I want first start off by saying THANK YOU to a bunch of people. Without many of them, I would not have had the courage to advocate or have the courage to change my practice, my lessons, my thinking on how teach/work with my students.
Like many Physical Education teachers, we teach on an island. I am the only PE teacher for the entire school. My island is 65 feet long by 50 feet wide. In 2 days, I see all 300+ students in the building. Each class length is 35 minutes, with 1 minute between classes. That is if classroom teachers pick their students up on time and are not late, and teachers bring their students down on time and not show up early. I feel like my gym is a revolving door, out the doors on one side of the gym and in the doors on the other side. There is not much communication between the other 3 schools in my district amongst the PE teachers and I have tried over the years to change that. I learned only willing people who want to change things, will change them.
When I started teaching 13 years ago, I was lucky to get the position I still hold to this day. I student taught at the school and the previous Physical Education teacher was pregnant and leaving for maternity leave in May. I finished student teaching and then was offered her leave as a substitute. Not knowing where I would be teaching that following school year and looking for a job, I said yes and have not regretted it since. When she left, she gave me all her lessons and units and I finished off the year for her. While I was taking her leave, the principal at the time said that she decided that she was going to take the following year off to be at home with her kids and asked if I wanted to take her extended leave for the next year. Of course I said I would, so I would have a paycheck and not have to go on all those interviews. Over the next school year, the previous Physical Education teacher then decided she was done teaching and was staying at home, so my district offered me the position at my current school. With all of that said, I never had a mentor under the Physical Education umbrella. Yes, I had a mentor as a new teacher, but it was a 6th grade math teacher that was retiring at the end of my first year. She was very helpful with things around the school, but not in the Physical Education realm.
So as I was going through the year, I would look at the previous Physical Education teacher’s notes and lessons and based my year off that. I would adjust as I saw fit and remembered what Physical Education was when I was younger. So I set up lessons and units under the different sports. Each unit would take a day or two on the different skills (dribbling, passing, shooting) and then use those skills in different lead-up activities. I almost ran those skills like drills that a coach would do. Year after year I would add different activities into the lessons, but still ran them about the same way. Once year 8 or 9 came along, I started questioning my teaching style (sport-based) and began looking for other ideas. At the same time, my family was getting bigger and I had less time to devote to my work. I would then revert back to my old ways because it was comfortable, no one complained about how I was doing, and my evaluations were fine. Everyone was happy except myself. I couldn’t stop thinking that there was more that I had to do for my students. There is more that I can help them with. There was more that I was missing in the Phys. Ed. world, but was not sure where to turn.
I want to give a big shout-out to Mike Graham for the one to inspire me to join Twitter. Without him, I would not have joined back in November of 2017 and would not be on the journey that I am on now. I remember sitting in his presentation on a Thursday morning at IAHPERD Convention and was thinking that I needed more resources than what I was using. I sat and wondered where he got all his ideas. Ideas and lessons that I only dreamed about. I thought about who he bounces his ideas off of to help create and enhance his different activities.
After his presentation, he had a twitter account and could contact him about anything we had seen. So I jotted down his info and got his business card. I was then sitting in another presentation and remembered his card, so I took it out, downloaded Twitter and began searching. My eyes opened wide to the amount of info that he was willing to share with others! (PICTURE OF WIDE EYES). I had never seen so many activities in one place, articles on different topics, and even class management. I thought that I had an OK program, but turns out, he was doing things that I have not seen or heard of. All I kept thinking about was if there was more out there, and there was!
I came across Mike Ginicola’s page after seeing some different types of activities and started digging deeper. I notice that he was using the plickers program and I thought this was a great way to assess students fast, quick, and easy. Such a simple concept and there was no paper, pencil for students to bring or me to hand out. He made videos on how to make them, how to use them and also different ways to use them in classroom environment. This opened a huge window of opportunity in the gym that my administrators and other classroom teachers have asked me what they were and how to use them. I am always happy to share what I know about plickers/plagnets to them and give Mike all credit for bringing these into my Phys. Ed. world!
With the plicker/plagnets discovery, I came across Tanner Roos. He designed some to work well with my students and he is another great resource to help build them and use them. Since created a set for my classroom, there have been many ways for me to use them. From the simplest way to take attendance to asking them questions to self-assessing their own efforts in class to keep track of what level or progression they are at. He was very informative and willing to help me create questions
I started following Jason because he was willing to share lessons that I would then adapt into my own classroom. One thing that stands out that I saw from Jason was the High Five Fridays! He would make these crazy signs to hang up around school to help encourage students and promote a safe and happy environment. Then the other day, I see him post videos about Friday Dance Parties! He makes it fun and inviting for the students that I want to drive hours to his school and join in the festivities.
