With Nowhere to Go but up, Louisiana PE Advocates Tip the Scales in Their Favor

ESSA-CaseStudy Louisiana PE
Issue:
“Louisiana is the highest-ranked state for both childhood and adult obesity,” notes Bonnie Richardson, physical education teacher at the Baton Rouge Foreign Language Academic Immersion Magnet (FLAIM) elementary school for the past three-and-a-half decades. While that grim statistic might seem to be reason enough to ensure funding for robust health and physical education (HPE) programs in Louisiana schools, she knew from experience that it wasn’t that simple. The only way to keep the state’s students active was to be an activist herself.

Richardson, a SHAPE America member, was president of the Louisiana Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (LAHPERD) when the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) passed in late 2015. By finally recognizing that health and physical education were critical components of a student’s well-rounded education, the legislation was considered a major victory, but the battle was far from over. Health and physical education could be included among the 18 subjects in the “well-rounded” realm, but funding allocations would be decided at the state level — and getting a proper share would require aggressive and strategic action.

The Big Idea:

Shortly after the passage of ESSA, Richardson and LAPHERD Advocacy Chair JiJi Jonas went to SHAPE America’s SPEAK Out! Day in Washington, D.C., which included a two-day training session on ESSA and advocacy, as well as an opportunity to speak to the Louisiana congressional delegation. The experience was beyond inspirational. “We got on fire,” she says.

Back in their home state, they attended a town hall meeting arranged by the Louisiana Department of Education (DOE) designed to gain input on educational funding options.

“We didn’t get recognized to speak until the very end, when DOE Superintendent John White asked, ‘What can I do for you?’” Richardson recalls. “I said, ‘Actually, it’s what we can do for you. We can help you come up with a cost-effective plan that would include physical education.’”

Intrigued, the superintendent asked LAHPERD to form a committee and devise a plan — which they would present to the DOE — for including physical education in the state’s ESSA. Richardson reached out to her Kentucky counterpart and friend Jamie Sparks, then president of the Kentucky Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (KAHPERD), which already had undertaken a massive lobbying effort to secure state funding for health and PE.

Based on Sparks’ experiences and recommendations, Richardson pulled together a team that included the state physical education coordinator, three LAHPERD past presidents, educators from Louisiana State University (LSU), and representatives from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, an advocacy organization working to support childhood health through education, engagement and partnerships.

“They can help you bring all the data together and work with you to improve your health and PE programs,” she says. “Getting their support was a win-win — and it helped to get the state DOE excited.”

Implementation:

With her foot in the door, Richardson was going to take full advantage of every opportunity to make her case for health and physical education. In the spring of 2017, she was asked to testify before the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in support of her group’s efforts with ESSA. “The Board was evenly split on whether to accept the Louisiana ESSA framework, which incorporated our suggestions, and send it on to Washington — or keep it on the back burner,” Richardson says. As one of the last to speak, she knew the pressure was on.

She had brought along a poster by Charles Hillman, professor of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which included graphics showing the connection between childhood aerobic fitness and learning and memory. “A picture is worth a thousand words,” she says.

Richardson spoke passionately about the impressive results she had witnessed in her own elementary PE program (recognized in a 2017 SHAPE America case study), and shared that students who did specific cross-body exercises at the start of the school day had greater focus and were ready for learning. At the end of Richardson’s five-minute presentation, the audience broke out in applause.

Takeaway:

“As the president of LAHPERD, I had to be vocal and visible and take on a leadership role,” Richardson says, acknowledging that speaking in front of decision makers is out of her “comfort zone.” She is determined to keep lobbying as long as necessary, knowing that Congress has yet to decide next year’s ESSA allocations, and that the future of health and physical education is far from secure. “I’m trying to get more people to take on an advocacy role, because I’m not going to be around forever doing this,” she says. “We need to finish doing what we need to do.”

Results:

Louisiana was one of the first states to have a physical education component included in its ESSA Framework, which was sent to Washington, D.C., in April 2017. So far, only eight states have had similar success.

Richardson continues to crusade to keep health and PE in the forefront of state decision makers’ minds. “I’ve since been asked to be one of the 10 members of the Interest and Opportunities group, which meets quarterly with the Louisiana DOE to develop a plan to include all of the different areas and subjects in ESSA,” she says. “It is innovative in that they have asked teachers, supervisors and others to be a part of this planning, so that Louisiana presents the best to our students.”

Richardson and Jonas recently returned from SHAPE America’s 2018 SPEAK Out! Day, where Richardson participated in a panel discussion about Louisiana’s successful advocacy efforts. Both women met with congressional aides to impress upon them how important it is to gain full ESSA funding in the future. “They saw how passionate we were about health and PE and the need for physical literacy among our students and promised that they would take our case to the senators and representatives,” she says. “We will keep doing whatever we need to do to help our state reverse obesity.”

icon-thumbs-up-1SHAPE America’s National Standards for Physical Education

The physically literate individual:

  • Demonstrates competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns.
  • Applies knowledge of concepts, principles, strategies and tactics related to movement and performance.
  • Demonstrates the knowledge and skills to achieve and maintain a health enhancing level of physical activity and fitness.
  • Exhibits responsible personal and social behavior that respects self and others.
  • Recognizes the value of physical activity for health, enjoyment, challenge, self-expression and/or social interaction.
  • Above: Former LAHPERD President Bonnie Richardson spoke to the Louisiana Department of Education and testified in front of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in support of ESSA funding.

    Actually, it’s what we
    can do for you. We can help you come up with a cost-effective plan that would include physical education.

    Bonnie Richardson, PE Teacher and LAHPERD President

    Download A PDF

    LAHPERD-ESSA-case-study

     

    Program Team

    Bonnie Richardson,
    PE Teacher and LAHPERD President

    JiJi Jonas,
    LAHPERD Advocacy Chair and Active Schools Coordinator

    Erica Gilliam,
    Manager of the Healthy Schools and Community Programs for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation

    Lynn Williamson,
    LAHPERD Executive Director

    Kathy Hill,
    Former LAHPERD Executive Director and current LAHPERD Community Liaison and Tour de Fitness Chair

     

    Minnesota Health and PE Advocates Make Valuable Strides Through Statewide Outreach

    ESSA-CaseStudy
    Issue:
    How do you turn state education officials into allies and advocates for your cause? “Seize every opportunity to reach out to decision makers and present your case,” says Mike Doyle, SHAPE America member and former president of the Minnesota Society of Health and Physical Educators (MNSHAPE). Sometimes, help can come from unexpected places.

    After attending SHAPE America’s annual advocacy event — SPEAK Out! Day — in March 2015, Doyle and other MNSHAPE leaders on his team were keenly aware of the challenge they faced. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) had just been passed by Congress, but the burden fell upon advocacy groups such as Doyle’s to ensure that school health and physical education would receive state funding and recognition in the years ahead. With many other subjects competing for attention and money for the Title IV, Part A state block grants within ESSA, they knew they needed to mount a significant grassroots effort.

    The Big Idea:

    Fortuitously, Minnesota Commissioner of Education Brenda Cassellius is a former colleague of MNSHAPE Board Member Samantha Nelson’s mother. Although contact information for state and federal officials is publicly available, it never hurts to have a personal connection that may open doors — as was the case here. Doyle asked Nelson to set up a meeting with the education commissioner as soon as possible, and a June meeting was quickly arranged between Cassellius and the MNSHAPE team.

    That meeting turned out to be the first time Cassellius had ever sat down with health and PE teachers to discuss the creation of Minnesota’s state ESSA plan. The teachers’ obvious passion for their professions — and the evidence presented about the benefits of movement throughout the school day — made a deep and lasting impression on Cassellius.

