Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Help us, help you (and win some free stuff)!

PE4life Academy Director, Tim McCord, recently wrote a powerful statement on a previous blog posting - "There is no better time than the present to be a physical a educator. The spotlight is shining upon us."

We think Tim is right. With all the anti-obesity efforts recently initiated, including the First Lady’s admirable Let’s Move campaign, there has never been a better time for us to stand up and declare the importance of physical education in the fight against childhood obesity. After all, it’s the physical educators who are in the trenches, executing PE4life’s Core Principles and witnessing the affect they are having on students and communities. So, while we are well aware of the positive impact physical education has on our youth, it’s the perfect time to share our successes with the rest of the world!

Make your stories heard – stories of academic achievement, improved fitness scores, community involvement, decreased disciplinary incidents – any and all testimonials that demonstrate quality physical education is having positive impact on the lives in your school and community.

Send your stories to info@pe4life.org by May 1st and we’ll compile all the testimonials into a downloadable booklet available on our website, which we encourage you to use as a resource to garner additional support for your program. You'll also be entered to win free registration to our upcoming Resource Conference, plus other cool prizes. Remember to include your name and school district to get the credit you deserve!

Want to share your story in photos? Just be sure to have your student’s legal guardian fill out a photo release form, giving us permission to use the photo.

PE4life’s Core Principles
We believe PE should:
• Be directed to all students, not just the athletically inclined
• Offer a variety of fitness, sport, leisure and adventure activities
• Provide a safe and encouraging learning environment
• Utilize individual assessments
• Incorporate current technology
• Extend beyond the walls of the gymnasium
• Ideally, be offered to every child every day

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Want to be inspired?

Found myself digging through the PE4life archives, looking at old articles and testimonials that have been written over the years. Each time I do this, I am reminded why I work for PE4life. I have been with the organization for six years now. I'm not a physical educator. I don't have a health background. But what continues to drive and motivate me to contribute is that I work with the most amazing physical education professionals who are so passionate and truly make a difference in this crazy world we live.

Phil Lawler is the driving force - the leader - the person who inspires us here at PE4life and educators across the world to look at how we can change the culture of health and wellness through physical education. I came across Phil's testimony before a US House Subcommittee in 2007 – and while I’ve heard these things over and over – Phil breaks it down so simply. So clearly. With such vision.

Here are some of my favorites:

"Let me give you a quick example of when I saw the light. Our department had acquired a single heart rate monitor. I hadn’t used it but one day I took it out and put it on a girl I didn’t believe was working very hard in class. In the old days of PE assessment, we said, “let’s run a mile, and if you can’t run a mile under eight minutes, you’re a failure.” How many people in this country were turned off to exercise by those standards? I put the heart rate monitor on a young lady who didn’t have asthma and wasn’t overweight. So, based on her 13.5-minute mile, I deemed her a failure. But when I downloaded her heart rate monitor, her average heart rate was 187. By just using my observation as a physical education instructor she wasn’t doing anything, she wasn’t expending any effort. But in reality, the heart rate monitor told me she was working too hard."

“It’s about enabling each student to maintain a physically-active lifestyle forever. It means emphasizing fitness and wellbeing, not athleticism. It eliminates practices that humiliate students. And it assesses students on their progress in reaching personal physical activity and fitness goals. A [quality] program exposes kids to the fun and long-term benefits of movement – it’s really that simple.”

"I think former surgeon general, Dr. Richard Carmona, summarized the situation the best when he said, “As we look to the future and where childhood obesity will be in 20 years… it is every bit as threatening to us as is the terrorist threat we face today. It is the threat from within.” Physical Education can be a key part of the solution to that threat, maybe the most important part of the solution."

This being said – I’ve got to get back to work. So much is still to be done!

Carrie Gibson

To read Phil's full testimonial go here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Technology in the Classroom

We all know the importance of utilizing technology in the classroom, it's even one of our Core Principles! But, we also know that it's sometimes easier said than done. Check out this Australian PE Teacher's recommendations for must have pieces of technology in the classroom. For more of his great ideas, visit his blog at mrrobbo.wordpress.com.

1) Flip Video Camera – The first and most essential tool for a Physical Education teacher. No other camera is as simple to record video footage, making it a snap to film and analyse sporting techniques and game play.

