Monthly Archives: November 2012

Nov 30

Interview with Joey Feith, Founder of www.ThePhysicalEducator.com

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

I’d like to introduce Joey Feith, founder of ThePhysicalEducator.com.  It’s an excellent resource for connecting with other physical education teachers for networking and ideas as well as having a ton of lessons and curriculum to download.

He’s also deeply involved in physical education at both local and national levels in Canada. He is one of the new leaders in physical education and was kind enough to take time and answer questions about PE.

Image of Joey Feith, founder of ThePhysicalEduator.com
Tell us a little bit about your background in sports and physical education:
I grew up in a small, very French suburb on the south shore of Montreal, Canada. I feel like people often forget just how French Quebec really is. To help me learn the language, my parents put me into a French elementary school. I really can’t tell you what happened during those first few years because I actually had no idea what was going on. What I can tell you is that, as much as the classroom was scary and confusing to me, I LOVED recess and PE. Sports were my chance to interact with others without having to worry about how to say things or what was going on. In the gym, things just made sense.

As I grew older, I continued to love sports, but was turned off by the competitiveness and sometimes elitist thinking that was associated to higher level sports leagues. Although I had the skill to play at a higher level, I opted to stick to rec leagues and play for fun. In those leagues, it never seemed to matter how many trophies you brought home or who your parents knew. We played for fun, and it was awesome.During my late teens, I became very involved with Day Camps.

It was then that I realized that I wanted a career that allowed me to work with young people. I decided to apply to McGill University’s PETE (Physical Education Teacher Education) program, and got in.My time at McGill confirmed that I had made the right choice, and my passion for Physical Education began to grow.

I started getting involved in every way I could think of, and, before I knew it, had added quite the variety of experiences to my portfolio. As an undergrad, I taught adapted aquatics; I taught to a group of students with ADHD in a clinical setting; I taught PE at both the elementary and high school levels in both English and French; I started a community PE program where I would run activities for people aged between 5 and 75 years old; I got involved at the provincial level with the Association of Physical Educators of Quebec, and, later, at the national level with Physical and Health Education Canada; and I did all of this while studying full time.

Like I said, I was extremely passionate about PE and took every opportunity I could to learn more about it.When I graduated from McGill, I was sure that, given my passion and experience, I’d get a job right away. I even was told by the school where I did my final field experience that they would hire me the following September. Why apply to any other boards if a school says they’ll hire you? What a rookie mistake that was!

I didn’t get hired. I was heartbroken as I watched all of my friends find jobs and start teaching. I did get some sub work here and there, but it was always for science, math, or art. It seemed like Physical Education just wasn’t meant to be

A wise man once told me that we should never waste our time and energy on problems, but, rather, we should focus them on solutions. I decided then that, if nobody was going to hire me right away, I wasn’t going to sit around and let my teaching skills go rusty.

I turned to the Internet to try and learn more about PE. What I found was a few sites here and there, none of which looked modern, none of which were enhanced with rich social media communities, and none of which offered resources in an organized, visually-appealing way.

Again, the voice in my head kept reminding me to focus on solutions, not problems. So I did what any crazy person would do and decided to teach myself everything that I could on website development, graphic design, and social media community management.

A few months later, I bought a domain called ThePhysicalEducator.com. I started connecting with teachers over Twitter. I started making cool-looking resources (well, I think they are) that others could access for free. I built a website that I was proud of, and one that I felt represented my profession well.

Today, thousands of Physical Education specialists and advocates visit ThePhysicalEducator.com, engage with the #physed community, and download its resources. As for me, well, I don’t feel rusty. I guess things worked out pretty nicely after all.

Do you currently teach PE? What are some of your biggest challenges in the classroom?

I am lucky enough to be teaching Elementary Physical Education (grades 1-6) in a small school just south of Montreal. I have a principal who supports my ideas and even encourages me to try new ones and I get to work in a beautiful gym with amazing students and a great staff.

That being said, my job challenges me on a daily basis. My biggest challenge is behavior management. I find it quite frustrating when content goes untaught because students lack self-control. However, I’m starting to get a better understanding of how to deal with it. The thing is that, the situations in which I have to deal with a student’s lack of self-control are actually teachable moments in disguise. I might not get to go through all the content on my lesson plan, but that doesn’t mean that students will leave my gym without having learned something.

