Monday, December 13, 2010

Hazel Grove Elementary Invites KC Wolf to Speak to Students

Last week I had the opportunity to watch an assembly at Hazel Grove Elementary. Diana Moore, their fantastic PE teacher, worked in conjunction with the PTA to hold a fundraiser to raise money to bring the Kansas City Chief's mascot KC Wolf (aka Dan Meers) to the school.

When KC Wolf appeared, the kids went absolutely bananas! They couldn't get enough--he wiggled his hips and ran up and down the aisles interacting with the students. It quickly became apparent why Dan was perfectly qualified to talk to the students about the importance of exercise and healthy eating--this guy exudes HIGH energy (uh, not to mention the 40 lbs of fur he carries around). Even after he lost the wolf costume, Dan was still very entertaining. The kids were happy to sit and listen as he talked about Play 60, a program with the NFL that encourages children to get at least 60 minutes of exercise per day.

Hazel Grove Elementary School has approximately 500 students and is in an urban and a low socioeconomic setting. They attended a PE4life Introductory Workshop in the Spring of 2010 and are doing some pretty great things. Here Diana talks about the "walking club" she recently started:

"We started the walking club after the initial PE4life training. We wanted to jump start the kids' mornings by getting in a little exercise before they head to their classroom. Our PTA jumped on board and purchased bracelets for all the students who join the club. It is open for all the students and we walk every morning, outside weather permitting, or in the gym. We occasionally have parents and other teachers walking with us! One of the neat things is when parents tell me that their kids' behavior is better than before we had the walking club before school."

Have you ever brought in a mascot or other public figure to speak to your students?
Do you have a walking club?
Do you work closely with your PTA?

We love to heart stories of your successes (and challenges). Let us know what's going on in your school and maybe we'll put you on our blog!

If you're in the KC area and want KC Wolf to make an appearance at your school check him out here.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Students Moved to Move

by Carrie Gibson, PE4life Event Manager

I was fortunate to have attended a PE4life Introductory Workshop in Des Moines, IA earlier this week. This was my first chance to see all of the exciting things we’ve got going on in Iowa and meet with some of the schools who have been awarded an Adopt-A-School Challenge Scholarship. While there were many great take-aways from my visit, I have to address the most pressing… the song that is stuck in my head!

Northview Middle School (Ankeny School District), one of the PE4life Model Sites, the very first thing I noticed was the music playing in the different PE classes. It was constant and it was invigorating! Anyone who was subjected to the music felt compelled to MOVE! Set to timed increments, the students knew that if the music was playing they should be moving. Once the music stopped, it was a transition period and time to move on to the next activity. I thought this was great as it allowed for the teacher to focus on the students individually, rather than constantly checking his watch.

While playing four on four field hockey, the teams that weren’t competing were on the sidelines doing arm curls with resistance bands – constant movement, maximizing class time for each student. And then it happened – The Cupid Shuffle blasted through the speakers. Regardless of where they were in the gym – kids (and teachers) began busting a move. Now I’m not sure if you’re familiar with this song. I wasn’t. But after a mad internet search, I’ve been introduced to this contagious line dance called The Cupid Shuffle, and am singing it over, and over, and over…

Now when I was in junior high, I’d say I was pretty normal. I was a bit awkward and a little unsure of myself as I was growing into my body – and I was definitely aware of and avoided most situations where I could make a fool of myself. What struck me about these students is that they felt free enough and compelled enough to dance and move around, without fear of criticism. The music literally moved them. They were being active at their own will and having fun doing it.

Not only was I inspired by what I saw, the school districts who attended the workshop left committed to adding music to their programs. So...

Do YOU play music during your class?
What kind of music gets the best response from your students?
Do YOU dance with your kids like the teachers at Northview Middle School?
What equipment and tools do you use for adding music to your classroom?

Check out The Cupid Shuffle:

Learn how to teach your students the Cupid Shuffle (it is super easy) and other
line dances here at

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Excuses, Excuses

Ah, the classic gym class excuse. Remember the days when all you had to do was forge your mom’s name on a note to get out of dodgeball? Well those days are long gone (and so is dodgeball!).

We love this "Can Do List" that Tim McCord, PE4life Academy Director, Titusville Area School District, Titusville, PA created to focus on what a sick or injured student can do for physical activity, rather than what they can’t do. Use this letter to help get your wheels turning on what YOU can do to help involve ALL students in your PE program.

And just for the fun of it, here are some ridiculously hilarious excuses (taken from Got a better one? Leave it in the comments below.

• My son is under a doctor's care and should not take P.E. today. Please execute him.
• Please excuse Lisa for being absent. She was sick and I had her shot.
• Dear School: Please ekscuse John being absent on Jan. 28, 29, 30, 31,32, and also 33.
• Please excuse Gloria from Jim today. She is administrating.
• Please excuse Roland from P.E. for a few days. Yesterday he fell out of a tree and misplaced his hip.

• John has been absent because he had two teeth taken out of his face.

• Carlos was absent yesterday because he was playing football. He was hurt in the growing part.