2) Mp3 Player/Recorder – With the abundance on MP3 players today you can be sure to be able to buy an excellent player full of features for a small price. For as little as $20 you can purchase a player with the ability to play and record mp3 files and connect to the radio. One of the ways I utilised it within my classroom has been to create podcasts or recordings of my own teaching that can be loaded onto the Mp3 player for review at a later stage. This also allowed us to complete theoretical course content while we completed a casual walk or ride around the lake. This really assisted the kinesthetic learners who enjoyed the ability to move while they learned. Buy a class set of 10 and rotate them through the group.

3) Mobile Phones – Regardless of peoples perceptions of mobile phones being timewasters, they are without a doubt the single most must have item of today and why shouldnt they be? Today’s mobiles are like the swiss army knives of the 1800’s, with every modern piece of equipment you could ever need. It is now impossible to find a phone that is simply ‘just a phone’.
a. Calendar – Have your students use the phones calendar as a diary for recording important dates and information. Never again will you hear the excuse that they didn’t realise an assessment was due
b. Clock/Stopwatch – Use the inbuilt stopwatch and alarm to help organise and time training sessions. In this example, students move from passive participants within a session to the role of trainers as they are forced to organise the session.
c. SMS – use this feature and a service such as www.smsexpress.com.au to send bulk messages to more than one phone from your laptop. Easily allows for instant communication with a large group or class. Makes late minute changes to the sports draw of outdoor education camp easy to communicate. Use it as an alternative to paper and pens during a sports session or camp and have students answer questions based on their participation.
d. Camera/Video Camera – Use them within all practical sessions as a way to film and analyse performance instantly. Most phones even come with video editing software allowing students to edit their own footage. 

4) Tube Chop.com – With the absolute plethora of videos on Youtube it is a must for Physical Education teachers. The great thing about Tube chop is that it allows teachers to select a certain section from a youtube video and share only that section. Great way to filter the nonsense in Youtube.

5) Youtube.com or Vimeo.com – Have your students teach a sport or physical skill and film it with a Flip Video camera for uploading to Youtube. Sit back and watch as people from around the world watch and comment on the video.

6) Google Docs – Spreadsheet – Share a google docs spreadsheet to all your students with simple formulas to work out and graph averages. Have each member of your class have a copy of the spreadsheet loaded on their computer screen. Complete a step test, and record heart rates pre, post and every minute after, for 5 minutes. Results are collated instantly from all computers within the room and displayed in one graph. This gives students a way to visualise their changes in heart rate in comparison with their peers. (Instructions here http://mrrobbo.wordpress.com/2009/05/23/watching-my-classes-heart-beat/)

7) Skype – Without a doubt my number one tool within a Physical Education classroom. Use skype to make free phone and video calls to other skype members all aroud the world. Connect your students to the textbook author to engage in a face to face chat worlds apart. How abouth having your students teach a game to another group of students from across the world? All it takes is an internet connection and a webcam and you can be linked up in no time. My students recently used skype to interview a sports nutritionist within the Australian Institite of Sport, who talked about the foods Australian Athletes would be eating in the lead up to a major competition.

8. Posterous.com – Simplest way to make an online digital portfolio of your sporting performance that can be reviewed and analysed over time. Simply film or record the desired skill and send the video file within an email to post@posterous.com. This will turn your email into its very own unique website where the video will be able to be watched online. Have a new video or document you would like to include? Simply send a new email to post@posterous.com. By far the easiest, no fuss way to put anything you like online.

9) Nintendo Wii – With the influx of video games now requiring physical movement to play why not introduce them into the curriculum. Have your students wear heart rate monitors and while participating within a simularion sport game on the Nintendo Wii, then compare and contrast this to the ‘real’ sport for excellent discussion about how intensity effects heart rate.

10) Nintendo WiI Remote Control – Attach a single Nintendo Wii remote control to your computer via Bluetooth (Instructions here http://tinyurl.com/csslwy). This will allow you to utilise the inbuilt accelerometer within the control to track the movements and forces applied to the control as it is manipulated in space. Take it one step further and place it inside a dodgeball to record the forces applied to a throw within a game. All forces are displayed in a real time graph on your laptop for on-the-fly analysis. These graphs can then be utilised to prompt excellent discussion about acceleration around an axis.

