Dynamic PE: What is It and How Does It Work?

Last month I blogged about physical education curriculum (check it out). In that blog the components and development of a curriculum were presented. Towards the end I mentioned a curriculum I co-author, Dynamic Physical Education (DPE) for Elementary School Children (18e) and how a group of teachers in Lexington, KY are implementing the dynamic PE curriculum.

Dynamic PE Book

With its beginnings in the 1960’s, this curriculum is widely used and respected throughout the field. It is evidence-based in that it combines the evidence from fields such as exercise science, classroom pedagogy, motor learning, exercise psychology and epidemiology to create student-centered, standards-based physical education lessons.

The Dynamic PE curriculum is divided into four parts. The lesson begins with an introductory activity. As with all components of DPE, this is an activity-based learning experience as soon as the students arrive (not sitting for us). This sets the management tone for the class and provides instant activity for students. The introductory activity typically lasts 2-3 minutes in a 30-minute lesson. Next, is the fitness component of the lesson. The purpose of this part is to teach them about physical fitness and expose them to a variety of fun fitness related activities. Emphasis is placed on personal best and enjoyment with small bouts of instruction associated with fitness concepts. This component typically lasts 7-8 minutes. Following fitness is the lesson focus. This component lasts 15-20 minutes and is designed to teach students physical skills. Emphasis is placed on repetition and refinement of skill with instruction focused on the process of movement (e.g. appropriate skill technique), not the product (e.g. how many baskets a student can make). The focus of the lesson is success-oriented and provides students with skills necessary to engage in physical activity for a lifetime. Finally, the lesson ends with a game, or closing activity. This is a time for students to apply skills learned during the lesson focus. The game also allows students to end the physical education lesson with a positive fun experience.

The structure of a four-part lesson ensures students engage in activity immediately upon entering the teaching area, experience vigorous physical activity, learn skills, and have the opportunity to apply those skills in success-oriented games. To some, on the surface, this structure appears restricting. However, our experience has found that a major strength of the curriculum is its flexibility. A structured curriculum guide with detailed instruction for lesson implementation works well for new teachers and teachers with limited experience teaching an activity. As teachers gain experience with the curriculum they find that it is very malleable. For example, if a teacher finds a new fitness activity, they can easily replace the activity in the guide with their own activity and see how it works. If it works well, we encourage teachers to document the new activity and use it other times throughout the year. Teachers also make note of the activity in the Curriculum Guide so they remember to use this activity the following year.

DPE is also flexible in that a variety of teaching models can be implemented simultaneously. For instance, at the secondary level, teachers have used Sport Education for an entire lesson or just during the lesson focus. The curriculum is also flexible because it can work in virtually any physical education environment. Lessons can be modified to fit 30-minute lessons or 60-minute lessons. Activities can be adapted to large or small classes. The curriculum can be used in schools that have gymnasiums, multi-purpose rooms, or no gym at all. The Dynamic PE textbook includes assessment templates which can be modified to meet teacher and programmatic needs. And as stated above, the curriculum can be used by novice teachers or implemented and modified by seasoned veterans.

As I mentioned in my last blog, there is a need for systematically developed curriculum in physical education. However, the development of a curriculum is labor and time intensive. Fortunately, Dynamic PE allows teachers to tailor an existing curriculum to fit their needs. If you get a chance, take a peek at DPE. I did, and it changed my career.


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