• Megan could not come to school today because she has been bothered by very close veins.
• Please excuse Ray Friday from school. He has very loose vowels.
• Please excuse Tommy for being absent yesterday. He had diarrhea and his boots leak.

• Irving was absent yesterday because he missed his bust.
• Please excuse Jimmy for being. It was his father's fault.
• Please excuse Jennifer for missing school yesterday. We forgot to get the Sunday paper off the porch, and when we found it Monday, we thought it was Sunday.

• Sally won't be in school a week from Friday. We have to attend her funeral.
• My daughter was absent yesterday because she was tired. She spent a weekend with the Marines.
• Please excuse Jason for being absent yesterday. He had a cold and could not breed well.
• Please excuse Mary for being absent yesterday. She was in bed with gramps.
• Gloria was absent yesterday as she was having a gangover.
• Please excuse Burma, she has been sick and under the doctor.

• Maryann was absent December 11-16, because she had a fever, sore throat, headache and upset stomach. Her sister was also sick, fever and sore throat, her brother had a low grade fever and ached all over. I wasn't the best either, sore throat and fever. There must be something going around, her father even got hot last night.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Thanks to C.J. Cain, Physical Education Teacher at Panther Run Elementary School (Lake Worth, FL) for providing this opinion piece.

“Coach” - one who instructs or trains ; especially : one who instructs players in the fundamentals of a competitive sport and directs team strategy

“Teacher” - one that teaches; especially : one whose occupation is to instruct

I’ve wrestled with my thoughts on being called “Coach” Cain for years. Here in Florida Physical Education teachers are often called “Coach”. I believe that everyone is a teacher to someone. Maybe it’s our children, our neighbors, the students under our supervision; in one way or another we teach others through our actions. I certainly consider myself a teacher and not just a “Coach”.

I look at how Physical Education is widely viewed in schools. We’re widely seen and regarded as “coaches” as Webster defines the word “instructs players in the fundamentals of a competitive sport and directs team strategy”. This is old-school Physical Education. This is not how we should be defined and we should move away from the sports-model of PE.

By allowing ourselves to be called “coaches” are we in a way allowing ourselves to be seen as lesser than what we are? We already have the US Dept. of Education, and state/local school boards of education and school administrators not valuing Physical Education. Our profession as a whole does not have the perception in the public that we wish to or should have. It leads to the questions of “How do we change the way Physical Education teachers are viewed and valued in our country”? “What can we do?”

Many of us out there are doing great things. Many of us within our local schools, local districts, state/national level and in some cases internationally are being recognized for the things we are doing. How do we get more people to pay attention and to learn about these great PE programs that exist? To understand what we do and our importance in schools? How do we move all Physical Education teachers forward?

Many questions crossing my mind lately. I watched a great documentary film over the weekend and thought – wouldn’t it be powerful if there was a documentary film on how childhood obesity is impacting our children. A really personal documentary following children throughout their day, home and school. Feel that would help the public understand just how serious this epidemic is.

Would also be a great film looking at the failing of the American Physical Education system. Show the “roll out the ball” teacher vs. someone like a George Velarde and his amazing program in Sierra Vista, CA. This entire diatribe from me speaks to the need for us to have serious conversations about our roll within education and how we can improve what we do for this generation and future generations of children….

I’m now officially off my soap box. :)

Christopher J. Cain
Panther Run Elementary Physical Education
Lake Worth, FL

Friday, October 22, 2010

Northwest Arkansas Project

PE4life Arkansas is excited to begin professional development and trainings with 10 schools in NWA! Thanks to the Care Foundation, PE4life has granted 5 previously funded schools and 5 newly funded schools to receive unique professional development and apply for equipment scholarships.

The previously awarded schools are in Springdale, Arkansas – Hellstern Middle School; JO Kelly Middle School; Tyson Middle School: Bentonville, Arkansas – Old High Middle School; and in Siloam Springs, Arkansas – Siloam Springs Middle School.

They will receive a one day PE4life training; two days of Project Adventure and an evening with Jean Blaydes Madigan featuring Action Based Learning. Each of these schools may apply for up to $5,000 in equipment scholarships.

The newly funded schools are in Springdale – Bayarri Elementary; Parson Hills Elementary;  Bernice Young Elementary and Central Jr. High: Siloam Springs – Siloam Springs Elementary.

They will receive a two day Intro to PE4life training; two days of SPARK and a day with Jean Blaydes Madigan featuring Action Based Learning. Each of these schools may apply for up to $10,000 in equipment scholarships.

This is the first of a three year project through the Care Foundation that will enhance previously funded schools to continue and develop their programs and start up new programs in schools that show progress. The hope is to grow these programs in this NWA and showcase each of these schools for future trainings.

To learn more about PE4life's efforts in Arkansas visit  

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Standing Up to Sitting Down

Side note: Our friend Phil Lawler spoke of these work-station treadmills years ago...

Standing Question: Could sitting too long at work be dangerous?

Doctors Warn Sitting Too Long is the New Smoking
By Deborah Roberts and Jessica Hopper

Work can be back-breaking; hours spent hunched over at a computer with all the pressure resting in your neck. But what if you worked standing up?

