December 27, 2012

Why is Your Gym So Quiet?

Hey guys.. I am sorry it has been a while since my last post. I have been on the road visiting family up and down the east coast. I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and are getting ready for the New Year. I have a ton of new blog ideas that I am really excited to share with you. I would like to thank those of you that emailed me and made posts asking when I was going to get back on the ball and put up another post! So here you go...

Was that a pin I heard dropping in your gym? That is definitley not the sound of FUN! I understand there are times when you need and want your class to be quiet, but other times its time to turn up the music! Being in the car and over the last week I have been able to listen to a lot of music. I am the kind of person that likes all types of music. Some of the music I listen to could be used in the classroom setting and others not so much. Not because of the language just becasue of the content. I mean whether I am talking about my good ole Christian Rock or half of the Top 40 songs, someone is going to have a problem with the content of the songs.

Please do not just throw in your Jams mix or turn on the radio! You will be receiving an email, phone call, or even visit from a parent. So the question is how do you play music without offending anyone or getting a note from a parent asking where their son or daughter learned the lyrics to a certain song. To most parents the music played on your Top 40 Station is OK for their children. Others would frown upon those stations. There are three options I have come up with while searching for music for my classroom which I will get to later but first lets talk about when to use music in your classroom.

What do I use music for?

EVERYTHING! You can use music for just about anything on any given day. Here is a list of ideas of when to use music.

Use Music:

To get students excited when they walk in
As a warm up
As part of your lesson
As part of game
To stop and start stations
To dance
For Aerobics
As a cool down

I am sure there are many more ways you guys can think of or actually use music in your classroom and I would love to hear about it!

What kind of music should I get?

Option #1 Kidz Bop!

Kidz Bop... What is Kidz Bop? Kidz Bop is a brand of compilation albums featuring child session musicians performing contemporary music. The albums are composed of "kid-friendly" versions of the latest songs on Top 40 radio and are sung by young children. Now of course this option would not be popular with the middle and high school students, but my elementary students sometimes can not even tell the difference between the the "real" version and the Kidz Bop version. Kidz Bop has a all the most recent songs that you hear on the radio and even better they also record Holiday Themed music. I currently own the Halloween and the Christmas playlist.

Option #2 Go Instrumental

This is a good option for all levels. If the students not the lyrics then they can sing along, if they do not they can enjoy the music. Not only can you find top 40 songs that are instrumental, but you can also find some good mixed techno music such as David Guetta. David Guetta does a lot of the background beats and music for most of the top songs these days. Most of his stuff is upbeat and can be found with or without singing. This is great for dance units, step aerobics, and running activities where you want the students to be motivated for long periods of time.


Option #3 Create your own P.E. Playlist

If the first two options do not suit you do not keep your gym silent. Self select songs you like that are appropriate for your age level. You can listen to the songs and make sure that there are not any cuss words or content issues and build your own playlist.

Most of you are aware already, but with the the technology we have these days finding music is easier than ever. You do not have to run to the store and buy a full CD that has two songs you need on it and bust your budget creating your library. With sites like Apples ITunes and Amazon you can buy individual songs and build your own playlist on your computer, Apple device, or MP3 player.

December 18, 2012

PKES Family Fitness Night

Fun for the Whole Panther Community

This year our related arts team was put in charge of organizing community events through out the year. The goal was to bring parents and members of the community together with our kids while also showcasing some of the things we are doing in our Related Arts classes. My co teacher Mrs. Dillon organized a wonderful night of family fun with her Family Fitness Night. I asked her to write a guest blog entry for Innovative P.E. in hope that maybe some of our fellow P.E. teachers around the world would like the idea and try to plan events similar to hers. She did an amazing job with the event and got a lot of great feedback from parents, teachers, and students who all loved her event.