Another great challenge is the idea of creating assessment practices that are as objective and comprehensive as possible. I think I’m on the right track with the work I am doing with Purposeful #PhysEd, but I still have a long way to go.

I’m still a young teacher (I graduated McGill in 2009), and I recognize the fact that I still have lots to learn. I can’t wait to learn it.

You’re actively involved in planning for physical education at the regional and national levels. What are some of the goals you’d like to accomplish at these levels?

At the provincial level, I hope to help teachers understand how they can be using Quebec’s Physical Education Curriculum as a guide for their planning and assessment. Our curriculum here is intimidating due to how thorough it is, but unless we teach ourselves how to break it down and teach it with efficiency, our kids will be missing out on learning.

At the national level, I would love to help break stereotypes of what a physical educator is (we’re not “gym” teachers) and to help lead a new generation of professional, knowledgeable, and motivated Physical Education specialists. Physical and Health Education Canada is doing a great job at advocating for this, but it comes down to us in our gyms to make real change happen.

On your website you are concerned about physical education at a global level. What are some of the challenges that you see for physical educators globally? Are they the same or are they unique.

Globally, I think our greatest challenges are a) changing the way that society (including school staff and administration) views the role of today’s Physical Educator, b) to learn how to meet the needs of 21st Century Learners, and c) to find ways of making health move back up in today’s youth’s list of priorities.

From my experience of connecting and engaging with teachers from all around the world, I think its fair to say that these challenges are presenting themselves to all Physical Educators, regardless of where they may teach.

Many of my readers are parents. How do parents fit into a healthy lifestyle and physical education for kids?

I just had parent-teacher interviews not too long ago and was quite surprised at how many parents asked me “what can I do to help?”

For any parents who may be reading this, please realize that when your child’s Physical Education teacher selects an activity for their class, there is (I hope) a reason and a purpose for that activity to have been selected. The tools we use to teach your kids the concepts they need to go on and live healthy, active lifestyles may seem funny at times. However, they have been carefully selected and planned for to ensure that situations occur in which your child can learn specific concepts and reach specific outcomes.

That being said, I ask two things of you

1. Give your child opportunities to move outside of school hours. Get them outdoors, make them aware of the effects exercise has on their health, have fun with them. Help them develop a love for being active and healthy.

2. The next time you find yourself talking to your child about their day at school, don’t just ask them what they played in PE, asked them what they learned. Ask them to show you techniques or explain concepts. Help them reinforce their learning by having to revisit it and translate it in their own words. Help them become more aware of their learning in Physical Education. Help them see that, just like any other class, Physical Education teaches them important things. Help us change the way society views PE. We literally can not do it without you.

It is obvious that you’re trying to help physical educators be more professional and effective. What are some ways that PE teachers can accomplish this?

Steve Jobs once said that each of us should aspire to be a yardstick for excellence. Assume that the whole world is watching you and make sure that everything you do is work you are proud of and willing to show off.

Once you’ve got that down, show it off! Blog, tweet, post, share! Get online and become a part of the greater #physed community. There is no better tool for professional development than ongoing professional discussion and social media lets us do just that 24/7. Jump on the bandwagon, start sharing online, get excited about growing as a professional, and be ready to become the best teacher you ever dreamed of being.

Any questions or topics you would like to expand upon that weren’t asked?
I love hearing from teachers. If you have a second, check out ThePhysicalEducator.com and let me know what you think. I’m trying to create the best online resource for Physical Educators, but I can’t get there without your advice and feedback. I could never express enough how much I appreciate the support and feedback of the #physed community, so thank you in advance for all that you do. Happy teaching!

Summary  Wow! Thanks so much for taking the time and effort to let us know about yourself and your website for physical educators. I’ve included links to your Twitter and Linkedin pages as well your contact page at the website.

Best of luck in your career and your website. I’m excited about helping present your ideas and experience to teachers, parents and coaches.