Those who stand at work say that it helps them stay focused, avoid feeling they need a nap in the afternoon and even helps them shed pounds. Famous figures like Donald Rumsfeld and novelist Philip Roth have done it for years. And now some doctors say that you should do it too.

Marc Hamilton, a physiologist at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana, discovered that when he prevented lab mice from standing up, an enzyme that burns fat gets turned off, which can lead to weight gain.

"This enzyme is virtually shut off within hours of not standing, completely independent of diet, completely independent of weight changes," Hamilton said. "I think sitting is very dangerous."

That research prompted Hamilton to speak out that our culture of sitting is unhealthy.

Hamilton isn't the only doctor standing up to sitting down.

A study published by the American Journal of Epidemiology showed that sitting for long stretches, more than six hours a day, can make someone at least 18 percent more likely to die from diabetes, heart disease and obesity than those sitting less than three hours a day.

Treadmill Desks and Walking Meetings

When ABC News first visited SALO in 2008, the fun-loving employment placement firm was growing as fast as their employees' waistlines.

"There's always an abundance of food," Langer said. "We're a high energy group."

The average SALO employee put on ten pounds their first year in the company. Obesity expert Dr. Jim Levine moved his research lab into the offices of SALO, launching a six-month study to see if a moving office could actually help workers lose weight.

Levine brought in treadmill desks. Walking at around one mile per hour, Folkestad and Langer answer phones, respond to emails and even hold walking meetings.

Dr. Levine said to forget those old desks-- a standing, moving office worker is the employee of the future.

"If we can create a world where offices are doing better and the employees are becoming healthier, we’ve got a golden solution.

Sitting has become the most common human behavior, literally, it outstrips the amount of time we spend sleeping," Hamilton said.

Watch a video segement with Diane Sawyer and read the full article on ABC News here.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Light Board To 'Revolutionize' P.E. Class

Check out this article from featuring Hanawalt Elementary, a PE4life Model Site, and their new Light Board. Looks fun!

A Des Moines school has just added technology to its physical education classes. They're using a light board to get active at Hanawalt School.

Students are using the first Light Motion Fitness Wall to be installed in an Iowa school.

Hanawalt P.E. teacher John Baker is pumped up because the touchscreen technology is making his students move. The giant light board keeps kids from getting bored during P.E.

"The kids have absolutely been enthralled with it. What it does is helps with the visual tracking and helps with the reading and it also increased hand and eye coordination and reactionary time," said Baker. "This is going to change the culture of physical education."

Click here to read more of this article or to watch a video of the Light Board in action!

To learn more about PE4life's efforts in Iowa, visit

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Lynyrd Skynyrd was a PE Teacher!

Rest in Peace Leonard Skinner!

Tongue-in-cheek inspiration to Lynyrd Skynyrd dies at 77
Matt Soergel

Leonard Skinner, the no-nonsense, flat-topped basketball coach and gym teacher whose name is forever linked with legendary rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, died in his sleep early Monday morning. He was 77.

Mr. Skinner never asked to become part of rock ’n’ roll lore. He didn’t even like rock ’n’ roll. He was just a by-the-book gym teacher at Robert E. Lee High School, his alma mater, who, in the late 1960s, sent some students to the principal’s office because their hair was too long.

Gene Odom, who worked security for the band and survived the crash of its plane in 1977, said one of the longhairs was Gary Rossington. Rossington was guitarist in a rock band that would later name itself Lynyrd Skynyrd in a smart-aleck tribute to the gym teacher.

During an interview in January 2009, Mr. Skinner said he was just following the rules about hair length. It always bothered him that the legend grew to say he was particularly tough on them or that he’d kicked them out of school.

“It was against the school rules. I don’t particularly like long hair on men, but again, it wasn’t my rule,” he said.

Read full article from the Florida Times Union at at

Photo courtesy of Times-Union

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Iowa Schools Battle Childhood Obesity

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. This article features how some Iowa Schools are facing this battle.

Physical education programs adapt in the face of increased child obesity

by Patrick Hogan

Sweat formed on the face of Quinten Lamb, 14, as he pedalled a floating bicycle above a grassy landscape, trying to catch a red dragon in the distance.

His pursuit briefly was interrupted by Steve Fish, a physical education instructor at Marion High School, who came by to check on the freshman’s progress on the video game exercise bike.

“Remember, 10 minutes, then get on the treadmill,” Fish said before moving on to another student in late August in the school’s new basement fitness room.

Marion’s new facility of cutting-edge exercise machines is just one example of new approaches local high schools are taking to combat child obesity.

Obesity in children nationwide has risen steadily since the early 1970s for all age groups, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Body mass index tests of students for 2010 found that 32 percent of kindergartners and 37 percent of fifth-graders in the Cedar Rapids school district were overweight or obese, according to district wellness coordinator Grant Schultz.

In Marion, a study school officials did two years ago showed 19 percent of fourth-graders, 59 percent of eighth-graders and 33 percent of high school juniors overweight. The study additionally showed 14 percent of fourth-graders, 28 percent of eighth-graders and 23 percent of high school juniors as being obese.

A fitness report for this year is being prepared.

During his 18 years as a physical educator, Fish has seen obesity become more of an issue with his students, particularly his current 9th grade classes.

