It’s Time to Break Down The Gym Walls!
Lets start with a little background on Merton Schools and the physical education department there! Three years ago we were struggling with some double classes of 7th and 8th graders and there was no other option for scheduling their classes. Our head “coach” or principal Jay Posick (you can read his blog here) gave us a thought on using different spaces we have inside and outside our school for our physical education classes. The idea was how can we use these different spaces to engage more kids and keep kids fit and still have double classes. We are lucky enough to be able to have two teachers with a group of 50 + students!
My coworker and I sat down after our meeting and thought up of a plan to give our two classes choices during each unit (2-3 week time period). We challenged ourselves to come up with new and different choices for the kids to participate in, along with the traditional physical education or sport choices. We knew that some students loved having the traditional physical education units, but also knew that there were many other students that were looking for new challenges and choices for their physical education class.
We came up with quite a few ideas! Here was our game plan. We tried to pair up traditional team sports with fitness activities or more individual games. We also looked at setting up competitive activities with more cooperative activities, because we needed to have ideas that all students would enjoy! We also were focused on making two even groups of kids! We didn’t want lopsided units, because we knew that wouldn’t work!
Here was our first shot at unit choices! This is from last year!
Our unit choices were a blessing to our school! The students were so excited that they could choose their own adventure. Every child got to choose between two units! We had a wonderful year! Well after last year we had to look at what we did, because we didn’t want to offer the same choices. Plus new and exciting fitness opportunities seem to happen every year, why would you want to do the same thing! We want to stay now and hip and exciting, because that’s what kids want!
Here were our unit choices then for this year 2011-2012
Wow! Did we ever get some excitement from our students! They loved the options for 2011-2012. I was ready to start the new year!!
So many of our students and our parents have been so excited and supportive of our major changes that we implemented! We have never had a negative comment and are always thanked by our parents and students! Just by giving a choice and having an option, your students feel strong and open to trying something new and working hard! Behavior issues are at a minimum, because everyone wants to be in the unit they chose!
More kids are getting fit! With fitness options there is much more time to focus on elevating heart rate and spending time in different fitness zones! The students that are involved in team sports are now more active, because everyone who is playing really wants to be there and play hard! This means we can teach more specific skills and play more games at a higher level! This program benefits every student!
Kids want to try something different! Almost every non traditional activity has had more interest with our students! Wow! I would have never guessed that! There is so much interest (usually 60%-75%) in the non traditional activities. I am so glad we can offer those to our students! I have also found out that those kids that don’t excel in the traditional sports can really challenge themselves in the individual fitness activities! It’s been amazing to watch!
Here is the best part! I am so passionate and enthusiastic about what we are doing it has elevated my teaching! Everyday is new to me! Everyday is exciting and I am always looking for new challenges for myself and my students! We are learning together everyday! What an exciting adventure!
My Words to You
Please find a way to break down your “GYM” walls! Try a new fitness activity or try not holding a physical education class in your gym! Find a new location to teach your students and find a new way to teach to them! Throw out your old lesson plans! It’s exciting for you and for them! You will be amazed at how your relationships change with your students! I know mine will last forever! Make an impact!!!!
Here is our Little Theatre. It’s great for many activities like yoga, fitness, pilates, dance, and circuits! Find a alternate location where you can do different things
Our cafeteria was great for wrestling, speed quickness and agility, circuits, and more!
Great space for winter games and activities. We have done broom ball and will be doing some snowshoeing activities here!
New Activities for me
Here is a list of some of the new activities I have taught! It has been the most exciting two years of teaching! Look it over and please find a way to incorporate something new and exciting for you and your students!
Speed, Quickness & Agility
Track and Field
What will you do that’s new? Let me know in the comments!