Joey Feith:
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/joeyfeith |

LinkedIn: http://ca.linkedin.com/in/joeyfeith

Contact Page ThePhysicalEducator

Links to Resources for Teachers and Coaches at ThePhysicalEducator<

Nov 30

Indoor P.E. Activity for Early Elementary Teachers

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Pic of girl in rain with umbrella

Don’t let a little rain keep your classroom from being active.

It’s pouring rain out here in the South Bay. Kids love it because they get to stay in class. Teachers probably not so much. The kids get antsy and have a hard time sitting still all day.

Here’s a great activity to do with them to get them moving. There’s tons of variations that you can use. You can use music but it’s not necessary.

I’ll go over how to start it and then I’ll add some variations you can use to actually challenge the kids.

THE TAPPING GAME

Have your class start to tap on their palm with one hand. Use four fingers for tapping. Show how they can tap slow, fast, light and hard. Have them practice with both hands.

Now they are going to start tapping all over their body.

Head, shoulders, forearms, down the forearms, toes, heels, knees, back of the knees. Have them tap for five to ten seconds before you have them move to another location. Be sure to do some taps that cross over the body. Do some one hand taps as well as two.

Mix up the locations. Go back and forth between a couple of them. You can tell them and show them. You can also have them listen to your words but do something else.

To make it more challenging and physical, have them do some simultaneous activities such as balancing on one leg or running in place. You can even have them do push-ups.

Five to ten minutes will get the kids moving and they will then be ready to start learning.

Have fun!

It’s a lot of fun, engages their brains and works on a lot of physical skills.

 

Nov 29

How I Write an Adapted P.E. Assessment: Part 2

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Picture of doctor performing an assessment

I like to consider myself a surgeon when applying a program for kids

After taking care of the all the little details (name, DOB, school) and doing an informal assessment, I then plan to spend about 30 minutes with the student. I try to do the assessment once, but typically I have to come back. There are usually things I forget to evaluate or after writing it up and thinking about it, something else I want to investigate.

It’s interesting that after working with special needs kids for over 9 years, I still learn and encounter unique situations. I’ve worked twice a week with some kids for years and then all of a sudden inspiration hits me and the student will make huge strides.

When I do the assessment, I look at certain domains. These usually are:

  • Locomotion: Walking, running, jumping
  • Object Control: Catching, throwing, hitting, kicking
  • Visual Tracking: Up, down, across
  • Balance: One leg, beam, stairs
  • Strength/Endurance: Upper/lower body, grip
  • Affective: Play, interaction, performance in PE class if applicable

I don’t usually do a sports skills evaluation, though I’ve had non-county APE reports that included this. Sports skills have even been included in goals, though I’m not a fan of them.

There is no set criteria for who does and does not get Adapted Physical Education services. If it was below a certain level on the state tests, a lot of kids would qualify.

When I watch the mainstream PE classes, I see at least 3 to 5 kids in each class that could use individual attention or remedial help. This is typically because of weight or coordination issues.

After doing the assessment, I write it up. This takes about an hour to two hours and is usually under one page long.

Then we have an IEP meeting to discuss my findings and the child is either on my case load or not.

 

Nov 29

How Can Climbing a Hill Improve Kids Fitness?

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Sunday afternoon. Step-dad is watching the kid. Dog needs a walk. What to do…?

So I take every one out to the percolation ponds. They are dried up now, but fully enclosed. The dog can run and there are some interesting things for the kid to play with. I’m not sure if its as interesting as SpongeBob Squarepants but we will have to see.

The dog is in heaven. Lots of free running and birds to chase. Her little white setter tail is flying high.

The kid is pretty happy as well. Lots of rocks to throw and some big boulders to climb. He finds an empty soda can and smashes it with big rocks. How fun.

At the end of the walk we find a big pile of dirt…about ten feet high. It’s a little stinky and wet from the rain but that isn’t going to deter a determined seven year old.

And so it begins. For 45 minutes he climbed up the hill and ran down. He jumped down, skied down and snowboarded down. He probably could have stayed there till the sun went down…maybe beyond.

But eventually, it was time to leave. I came back with an exhausted and happy dog. I also came back with a dirty, dusty, slightly smelly and worn out kid.

Perfect.

The best ways for kids to become athletes is to get outside and play. It’s not always possible and it’s not always convenient but it is the best.