“They’re very nice kids, but I think a third of them are at risk from a weight standpoint,” Fish said. “If those were kids at risk for reading and writing, there would be alarms going off.”

Continue Reading full article as featured in the Gazette Online here.

Steve Fish, physical education teacher and Carol M. White PEP Grant Winner in Marion, Iowa will be presenting at the PE4life Resource Conference, October 4-5 in Overland Park, Kansas.

Photo by Liz Martin/The Gazette

Friday, August 20, 2010

ShotSpots- They’re Not Just For Basketball!

This blog was written by Janice Jodlowski, Catalog Marketing Manager of our newest Preferred Vendor Partner - Palos Sports. Janice is a 16 year veteran in the sports and fitness industry and is responsible for finding new products for the PE market. She also works closely with professionals in the industry to develop activities for the products and integrate them into PE classes. She presents sessions and workshops to school districts and at conferences.

One of the best parts of my job is meeting teachers who are passionate about making P.E. a positive experience for their classes. If there is one nugget of wisdom I’ve learned in working with those Physical Education teachers for 16 years, it’s this: “Do not assume a PE teacher will use a product for its intended purpose. “

Case in point: ShotSpots™. They consist of a set of seven 18” diameter PVC/vinyl, non-skid floor mats that are double sided with numbers and point values. Designed to sharpen shooting skills, players would use these spots to mark shooting stations. Flip the spots on one side for numbers to mark positions or flip them over to create point values for each shot made from the spot’s location.

The PVC/vinyl material they are made from is very similar to the products you use to line cabinets. The packaging states you can use the ShotSpots™ indoors or out. . Indoor- absolutely! On a wood or tile floor the spots do not slip out from under foot. Outdoors- use caution on blacktop. In hot weather they can stick a little and will get dirty rather quickly. On concrete surfaces- they work well and it takes a little longer for them to get dirty. It is recommended to sweep the play area first.

Included in the packaging are 8 game ideas- 4 each for number and point games. They include a version of Around the World, Line ‘Em Up, 7 Shot Add ‘Em Up, Twenty One and a 2 Minute Shootout using the included digital timer.

By design, ShotSpots™ seem pretty straight forward in concept. However, get them in the hands of a creative PE teacher and they take on a life of their own. Here are some activities and ideas that teachers have shared with me recently:

• Use the point value side of the spots and place on the reception side of a volleyball court. Servers must aim at the spots to receive the point values.
• Use the number side of the spots and place on the reception side of a volleyball court. Servers must aim at the spots and hit all spots 1 thru 7. Variation for higher skill levels: if they miss a spot, they must start over.


• Use the number side of the spots and spread out against the wall for bowling lanes. Beginner bowlers aim to roll the ball over the spot. As skill levels increase, flip spots over and use point values. As skill levels further increase, add bowling pins.

Floor Hockey:

• Use point or number sides of spots to create shooting stations for floor hockey. Arrange class into teams and play for points or use as a timed shooting event. Make sure to use a hockey ball or similar to roll over the spot.

• Use the point side of the spots to represent daily portions from each food group. Create a relay using food cards for players to learn portions and food groups.

Granted, most of these ideas are simply using the spots for their numbers or point values, however, using the spots to represent daily portion amounts for food groups is pretty clever. It’s this creative mentality that continues to drive Physical Education teachers to create quality lessons filled with academic content that makes P.E. a positive experience for their students.

That’s just the beginning of the possibilities for the ShotSpots™ as they’ve only been on the market since November 2009. The question is, what would you use them for?

ShotSpots™ are available exclusively at Palos Sports. Visit or call 1-800-233-5484 for more information.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Critical Information for Staying Hydrated

Guest Blogger: Rhonda Fincher of the Kendrick Fincher Hydration Foundation

Fifteen years ago I learned that heat illness can kill and that proper hydration is one way to prevent heat illness. I also learned that it is necessary to TEACH proper hydration. It was 15 years ago at this time that my son Kendrick was in Children’s Hospital in Little Rock. Our healthy 13-year-old son had gone to his first day of football practice on a hot Arkansas day and suffered heat stroke. I watched and participated in the fight for his survival, but in the end he died 18 days later from multi-system organ failure as a result of heat stroke.

There was a lot I didn’t know 15 years ago that I know now. Let me share some of these with you:
  • Heat stroke can kill a healthy 13-year-old boy.
  • An athlete and their parents need to make sure they are ready for practices and games; it is not only the coaches’ responsibility.
  • Football practice for 8th grade is not like taking your child to community recreational sports practice.
  • Most people do not recognize the importance of proper hydration throughout their daily lives.
  • Coaches want winning teams and they do what they need to do to ensure the athlete is ready for games. It can be a tough and grueling practice, but everyone wants their team to win, right? Even parents.
  • The Kendrick Fincher Hydration Foundation would directly educate over 200,000 children and athletes about the importance of proper hydration and heat illness prevention.
  • I would have the resolve to do for 15 years what I wish would have been done before Kendrick died.
  • Athletes still die from heat stroke.
  • I would be sitting in an office adorned with t-shirts from 12 youth runs in memory of my son.
  • I would be lugging tents and misting units and serving ice water across Northwest Arkansas in an effort to keep the community cool.
  • Kendrick’s name would be on the NFL website.
  • Kendrick’s name would be in the US Congressional record.
  • If you Google “Kendrick Fincher” there are pages and pages of results.
Elementary school is a critical time to TEACH children the importance of proper hydration. With the continual media messages that beverage choices should be carbonated, sparkling, flavored, caffeinated, etc., it is important that we demonstrate healthy drink choices and teach children the importance of water to their health. There is also a lot of information I have gained that I have been able to share with educators and coaches. Much of what teachers and coaches are trained in college to do for their job has to do with education and techniques.

