Help Students Find Value in Physical Education

The first step in reaching our ultimate goal of mastering learning outcomes for students is to be clear in our daily learning targets and success criteria. If done effectively we can start see our students value PE. 

Learning targets help students chunk smaller concepts into larger ones in a more efficient manner.
More importantly, they help students see relevance and value in physical education.

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On my white board at school, I have the unit learning targets posted, as well as other related information for that unit.  At the beginning of the lesson, I cover one, two, or three targets that my classes will focus on for that day.  All learning targets directly correlate to the bigger picture of reaching state and national standards in physical education and developing skills and knowledge for a lifetime.  

I also have “hooks” and “relevance” points embedded, which are all key to “selling” our students on the bigger picture of the “why” in physical education.  Most often my hooks and relevance points are embedded in the PowerPoint that I create and use to introduce a new unit.  I prepare the unit prior to the unit start date, revisit the unit learning targets and daily learning targets as we progress through each lesson, and also include some clips or pictures that help students to “buy in”.  Make them laugh, make them think, and most of all, make it relevant to them. 

What is the bigger meaning behind playing a team sport, an individual activity, or a fitness trend?  Is it fun?  Of course it is.  But what else can we put behind it?  Could you embed calorie burning, water consumption, ‘spirit of the game’ concepts?  Absolutely!  Always think outside the box.

As an example, in my middle school physical education classroom, our current unit is “Cross Fit”.  

Learning Targets:

1. I can show caring for others and responsible social behavior by encouraging others and working with integrity.

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2. I can show that I value physical activity by my daily performance.

3. I can show that I am able to demonstrate correct technique by using various pieces of equipment the correct way.

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4. I can show that I am able to demonstrate “intensity” by achieving target heart rate and maintaining my endurance during vigorous workouts.

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5. I can show that I can calculate my heart rate by showing my “math” on a white board as an exit ticket.

We can always focus solely on learning target 1 and 2, which need to be reinforced every day, no matter what grade you teach. However, by adding in Targets 3, 4, and 5, we are able to grow the unit as a whole and can help our students master bigger concepts like practicing proper technique, exposing them to a variety of equipment, or demonstrating intensity and endurance through learning their target heart rate range. Additional concepts include: understanding moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, the components of the FITT Principle, and calculating and understanding the value of heart rate and knowing how to get in and maintain a target heart rate zone.  Through learning targets we can often deliver the information we are most passionate about as a Physical Educator. 

Let us not forget, at the end of our lesson, we are responsible for creating 2-3 minutes of reflection time.  That reflection time can be an exit ticket, choral response questions, partner discussions, or an end product.  This product can come through performance, writing, white boards or a workout design.  The possibilities are endless.  I have attached some ideas for you.  May you always know how important Physical Education is in the lives of our students.  You are their very lifeline to lifelong fitness and health and set the foundation for their attitude on movement. 

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