11) Ipod Nike Sensor – Have students bring their Ipods to class or buy a class set. Students then attach a Nike Sensor to their shoe which communicates and records their physical activity. Students records are then sent to their own website where they can view and track their training progress and compete against others from all over the world.

12) Geocaching – Geocaching is the free high-tech treasure hunt where you use your GPS receiver to find caches hidden by other players. It’s a great way to be outdoors, enjoy the environment and the revel in the thrill of the hunt!. Simply logon to www.geocaching.com and search for a cache within your area ( your bound to find 100’s) and begin your hunt with the GPS. The hidden cache may require more smarts than meets the eye and reward your with a special prize, it really depends on the cache. Why not ha ve your students make a virtual tour of their town as a series of hidden geocaches.

13) iPhone –
a. Runkeeper – Have your school purchase an iPhone and utilise the free application called RunKeeper, which keeps track of your physical activity via the GPS. Simply return to your computer to view the path/average distace/speed/elevation and calories exerted throughout the journey.
b. 100 Pushups – Have your Iphone work as a coach to motivate and work you towards a training goal of 100 pushups. The application adjusts its training depending on how you feel and the results you achieve. 

To read more from this blog, visit mrrobbo.wordpress.com.

Friday, March 19, 2010

PE4life Day at the Big 12 Tournament was a huge success!

As a way to say "thanks" to the students, PE teachers, administrators and other faculty, we hosted a PE4life Day at the Big 12 Women's Basketball Championship here in KC.  

We had a great turnout! More than 1700 students, teachers and administrators from 19 schools and six KC Metro school districts showed up at the Municipal Auditorium. All of whom have attended PE4life professional development workshops and presentations. 

It was a great event! We hope to have pictures up soon!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Fighting Murphies

Meet the new PE4life Mascot:

The PE4life gang is gearing up for the NCAA Tournament. With Kansas, Kansas State and Syracuse alums in the office, this could get ugly!

So, who is your pick for the 2010 NCAA National Champion?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Fed Up With Lunch

A school teacher is doing recon work in her school cafeteria, monitoring and consuming the food offered to students on a daily basis. Not only that, she is blogging about it!

Choosing to remain nameless, concealing her identity in fear of losing her job, this teacher was appalled at the lack of nutritious food offered in her school. Every day in 2010, she will walk through the lunch line, sit in the cafeteria and consume the same food available to students.

"I'm eating school lunch just like the kids to raise awareness about what students eat every day. My hope is that the US becomes more reflective about how the food children eat effects their well-being and success in school." - Fed Up With Lunch:  The School Lunch Project author

What looked sure to be an attack on lunch-ladies everywhere, this blog site has become a positive resource in providing links to organizations and schools who are doing it right, and also featuring guest blogs from other teachers who share their school lunch experience – good and bad!

To see what PE4life is doing to address nutrition in school, check out the Healthy Schools Partnership.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Great summary article of the PEP Grant!

What to Know About the Carol M. Whit PEP Grant by Ryan Frank in Education / K-12 Education

The so-called PEP Grant, given out by the Carol M. Whit Physical Education Program, is a federal grant that provides millions of dollars each year to various schools and community organizations, including those that are faith-based, in order to help them improve their physical education programs for K-12 students. An individual school or organization can receive $100,000 to $500,000 from the PEP grant, money that can be used for upgrading equipment, staff training, and physical fitness support programs.

Qualifying for the PEP Grant
A school or organization wishing to qualify for a 2010 PEP Grant has to demonstrate that it has designed and implemented a physical education program that meets state standards and does one or more of the following:

* Give students instruction in motor skills and physical activities that will enhance their mental, physical and social development.

* Provide fitness assessments and help improve student understanding of maintaining physical well-being.

* Give students opportunities for the development of social skills through physical activity.

* Instructs students in cognitive concepts that relate to physical fitness and that will help promote healthy lifestyles.

* Provide instruction on good nutrition and healthy eating habits.

* Give physical education teachers opportunities for professional development and help staying up to date with the latest trends and research in their field.

Federal Budget and the PEP Grant
The Obama Administration's proposal for the FY 2011 budget includes a plan to consolidate 38 educational programs into 11 new authorities, the purpose being to streamline the U.S. Department of Education. The Carol M. Whit PEP Grant would be consolidated with five other programs into a single authority that would be called "Successful, Safe and Healthy Students". The PEP grant will still be available, but the funding for and administration of it would fall under a new, consolidated authority. The good news is that under the proposed change, the "Successful, Safe and Healthy" students program would have a 2011 budget of $410 million, more than the current funds for all the individual programs combined. You can find information on applying for the PEP Grant here, at the NASPE website.