    “We realized we had to keep the momentum going,” says Doyle, a high school physical education/developmental adapted physical education (DAPE) teacher whose unified PE class was recently featured as a SHAPE America case study. Before the MNSHAPE team left the meeting with Cassellius, they all posed for a photo, which Doyle promptly posted on Twitter. The commissioner retweeted the message almost immediately. Using #LetsMove, she wrote, “15 minutes each hour throughout the curriculum and PE every day! Healthy kids = healthy minds.”

    Implementation:

    Having garnered a new, important ally, the MNSHAPE team was encouraged and energized to continue their mission. Their next task, a month later, was to have a visible and vocal presence at Minnesota’s first public meeting to discuss ESSA funding allocations. State officials leading these meetings included a cross-disciplinary group of stakeholders and legislators, ready to hear the attendees — representing a variety of school subjects — present their case. The delegation of MNSHAPE members occupied the front row, wearing identical, bright-blue shirts emblazoned with the organization’s logo.

    “We knew we needed to not just have PE teachers present, but also representatives from stakeholder organizations,” says Doyle. They rallied a coalition of heavy hitters, including the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, state legislators, Minnesota students, principals and superintendents, college professors, future teachers, and others.

    According to Doyle, one of the most powerful speakers at the ESSA meeting was Kristin Busch, one of his students at Wayzata High School. “Her’s was the only student voice heard all day, and she received a round of applause,” says Doyle. “Everyone was impressed that a student would take time to come out in July and offer input on the importance of having PE included in the curriculum.”

    The campaign picked up steam during the Minnesota Department of Education’s ESSA Twitter chat in August 2016. Doyle and several members of his advocacy group participated, as well as SHAPE America Director of Public Policy & Advocacy Carly Wright. “No other subject area was as well-represented as ours,” says Doyle. Sure enough, the Minnesota DOE’s post-chat Tweet singled out PE as a key part of a well-rounded education.

    In November 2016, a webinar held with Commissioner Cassellius featured a tweet from Minnesota State Senator Susan Kent, which said she was “proud of the work in garnering broad-based support for #physed in MN schools.” The messages clearly were being heard, loud and clear.

    Over an 18-month period, MNSHAPE members crisscrossed the state to attend all six DOE regional ESSA meetings, an ESSA state planning meeting, and an ESSA town hall meeting. Commissioner Cassellius and her team had led every meeting across the state, noting the presence and aggressive advocacy of the MNSHAPE delegation. The blue-shirted representatives displayed a contagious enthusiasm, leading attendees in activity and mindful movement segments to begin or conclude each meeting. The compelling evidence they presented about the neuroscience of fitness and the need for effective health and PE programs in the curriculum had a resounding impact.

    In April 2017, several MNSHAPE board members met with congressional representatives on Capitol Hill, asking for their support in fully funding the Title IV, Part A grant under ESSA. “Physical education is now considered part of a well-rounded education, yet many schools continue to reduce and cut this subject area,” Board Member Kirstin Guentzel told them. “PE is not your father’s PE. Students are now developing physical literacy skills through movement activities to improve their health and well-being.”

    Takeaway:

    What the MNSHAPE team has learned is that persistence, effort and coalition-building can yield unforeseen dividends. “I’ve heard my counterparts in other states say they have no money for an advocacy campaign,” notes Doyle. “The fact is, this cost us nothing, except for time and passion. Sure, I paid for gas a couple of times, but who cares? I just want to keep everyone aware of our profession.”

    He remembers a recent conference where speaker Keith Bakken, CEO of Wisconsin Health and Physical Education (WHPE), challenged the audience of teachers to see how fast they could come up with the names and email addresses of their local school board members. “Someone was able to do it in 10 or 15 seconds,” Doyle says. Bakken’s next question was, “Then why don’t you contact them and invite them to come into your classroom and watch you teach?” Says Doyle, “It was a great way to make the point that it’s easier than you think to reach out to people who can help you.”

    At the November 2016 MNSHAPE state conference, Commissioner Cassellius donned one of the advocates’ blue shirts and took the microphone to emphasize the importance of actively engaging in advocacy to further the profession. One year later, in gratitude for Cassellius’ support, Doyle presented her with the Presidential Award at the 2017 MNSHAPE conference awards banquet — an honor she shared with SHAPE America’s Carly Wright.

    Results:

    In the Title IV, Part A section of Minnesota’s state ESSA plan, which was submitted to the U.S. Department of Education in September 2017, health and physical education are among only four subject areas (out of a possible 18) that were singled out as key to “a well-rounded education.”

    The MNSHAPE advocacy group certainly isn’t resting on its laurels. Because there is a chance that Minnesota may have a new education commissioner after the gubernatorial election in November 2018, Doyle and his team are poised to make their case once again. They also have identified an ambitious new goal to achieve by 2021: Get the state to acknowledge “Access to Health and PE” as one of the accountability indicators of school quality.

    icon-thumbs-up-1SHAPE America’s National Standards for Physical Education

    The physically literate individual:

  • Demonstrates competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns.
  • Applies knowledge of concepts, principles, strategies and tactics related to movement and performance.
  • Demonstrates the knowledge and skills to achieve and maintain a health enhancing level of physical activity and fitness.
  • Exhibits responsible personal and social behavior that respects self and others.
  • Recognizes the value of physical activity for health, enjoyment, challenge, self-expression and/or social interaction.
  • Above: Minnesota Commissioner of Education Brenda Cassellius, center, met with the MNSHAPE advocacy team to discuss the state’s ESSA plan.

    Everyone was impressed that a student would take time to come out in July and offer input on the importance of having PE included in the curriculum.

    Mike Doyle, Former MNSHAPE President

    Download A PDF

    MN-ESSA-case-study

     

    Program Team

    Mike Doyle,
    Former MNSHAPE President

    Samantha Nelson,
    MNSHAPE Board Member

    Megan McCollom,
    MNSHAPE President

    Kirsten Guentzel,
    MNSHAPE Board Member

    Sue Tarr,
    Former MNSHAPE Past President

     

    ‘Many Voices Send a Loud Message’ to Ensure Physical Education Funding for GA Students

    ESSA-CaseStudy
    Issue:
    Although the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) sanctioned health and physical education as part of a well-rounded education, the burden of prioritizing how funds are spent and what schools are held accountable for now rests in the hands of states and school districts.

    ESSA’s Title IV, Part A (which funds well-rounded education, safe and healthy students, and technology) has not received anywhere close to the $1.65B at which it was authorized under ESSA, through the appropriations process. For FY 2017, Title IV, Part A received a mere $400M for all (italics to emphasize all) states and school districts to support these vital whole child programs. States were given discretion on how to best distribute these funds.

    This means that health and PE teachers need to be strong advocates for their programs if they want to receive funding under ESSA.

    “States can divvy up ESSA funding however they choose,” notes Brian Devore, past-president of the Georgia Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (GAHPERD). With 181 school districts crafting funding priorities, the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) called for a series of feedback sessions to consider how the money would be allocated. Devore realized it would take a coordinated effort to make health education and physical education an integral part of ESSA planning in the state.

     

    Working with the SHAPE America Public Policy & Advocacy office, GAHPERD keeps pressure on state decision-makers to drive home the need for funding.

    The Big Idea:

    Inspired by recent efforts in Kentucky and Minnesota to obtain maximum state funding and support for health and PE, Devore reached out to his counterparts in those states to garner potential ideas he could incorporate. He also contacted Carly Wright, Director of Public Policy & Advocacy at SHAPE America, for guidance on how to marshal GAHPERD’s 700 members to give a human face to the campaign and enlighten state education leaders on the importance of health and physical education.