As he is the leader in the #iTweetPE organization that helps other Physical Education Programs, I think is a great cause. Any cause that a Phys Ed programs help other Phys Ed programs are needed. We might not get the funding that other classrooms may get, it is important Phys Ed programs help each other out!
Don’t forget that Jason and Tanner have a weekly show on youtube called Let’s Talk Phys Ed were they interview other PE teachers from around the WORLD about anything and have different contests. There have been many different guests on the show, but always entertaining to get to see another side of things other PE teachers do in their classroom and what they think about different topics.
Kevin Tiller & Ross Chakrian
These two I give a big THANK YOU for giving me the courage to ask for a projector for class. These two have a huge database of gifs and videos that I quickly too advantage of once I received a projector from my tech. department. I saw a huge advantage as a teacher use I received the projector so now the task, skill, or challenge could be on repeat on the screen and I can walk around the gym helping those who need the help and not just stand in front and observe the students.
I then got to thinking, “I can do that! I can create gifs and videos!” so I started playing around with imgplay and clips apps and started creating videos and gifs to use in class. I use my little iphone se and began creating the gifs and putting them into google slides. The students have been more engaged since making the different videos and gifs that it has been a better atmosphere. A better atmosphere to where students want to come to school and see what they will be doing in class. There has been more participation from students who would normally “forget they had PE that day” and students who do not want to leave because they have not finished the different challenges.
Cliff Roop & Bart Jones
At the beginning of the school year, Cliff started his own blog about more reflection on his teaching practices and we came into conversation about it. He wanted to keep himself accountable for the changes he was implementing in his Physical Education classroom this year. He talked about unpacking the standards, which lead to mapping out his school year planning. It got me thinking and after he suggested reading Joey Feith’s blog, got me thinking that was a good idea to start planning for the year. I would plan ahead in my previous years, but basically ran the same type of units from the previous year. So I started planning the year and had many discussions with Cliff and Bart about what they were thinking and what I was thinking. I got stuck a few times and I knew I could go to either one for help and they would shine some light on the subject. After many revisions and discussions, I finally put together a yearly map of the skills I wanted to use and then looking at the standards and how to incorporate them to better suit my students.
As many know, Pete is retired from teaching, but continues to have a big impact on the Phys. Ed. world. Not a day goes by where someone on Twitter posts about his Word Wall, or his I CAN posters, or different skill station signs. He has decorated gymnasiums around the country without even stepping into them. He has helped countless number of students who walk into a gym and see his posters and they know what they will be working on and how to do it. Students have learned a bigger physical vocabulary because of the words that have been placed around gymnasiums.
Becky has been the go to person when I have any questions about technology and incorporating it more. Since getting a projector for class, I have used it almost everyday. I began incorporating google slides with different instructions, pictures, gifs, plicker questions, videos, and music that I had to learn a lot for the technology for class really quickly. It has been a lot of playing around, changing things up, seeing how others use it and adapt it to benefit my students. She has passed me to anyone else, but if I need help and she is not sure, she looks it up and helps me figure things out. She has helped create the site cbhpe.org to collect different ideas for Physical Education and Health that could be used and I have taken advantage of and also help create some to share.
Wife and Kids
Since starting all this journey with my teaching, there has been one who thought I was crazy at first, but she has always been supportive. Kristy, my wife, has listened to my crazy ideas and always interested in new “projects” that I suddenly create from inspiration of others. She does not get too mad when I stop what I am doing and write an idea down. She does not get angry when I wake up at 3:00am (one reason is because the baby crying) but I get an idea and I go downstairs to work on it. Sometimes when my phone goes off with a notification multiple times, she makes the comment “Another Twitter Chat tonight?” She is a teacher also, so she understands the process of planning for the year, planning daily lessons, grading assessments or writings, and reflecting on the day. All of this in a teacher’s daily life.
My kids are supportive towards me when I want to show them a new google slide that they can follow along with. They enjoy playing Rock, Paper, Scissors and then do an exercise. The enjoy dancing along with the “Man in the Superhero Shirts”. When it came time to make the plickers/plagnets, we found how durable they were when then dropped them on the kitchen floor many times.
Without all of the different roles my twitter acquaintances or family have played, I would not have been able to change my mindset on WHAT I was going to teach this year, HOW I was going to teach this year, and WHY I was going to teach this year. The many teachers who have shared their ideas, opinions, and even lessons for FREE, I thank you. You all made a huge impact on me and what I teach, but also a huge impact for my students! They will have a better understand about physical literacy and hope I can instill in them the idea of a healthy life-long lifestyle. A lifestyle that incorporates movement and activities in many ways that they will enjoy for years to come. I hope that they will one day look back and think that I had some impact on their lives as they move on into the later years of their lives. I look back almost a year now and think about how all of you have impacted my teaching and my life. I look at what you have done to help not only me, but other teachers and your students and hope one day I would have the impact on another teacher like you all have on me! THANK YOU TO ALL!