January 23, 2013

My Inspiration

We are just now getting back into things at PKES so the blogs are coming slow. I am really excited about the gymnastics unit we are working on right now and there will be a post on the coming soon. While other posts are in progress I have decided to write a post about why I teach the way I do and what motivates each and every day.

I received my paper work to take a student teacher next year. While I was filling the paperwork out it got me thinking about why I teach P.E. and what makes it so enjoyable to me. I recently changed schools to get closer to home and could not have chosen a better situation to be in myself. I will have to give all that credit to God. I have the most amazing Principal who luckily is a former Physical Educator himself. He is true teachers principal and has produced outstanding numbers in his four years at PKES. What more could you ask for out of principal.

One of the first few days of school we were both standing on duty and he had just finished talking to a parent. I looked at him and said "I don't know how you do it, I could not and would never want your job." That is when the question came up that sparked this post. He looked at me with a smile on his face and said "Well then... what do you want to do.?" Without even having to think about it I knew what I was going to say. "I want be the Karen Roof of Fort Mill!"

Now for those of you from my area better know Karen Roof. If you do not, you are missing out. Ms. Roof was my mentor when I did my student teaching. She has also been the mentor to many other teachers spread around the nation who graduated from the Physical Education Department at Winthrop University. Ms. Roof, from my knowledge, has taken a student teacher every year for at least the last 10 years. Some years she takes one or two, but I know for a fact that she has had at least four in one year (a half semester at a time).

While I have picked up many teaching techniques along the way, I would say that the majority of my teaching style comes from Karen Roof. Why you ask? It is not because she is a good teacher or even a great teacher. It is because she is the best Elementary PE Teacher I have ever met, seen, or heard, about. She has been named teacher of the year at least 6 or 7 times at several different schools.  The kids love her, yet they know there are expectations and consequences. She is all over the place helping out where ever she is needed. She is loved by her colleagues and she is a great mentor to all up and coming teachers. That's right I said teachers not just P.E. teachers. She also teaches a class at Winthrop for Elementary Education students on how to incorporate movement in their classrooms.

Now then. Will I ever live up to being the Karen Roof of Fort Mill. I do not know? She has some big shoes to fill, but I will retire trying to live up to the standards and expectations she has set for all P.E. teachers across the country.  So why do I teach the way I do and love my job so much? I owe 99% of it to my role model, mentor, colleague, and friend Karen Roof. Without her and of course my great education from one of the top education schools in the nation, (Winthrop University) I would just be your average Joe P.E. Teacher.

Do you have someone who you look up to and that has inspired you to get to where you are today?

January 11, 2013

Elementary P.E on a Budget

Here at Pleasant Knoll, we are very fortunate when it comes to funding. We haven't had any major cuts in the Fort Mill School District and if I really really wanted something I am sure there would be a way to get funds to buy it. By saying this, I do not mean that we have an abundance of money laying around and if we did, that we would actually use it. I just have the mind set of "if you can build it cheaper, why buy it?" If you're like me or you're on a strict budget, this blog entry is going to be right up your alley.

How many of you have flipped through the various catalogs and just thought that some of the materials are just too darn expensive? I have a stack of magazines that sit on my desk that I thumb through and compare prices when deciding whether to buy or build. Some things you just have to buy and others are reasonably priced, but there is a lot of equipment out there that's easier to build than to shell out the money to buy it.

Below, I am going to list several different pieces of equipment as well as provide pictures, prices, and materials of what it cost to buy and build the comparable equipment.

Bowling Pins



Bowling Pin Set (ball not included)  
Price: 49.99 (plus tax, S&H)

Yes! The pins look great, and in a perfect world I would take 10 sets. The picture is decieving. The ball is not included in this set.


2 Liter Bottle Bowling 
Price: Free

Find empty 2 liter bottles. Then, fill the bottom with an inch of sand or water. Decorate them any way you want, or leave them undecorated. Play with them as long as you need them. If something happens to 1 of your bottles, replace it by drinking another soda or raiding the recycling bin!

Corn Hole 



Plastic Baggo Game 
Price: $100.00 (plus S&H)

Made of plastic, this game is light weight, but not very durable when it comes to the P.E. classroom. The first kindergartener that walks on top of the board, and your equipment is potentially ruined. The beanbags are of average quality.