    “We needed multiple voices to send a loud message and to seize every opportunity we had to speak out about the importance of robust health and PE programs in every school’s curriculum,” says Devore. He knew it was especially critical that GAHPERD members lend their vocal presence at every feedback session and share their personal stories online to the GaDOE.

    Last year’s ESSA campaign mounted by the Kentucky Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (KAHPERD) had underscored the effectiveness of social media in reaching decision-makers. Devore decided to use the feedback sessions to create a social-media “blitz” to widely disperse the messages.

    Implementation:

    GAHPERD appealed to members to attend at least one feedback session, scheduled throughout Georgia. They arrived en masse — armed with talking points and eager for the chance to tell their personal stories. “No session had fewer than six speakers,” says Devore, who kept in close contact with SHAPE America. “During one of the feedback sessions, I was texting Carly Wright in real time for assistance in answering some of the technical questions being asked,” he says. “I wanted to make sure we were saying the right things.”

    He sent GAHPERD’s 700 members an advocacy toolkit from SHAPE America and tips on how to harness social media, and led them by example — disseminating regular pro-PE messages on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. “We found photos, infographics and quotes about the benefits of exercise on the mind and body — and the importance of health and physical education,” Devore says.

    Aware of GaDOE’s strong presence on Twitter, he targeted its stakeholders directly using the DOE hashtag in tweets. Almost immediately, the GaDOE started following GAHPERD and retweeting its messages.

    GAHPERD maintained a “full-court press” on state decision-makers, using every possible opportunity to drive home the need for funding. “The GaDOE has kept its website link open so it can continue to collect feedback on ESSA,” says Devore. “We created a generic template with an open-ended space for members’ personal stories, and included it on our website and in our email blasts and newsletters,” he says. “We urged members to provide anecdotes from their own school or teaching careers as real-world examples of what was happening in the trenches.” GAHPERD also expressed its disappointment that only one member of any of the GaDOE committees had any connection to health and PE.

    Takeaway:

    “It takes a lot of time to stay on top of things and a lot of people pulling together from all parts of the membership to make a difference,” Devore says. “We wanted to make sure the ball didn’t get dropped. Most importantly, when you know something is coming, it’s critical to get a plan together. We were lucky to be able to learn from Kentucky and Minnesota and have so many members ready and willing to pitch in.”

    Results:

    The campaign made a visible impact on the GaDOE’s awareness of the value of health and PE in the curriculum. “As feedback sessions were concluding in October 2016, the DOE’s Education of the Whole Child Committee asked GAHPERD to do a 10-minute presentation about what physical education and health education could contribute to educating the whole child,” Devore says. “It was a wonderful opportunity to give examples of how our content areas would enhance ESSA.”

    Further proof of their success came in a letter from State Education Superintendent Richard Woods to the Governor of Georgia. “Both health and PE were singled out, and they were the first two subject areas listed as eligible for Title IV, Part A grants,” Devore says.

    Moving forward, GAHPERD will continue to monitor how the state’s plan is implemented and continue to forge a strong relationship with the GaDOE. They will also keep a close eye on the exact amount of Title IV, Part A funds designated by Congress. “We will activate our Legislative Action Center to engage members to contact their representatives on any Title IV votes that occur,” says Devore. Social media will continue to play a key role in their efforts. Georgia will also send a large group of delegates to participate in SHAPE America’s 2018 SPEAK Out! Day, February 13-14, to advocate for Title IV on Capitol Hill.

    “We’ve had a big victory, but we have to maintain our efforts to ensure that health and PE get the funding they deserve,” he says. “We’ve now got a solid plan in place and won’t back down.”

    icon-thumbs-up-1SHAPE America’s National Standards for Physical Education

    The physically literate individual:

  • Demonstrates competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns.
  • Applies knowledge of concepts, principles, strategies and tactics related to movement and performance.
  • Demonstrates the knowledge and skills to achieve and maintain a health enhancing level of physical activity and fitness.
  • Exhibits responsible personal and social behavior that respects self and others.
  • Recognizes the value of physical activity for health, enjoyment, challenge, self-expression and/or social interaction.
  • Above: As it did in 2017, Georgia plans to have a large delegation at SHAPE America’s 2018 SPEAK Out! Day, February 13-14, to advocate for Title IV on Capitol Hill.

      We needed multiple voices to send a loud message and to seize every opportunity we had to speak out about the importance of robust health and PE programs in every school’s curriculum.

    Brian Devore, GAHPERD Past-President

    Download A PDF

    GA-ESSA-case-study

     

    Program Team

    Brian Devore,
    GAHPERD Past-President

    Kim Thompson,
    GAHPERD Executive Director

    Dave Martinez,
    GAHPERD Advocacy Coordinator Co-Chair

    Jana Forrester,
    GAHPERD Advocacy Coordinator Co-Chair

     

    Jumping to Make Impactful Heart-Healthy Connections Through Gamification, Technology and Personalized Learning

    Jumping to Make Impactful Heart-Healthy Connections
    Issue:
    No matter the lesson or activity, every educator knows there will always be varying levels of interest — and their job is to motivate all students to actively learn and participate. In health and physical education classes this can be especially true, and is often amplified when teaching self-conscious preteen students.

    Mike Ginicola, SHAPE America member and physical education teacher at the 425-student Nichols Elementary School in Stratford, CT, noticed this while teaching a jump rope unit to his fifth- and sixth-grade students. Fitness experts say that a jump rope is the single best all-around piece of exercise equipment you can own. Simple, portable and inexpensive, it can help you burn the calorie equivalent of an eight-minute mile. But according to Ginicola, jumping rope wasn’t all that attractive to his fifth and sixth graders. Some of the more image-conscious students didn’t want to work up a sweat, while others were downright intimidated by it, he says.

    Ginicola wanted to teach his students the simple skills of jumping rope — and have them embrace the impactful activity — so they could continue it throughout their lives. After years of having after-school Jump Rope For Heart (JRFH) events (a national education and fundraising program jointly sponsored by SHAPE America and the American Heart Association), he decided to hold his events during a week of regular physical education classes. Ginicola found that tying his unit with the fundraising program created altruistic connections and personal learning experiences for the students.

    The Big Idea:

    This past year, Ginicola got creative. “I combined two great ideas for my jump rope lessons,” he says. “I borrowed a ninja gamification system from a colleague, Ryan Armstrong. Students could earn martial arts ‘belts’ for levels of success, based on rubrics adapted for different grade levels.”

    The idea of progressing from a white to a black belt turned out to be a game-changer for students of all ages. “It really engaged the students and framed jumping rope skills in a different narrative,” says Ginicola. “Next, I combined the ninja gamification system with some SOLO (Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes) taxonomy ideas by creating small mini-Plickers magnets that students could place on each ninja belt after completing the specified skill correctly.”

    This not only kept students fully engaged the entire time, but allowed Ginicola to assess each student’s skills. “Gamification is powerful enough by itself, but when SOLO taxonomy is added, and students have to share different levels of understanding of concepts by answering questions before certain level changes, it becomes an extremely impactful learning combination,” he says.

    Implementation:

    After downloading the Plickers assessment cards, Ginicola attached them to inexpensive magnets, which he numerically assigned to each student. As students progressed through the required tasks, they placed their magnets on the corresponding “belts” displayed on a large, magnetic white board in the gym. Using an app on his iPad, Ginicola could quickly and easily collect the evidence of students’ progression.

