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Post on Winning/Losing | December 2, 2007:

Well, there have been quite a few posts regarding winning and losing and strategies to deal with this often difficult challenge. Below are a few strategies that we use regarding competition.

1) From the very beginning of the year, we address sportsmanship with our physical education rules. Our rules are very broad based and we allow students to discuss what some specific examples for each. Rule #1 - Obey safety regulations, rule #2 – Always respect others (sportsmanship), rule #3 – Respect the equipment. There are a few more rules but I think you get the idea. Setting up these protocols early in the year and then frequently reviewing them during competitive activities helps our students better understand the concept of sportsmanship and respect.

2) About 4 or 5 years ago, I stopped allowing students to celebrate on their own when they score a point in a game or win. Too often, students were being rude to others or celebrating for an extended period of time and couldn’t settle down (I think much of this was related to watching professional sports…too much trash talk and unsportsmanlike behavior!). What we do now instead is a class celebration (everybody gives themselves a high five (two hands clap above their own head) then follow it by pulling a single hand down to the shoulder and saying “woooo!” ). As soon as the “celebration” is over we move on. We use this to “celebrate” everything (i.e. – everyone followed directions, everyone jogged two laps, everyone jumped rope 10 times, etc.). If we are playing a competitive game, the team who wins or scores a point can “celebrate”. We also “celebrate” when teams use good sportsmanship, teamwork, or a creative strategy during the activity.

3) In most competitive games, we never keep a cumulative score. We do each activity in “rounds”. We celebrate at the end of each “round” and then start anew. Often, if one team continues to win each “round”, we will differentiate instruction and make the activity a little more challenging for the more “skilled” team (i.e. – make the goal smaller, place the target further away, etc.).

4) We also try to infuse many core curricular concepts during our activities. Many times when doing an activity, we will allow a team that does not score to earn a “brain bonus”. If someone on their team can answer an academic or physical education related question (i.e. – who was the first president, demonstrate the proper technique for the overhand throw, etc), the team earns a “brain point” and gets to “celebrate”. When using this strategy, we discuss how using your brain and different strategies can have a positive impact on competitive activities.

5) After a competitive game, we often talk to the students about the importance of understanding that the concept of winning and losing isn’t always reflected by the final score. Our students are all WINNERS if they can answer “yes” to the following questions;

a) Did you play by the rules?
b) Did you do your best?
c) Did you compliment or cheer for others?
d) Did you have fun?

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Chad's Post on Unit Plans | November 27, 2008:

There are lots of variables to consider when planning units. Here are some things to consider as you come up with a plan of your own.

1) How often do you see the students? Count the number of times through the entire year that you will see them (once a week will equal about 35 class periods throughout the year, 2X = about 70, 3X = about 105, etc.)

2) Once you have a number, divide it by the number of units you might want (i.e. 70 class periods divided by 7 units of instruction equals 10 class periods per unit (about 5 weeks of instruction)). If the number or weeks seems too long, add more units (i.e. - how about 10 units, 70 divided by 10 gives you 7 class periods (about 3.5 weeks per unit)).

3) Now that you've planned the length of each unit, you will need to consider some possibilities. See below to look at some ideas for elementary physical education (please note, these are not all the possibilities available, just a sampling). a)rhythms (dance, geofitness, dance-dance-revolution, jump rope, tinikling, ribbons, juggling, etc.) b)tumbling (animal walks, rolls, balancing, transferring weight, etc.) c)throwing & catching (overhand, underhand, catching with one or two hands, aiming, targets, different equipment, etc.) d)team sports (basketball, baseball/softball, football, volleyball, lacrosse, soccer, etc.) e)individual activities (rollerblading, bicycling, climbing (climbing wall), track & field, etc.) f)FITNESS (cardio-respiratory endurance, upper body strength & endurance, lower body strength & endurance, abdominal strength & endurance, flexibility, use of pedometers/fitness logs/heart rate monitors, etc.) Some of the ideas listed above can be combined or split based on interest and/or time.

4) Flow - I plan my units based on a couple of factors. First, what skills need to be developed that will enhance other units (i.e. - we also do a basic throwing and catching unit at the beginning of the year because those skills will be necessary later when we cover football, basketball, and baseball/softball). Second, consider what activities will require outdoor space and plan them at the appropriate time of year (baseball/softball are not easily done in a gym, so it makes more sense to plan them for the early fall or spring).

5) Couple of additional thoughts - *Remember to focus on skill development as you are introducing or reviewing skills. Students will only be successful in activities if they understand the basics first. *Use small sided games and activities to involve more students. *Provide lots and lots of positive feedback, success drives participation. *Make an effort to focus on the teamwork and cooperative side of the activities rather than the score of the game. *Be flexible and take notes, some things will work, some things won't. You may decide that one activity works better before another depending on your situation.

BTW - We usually have 3 week units at our school (we see the students twice a week). Here is this year's approximate order (it does change year to year); intro (lots of basics, traveling, relays, working in stations, etc.), fitness (see above), throwing & catching, kicking skills (mostly soccer stuff), football (throwing and catching skills), basketball, rhythms, jump rope & fitness, tumbling, volleyball, and baseball/softball. We also manage to squeeze in fitness testing, bike safety (4th and 5th grade), and other fun activities throughout the year.

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Chad's Post on Engaging Students | November 15, 2007:

There are several strategies that I use to engage all students. First, when students are introduced to a skill or activity, I make sure all students have a piece of equipment. If students are engaged with their own equipment, they tend not to pay attention to others. Second, always start with simple skills first to build success. Provide multiple opportunities for success and students will be more willing to participate. This may require differentiating instruction depending on ability level (i.e. - if shooting at a basketball hoop, allow students the choice of shooting at hoops that are at a variety of heights (8', 9', or 10') or if throwing at a target allow students to throw at different distances based on ability - **remember if grading, focus on the skill (proper throwing pattern) not the outcome (hitting the target)). Finally, provide positive feedback frequently for all students. Positive feedback will build self-esteem and foster a sense of success which will encourage participation (as mentioned previously).

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Chad's Post on Climbing Walls | November 15, 2007:

Our school purchased an 8'x40' climbing wall from Everlast Climbing Industries about 5 years ago. Their website is They have many different kinds of walls (regular, dry erase, chalkboard, magnetic, etc.). We have a dry erase board and use it for cross-curricular learning and the kids love it. The walls also come with a foot line (red rock-like line that students must keep their feet below for safety) and a mat locking system that your risk management department will appreciate. They also will install the wall (again, your risk management department will also appreciate that feature). They also provide climbing lessons and other resources that will help you get started.

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