Here are some suggestions and resources for physical educators to encourage this healthy lifestyle in the students and teachers they work with:

- Use our “beehydrated” pamphlet that talks about basic hydration information to teach a unit in hydration.

- For athletes, our “Beat the Heat” pamphlet provides a great resource.

- Encourage the teachers to have the children bring in a water bottle and keep on their desk to hydrate throughout the day. It is to their benefit as just a 1% dehydration level of thirst, results in a 10% reduction in the child’s ability to concentrate.

- In high school levels, talk to the principal or superintendent about allowing and encouraging the students to be drinking water throughout the day. Many children are involved in after school sports and unless they are hydrating throughout the day their performance and their safety will be compromised.

- Water fountains, in addition to providing a source of germs, only result in a 1-3 ounce drink of water. Teachers can allow students time to fill up their water bottles in the morning and then use their water fountain trip for a bathroom break.

Properly hydrated children are healthier children! Water affects all aspects of life and what better way to ensure children are in school and learning to their full capacity: TEACH the importance of proper hydration for their body!

For more information and resources, contact Rhonda or visit the Kendrick Fincher Hydration Foundation website.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Power of PEP

This article is a blast from the past, but it so perfectly highlights the Power of the PEP Grant. Learn how the PE4life Academy Training Center in Titusville, PA came to be and how others have put their funding to good use...

Fitness Assessment
The popular PEP grant program has allowed hundreds of school districts to re-energize P.E. programs with new equipment and specialized training.

By Michael Popke, January 2008

Tim McCord was bored. The year was 1999, and after two decades as a physical education teacher at Titusville (Pa.) Middle School — where classes revolved around a traditional curriculum of football in the fall, basketball in the winter, and softball and track and field in the spring — he was looking for a challenge, something to re-energize his department, his students and himself.

"I'd been doing the same things for about 20 years at that time, and I could have continued to do them standing on my head," says McCord, now chair of the physical education department for the Titusville Area School District. "I thought, 'Is it really our job to teach these kids sports skills? Or is it our job to teach them how to live healthy lives?' "

To find the answer, McCord requested permission from the district's superintendent to take a field trip to Naperville, Ill., where students at Central High School were among the first in the country to participate in physical education classes that actually improved more than their ball-handling skills. There, he saw instructors incorporating high-tech fitness equipment and detailed health-risk assessments into everyday P.E. classes.

No longer bored, McCord returned to Titusville — a small and economically stressed community in which half of all students at the time were eligible for free or reduced school-lunch programs — and shared his findings with the school board. The next thing he knew, McCord was handed a check for $30,000 (10 times the district's entire physical education budget that year) to revamp the middle school's P.E. department with cardiovascular-fitness and strength-training equipment, along with plenty of heart-rate monitors. With the following year came another check, this one for $40,000 to replicate the middle school's program at Titusville High School. One year later, the district gave McCord an additional $10,000 to purchase fitness-assessment machines for both schools.

Then, in 2003, the district was awarded $342,000 from the federal government in the form of a Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) grant, which funded repairs and upgrades to existing equipment, added climbing or traversing walls at every school in the district, and expanded overall P.E. programming. Then came the clincher: The high school's principal rearranged for the daily schedule to expand from eight classes to nine, shifting periods from 43 minutes to 40 and making room for daily P.E. sessions.

"All I did was explain to our school board that our physical education program was going nowhere," McCord says. "Now I don't think our kids understand how good they have it."

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

How Do You Keep Students Active During PE?

Obesity Rates Keep Rising, Troubling Health Officials - this article was published in The New York Times today. It reports, not surprisingly, that obesity rates continue to be on the rise.

One statement that did stand out in the article: "Children do not get enough exercise during the school day; Dr. Frieden noted that even in gym classes, students are active for only about a third of the time."

We know this is true in many circumstances, but we've also witnessed some awesome PE programs that we know keep students active for more than a third of the time. If you have one of these programs, what's your secret?

1. How do you keep your students' heart rates up during class? Small-sided games? Exergaming?

2. Do you collect data to prove your students are active for longer than a third of the time? If so, how? Heart Rate Monitors?

3. What advice can you give other physical educators to increase activity time in PE?

Leave your answers in the comments below!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Madison County Schools: PEP Grant Hopeful

Meet Madison County School District - second year PEP Grant hopeful. We're pretty confident this school will be successful with their health and wellness program - with or without the PEP Grant!

Good luck Madison County Schools!