    Belt requirements included repetitions of up to 100 types of jumps, illustrated on a chart in the gym. The first several jumps were easy, but then progressed to trickier side-to-side and forward-and-backward moves. Students were not allowed to skip any belts, and achieving black-belt mastery required 100 consecutive jumps or several repetitions of complex jumps.

    “Suddenly, the jumping rope unit was taken up a notch and it became a seriously challenging sport,” says Ginicola. It also helped get the students ready for the school’s Jump Rope For Heart event.

    “The beauty of the Jump Rope For Heart and Hoops For Heart programs is the flexibility they offer for holding events,” notes Yasmeen Taji-Farouki, program manager of joint projects for SHAPE America. “Since the programs are aligned with SHAPE America’s National Standards for K-12 Physical Education, they complement an effective PE program.”

    “Mike is a great example of how many PE teachers incorporate JRFH/HFH into their own curriculum,” she continues. “He tied in both events to his curriculum and then took things a step further by using technology to increase engagement.”

    Takeaway:

    Ginicola’s hybrid system is successful because it gives students who are intimidated by the jump rope a series of small targets for success. “When you grant students autonomy and don’t tell them what to do, it greatly increases their engagement levels,” he says. “They take ownership of their learning and begin to work toward mastery.” He adds that the targets provide a built-in assessment tool that allows him to quickly and easily track students’ progress.

    Though there are no actual belts for the students to wear, Ginicola believes that intrinsic, less tangible rewards prove to be more effective. “It becomes a more internalized process, and students feel great about what they have accomplished,” he says. “They also learn that failure is not final. Just as with playing video games, they may not be able to complete it yet, but they will if they keep practicing.”

    Results:

    The K-6 students at Nichols Elementary School now can’t wait to become jump rope ninjas during the annual JRFH/HFH fundraising effort, and Ginicola’s ninja gamification/SOLO taxonomy system earned him a SHAPE America JRFH/HFH grant in 2016. The system also helped Nichols Elementary — a Title 1 school — become a Top 10 JRFH/HFH fundraising team in Connecticut three years in a row.

    icon-thumbs-up-1SHAPE America’s National Standards for Physical Education

    The physically literate individual:

  • Demonstrates competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns.
  • Applies knowledge of concepts, principles, strategies and tactics related to movement and performance.
  • Demonstrates the knowledge and skills to achieve and maintain a health-enhancing level of physical activity and fitness.
  • Exhibits responsible personal and social behavior that respects self and others.
  • Recognizes the value of physical activity for health, enjoyment, challenge, self-expression and/or social interaction.
  • Above: SHAPE America member and Connecticut physical educator Mike Ginicola connected his Jump Rope For Heart events with his physical education unit and found it created personal learning experiences for his students.

    Gamification is powerful enough by itself, but when SOLO taxonomy is added, and students have to share different levels of understanding of concepts by answering questions before certain level changes, it becomes an extremely impactful learning combination.

    Mike Ginicola, PE Teacher

    Download A PDF

    Jumping to Make Impactful Heart-Healthy Connections-image

     

    Program Team

    Mike Ginicola, PE Teacher, Strength & Conditioning Coach, Yoga Instructor, Staff Wellness Lead

    Susan Romatzick, Jump Rope For Heart/Hoops For Heart Co-Coordinator

    Ryan Armstrong, Jump Rope Ninja Belts Creator

     

    icon-thumbs-up-150 Million Strong by 2029

    is SHAPE America’s commitment to put all children on the path to health and physical literacy through effective health and physical education programs. Across the country, HPE teachers and other supporters are making an impact by taking action in the following areas:

    • Effective Instruction
    • Healthy Behaviors & Physical Activity
    • Advocacy

    Want to know how you can make an impact? Learn more at shapeamerica.org/50million.

    Elective PE Classes Draw a Capacity Crowd in NM

    Case-study-image-Elective PE Classes Draw a Capacity Crowd in NM
    Issue:
    Childhood obesity is a problem that weighs heavily on New Mexico — literally. More than 25 percent of the state’s kindergarten students are overweight or obese — higher than the 17 percent national average, according to the New Mexico Department of Health.

    The issue is keenly felt by many of the 1,500 students at Volcano Vista High School, which serves one of the state’s largest public school districts — Albuquerque. Ranked the 48th poorest in the nation, the district was recently affected by statewide budget cuts that eliminated funding for physical education. The district also passed a waiver allowing freshmen to opt out of the one mandatory year of PE to join the marching band or ROTC. After freshman year, PE is offered strictly as an elective.

    Physical education teacher and SHAPE America member Amy Suman began teaching at Volcano Vista four years ago after a decade in elementary school because she “wanted a challenge” — and she got her wish. She took on additional roles as strength & conditioning coach, yoga instructor, and staff wellness lead, tapping her strengths as a role model and motivator. She is also a warrior, battling unyielding policies that she believes exacerbate the obesity issue.

    “I’ve been fighting for years to change the situation, but there is no PE mandate in New Mexico,” says Suman. “PE is one of the only subjects that is not in alignment with national standards.”

    Suman also has been vocal about the lack of healthy eating choices at school. “Every day, fried chicken nuggets or patties and pizza are served for lunch, and the salad bar was removed because of possible ‘contamination’ of the vegetables [putting students at risk for an E. coli outbreak],” she says. “The kids go home hungry to working parents who don’t have time to grocery shop and cook, and so they go to fast food restaurants or eat prepared macaroni and cheese or mini-tacos. Their diets consist mainly of fat, sugar, salt and very limited vegetables.” Not surprisingly, many students struggle with type 2 diabetes, low self-esteem, and other physical and mental health issues.

    The Big Idea:

    Fortunately for Volcano Vista’s students, the school’s team of highly qualified physical educators designed an elective PE program for grades 10-12 that is diverse, challenging and multicultural. Weight training, yoga, aerobics, body conditioning, and team/individual sports are complemented by lifetime sports such as skiing, rock climbing, camping, bicycling, and other activities. Freshmen get a teaser of what’s available in the spring of freshman year and can select an activity that appeals to them. With something for everybody, nearly 75 percent of the second-year students opt for elective PE.

    “They can’t wait to be one of the ‘big kids’ so they can take it,” says Suman. “Skiing and camping, for example, are activities that many families don’t expose their kids to. Sophomores also welcome the opportunity to de-stress from the academic rigor of the second year and long hours sitting in the classroom.”

    Implementation:

    Despite the lack of budget and state mandate, Volcano Vista’s PE electives have generous time slots — 40 minutes on Mondays and a full 113 minutes on Tuesdays and Fridays. Workouts start with 20-minute warm-ups, which might include scavenger hunts or buddy runs. Yoga attracts a capacity crowd of 40 students, including many athletes who want to add stretching and flexibility to their regimes.

    Volcano Vista’s elective PE program features weight training, yoga, aerobics, team and individual sports, as well as skiing, rock climbing, camping, bicycling, and other activities.

    “Some students just like to develop muscles and change their body composition without high impact activity,” Suman notes. The aerobics unit culminates in a May 5K run, which, to many students, feels like a marathon. “It’s a metaphor for life — one step at a time, and consistency is key,” she says. In the weight-training unit, third-year students can design their own programs.

    Takeaway:

    The school’s elective PE program focuses on diversity and individuality, helping many special education/gifted/intensive-support students, English-language learners, and mainstream students to identify and develop their interests and skills. “We are masters at differentiation,” says Suman. “Not all students are good at everything, but everyone can be great at something, and we’ll help them. I am confident these students will continue their fitness journey throughout life.”

