Bodies benefit from regular physical activity and it’s more important than ever to keep kids moving while their learning experiences continue to change. As those learning experiences change, lesson plans and physical activities have to change with them. We spoke with Tami Doppler, a K-5 Physical Education teacher and Co-Executive Director of North Dakota SHAPE, to find out what educators can do to keep on top of their kids’ physical activity.
How has the significance of physical activity changed how educators approach physical education? “As humans, we are meant to move. All of our body’s systems work better with physical activity, so physical activity has become more prioritized as physical education has changed,” says Tami.
According to Tami, physical educators doing distance-learning have had to get creative with developing physical activity lessons that students can complete in the confines of small spaces and with little or no equipment. The lessons have started to include a lot of you-tube dances, exercises, and instructions of activities for the students to watch and follow along with as best they can.
Physical educators in face-to-face learning have had to modify lessons so that the equipment they use can be disinfected between classes and that activities are spaced out throughout the gym or masks are worn when in close contact, like relay-style activities.
What can educators do to “game-ify” or refresh their current physical activities with students? An easy way for educators to level up their lessons is to use game-like elements to build real-world skills like:
- Improving an existing ability or skill
- Using a tracking system to watch their own progress
- Achieve mastery through challenges
- Building autonomy in learners
Another way for educators to give their games a new edge is to change the way the students are grouped. By changing the groups that the kids spend time in, students are encouraged to rethink the way they interact with their peers. Educators can also use resources like fitBoost at the start of a lesson to get learners moving, use “half-time breaks” with Mindful Moments Cards, or use fitFlow at the end as a cool-down.
Looking for a new activity? Here’s one of Tami’s go-to games. “I love playing ‘rat ball’ with my 4th and 5th graders. The kicker/runner decides how many bases to run and how many times to run the bases. The teaching concepts are endless, with offensive and defensive strategies, decision-making for the runner and the fielder, and the concepts of speed with running, pitching, and fielding.”
And Tami’s biggest tip? “Be open minded. Be flexible and innovative. Kids are not naturally lazy so embrace their likes and keep the learning fun.”
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