County schools seeking physical education grant

RICHMOND — Madison County Schools has applied for a grant that would provide all 17 schools the opportunity to participate in PE4Life.

The 2010 PEP Grant is part of the Carol M. White Physical Education Program and will award grants between $100,000 to $750,000, with the average grant being $427,000, according to the PE4Life website.

Grant winners are expected to be announced in September.

“We had a program last year at Shannon Johnson Elementary School and B. Michael Caudill Middle School, where we put in fitness labs, action based learning labs and we did lots of things to increase physical activity and nutrition,” said Kathy Todd, who teaches physical education at Shannon Johnson and is a member of the district’s coordinated school health advisory council.

“If we get the grant, we will be able to implement new physical education curriculums in all the schools,” she said, adding that Farristown Middle School, which is scheduled to open in Berea in the fall of 2011, also would be equipped with PE4Life.

PE4life is a national non-profit organization dedicated to developing a country of active and healthy children and youth by increasing access to quality physical education, according to its website.

To read this story in full, visit The Richmond Register.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

YES, YOU CAN come to the PE4life Resource Conference!

Want to attend the PE4life Resource Conference?
Not enough money in your school budget?
Administration won’t allow for time off?

We know times are tough. Schools are facing small to non-existing budgets and some schools are even closing their doors. No surprise that PE continues to take hits – and now professional development opportunities are squelched.

Don’t fret! There are things working in our favor. Childhood obesity is a HOT topic! Everyone, including the First Lady, is jumping on the childhood obesity bandwagon. Brain Research – linking physical activity to academic achievement – is continually evolving and validating our jobs. We’ve all known the value of quality physical education for some time and now it seems that others are finally starting to get it! Take advantage of this – these trending topics can be used to help get you to the PE4life Resource Conference!

Wait, there’s more good news – people actually want to help! Local businesses, foundations and concerned citizens are all looking for ways to contribute. Sponsoring your attendance at the PE4life Resource Conference is a perfect way to do so. We’ve compiled some basic information to help get you there.

When approaching a potential sponsor, whether in writing, over the phone or in person – use the following information to state your best case for needing support and how you plan to use their support to make a difference.

What Attendees Receive:
Attendees of the PE4life Resource Conference will receive two full days of professional development and learning opportunities from nationally-renowned industry leaders who get programmatic results. Speakers at the PE4life Resource Conference have quality, cutting edge programs who see positive impacts in students’ physical health and improvements in student learning. Participants at PE4life events are forward thinking and ready to embrace a new way of teaching physical education. This event is a networking and brainstorming opportunity for like-minded professionals. Attendees will also have the opportunity to meet with equipment and program vendors who offer quality, innovative and technologically advanced equipment at discounted prices for event participants.

A list of breakout sessions can be found here. Consider mentioning those that may appeal to a particular funder.

What will the Sponsor Receive:
Your sponsor will want recognition for supporting your school/program and for being a good corporate citizen. They will also want to know that their money is going to go towards something that will make an impact.
  • Be sure to alert your local media/newspaper of the champion sponsor and their commitment to bettering your program.
  • Invite the Sponsor to see your program in action upon returning from the event (take pictures and inform the media)!
  • Share your success story with us so we can give them a shout out on our website, blog or through Social Media!

Funding Needed:
Consider the cost of
registration fees, travel (airline, local transportation, hotel, meals) and substitute teacher fees.

Who to approach:
Think of those in your community who share an interest and/or have a stake in the health and wellness of children. If you don’t have a personal contact, ask for someone in the Community Relations, Government Affairs or Marketing departments.

  • Community members / Businesses / Large employers (especially those whose employees’ children attend your school)
  • Local Hospitals
  • Fitness Centers
  • Local Insurance Agencies
  • School Vendors for food, sports equipment, etc.
  • Sporting Good Stores
  • Civic Organizations
  • Alumni or Booster Groups
  • Grocery Stores
  • Foundations – local or regional business or family foundations

** Don’t forget: Your attendance at the PE4life Resource Conference can be covered in full by PEP Grant funds! **

Additional details to enhance your proposal:

  • What are you hoping to accomplish by attending the PE4life Resource Conference?
  • What do you plan to do with the information you receive at the Resource Conference?
  • Have you attended a PE4life event before? If so, what did you take away from it?

Once you’ve secured your funding, don’t forget these important follow up steps!

  • Register for the event!
  • Alert your local media and tell them who are Champions for physical education!
  • Share your success with us! We want to know how you did it and your lessons learned.)
  • Tell us who is supporting physical education in your area. We want to give them a shout out!

Good luck! We hope to see you in October!

PE4life Resource Conference
October 4-5, 2010
Overland Park, Kansas

Pressure to Perform Academically Results in PE Cuts in MN

Here's an excellent article on an issue that is very familiar to us all - pressure for students to perform academically resulting in less time and money for PE. Although this article is specific to Minnesota school districts, it's occurring all across the country.

Increased pressure to perform on academic tests is forcing state schools to cut physical education classes

WASHINGTON — After multiple layoffs, 30-year-old physical education teacher Ryan Weber has had a front-row seat in watching the decline of physical education in Minnesota schools.