    Results:

    The PE staff is proud of a curriculum that’s in alignment with SHAPE America’s National Standards for Physical Education and New Mexico’s state PE standards, as well as the Common Core State Standards. Several of the teachers have been honored for individual excellence by the Golden Apple Foundation of New Mexico, the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education, the New Mexico Activities Association, and SHAPE America Southwest District.

    PE electives may be “packed to the gills” and challenging to teach, but Suman earns the students’ cooperation, respect and appreciation by staying firm and motivating them to do their best. “They love you for it,” she says. “This is the last time before adulthood we can give them a skill and confidence they can take with them. Many students come back to visit because we have made a real difference in their lives.”

    icon-thumbs-up-1SHAPE America’s National Standards for Physical Education

    The physically literate individual:

  • Demonstrates competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns.
  • Applies knowledge of concepts, principles, strategies and tactics related to movement and performance.
  • Demonstrates the knowledge and skills to achieve and maintain a health-enhancing level of physical activity and fitness.
  • Exhibits responsible personal and social behavior that respects self and others.
  • Recognizes the value of physical activity for health, enjoyment, challenge, self-expression and/or social interaction.
  • Above: At Volcano Vista High School in Albuquerque, NM, PE is not required after freshman year. Since designing a new elective PE program for grades 10-12, nearly 75 percent of second-year students take the course.

    I’ve been fighting for years to change the situation, but there is no PE mandate in New Mexico, PE is one of the only subjects that is not in alignment with national standards.

    Amy Suman, PE Teacher

    Download A PDF

    Elective PE Classes-Case-study-image

     

    Program Team

    Amy Suman, PE Teacher, Strength & Conditioning Coach, Yoga Instructor, Staff Wellness Lead

    Ronald Francour, Weight Training Teacher, Strength & Conditioning Coach

    Debi Nord, PE Teacher, Lifetime Sports Teacher, Boys Track Coach

    Samantha Lucero, PE Teacher, Team & Individual Sports Teacher, Girls Soccer Coach

    Todd Flores, PE Teacher, Department Head, Assistant Baseball Coach

    Kevin Andersh, PE Teacher & Baseball Coach

    Chad Wallin, Team & Individual Sports Teacher, Football Coach

    Amy Lou Dowd, PE Teacher, Team & Individual Sport, Strength & Conditioning Coach

     

    icon-thumbs-up-150 Million Strong by 2029

    is SHAPE America’s commitment to put all children on the path to health and physical literacy through effective health and physical education programs. Across the country, HPE teachers and other supporters are making an impact by taking action in the following areas:

    • Effective Instruction
    • Healthy Behaviors & Physical Activity
    • Advocacy

    Want to know how you can make an impact? Learn more at shapeamerica.org/50million.

    Seniors and 7th Graders Learn That ‘Moving Through the Ages’ Nets Unforeseen Benefits

    Case-study-image-Moving Through the Ages
    Issue:

    Janet Folchetti, SHAPE America member and middle school physical education teacher at Norwalk (CT) Public Schools, was headed to work with her colleague Mac DeVito last year when they passed the Maplewood at Strawberry Hill senior living community. “I had a vision of older people trying to stay healthy,” says Folchetti. A teacher for 32 years, she began reflecting on how her efforts to inspire students to be “fit for life” often fell upon deaf ears. “They are universally in denial that they, too, will get old someday,” she says. “They might give it lip service, but it has no real meaning for them.”

    In fact, young people aren’t the only ones who deny the ageless connection between fitness and health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 80 percent of adult Americans fail to get the recommended amount of exercise each week, potentially setting themselves up for future health issues. Research by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) shows that seniors who stay active have improved balance (and a resulting lower risk of falls), as well as reduced incidence of heart disease, diabetes and other serious health problems. Exercise sustains joint health, reduces the chance of depression, and increases strength, mobility and independence. However, an overwhelming majority of seniors are not sufficiently active to achieve these benefits.

    The Big Idea:

    As Folchetti and DeVito talked, an idea began to form: Perhaps there was a way to connect their students with the local seniors around a mutually beneficial goal.

    “I wanted my students to become involved in the community, and thought this could be an opportunity to work with a population that is sometimes forgotten,” she says. “Through this intergenerational experience, they could become aware that staying and keeping fit is a lifelong journey.” Folchetti reached out to Maplewood at Strawberry Hill’s program director and the plan for “Moving Through the Ages” began to take shape.

    Implementation:

    A typical “Moving Through the Ages” session begins with students and seniors walking the gym’s perimeter.

    Once a week from October to May 2016, a group of senior citizens were transported to the Nathan Hale Middle School gym to share PE activities led by the seventh graders. “I really wanted the students to take ownership of the program,” says Folchetti. Stations were set up in the gym to maximize space and accommodate a variety of physical needs. A typical session began with the students and seniors walking together around the perimeter of the gym, followed by activities such as chair aerobics, beach-ball volleyball, ring toss, parachute, and other games, tailored to individual mobility.

    The group averaged from five to 12 seniors, ranging in age from 70 to 92, and included close to 40 students. “Soon, the seniors began asking when they could come back and began clearing their calendars for the weekly trips, scheduling their doctors’ appointments around the outings,” Folchetti says. “Some came with walkers, and one woman with an oxygen tank played catch with the students,” she says. “The oldest participant, a World War II veteran, brought in medals and pictures to share with the students.”

    For the seventh graders, Moving Through the Ages provided a valuable perspective they might never have gained.

    “I didn’t know how they would react or benefit, but I really saw them flourish and mature from the experience,” Folchetti says. “A few were a little apprehensive at first and watched from the sidelines, but they quickly warmed up to the seniors. By the second visit, the kids were eager to meet the seniors outside the school and walk them to the gym. They would set up chairs and equipment for the seniors, and make sure they drank enough water. Some students even brought in cookies to share with them.”

    Takeaway:

    The program not only exceeded Folchetti’s hopes and expectations — it also taught the teacher a couple of valuable lessons: 1) never try to predict students’ reactions, and 2) don’t hesitate to take chances and introduce new ideas in the classroom.

    Moving Through the Ages not only reinforces the students’ awareness of staying active and fit throughout their lives, it also helps them develop a sense of caring and respect for the elderly,” she notes.“It was so wonderful to witness their enthusiasm, leadership, responsibility and sense of caring toward the seniors. It really opened my eyes to how kids can grow and learn.”

    Results:

    Now in its second year at Norwalk Middle School with a fresh crop of seventh graders, Moving Through the Ages has made such an impact that several students have started volunteering at Maplewood at Strawberry Hill. “They are reading to seniors, walking their dogs, writing cards to family members, and even helping them learn how to use a computer,” says Folchetti. “What began as a simple idea to help students understand the importance of staying fit for life ended up giving life to both populations in so many ways.”

    icon-thumbs-up-1SHAPE America’s National Standards for Physical Education

    The physically literate individual:

  • Demonstrates competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns.
  • Applies knowledge of concepts, principles, strategies and tactics related to movement and performance.
  • Demonstrates the knowledge and skills to achieve and maintain a health-enhancing level of physical activity and fitness.
  • Exhibits responsible personal and social behavior that respects self and others.
  • Recognizes the value of physical activity for health, enjoyment, challenge, self-expression and/or social interaction.
  • Above: The “Moving Through the Ages” program at Nathan Hale Middle School connects students with local senior citizens to share physical education activities led by seventh-graders.

    I wanted my students to become involved in the community, and thought this could be an opportunity to work with a population that is sometimes forgotten.