Climbing the dirt hill developed strength, endurance and balance. It developed curiosity, creativity and confidence.

All in all, it was a great afternoon.

Nov 29

Frisbee for fun, fitness and family

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

pic of two teens playing frisbee

Dig the socks!

If you’re looking for something to do with your kids, its tough to beat playing Frisbee. Frisbee’s are fun, challenging, and have a lot of options on how to use.

Kids can play Ultimate which is an extremely active game requiring tons of running around, moving, quickness and general athletic skills.

Younger kids can work on simply playing catch. They can use two hands to catch at first, and as they get older they can go for the one handed catch. Throwing takes a while to learn but its not much harder than throwing a tennis ball.

As they get more skilled they can learn tricks. There are throwing tricks as well as catching. My favorites are the side arm throw and the behind the neck catch.

Many parks have Frisbee golf courses. This is a fun and easy way to get outside and play a challenging game. You can use a regular disk but if you really want to get into the game get a couple of heavier disks designed just for golf.

You can even get soft Frisbees that can be thrown safely indoors. I use these with my special needs kids in the classroom. When my son was younger we used to do it inside. His grandmother was not thrilled but we never broke anything.

And don’t forget the dog. If you have a chaser and retriever having them chase the Frisbee might be the best thing ever. My dog hasn’t gotten the hang of it yet but we keep working on it.

Her favorite is fetching the stick in the ocean.

The hand-eye coordination of playing catch with a Frisbee is an excellent tool for kids of all ages. Add walking and running and you’ve got most of the athletic needs for kids.

Best of all its fun so kids, adults and families can do it all the time.

Nov 28

A good day teaching adapted physical education

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

image of special education students holding balls

These are not my students.

Yesterday was my first day back from Thanksgiving vacation. I had an excellent day working with my special education students for PE. Some days are like that. Everything seems to click and your kids make some good progress.

My first student is a seventh grade girl. She has some vision and balance issues. We are working on doing a fitness routine consisting of chair squats, knee lifts, marching and push-ups. She is showing a lot of progress, especially on the knee lifts for balance. She held each leg for about 8 seconds. She, the teacher and aides are really working hard.

On our walk, she gained confidence on each of our obstacles. On the way out, for each one she required one hand support. On the way back, she didn’t need any. She also took single steps up and down the stairs with one hand support. Before it was always stutter steps.

My second student is a child with autism. He’s got great balance and gross motor skills. Unfortunately, he loves to stem and doesn’t follow instructions. His stemming manifests itself as lifting up dirt, sand or leaves and letting it run through his fingers. He loves it.

I’m working on using a pail filled with sand so that he is stemming on my command, as opposed to whenever he wants to. It’s working marginally well (which for him is really good). He still needs hand over hand support to keep him from stemming in the dirt but it is lessened with the sand.

I had two other students which did well too. If I get around to it, I’ll update you on them as well.

Have a great week!

Nov 28

The Advantages of Older Athletes vs. Younger Athletes

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Picture of woman focusing

Youth athletes need to learn how to focus

This weekend I was playing ping pong with my fifteen-year-old nephew from Spain. It pains me to say, but he was better than me. Not by a lot…but enough.

I could go on about the fact I hadn’t played any ping pong in about two years. And even then it was the first time in about five years.

I could make excuses how I was sick (I was).

Or I could make excuses about the equipment (crappy paddles, weird table and a plywood net). I won’t.

Nope, he was better. He should have won.

But he didn’t.

What was my magic power? It was the fact that I was older and could concentrate. He was about as focused as the ping pong ball. Bouncing all over the place.

He watched the TV. He watched girls. He looked all around. He goofed around. Me, I just played ping pong. I had fewer errors, fewer missed shots. He had better shots than me but they weren’t enough.

He should have won but I ended up winning two of the three games. The third game wasn’t even that close. By that time his 15-year-old brain was whizzing away and had really lost it.

I’m not sure if it was because I was more competitive or just older. I can tell you though I did want to win. I focused and tried hard. Score one for old age. And one for the good old U.S. of A.