There are many reasons to have a Family Fitness Night at your school. The most obvious reason to have a Family Fitness Night is to promote the importance of being physically active, no matter what your age or skill level is. The activities that our students and their families participated in were created so that all family members could participate. Another reason to have a Family Fitness Night is to promote a sense of community within our school. Our principal is a huge advocate for community involvement as well as building a community throughout our entire school. Family Fitness Night provides students and their families an opportunity to meet other students and  families which ultimately builds our school community as a whole.

 When planning our Family Fitness Night, there were many things that needed to be taken into consideration. I first thought about who I would offer our fitness night to and eventually decided on having one fitness night for K-2nd and another one for 3rd – 5th.  I then thought about where I wanted Fitness Night to take place. With the limited amount of outside space at our school, as well as unpredictable weather, I decided to use the gym. Next, I had to figure out the best way to include as many families as possible. I decided on offering two sessions that were one hour each.  In each of the sessions there were 8 stations with between 6-8 participants at each station. This allowed me to include about 130 people. After figuring out how it was going to be structured, I began to plan which stations I wanted to include and how they would be laid out in the gym. I created station explanations that were hung on the wall at each station, as well as a station map (see above picture)  that showed families how to rotate to each station. Additionally, all equipment that I was going to need had to be organized by station. This allowed for easy setup the night of the event as well as making sure that all equipment that was needed was available to be used. Finally, about two weeks before the event, registration forms were sent home with all students in K- 2nd Grade.  As forms were returned, they were entered into a spreadsheet and then were sent a confirmation e-mail that they were registered. Once all available spots were full, all additional registrations were sent an e-mail letting them know that fitness night was completely full.

The following is a list of all activities that were participated in on Family Fitness Night:

1.      Fitness
2.      Nintendo Wii – Just Dance 4
3.      Cornhole
4.      Rock Climbing Wall
5.      Bowling
6.      Hoops and Ropes
7.      Scooter Obstacle Course
8.      Beach Ball Volleyball

Overall, I felt that our first Family Fitness Night went well. Everything seemed to flow well once the night got started.  I recommend sending out a survey after your event in order to receive feedback from the families that attended. After sending out my survey, I received several great ideas to help improve our next fitness night. Some of the feedback I received includes:

1.      Open the partition between the gym and the cafeteria so that stations can be spread out more.

2.      Have a final activity that included all families (ie: group dance/game)
3.      Using a whistle to change stations as opposed to just when the music was stopped.
4.      Having someone monitor the Wii to make sure students shared the controllers
5.      Overbook by a couple of families so that if one family does not show up we can still fill the space available.

We also had several generous companies around the Fort Mill area that donated door prizes for the kids as they left the event. Some of these companies included Publix, Family Trust, and Winthrop University Athletics. Again we owe them a big thank you for the items they donated which made Family Fitness Night that much better.
Thank you Mrs. Dillon and if you have any questions for her or  would like any extra information on this event please email me at or leave a comment below. Innovative P.E. is all about sharing ideas and helping out all teachers who need a new idea or just a group of people to bounce ideas off of.

December 13, 2012

How Do You Incorporate Fitness?

Staying fit while having fun!

As a P.E. teacher, Fitness is an inportant part of our cirriculum, but how do we teach fitness in a way that students walk away thinking exercise is fun.  This would actually be a very easy task if all students liked to play sports, but this is not the case. We could set up game play for many of our envision games such as soccer, basketball, team handball and  hockey, and let them go go go.  The challenge is to disguise fitness in away that your atthletic students will find the competitive nature and your non athletic students will see  the same activty as a fun non competitive activity rather than excercise or sport.

Over the next couple of days I am going to open up the floor to you guys to chime in and give away all of your most prized secrets on fitness activities. This is the not only the season of giving, but also think about how great it feels to help some one out that really needs it. There are many teachers out there that freeze up and revert to the same boring activities that students despise. How many times can you possibly run the pacer, the mile, do mass sit ups and push ups or run relay races?

The activities you share do not have to but can be original activities. Most of the activities that any of us do have been seen or found somewhere else and modified to work for us. Why reenvent the wheel if you don't have to. I will get the ball rolling with two activities that have been a hit with our students.