About the Author:
Ryan Frank is an avid writer and blogger living in San Diego, CA.

Visit www.pe4life.org to learn more about the PEP Grant and other funding opportunities available for your program. Also, be sure to attend the 2010 Resource Conference, where you'll gain applicable, hands on knowledge that you can begin implementing upon returning home.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Excuses, Excuses

Welcoming back guest blogger: Tim McCord, PE4life Academy Director, Titusville Area School District, Titusville, PA

In the last ten years our school district has hosted numerous teachers, administrators, and parents all looking for ways to take PE4life's Core Principles integrated into our physical education program in Titusville, PA and implement them into their existing program. It has been an interesting experience and one in which many new friends and networking buddies have been made.

As I conduct the PE4life workshops I am often taken aback by the “excuse making” that I meet. Trust me when I say the excuses are many and usually universal in nature. Here are just a few.

“We can’t do that at our school.”
“We don’t have the money for those types of things.”
“My principal would never support that.”

Sound familiar? In addition to the excuses I would be remiss if I did not mention how often I hear the phrase “what if…” usually followed by something along the line of “the students refuse to do that.”

Up to this point you may have thought I was going to throw these “excuse makers” and “what if” people under the bus. Not so. Instead I am going to give them a little McCord family advice.

You see, from the time I was a little tot (for those that know me, some will say I am still a little tot in stature…just a lot older), my dear mother would frequently offer her musings when I met with frustration. Mom would tell me, “Can’t never did anything until Try showed him how.” If I only had a nickel for every time I have heard that phrase from Mom. And now, I would like to pass it along to every teacher who tries to improve the physical education program in their school.

Sure, you are going to meet roadblocks and stumble along the way. But, how much progress would you have made if you had never tried at all?

There is no better time than the present to be a physical educator. The spotlight is shining upon us. Research has shown the importance of our profession. Children suffering from obesity need our help. Our First Lady has jumped on board to offer her help.

If you are a physical educator looking to make changes in your program, take advantage of everything available to you and make the first step toward a quality PE program. Network with your colleagues. Investigate the latest research as to the connection of fitness and academics. Get involved with PE4life through their newsletter, attend an event or sign up for Program Support Services to learn the latest trends in PE.

And most of all, heed the advice of Mother McCord. Don’t let the “I Can’t” creep into your thinking. Take the first step towards quality physical education in your school district. Just give it a TRY.

"Can't never did anything until TRY showed him how." -- Mother McCord

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Heads Up Iowa!

A funding opportunity is coming your way!! And no better time than now with the budget cutbacks schools are facing.

Through our partnership with the Iowa Business Council (IBC), we are offering scholarships to Iowa schools for professional development, program development and equipment. These scholarships will be provided to schools who are ready and willing to make a commitment to the health of Iowa youth by integrating PE4life’s Core Principles. These scholarships may value up to $45,000 for your program (this includes up to $10,000 for equipment!).

The IBC is made up of executives from 20 of the state’s largest business,  university and banking association leaders. They are committed to making Iowa the healthiest state in the country, and by providing funding to schools to implement PE4life’s proven methods of enhancing physical education, it sounds like they are well on their way!  Read Press Release from the IBC.

Learn about the Adopt-A-School Challenge and how to apply for a scholarship by attending the PE4life / IBC Adopt-A-School Challenge Summit on Monday, April 12th at Drake University in Des Moines.

This FREE educational opportunity is open to all Iowa schools and was made possible through funding from the US Department of Education.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Take a brain break!

Thanks to Rachelle Gardner, PE4life Program Support Coordinator, for submitting this blog post.

More and more educators are turning to break breaks. It's important that students have an opportunity throughout a class period to move around to take "brain breaks" to refocus their attention so they can learn new material. Brain research suggests that physical activity prior to class (in PE for example) and during class, increases students' ability to process and retain new material.

Here is a great blog that not only details step-by-step instructions for a ton of brain breaks, but also includes videos of students performing them in class to make brain breaks even easier to learn!

So, now the only question is, which one will be your / your students' favorite?