarten?

I use a form of timeout for all grade levels. Let me put a disclaimer on how I feel about "Timeout". I do not like to sit students out, but there are times when students need to take a break and think about what they may of done worng. Now I feel that it is important that even timeout should be grade level appropriate.

Kindergarten through Second grade uses timeout which is marked with a box on the floor with red tape. They know where it is and they know what they are and are not expected to do when they are sent there. The teacher decides when the student gets to return.

For Third through Fifth grade I use "The Penalty Box" It is essentially the same thing, in that it is the box labeled on the floor, but the rules are different. You can see the rules for the Penalty Box pictured to the right. The Penalty Box is a self timed timeout. The students go to the box and read the questions on the wall. When they feel they have served their time and have calmed down, they may find the teacher that sent them there answer a question or two and may reenter if the teacher feels the student is ready.  

Line up Ready, Set, Go!

If you use this method then you might have more students going to the nurse than going back to class. There are several methods I use in the gym to line up students. The first one is calling out different colors or articles of clothing that students might be wearing. If they have that color on then they will line up. You keep going until all the students have all lined up. The problem with only using this method is that it is time consuming.

The most important thing to rememeber when lining up students is to make sure they know what you expect. My students know if they run, they will go back, walk, and be last in line. This keeps most of my students from running over each other when lining up. Of course you have a couple of hard headed students that think they are going to get away with it, but they don't.

 The method we use most of the time is Lines Lines Lines. This is another WBT idea. The students not only have to line up, but they must repeat lines lines lines as they walk and line up. Anytime during class if they here lines lines lines they know where to line up and what to do. This has worked really well and is a very quick solution to lining up.

There are all kinds of classroom management techniques that can be used in the gym, but these are some that have worked for me.  I feel that the most important tool in classroom management is to never run out of things to do during your lesson. Most of the time if a student is off task it is not the students fault. Most of the time it is that you have them sitting still or have not challenged them enough. Always have extra activities in your back pocket so that you always have something else to throw at your students.

 I am always open for new ideas that work better and more effective. If you have other ideas that have worked for you when organizing your chaotic gym please leave a comment. This blog is not just a place for me to spill out my ideas, but to also share best practices with all Physical Educators of all ages.  

November 19, 2012

Why do I Blog?

(My Wife and I)

Why Did I Decide to Blog?

My name is Kyle and I am a Physical Education teacher in the wonderful town of Fort Mill, South Carolina just south of Charlotte. I am married to my beautiful wife Cat and we also live in Fort Mill. I have always wanted to start a blog, but could never figure out what I wanted to actually blog about. Could I blog about baseball? Yeah I could, but there are so many blogs out there on people's opinions on baseball strategy and coaching. Well I love my yard... What about that? I am not a professional landscaper by any means so who would want to hear me ramble about my yard? Oh yeah, did I mention it is winter and I don't have any money to spend on yard projects right now. I thought I was all out of ideas when one day I was looking for teaching best practices. See I am a physical education teacher and my co-teacher and I are always looking for new ideas to  better engaged  our students and of course have more fun. Well...what I found in my search was that there are very few blogs out there about P.E. and most that were out there are not kept up or lack the details that would benefit other teachers anyway. At that moment I knew I had to write a blog about the new and creative things my co-teacher and are teaching  and best practices that I have found through other teachers, conferences, and websites.

Whats the Purpose?

(Me teaching)
I hope that this blog not only is beneficial to new teachers but also seasoned veterans that are looking for new ideas. Some of the ideas and lessons that are posted will not be logical for every Physical Educator due to lack of equipment, space, or even time. Although every post may not benefit your classroom I encourage everyone to keep coming back because the next post could be the one that gives you that lesson or idea that your students, coworkers, and principal oohs and ahs over.

If you would like to contact me for any reason whether it be to ask a question, disagree, agree, or to get more information please either comment or email me at