Push-up Handshake

The first activity is called push up hand shake. Challenge your students to get with a partner and come up with a new super secret handshake. Tell them that their handshake must incorporate atleast 15 touches, 10 being in the push up position. Give the students 10 or 15 minutes to come up with and practice their routine with their partner. When they  have memorized and perfected  their routine, they can get with another group and perform their handshake.  Depending on if you are doing this as a warm up or an actual part of class, you can then get them to switch partners and create a new handshake.



The second activity is called PE UNO. This game can be played with UNO cards that you can by at your local  bargain store or you can make your own cards. Split your students into groups where they will work togeter to make decisions. Each small group is playing their own little game and will need their own set of cards and rule sheet. One student will pick a card and the group will do what that card says.  After the whole group has completed the activity the next person in the group will pick a card. There is no end of the game so it is important to keep an eye on your students and allow water breaks as a group or as individuals.  Below are the different cards that are in the deck and what we have made them represent. 

Colored number cards - if a colored card is pulled  the group will do the exercise  represented by that color the amount of times that is on the card. 
Red = Push-ups
Green = Frog jumps
Blue = Curl-ups
Yellow = Mountain climbers

If a student picks a red 7 the group will do 7 Push-ups.

Locomotor cards
Skip = skip around the gym one lap
Reverse = walk or jog backwards around the gym

Special cards
Draw 2  = draw two cards and do both exercises
Draw 4 = draw four cards and do all four activities
Wild = pick any activity and do that activity

Make sure your students shuffle the cards when they reach the end of the deck and when they are finished for the day. This is important so that the next group that plays does not end up with four specialized cards in a row. Nothing like grabbing a Draw 4  followed by a draw two and have do do 17 push ups 5 curl ups  and 6 mountain climbers and 2 laps around the gym in one turn. 

Now it is your turn! . WE NEED COMMENTS!  My challenge to you  is to share your fitness best practices with everyone in the comment section. It does not have to be a long comment. If you think it is too long post something short and email me the description.  I will collect them and them post them as files on the blog in a future post that I hope to post over the Christmas Holidays that will showcase the top 10 fitness activities.

December 7, 2012

Go BIG This Holiday Season

Holiday Projector Activity

I am the kind of teacher that likes to spice things up during the holidays. My theory is that if the kids are going to be excited and anxious, then why not throw something at them that will blow them away. Holiday activities are an easy way to do this. Many of these activities can be molded to fit your classroom or changed slightly so that it is just different enough to do again.

For Halloween we tried out a new activity that my co teacher found on another blog we follow called Kinesitechnology. We tried it and it was such a huge hit that we have designed our own Christmas Holiday version to try out this upcoming holiday season. This is just a small snip-it of what this activity looks like.

The activity requires one or two LCD projectors that instantly turns the gym into an obstacle course.  We had to borrow one from a friend, but are in the process of trying to find old projectors that are not being used in the district.  We used Power Point and displayed it life size on the wall to make the animations. Students look at their shadow against the wall and try and make it across the screen without hitting any of the obstacles.
This is one of the configurations that you can use. You can
put the projectors on any wall you want so that it will work
with your gym.

Depending on how many students and how much space you have, you can use one or two projectors. We added extra obstacles (hula hoops, balance beam, scooters) on the floor between the screens so that students would be spaced out more and not have to wait in lines. The students move counter clockwise around the gym. The biggest problem I saw with the activity at Halloween was when the students got to close too the screen. If they get too close they will not be able to see the animations on the wall, which then defeats the purpose. This time, we helped out the students by putting a line on the floor to keep them the right distance away from the wall. Another thing we are really pointing out during this activity is to face the wall. When students do this, they tend to slow down and can see what they are doing more clearly. When they face sideways they tend to run through hitting all of the obstacles, because they are not able to see them as well. With these modifications and being able to do this a second time, we are expecting great things out of this activity!