    Janet Folchetti, PE Teacher

    Download A PDF

    Moving Through the Ages-Case-study-image

     

    Program Team

    Janet Folchetti, PE Teacher, Nathan Hale Middle School, Co-Creator of “Moving Through the Ages”

    Mac DeVito, PE Teacher, Nathan Hale Middle School, Co-Creator of “Moving Through the Ages”

    Dr. Albert Sackey, Principal, Nathan Hale Middle School

    Christina Outlaw, Program Director, Maplewood at Strawberry Hill

    Natakie Brousseau, Former Program Director, Maplewood at Strawberry Hill

     

    icon-thumbs-up-150 Million Strong by 2029

    is SHAPE America’s commitment to put all children on the path to health and physical literacy through effective health and physical education programs. Across the country, HPE teachers and other supporters are making an impact by taking action in the following areas:

    • Effective Instruction
    • Healthy Behaviors & Physical Activity
    • Advocacy

    Want to know how you can make an impact? Learn more at shapeamerica.org/50million.

    ‘Fit Kids Fit Future’ Teaches Key Movements for Life

    Case-study-image-Fit-Kids
    Issue:

    What percentage of children and adults can do a push-up, chin-up, lunge, air squat, or touch their toes? The number might surprise you, says Tammy Alcott, SHAPE America member and recently retired physical education (PE) teacher from Waterville Junior-Senior High School in Waterville, NY. A 30-year teaching veteran, she was shocked to see that 78 percent of her seventh-graders couldn’t do an “old-fashioned” push-up; 90 percent couldn’t do a chin-up; and many could not perform other basic movements that signify strength and conditioning.

    “It was astonishing that middle-school kids couldn’t do a basic air squat [sitting down on, or standing up from a chair without using their hands],” she says. “Their knees would collapse, or they would bend over trying to perform this simple lifelong skill.” It raised a more important question: If they can’t do it now, is it going to get better as they age? “Not unless they practice it,” she says.

    Alcott also observed that some of the students who most needed to learn fitness skills were dropping out of the PE rotation. “They couldn’t do the things we asked them to do and weren’t into team sports,” she says. Alcott turned to Josh Lewis of Waterville’s Garage Gym to help her create a solution-focused health and PE curriculum. As an adult strength and conditioning coach, Lewis routinely worked with clients who were suffering from back and knee pain, poor balance, and other issues that inhibited their enjoyment of many activities.

    The Big Idea:

    Together, Alcott and Lewis developed a curriculum built around 11 “universal movements” — biomarkers of strength and mobility leading to lifelong fitness and health — which she could teach in her middle school and high school health and PE classes.

    “Fit Kids Fit Future” represents a paradigm shift in the way PE is conceived — moving away from a “sport unit” focus toward a focus on individual lifelong fitness, says Alcott. “By putting the ‘education’ back into physical education, students learn in the gym and the health classroom what they need to do to be fit and healthy now and into adulthood,” she explains. “It provides a clear path to improving performance on each movement, transcending the standard ‘how-many-reps-can-you-do’ mindset.”

    Progressions for each universal movement are based on individual performance, allowing each student to participate and succeed at their own pace and level. “The beauty of it is that a student who is morbidly obese can use a yoga block to do push-ups next to a basketball star who can do 20,” she says. “And both can feel good about themselves.”

    Implementation:

    After Alcott introduced the Fit Kids Fit Future curriculum in her school, a typical PE class then began with well-choreographed warm-up sessions using the universal movements, which included push-ups, chin-ups, lunges, air squats, front planks, side bridges, and jumping rope. The remainder of the class involved an “adventure game” that reinforced the movements and tapped into kids’ universal love of playing games. To foster leadership, students were challenged to design, teach and coach their own games built around the movements.

    For example, a student who had been legally blind since the third grade, wanted to teach her classmates how to play “blind kickball,” which she had learned at a camp in the Adirondacks. Alcott contacted Central New York Association for the Blind and obtained the needed equipment. Wearing blindfolds, the students had to try to kick a beeping ball through a series of electronic cones. This student got a confidence-boost from her leadership role — and her classmates got to experience PE through her eyes.

    “The kids really took ownership in the gym and learned what it’s like to have a disability,” says Alcott. “There was never any bullying.” Students kept score for each other, and individual performance scores for each movement were aggregated into a total fitness testing score. The data obtained in pre- and post-testing provided valid, tangible growth measurements.

    In health class, Alcott taught students the “why” behind the movements, linking them to the specific activities of daily living they will need for a healthy adulthood. She knew she had made an impression when she overheard a student in the hall say, “There’s Mrs. Alcott! She wants us to practice our air squats to keep us out of the nursing home!”

    The minimal equipment used in the Fit Kids Fit Future program, such as jump ropes and chin-up bars, can be purchased very inexpensively — and movements like squats, toe-touches, and push-ups require no props and little floor space. “As adults, it’s not necessary to spend lots of money on equipment or belong to a gym in order to stay fit,” Alcott points out. “These are things people can even do in a hotel room when traveling.”

    Takeaway:

    The simplicity of the Fit Kids Fit Future program has proved to be a real eye-opener to both kids and adults, say its creators. Its focus on lifelong fitness motivates students to participate, learn and improve. “The real motivator for me is that the program is instilling a real-world knowledge base for students, so they can chase greatness in life,” says Lewis. “It gets kids to embrace responsibility for their own health.”

    Results:

    During the Fit Kids Fit Future program’s 2015-16 debut in the Waterville Central School District, more than 83 percent of the 289 students showed a marked improvement in their “Total Fit and Ready” overall fitness scores. Alcott and Lewis quickly realized the program could have a much wider application. With the help of a scientist, two curriculum editors, and a social worker, they made sure that all the lessons were aligned with the National Standards, and gained the support of the New York State Board of Cooperative Education Services. Fit Kids Fit Future is now being marketed to schools throughout New York and the United States. To date, it has been embraced in five other states.

    When schools purchase the Fit Kids Fit Future curriculum (New York state schools that purchase Fit Kids Fit Future curriculum are eligible for state aid), Alcott and Lewis provide four hours of in-person professional development for teachers so they learn how to administer it. “We’ve had nothing but positive feedback,” she says. “The teachers quickly see that it makes their job easier.”

    She is excited to see schools like Sherburne-Earlville Elementary in Sherburne, NY infuse the Fit Kids Fit Future program across the curriculum — and to see how much the students embrace it. “It’s amazing to see a line of children walking down the hall and stopping to do air squats while joining the teacher in reciting math facts,” she says. “Kids used to line up to try to get out of the PE rotation, and once we started the program, they stopped me in the hall to ask if they could come to PE even when it wasn’t their ‘day,’ or if they could take my health class twice. That says it all.”

    icon-thumbs-up-1SHAPE America’s National Standards for Physical Education

    The physically literate individual:

    • Demonstrates competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns.
    • Applies knowledge of concepts, principles, strategies and tactics related to movement and performance.
    • Demonstrates the knowledge and skills to achieve and maintain a health-enhancing level of physical activity and fitness.
    • Exhibits responsible personal and social behavior that respects self and others.
    • Recognizes the value of physical activity for health, enjoyment, challenge, self-expression and/or social interaction.
    Above: Fit Kids Fit Future represents a paradigm shift in PE — away from a sport unit focus toward a concentration on individual lifelong fitness, where students learn how to be fit and healthy now and into adulthood.

    It was astonishing that middle-school kids couldn’t do a basic air squat [sitting down on, or standing up from a chair without using their hands].