Kids need to learn to focus for success in sports. Whether ping pong, soccer, swimming, basketball or anything else, the ability to focus probably needs to be taught. If you’re a coach, parent or teacher, don’t expect your kids to get it.

And I don’t think it’s natural. I think it can be taught and learned.

You don’t need to wait till you’re an adult.

Here are some ideas on how to teach focus to your kids.

Nov 28

How I Write an Adapted Physical Education Assessment: Part 1

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Picture of student flying in a wheelchair

Not sure why I used this picture. I just like it.

One of the parts of my job is to  write an adapted PE assessment. Usually, an IEP team will request an assessment be done. Sometimes it comes from the team, usually when an Occupational or Physical Therapists thinks it might help. Occasionally, the parents might want it. And sometimes, I might recommend it to the special education teacher.

When I get an assessment, I have 60 days to do it and have the IEP. It usually doesn’t take me that long to do one.

There are formal tests, but for most of the kids that I see, formal tests aren’t appropriate for a few reasons.

1. Almost all of the kids would fall into the less than 5% ranking. Since where you fall into the rankings is not grounds for receiving services why attempt them?

2. The tests are more fitness orientated and my students tend to need functional support. How fast they run or how many push ups they can do isn’t very important. If they can walk or get some physical benefits from my services is.

3. My reports are written in a language that expresses what they kids can do. Not what they can’t. As a parent, I’m more than aware of what my child can’t do. I want to know what they can do and what they are capable of doing.

I typically will consult with the teacher, the parents, and any specialists that may be providing services, most likely the PT or OT.  Of course, I also look at the IEP reports as well.

After I have some idea of the situation, I like to do an informal assessment. This lets me think about what tests and equipment I’d like to perform.

The next step is to do the actual assessment and evaluation. I will write about that step in my next blog post.

Nov 28

Mental Training Skills for Youth Athletes

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

image of brain and neurons working

Help your athletes get their toughness neurons firing

When I’ve done a great job of coaching, I’ve emphasized mental toughness training and the psychology of sport.

After being out of youth coaching for a while and now getting back into it, I thought I had done enough.

Not even close.

The high school athletes I’m working with a way behind the curve when it comes to having a competitive attitude and being successful. I thought I did enough for them, but after the results we had realize we didn’t go near far enough.

And so I’ve been researching new techniques and approaches. I found one I like from a book by Jason Selk, 10-Minute Toughness. I really like the book and the approach.

It is simple, quick and easy to implement. It would work with a wide range of athletes from about 9 to adult. Some of it could be used for younger kids, but it would have to be dummied down a lot.

Selk recommends a five step program for developing mental toughness. The steps are:

  • Taking a centering breath
  • Using a performance statement
  • Visualizing a highlight movie
  • Using an identity statement
  • Repeating the centering breath.

He goes into some detail about each step and how to develop it.

I like the he recommends it take about 3 to 4 minutes and to only do it once or twice a day. And that you can get burnt out if you do it too much.

I’m going to incorporate his techniques for some of my playing and business life as well.

I will let you know how it goes.

Again, if your team needs some mental toughness drills this is an excellent resource.

Nov 28

Physical Education Site for Teachers, Coaches and Parents

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

image of cartoon pe teacher

All a P.E. teacher needs is a whistle, a stopwatch and a look

P.E. teachers know of this web site but a lot of coaches and parents probably don’t. It’s got a lot of information on teaching physical education that can be adapted by a wide assortment of specialists.

For instance, in the section labeled lessons, there are teaching plans for a wide variety of sports including; basketball, baseball, lacrosse, soccer, swimming and track and field. If you’re coaching one of these sports then you’ll get some ideas.

For parents, in the same section, there are articles on teaching inline skating, locomotor movements, paddle sports, and juggling. These are all activities that kids need and love to do. If you’re not sure how to teach it, you probably could find out here.

I took a quick look at the basketball section. There were eleven lessons ranging in grade levels from third to fifth and sixth to eighth. Some of the lessons are remedial or for teachers who have little experience in the game but some are fairly detailed with good descriptions and explanations.

This is a huge site with lots of areas to explore. There are sections on assessments, adapted P.E. (my specialty), pre-k, and there are videos and other instructional materials.

Check it out, then come back and let us know what you learned.

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