Below I have provided the PowerPoint we are using for this activity. If you are looking for something new, this might be the activity for you. Just like any idea, make it work for you. (monitor and adjust) To view the PowerPoint presentation we used, click the picture below. If you decide to try this activity, use this PowerPoint or you can easily make your own for any season or occasion.

Other Obstacles We Used

Below are pictures and short descriptions we used around the gym between the two screens. These are just some we came up with using our existing equipment. The signs are made from a batting tees wrapped in streamer paper. Then, we cut out letters, glued, laminated and taped the top to the post. The snow around the bottom is just bulletin board paper. You can use old fabric or even cheap sheets for this effect too.

Students have to cross the the Seas of Swirly Twirly Gum Drops
 by walking over the balance beam one at a time then jump from
hoop to hoop on two feet.
Students have to follow the dotted line from the green line to the red.
 K-2 uses a locomotor skill of their choice, while 3-5 uses a floor scooter.
Students leap from hoop to hoop from one end of the forest to
another. You can use what ever locomotor skill you like.

If you have any questions or want to share what activities you use during the Holidays, please comment below. I encourage comments, because I love to learn too!

December 3, 2012

Tis The Season...To Get Sick!

I have been working on a few blog articles, but none of them are ready to be published quite yet. I need to record a few videos, and I am waiting on some guest blogs to be finished up. I thought I was stuck, but today I was walking in the hall and was thinking about all the runny noses, coughs, and wait how many Guest Teachers (that is was we call Substitute Teachers at my school) do we have in the building today? This got me thinking, why don't I write a quick blog about best practices when you can not be in the building.

Are You Ready?

So you wake up tomorrow morning and you feel like a truck hit you! You are coughing, sneezing, and of that achy body.  Are you ready to make the call? Now listen... I HATE to miss days, but there comes a time when you have to consider the well being of your students and fellow teachers. I am very lucky this year! I have a fantastic co teacher and we think very similar. We are trying the team teaching thing this year which has its benefits and pitfalls, but one of the benefits is that if one of us is sick the other can lead class that day while the sub helps out.

Well You Are Lucky, But What About Me?

Not all teachers are this fortunate. Either they are the only teacher at their school or teach separate classes as their co teacher. If this is the case, do you have your sub folder ready for that emergency morning? Is it visible and/or does someone know where to find it. I can tell you from experience, that is the worst feeling. Waking up feeling like that and then have to drag yourself out of bed to send in or call and tell someone where to find your sub plans. I made that mistake once and it will never happen again. It is not that I did not have sub plans, but that I was working on them and had them in my book bag at home with me.

What is in Your Folder?

OK... You have your folder... Check! It is known where it can be found... Check! Now what are your plans for the sub? Are they your actual lesson plans for that day or is it a totally different activity unrelated  to what you have been doing. We sat down this year and discussed this very topic.  At the beginning of the year we decided to teach a few easy games that practiced some of our standards and put all of the equipment needed  for those games into a mesh bag. If it is not in the bag, it is clearly visible in our storage room. This way the sub isn't runing around looking for equipment, doing any major set up, or wondering which size or type of ball to use.


Sub Plan Check List

These are some things that I think about when creating a sub plan:
  • Do you have all your information? (Plans, Class Management, Class Rosters, Class Schedule, Emergency Plan)
  • Are the directions clear enough and/or in enough detail for anyone to understand? (Draw Pictures!)
  • Have you told the sub where to find the equipment needed?
  • Is the activity safe?
  • Will the kids enjoy the activity? (unhappy or bored kids = major behavior problems for a Sub)
  • Will the sub enjoy the activity? (Are the kids screaming all day)
  • Did you leave a whistle or let them know how you get the attention of your class? (most subs are in the classroom - not a gym - when they come in, so a whistle might not be part of their arsenal)
These are just a few ideas of what I feel is important to ask yourself when building your sub plans.

What do you do when you are sick? What do your plans look like?  What is your favorite activity to leave for a substitute teacher when you are sick?  I would LOVE to see some feedback! If you have something to share, click the comments link below.