Wooden Corn Hole Game 
Price 40.00-60.00 (including bags)

If you have ever used a saw, a drill and can follow directions, this project will not be very hard for you. For almost half the cost of the store bought version you can have your own sturdy customized Corn Hole boards. You can buy cheap beanbags, use the ones that you have in your gym, or spend 10-20 dollars for custom made beanbags. Now, if you are not only good with power tools, but also a sewing machine then cut even more off this price. Find some cool fabric, beans or corn, and make your own beanbags.

 Directions Please...!

I found some good directions on this DIY site. Step by Step directions. You can custom paint your favorite team or school logo or even let your students paint them. This will give them ownership of the P.E. equipment. Make sure you put some sort of polyurethane over the final paint job so that your designs will last . 



Ladder Golf 



Ladder Ball
Price: 50.00-80.00 (Catalog Prices)

I have seen these sets in assorted colors, materials, and configurations. Most of the "PVC" pipe they use is very cheap and the elbows and T pieces break easily. I have seen some that were well made, but only if you pay a pretty penny for them.


PVC Ladder Golf 
Price: 20.00-30.00

I built our schools ladder golf sets from the website listed below. Very easy to build! The best thing about building these yourself is that you know what your getting for you buck. You can make your own bolos by drilling holes in golf balls and threading rope through the holes or you can spend a couple of dollars and buy the bolos from your local Walmart or Target.

Corn Hole Building Instructions

 What do I need?

The picture to the left shows everything you will need to build your ladder golf sets. I would also invest in a good set of PVC cutters, or if you have a hand saw this will work just as well.

So, these are only a few things that we have built here at Pleasant Knoll. I will most likely do a second blog on this topic down the road. If you have any easy to build P.E. equipment ideas post them in the comments section. We look forward to seeing your ideas!

January 4, 2013

Do You Have it?

Alright I am back from winter break and ready to get back to work. Today's blog post will not be something I have come up with on my own, but things I have learned about effective P.E. teachers. There are many characteristics that make up an effective P.E. teacher and most of them can be learned, practiced, and perfected. Whether you have these characteristics or strategies can make or break a good teacher. In previous blog articles I have discussed classroom management and this post can also be beneficial to keeping your classroom safe and under control


Some days I feel I need one of these!
Your tone is something that is very important when teaching, especially in a big gym. You have to be able to project your voice so that everyone in the gym can here you. This can be very easy when the gym is quiet, but what happens when you are calling down a student who may be a risk to others or just not falling directions. Your voice needs to be loud and clear, but not the point where the students think you are screaming at across the gym. My first year of teaching, students had trouble hearing me and I found myself repeating things over and over. I have since learned how to project from deep down in my chest so that my voice travels across the room without going home with a raspy throat from screaming all day. This takes practice and trial and error. You will have to play with your tone and may get that look of "why are you screaming at us" before you get the right tone. When you do figure out how to project your voice it will be a beneficial tool in your classroom management.

The Look

That may be a little too far with "the look"!
In my first semester of college, one of my Physical Education Professors, Dr. Stevie Chepko would  give you this look when you were not doing what you were supposed to do be doing. She looked at you and you would feel like there was a hole burning through you. This was very effective because you knew you were in trouble when this happened and you wanted crawl under the table and hide.  Later that semester she demonstrated using this look with Pre K students. She could control a class just by looking at them. At that point in my career I was amazed of the power of just a look could have on someone.

Classic "Look"... Could not leave this one out!
Your look should be one that says I see what you are doing or I am disappointed in what you just did. The key to "the look" is to create an appearance that when you look at your students they either wonder "what the did wrong?" or they know that they are guilty and have been caught. I have found that the best way to test this out is to find a student that is not doing anything wrong and give them your "look" and if they look confused or approach you to see what they did wrong then "the look" is doing its job. Now be careful looks are a powerful thing. You want the students to know your disappointed, but not to the point where they are scared to the point of crying. (I apologize to my past kindergarten classes while trying to perfect my "look").



Yeah... They are laughing at you back there.

Do you have that sense of having eyes in the back of your head? If you do not then you are missing out on a lot that is going on in your class. In my gym I try to always position myself where I can see the whole class. This is not possible all the times and are times that there are some students to your rear or side. This is the time when you need to have this sense. Now of course  no one actually has eyes in the back of their head unless you are not going to wear one of those bicycle mirrors on your head, but there are other ways of knowing what is going on behind you. Listen to your class, when you are working one on one with a student keep your ears open for any thing that may sound odd. You can also keep your eyes on the students in front you as they will react to what other students may be doing behind you. Lastly some people just have that sense of feel that something is not right. You know if you have it and if you don't you will have to really use your other senses to help you out during these situations.