Weber is out of work again as of Thursday after finishing a short-term stint in an Anoka summer program for special needs students

“Only 10 of the 25 people I graduated from college in physical education with are doing anything related to their degree because they can’t find jobs, kept getting cut and just can’t do it anymore,” Weber said.

Education providers are under increasing pressure to measure up on standardized tests, which means that many schools are trading school day hours for academics over physical education to ensure they will meet requirements to lock in funding.

It’s a trend that experts say threatens to undermine first lady Michelle Obama’s central initiative: a campaign aimed at improving the health of America’s youth, in part by expanding physical education and extracurricular activities.

As a result of repeated cuts in physical education across the state, teachers like Weber are looking for work while the waistlines of Minnesota students only get bigger.

“Over the last 10 years, schools have been under intense academic pressure to add more time in their school day for reading and math, and there is only so much time in the school day; time is finite,” said Charlie Kyte, executive director of Minnesota Association of School Administrators. “Physical education is what has been squeezed.”

Read the full story on the MinnPost website.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

RECAP: First Lady's Let's Move! Web Chat

The First Lady held the first ever web chat to discuss the Let's Move! campaign this morning. The public was invited to ask the First Lady questions regarding her initiative and the childhood obesity epidemic via Facebook.

During the chat, we heard some great ideas and tough questions posted on Facebook from some of our physical education experts. Now, we want to know what you think! Do you agree with what was said from these physical education experts? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

  • How will physical education be promoted and advanced in the schools. All of our kids attend school so this is the most comprehensive opportunity to address the needs of all children with quality, age appropriate physical activity/physical education.
  • Quality physical education can be THE VEHICLE to educate all kids!
  • We HAVE to change the mindset...define QUALITY physical education.
  • Questions about Physical Education are not Sports or extra curricula! This is part of the issue. Play is fun and great but don’t we really need physical education also? Do we need to do more to educate folks on the difference?
  • I wish we could have the opportunity to educate the First Lady on QUALITY physical education. PLAY is not physical education. Physical Education is not all games.
  • Seems lets move is supporting more physical activity which is awesome! But I am not hearing much about true physical education. NASPE can certainly help clarify the difference.
  • While the intent here is positive, if the administration does not know the difference between physical activity and physical education, if they don't know what constitutes quality, 21st century physical education, if they don't understand the EDUCATION portion of physical education, the outlook for this program isn't very positive.
  • She did not mention policy to increase PE time, but focused on integration of physical activity. Integration of PA is important but not at the expense of a quality physical education class.
  • The First Lady does not know what Quality Physical Education is & does not know the differences between Physical Education & Physical Activity. Kickball and duck, duck, goose are NOT examples of Physical Education.
  • As long as the jobs of teachers and administrators is made dependent on test scores, physical education will be the lowest priority. The research relating physical exercise/education to academic success is overwhelming. Have you or the President or Sec. Duncan read Dr. John Ratey (SPARK) or Dr. Carla Hannaford (Smart Moves) or Dr. John Medina (Brain Rules) or any of the other books that provides us the research.
  • Physical Educators would like to be a part of this initiative. We would like to offer our advice and support. Please start including us and recognizing the important role we play in schools.
  • If you don't involve physical education and physical educators in this battle you cannot win. We are the ones who work with children on a regular basis. We are the ones who educate children so they understand life long active life styles.
  • The terms “physical activity” and “physical education” are often used interchangeably. However, they differ in important ways. Understanding the difference between the two is critical to understanding why both contribute to the development of healthy, active children. Think of this: Physical Activity is a behavior. Physical Education is a core subject area with a curriculum that includes physical activity.
  • We truly appreciate the First Lady's move to take on the fight against nationwide overweight/obesity, but the process is poorly constructed and poorly framed, lacks inclusion and I have doubts that it will ever be as successful as it could and should be.

  • I would not expect her to know about QPE; that is not her passion. Professionals in the field must continue to advocate for and educate about QPE, so all people can begin to feel our passion. Let's take the first lady's agenda and positively use it to our advantage.

Monday, July 12, 2010

PEP Grant Lesson Learned

While we love to share success stories, we know that unfortunately sometimes things are best learned by mistakes. Here is an example of a school district in Wisconsin who misused their PEP funds. What is great about this story is how they right their wrong and share the steps they should have taken.

Nekoosa School District misused funds to buy soccer field

NEKOOSA -- The Nekoosa School District will pay about $49,000 for a soccer field built in 2008, after school officials confirmed the district used federal grant dollars without following the guidelines.

In 2007, the U.S. Department of Education awarded the district a Carol M. White Physical Education Program grant of nearly $350,000 to improve local programming. The three-year matching federal grant helps districts purchase equipment and pay for staff support and training to initiate, expand and improve physical education programs, according to the department.

A June 2009 Nekoosa School District audit by Wipfli's Rhinelander accounting office found district employees were not adequately tracking and managing grant funds.

Read full story on the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune website here.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

What's the first "bold action" Congress should take in solving the childhood obesity epidemic?

