Thursday, January 19, 2012

School Spotlight: Wellsboro Area School District

We love giving shout-outs to schools who are making positive changes in their schools and Wellsboro Area School District in Wellsboro, PA is doing just that. After attending a PE4life Implementation Workshop in November 2011 at the Titusville, PA training site, the Wellsboro PE Department returned home and immediately began implementing new ideas.

Read the Q&A below with Project Director, Brian Kennedy, to see how Wellsboro's faculty and administration has made big changes, like implementing daily PE at the high school level.

Q. What sort of changes has the Wellsboro PE Department implemented since returning from Titusville?
A. - We will be scheduling daily PE for grades 9-12 starting the 2012-2013 school year. Health and Driver's Education will be integrated into the daily PE schedule, allowing for a classroom (health) and lab (PE) experience. We would like to do the same if possible in the middle school for grades 7 & 8 (daily PE with health integrated into the schedule) as well as increase 5th and 6th grade PE by 42 minutes per week, but it has not been established yet like has been done for the high school.

- We've started utilizing music in PE class as a motivator and prompt for physical activity.

- We've started using rotating warm-up stations at the beginning of class. We were really impressed to see how elementary students at Titusville were self-starting at the beginning of PE class, knowing exactly what warm-up station to go to and what activity to do. It was a very efficient use of time, maximizing the opportunity for activity.

- We are doing little things to maximize the opportunity for activity, like taking attendance while students rotate through the warm-up stations, which does not take away from activity time.

- We are forming/formalizing a coordinated K-12 Health/PE curriculum. This is something we began prior to our Titusville trip, but we returned with renewed focus to work on it.

- We are considering the use of assessment technology with younger students. After seeing elementary students in Titusville use heart rate monitors, we know it's not only possible for elementary and middle school students to use them, but that they can do so in a competent manner.

-We are utilizing newly purchased equipment that we observed in use at Titusville, such as kettlebells, rubber medicine balls, and the Rail Yard fitness course.

Q. What inspired these changes?
A. The main thing that encouraged change was simply the opportunity to step outside regular, daily duties to see different approaches that are successful and to spend time together as a department for the purpose of sharing ideas and planning. The Carol M. White PEP grant afforded us this opportunity and the PE faculty have really used it to their advantage toward the end goal of engaging all students, regardless of interest and ability, in activity that can benefit them now and in adulthood.

Q. What has been your biggest obstacle in implementing change?
A. Schedules and priorities. With so many important facets of a well-rounded education and with the many pressures placed upon administrators and faculty to facilitate learning and meet standards, it's often difficult to find the time in a daily schedule to increase PE time. There's very little objection to increasing PE time in and of itself, but those decisions are not insulated from the rest of the school schedule and curricula. Barriers arise when needed time or resources for PE are pulled from other important academic areas, making it imperative to make recommendations and decisions with an evaluative eye to see how other areas may be affected.

Q. How did you overcome/are you overcoming these challenges?
A. "Overcoming" is a more accurate description because we are still in that process of planning, evaluating, and implementing. We have been able to arrange for daily PE at the high school level (grades 9-12) starting the 2012-2013 school year, and we hope it sets the stage for other positive changes at all grade levels, anything from small changes like modifying games in an effort to increase activity to changes requiring more effort like improving the curriculum. If we can clearly demonstrate that quality, fitness-focused PE can set the stage for learning, putting students in a "ready to learn" position (i.e. improving the receptivity to learning and efficiency of class time), perhaps daily PE for all grade levels is not such a far reach. Of course this will require the perseverance of some to champion the cause of PE and the benefits it can have for student learning and well-being. Thankfully, we have those PE "champions" in each one of our PE faculty members.

Q. How did you get your administrators on board?
A. Despite the many pressures on our administrators, we have had very good support from the start without the resistance that some schools may have experienced; our administrators have been willing to step up and support the efforts to improve PE as much as they can. One factor that certainly doesn't hurt our cause is the fact that some of our administrators are former PE teachers, so they readily see the value in a quality PE program.

Q. What tips/advice would you give someone who would like to make similar changes to their program
A. Making connections to other schools for the purpose of gaining wisdom from their "lessons learned" is probably one of the most useful ways to begin embarking on a path toward change.

To learn more about Wellsboro Area School District and their PE program, check out this article posted in the Wellsboro Gazette (teachers: this is a great example of taking advantage of your local media to promote your program!).

PEP Grant + Exergaming

This is a sponsored post from Motion Fitness.

With the release of the 2011 Carol White PEP Grants we always get asked the same question, how do you get the most out of your PEP Grant no matter what stage you’re in (year 1, year 2, year 3) and make the biggest impact on your community and students grades? Kenston Local Schools in Chagrin Falls, OH was posed with the same question. How would they use the grant of federal funds earmarked for physical education programming for the district’s 3,200 K-12 students? Enter Motion Fitness and Exergaming.

What is Exergaming? Exergaming is a great tool to motivate people to participate and engage through games.

“I couldn't be happier with our "exergaming" equipment purchased from Motion Fitness! Children of all ages within the Kenston Local School District enjoy this fun, challenging way of exercising, which many have never experienced in a school setting. It is especially exciting to see our students after they have used our iDANCE System, with over 32 children being able to play at once it is Multiplayer exergaming fun! Motion Fitness has allowed us to engage students in the Physical Education setting that may have been previously "turned off" to physical activity,” Jeff Gowdy, PEP Grant Facilitator.

As the New Year on PEP grants turns we invite all previous, current and future PEP Grant winners the opportunity to learn more about exergaming, and how it can be implemented at your facility with great success through Motion Fitness.

To learn more about Motion Fitness, visit

Healthy Habits, Healthier Lives

This is a sponsored post from Polar.

Physical educators in School District 196 in Minnesota are teaching fitness for a lifetime, and PE technology is helping make it possible.

We all know that the habits kids develop while they’re young can stay with them past their school days and into adulthood. Obviously, among the most valuable habits students need to adopt is that of making the commitment to physical fitness. “Our program not only has an impact on each student’s current fitness, but it also gives them the tools to continue the healthy habits that will last a lifetime,” states Deb Peterson, Department Leader for Physical Education/Health and Safety Education for School District 196 in Apple Valley, Minnesota.

Students in the district who are enrolled in grades 9-12 at Eastview High school are utilizing Polar activity monitoring technology as well as Polar heart rate monitors and TriFIT fitness assessment systems. Feedback gained from the technology has provided noticeable advantages for physical educators in communicating the importance of fitness and healthy lifestyles to students.

“As educators we believe it is vitally important to teach our students proper exercise intensity and the value of using progressive workouts to reach a healthy level of cardio fitness. What makes our program so exceptional is that through technology we have the data that demonstrates we are having an impact on the fitness of our students,” continues Deb. “We use pre and post assessments each quarter to evaluate the rigor of our class activities and make sure we are creating opportunities for our students to exercise at the necessary level of intensity. These assessments also allow each student to see how much they have improved their own fitness.”

The Physical Education Department at Eastview High School has also partnered with the Exercise Physiology Department at the University of Minnesota – using PE technology to test students as part of an initiative to measure cardiovascular fitness levels and cardio improvement. Results from the tests will then be utilized to create norms as a way of further enhancing the high school’s PE curriculum…and the health of students.

For more information about Polar, visit