    Tammy Alcott, Co-Founder

    Download A PDF

    Fit-Kids-Case-study-image

     

    Program Team

    Tammy Alcott, Co-Founder

    Josh Lewis, Co-Founder

    Emily Alcott, Curriculum Editor

    Sarah Cotter, Curriculum Editor

    Michael Shue, IT/Formatting & Design

    Jessica Lewis, Editor

    Antoinette Halliday, Principal, Sherburne-Earlville Elementary

    Mary Thomas, Physical Education Teacher

    Nick Rauchs, Principal, Waterville Central School

     

    icon-thumbs-up-150 Million Strong by 2029

    is SHAPE America’s commitment to put all children on the path to health and physical literacy through effective health and physical education programs. Across the country, HPE teachers and other supporters are making an impact by taking action in the following areas:

    • Effective Instruction
    • Healthy Behaviors & Physical Activity
    • Advocacy

    Want to know how you can make an impact? Learn more at shapeamerica.org/50million.

    Let the Games Begin: Recess at Thomasville Primary School Makes Every Student a Winner

    case-study-thomasville
    Issue:

    A 2014 assessment of the 900 K-3 students at Thomasville Primary School in North Carolina diagnosed a range of problems, from obesity to playground bullying, and the prescription seemed simple: more physical activity.

    But while the school playground had lots of grassy space and equipment, the students were being confined to a small section consisting solely of four swings and a set of monkey bars. Besides having little to play on or with, students were often being withheld from recess as punishment, contrary to state guidelines.

    A wellness team headed by Healthy Eating Active Living Coordinator (HEAL) Alyson Shoaf embarked on radical recess reform, beginning with grant-supported training from Playworks on recess. In order to make a significant impact, however, the major changes required full teacher engagement and the enthusiastic support of the administration. The recess team decided to hold off until the start of the new school year to make changes. A member of SHAPE America, Shoaf turned to the professional organization for more information. At the SHAPE America National Convention, she attended a workshop on evidence-based strategies for recess by SHAPE America and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At the Southern District Conference, she discovered “Dr. Recess” and “SPARK ABC” programs. Inspired, Shoaf returned from both meetings with fresh conviction and the information she needed to enlist the principal, Dr. Angela Moore, as a strong advocate.

    The Big Idea:

    Thomasville’s Active Recess Program was designed to incorporate more activities and games into each day’s 30-minute recess. First, the playground was reorganized into five individually colored and uniquely equipped activity zones, through which each class would rotate during the course of the school week. Each zone would be monitored by teachers to ensure that all students were involved in the ongoing games — including “switch,” a more active version of musical chairs — and developing a variety of skills on each of the play structures.

    case-study-thomasville

    Implementation:

    At the start of the 2016-17 school year, the Thomasville Primary School staff met in preparation for the new recess program. Shoaf spent three weeks on the playground teaching games and ensuring that everyone understood the new playground structures, rotation and procedures; as well as how to supervise safe and fair play. By the end of Week 3, every student had learned three games they could play at recess. During Week 4, “Dr. Recess” spent two days on site, training the students and staff on several new games and the basics of intrinsic motivation. Students learned how to use “rock, paper, scissors” games to resolve conflicts, how to find friends to play games, and the proper procedures for setting up — and picking up — the equipment, which was made easier through the use of color-coding.

    As stipulated by the school’s Healthy Active Youth policy, recess could no longer be taken away or used for punishment by any teacher. In addition, a pilot group of students were given FITstep™ Pro pedometers to wear; the resulting data was analyzed to determine if each recess zone provides students with equal opportunities for being active. The school also hired a recess coach to visit every few weeks and teach the students new games.

    Takeaway:

    Having the support and advocacy of the principal and her administration team has been instrumental in the program’s success, notes Shoaf. “As our principal’s role as program advocate grew, staff that previously were reluctant to embrace the program are now actively engaged and monitoring students,” she says. Principal Moore regularly joins Shoaf and the recess coach as they drop in on recess, noting student and staff participation on a recess evaluation form.

    Results:

    Teachers have observed a big difference in student behavior and are experiencing far fewer problems in class following recess. Bullying has decreased dramatically, from daily occurrences last year to rare incidents. Notes Shoaf: “Jenniffer Campbell, the music teacher, recently came up to me and said, ‘I don’t know what you’re doing, but it’s working. I no longer have to spend the first few minutes of every class undoing what’s gone on out on the playground. There are no fights anymore.’” The feedback from students has also been extremely positive. “Kids just love it,” continues Shoaf. “They constantly come up to me wanting to learn certain games.”

    Inspired by the success in grades K-3, the Thomasville School District is now increasing the number of daily physical activity minutes in its middle schools and high schools by adding classroom games and energizers. The older students are discovering you’re never too old to go outside and play.

    icon-thumbs-up-1SHAPE America’s National Standards for Physical Education

    The physically literate individual:

  • Demonstrates competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns.
  • Applies knowledge of concepts, principles, strategies and tactics related to movement and performance.
  • Demonstrates the knowledge and skills to achieve and maintain a health enhancing level of physical activity and fitness.
  • Exhibits responsible personal and social behavior that respects self and others.
  • Recognizes the value of physical activity for health, enjoyment, challenge, self-expression and/or social interaction.
  • Strategies for RECESS
    Strategies for RECESS in Schools

      As our principal’s role as program advocate grew, staff that previously were reluctant to embrace the program are now actively engaged and monitoring students.

    Alyson Shoaf, Healthy Eating Active Living Coordinator

    Download A PDF

    thomasville_casestudy

     

    Program Team
    Thomasville Primary School,
    Thomasville, NC

    Angela Moore, Ph.D., Principal

    Alyson Shoaf, MAEd, Healthy Eating Active Living Coordinator

     

    Changing School Cultures Through Unified Physical Education

    case-study Unified-PE
    Issue:

    Through adapted physical education (APE) classes, students with special needs have the opportunity to safely and successfully participate in physical education, and learn fitness and wellness skills that can prepare them for a lifetime of healthy activities. However, for students with visual and hearing impairments, cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome, muscular dystrophy, or other disabilities, genuine inclusion remains a significant challenge.

    How can schools overcome the feelings of isolation experienced by kids with disabilities — and help foster life-enriching friendships between special education and general education students?

    The Big Idea:

    Case-study Unified-PE 2 For Mike Doyle, physical education/developmental adapted physical education (DAPE) teacher at Wayzata High School in Plymouth, MN, a large suburb of Minneapolis, his “aha moment” occurred at the SHAPE America Washington conference in 2015 during a session on Special Olympics about the concept of Unified Physical Education. Doyle had always been intrigued by the idea that students with and without disabilities could come together through ongoing physical and educational activities. After consulting with state Special Olympics leaders, he decided to introduce a Unified PE class into the Wayzata curriculum. The course would bring together students with and without disabilities for physical activities and sports, with the goal of enhancing the physical, intellectual and social growth of all. He began by reaching out to student leaders to see if they might be interested in taking the new elective.

    Two hours away, in Proctor Public Schools near Duluth, MN, another SHAPE America teacher also decided to pilot a Unified PE class. Lisa Smith, a PE/health/DAPE teacher and Special Olympics coach, pitched the concept to several incoming seniors, asking them if they wanted to be part of a pioneering class. She launched the program in the gym, where individualism and inclusion could naturally coexist, and later expanded it as an after-school club, offering diverse activities such as pottery-making and karaoke.

    Implementation:

    Doyle began his quarterly Unified PE class with a core of 10 adapted and 15 general education students hand-picked from Wayzata’s 3,500-student population, and the buzz spread within a few days. “Kids told their friends how much fun it was, and after the first quarter, I had students who were literally crying, asking me if they could take it again,” says Doyle.