James S. Marks, senior vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, recently wrote a powerful article titled "We Need Bold Action on Childhood Obesity" in the Huffington Post. In the article, he highlights some statistics that have made headlines lately. You've probably heard or seen a few of them at some point, but seeing the facts presented together is astonishing:
  • Adult obesity rates rose in 28 states over the past year and declined only in the District of Columbia.
  • Nearly one-third of children are obese or overweight, placing them at higher risk for diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and a host of other serious chronic illnesses.
  • 84% of Americans believes the childhood obesity epidemic is a serious problem -- Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and Tea Party supporters agree.
  • 56% believe we should launch a comprehensive national program to prevent childhood obesity, even if we have to invest billions of dollars now to prevent hundreds of billions in costs later.
As physical educators or advocates of quality physical education, you guys are the ones that see first-hand the toll childhood obesity is having on our children. So, we want your input on a few questions:

1. If the study is right and 85% of Americans believe childhood obesity is a serious problem, then what can we do, as individuals, to help solve this crisis?

2. Marks suggests strengthening the National School Lunch Program as the first "bold step" Congress should take in combating the childhood obesity epidemic. What do you recommend as the first "bold step?"

Monday, June 28, 2010

PEP Grant Success Story: Implementing Exergaming

With 18+ years as a physical education teacher and 5+ years as a grant facilitator, Marvin Christley is leading the way to keeping kids active, healthy and fit by introducing a new PE concept called Exergaming. New Haven (CT) Public School’s PE department received approximately 1.5 million dollars over three years from the Carol M. White PEP Grant, to help aid in reducing childhood obesity by increasing movement time. Below is Marvin’s new concept and a interview on his mission to keeping kids in Connecticut healthy and active while attending school.

I came up the concept for the grant when I first saw this type of equipment at a National convention. Being a gamer myself, I thought this would be a great way to motivate the students who are inactive to exercise. Two of the biggest markets are Wellness and Videogames. The problem today is that with video games, students are becoming less active. In order to combat the increase in childhood obesity I thought Exergaming. Exergaming combines video games with exercise. This won’t solve the problem but it will bridge the gap. The Wii first took off with this type of technology, and now more and more companies are jumping on board.

I created a program to reduce childhood obesity called T.H.A.N.C.S. THANCS stands for Teaching Health and Nutrition Choices to Students. This program was made possible because a very generous PEP grant. The New Haven PE department received about 1.5 million dollars over three years, to help aid in reducing childhood obesity by increasing movement time. Currently we have about 15 elementary – middle schools, up and running with more to come.

The program uses innovative technology to better assess our students and to motivate them to exercise. Some of the assessment technologies that are being utilized are: Heart rate monitors, TriFit machine, Pedometers and handheld palm pilots. Exergaming equipment was also purchased through the grant which includes: Dance, Dance Revolution, Lightspace Play Floor, Gamebikes, Nintendo Wii’s, and Xavix’s. This year we also purchased a cross curricular exercise bike called “The NeuroActive BrainBike by Motion Fitness”. This piece allows you to exercise while playing brain games that include math, memory and other cognitive thinking games. The games are a lot like the questions students would see on the Connecticut Mastery Tests. There has not been one principal who this doesn’t think this is the best piece of exercise equipment. We have also created journals in order for students to track of their own fitness.

Tell us about how you obtained this grant? What is the purpose of it?
MC: My supervisor asked me to facilitate a grant we had already acquired. It was a small grant and only included a couple of schools. The vendor and I decided that if I spent some money on them they would assist with the writing a larger grant. The purpose of this grant was to use technology to better assess our students fitness levels. In addition, I had an idea to use the exercise gaming technology to motivate students to be more active. The goal is to put this type of technology in our elementary and middle schools.

When is this initiative being launched?
MC: I have already began this initiative and I am now in the second year of my three year grant.

When did you first hear about Exergaming and why did you choose to implement the products in your school district?
MC: I first learned about Exergaming at a national conference. I thought it would be great in my school district because the majority of our students are not motivated to be active. Students would always talk about various video games and were not physical active. I thought this would be a great way to bridge the game between video games and inactivity.

What products did you get and how come you chose those particular items?
MC: Some of the items that all of the schools received were Gamebikes, Dance Dance Revolution, and Xavix. Some schools received Expresso bikes, NeuroActive BrainBikes, iJoy Boards and Wiis. A couple of larger items were purchased to show the future of Exergaming. These items are Dogfight and Lightspace play. The reason I selected these items is because they seemed to be the most fun and give the students a maximum workout.

How many Schools are benefiting from your accomplishments?
MC: Currently I have been able to outfit fifteen schools with exergaming equipment. We are planning to add several more schools in the future. Phase one is the impact the elementary and middle schools and phase two is to create the same type of programs in the high schools.

What do you see as the benefits of Exergaming for your students?
MC: The main benefit of Exergaming is the sustained level of moderate to vigorous physical activity. To give you an example, one school had a class of 40 plus kids that refused to do anything aerobic in physical education class. After the introduction to exergaming equipment, you have to beg them to stop. It is clearly a way for kids to have more fun while exercising.

Special thanks to Exergame Fitness for sharing this article. The full article, including information on Exergame Fitness, can be found here.

Marvin Christley and representatives from New Haven Public Schools participated in a PE4life workshop.