    The class focused on increasing physical fitness and sport-specific skills, rules, and strategies, as well as reinforcing positive habits and reasoning to make better health and lifestyle choices.

    In the much smaller Proctor School District, Smith’s Unified PE class included the same 12 general education students, with adapted students participating on a rotating basis. Both teachers had the full guidance and support of their principals, whose common goal was for their schools to become more inclusive.

    Takeaway:

    The program naturally fosters new friendships among the Unified PE classmates and promotes students’ leadership and social competencies. Smith works closely with her general education students to help them better understand their classmates’ needs and to brainstorm ideas for adaptation. “The general education students really ‘think outside the box’ about new ways to teach their classmates,” she says.

    Doyle’s students have found the class to be an eye-opening experience. “I have never really interacted with kids in special ed but now I view them through a lens I never thought I would have,” notes one student.

    The lives of the special education students are enriched beyond measure when the walls isolating them from other students come down and friendships and trust are built in their place.

    Results:

    Both Doyle and Smith cite countless examples illustrating their programs’ overwhelming success — from waiting lists of students wanting to sign up to glowing parent testimonials to seniors who now are interested in teaching special education as a career.

    “I’ve talked to parents who were in tears, grateful that their child with special needs got a phone call for the first time to go bowling on a Friday night or join classmates for a Sadie Hawkins Day Dance,” says Doyle. “The students danced together all night.”

    One student cheerleader in the Unified PE program hosted a cheerleading camp for her special ed buddies, and the participants performed together at a school basketball game.

    “The kids have made friendships they never thought they would have,” says Smith. “They’re eating together in the cafeteria and planning social events together outside of school. This has changed the culture of the entire school for the better. It’s beautiful.”

    icon-thumbs-up-1SHAPE America’s National Standards for Physical Education

    The physically literate individual:

  • Demonstrates competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns.
  • Applies knowledge of concepts, principles, strategies and tactics related to movement and performance.
  • Demonstrates the knowledge and skills to achieve and maintain a health enhancing level of physical activity and fitness.
  • Exhibits responsible personal and social behavior that respects self and others.
  • Recognizes the value of physical activity for health, enjoyment, challenge, self-expression and/or social interaction.
  •   Kids told their friends how much fun it was, and after the first quarter, I had students who were literally crying, asking me if they could take it again.

    Mike Doyle, Developmental Adapted PE Teacher

    Download A PDF

    unified-pe_casestudy

     

    Program Team

    Proctor Public Schools
    Lisa Smith, PE, Health and Developmental Adapted PE (DAPE) Teacher and Special Olympics
    Head Coach
    Tim Rohweder, Principal
    Middle and High School

    Wayzata High School
    Mike Doyle, PE, Developmental Adapted PE Teacher
    Scott Gengler, Principal

    Special Olympics Minnesota
    Nick Cedergren, Schools and
    Youth Coordinator

     

    RESOURCE LINKS

    Just Add Water: ‘Anchors Away’ Program Transforms Miami-Dade Students With Disabilities

    case-study-justaddwater
    Issue:

    Miami-Dade Public Schools PE teacher Annie Perez was seeking something that would inspire and motivate students with disabilities. “Children with disabilities are often overlooked outside of the traditional school setting,” Perez said. “I wanted to find an activity that would build their confidence, improve socialization, and decrease stress levels, all while achieving health and fitness goals.” Ranging in age from 14 to 21, her students had very diverse intellectual, physical and social abilities. With 28 years of teaching and varsity coaching experience, she was well-prepared and eager to take on an unorthodox new challenge.

    The Big Idea:

    The solution came out of the blue — quite literally. The “Anchors Away” program would take advantage of Miami’s abundant water-based activities — swimming, snorkeling, water safety, kayaking, sailing and fishing — to foster teamwork, responsibility and integration while helping students learn about marine life and the fragile environment.

    District Director for Physical Education and Health Jayne Greenberg, Ed.D., already had developed a successful district-wide “Learn to Swim” program, and was a skilled grant writer. She was confident of getting donations of sailboats, kayaks, safety gear and other needed equipment. Grants, community partnerships and fundraisers would defray transportation costs and help gain access to a variety of water sports.

    case-study-justaddwater2

    Implementation:

    Students who hadn’t passed the mandatory swim test honed their skills in a four-week swimming program. About 30 swim-certified students, divided into groups of about 15, met at 8 a.m. on alternate Mondays, with signed permission slips in hand and bags packed with swimsuits, booties, water bottles, towels and sunscreen. They typically headed to Oleta River State Park, where they learned how to set up, use and maintain their water sports equipment and protect the natural resources of that particular location. Everyone participated in an environment of teamwork and cooperation. An enthusiastic team of coaches and instructors provided the optimal one-to-five ratio of staff to students.

    Some “Anchors Away” students had never even seen the ocean or Biscayne Bay, and had no idea what they were getting into, but inevitably, the water worked its magic.

    “A non-verbal student with autism spent his first three years of high school on a double kayak, not paddling and rarely attempting physical movement,” Perez says. “With patience and diligence, during his fourth year, everything finally clicked and a spark of confidence appeared. Within months into the new school year, the student achieved skills necessary to operate a kayak on his own and spoke more than he had in years.”

    Takeaway:

    Perez, a SHAPE America member, says that students with severe autism find calmness in water, and repetitive movements are often quelled and replaced with skill. “It also increases students’ ability to focus,” she says. “The amazing changes in their lives have made me a believer and even more committed to teaching students with disabilities through lifetime physical activities. The smiles on their faces and the happiness they experience are well worth the effort.”

    Results:

    case-study-justaddwater3
    The team collects data showing measurable results that has helped ensure the continuation of outside funding for the program. The program has yielded “stellar” results, says Perez, creating both autonomy and lifetime skills, as well as producing many leaders who go on to mentor incoming students. The activities also create friendships between students of varying exceptionalities.

    “I encourage students with intellectual disabilities to work with each other,” explained Perez. “I’ll pair up a student with Down syndrome with a student with autism. Each feels a heightened sense of responsibility and must communicate with his or her partner, learning to put aside differences to reach a common goal.” She adds that parents who were initially nervous about having their son or daughter on and in the water are reassured after seeing that their kids are in good hands and totally enthralled in their activities. “The students are so excited, they pack their bags the night before,” she says. “It’s the highlight of their week.”

    icon-thumbs-up-1SHAPE America’s National Standards for Physical Education

    The physically literate individual:

  • Demonstrates competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns.
  • Applies knowledge of concepts, principles, strategies and tactics related to movement and performance.
  • Demonstrates the knowledge and skills to achieve and maintain a health enhancing level of physical activity and fitness.
  • Exhibits responsible personal and social behavior that respects self and others.
  • Recognizes the value of physical activity for health, enjoyment, challenge, self-expression and/or social interaction.
  •   The amazing changes in their lives have made me a believer and even more committed to teaching students with disabilities through lifetime physical activities.

    Annie Perez, Adapted Physical Education Teacher

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    Program Team
    Miami-Dade County Public Schools

    Jayne Greenberg, Ed.D., Director Physical Education and
    Health Literacy

    LEARN TO SWIM PROGRAM
    David Diamond, Anchors Away and Learn to Swim Department Chairperson/Teacher
    Jeanine McLeod, Anchors Away Swim Instructor

    AMERICAN SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL
    Francisco E. Garnica, Principal
    Annie Perez, Adapted Physical Education Teacher
    Christin Alas, Assistant Coach/ASD Teacher
    La’Kia Firsher, Assistant Coach/Paraprofessional

     

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