Monday, April 22, 2019

Kicking Skills!

PE Update: Kicking Skills!

I hope that everyone had a fantastic April vacation!  During the break, I was able to come up with some brand new games to roll out for the spring, which I am really excited about! 

Prior to break, all classes had been focusing on their kicking skills.  Students have had the opportunity to practice dribbling, trapping, passing, and shooting at targets.  For some of the older grades, we have played mat ball, which is a crazy version of kickball.  Younger students have played some smaller sided games, and have used our new pop up goals, which I think they will really love! 

This week, I am continuing to focus on kicking skills.  I found a really awesome game called “PinBowl Soccer” that is geared towards students in the upper grades.  It is a game that has two teams competing against each other, to score points.  There are goals and pins set up as targets, and we use multiple goals, to maximize the participation level.  Students are able to kick the ball up to themselves, in order to catch, and bowl at the targets as well.  There is a ton of action in the game, and I was so happy with how classes went today! 

For our younger grades, I modified the game to eliminate the bowling, to focus only on kicking.  We also did not keep score of our game, and only allowed goalies to touch the ball with their hands.  In this version, we used five indoor soccer balls, which made for a ton of opportunities for students to have chances to score and play defense. 

I had a few complaints today… but it was only about being exhausted and sweaty, I consider that a win in my book! 

Take Care,

Mr. O

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

PE Update: Floor Hockey and Kicking Skills

This year, I was able to purchase four brand new pop up hockey goals, that the students really enjoyed using!

In grades 3-5 we spent a lot of time practicing our striking skills.  We were able to use the pillo polo sticks (similar to a hockey stick, but a giant foam q-tip ending) and foam hockey sticks as well.  We did passing, ball handing, and shooting drills.  Students that were interested were also provided the opportunity to play goalie.  At the end of our unit, classes played a giant game.  In our final game, we had two teams face off against each other, with two goals on each end of the gym.  Many times, the older students want to keep score.  I understand the desire to have a winning team and a losing team, and occasionally we keep score, but this activity is very hard to keep track of totals!  Along with four total goals to score on, we use three balls to maximize the participation level.  Once we start playing, they completely forget the winning and losing aspect of the game and just focus on playing good offense and defense.

Students in 1st and 2nd grade had the opportunity to practice all of the same skills as the older students, and used both pillo polo and hockey sticks.  We start things nice and easy, making sure everyone knows how to properly hold their stick, and we talk a lot about safety.  At the end of the unit, we play a couple of games that they already know, that are typically throwing games.  We play messy backyard, and pin guard, which are both team games.  Students are placed on a team, and must stay on their side of the gym.  They practiced striking balls to the other teams side.  Pin guard is a lot of fun because they were able to strike to hit targets.

We have now moved on to kicking skills, and all students will have the opportunity to practice dribbling, trapping, passing, and shooting.  For some of the older grades, we will be playing mat ball, which is a version of kickball.  Younger students will be playing some smaller sided games, and will have the chance to use the new pop up goals, which I think they will really love!

I can't believe that it's already April vacation, we have so many more activities planned before the end of the year!  Field Day is going to creep up on us really fast.  I hope everyone has a fantastic vacation, and I look forward to seeing everyone rested up and ready to go when we are back.

Take Care,

Mr. O

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Welcome Back, Wrapping Up Gymnastics!

I have always had a great appreciation for gymnastics.  When I think of a gymnast, I think of tremendous strength, flexibility, and balance.  It is something that I wish I had the opportunity to participate in as a kid.  A couple of years ago, we had a Loker student who was an incredible gymnast.  He told me that he did gymnastics to help him be a better hockey goalie... this blew me away.  I know of women and men athletes who participate in gymnastics and dance to help them in their own individual sports, but it's awesome hearing an elementary school student doing it as well!

If I could rewind the clock, I would get my younger self into gymnastics.  I wonder how many extra saves I could have made between the lacrosse goal!

Luckily, my daughter expressed interest in gymnastics at an early age.  Grace turns seven this month, and has been doing a combination of gymnastics and ninja warrior classes for the past few years.  It's not competitive, more exploration... but all of a sudden she is doing pull-ups, perfect push-ups, and is starting to complete complex tasks.  

I wasn't a gymnast when I was younger, and I am not a gymnast now.  I can complete simple moves, but I can only explain more complex moves with words, not by demonstration.  Luckily, we usually have a few gymnasts in class to help me out.  Our class gymnasts are usually really excited to help as assistant teachers, and they get to showcase their talents.

We are wrapping up our gymnastics unit, and it has been a lot of fun, here are some pictures and videos from classes:

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Basketball, Jump Ropes, and Fitness!

January has been a super exciting time in the gym, we have a lot going on!

We have started a basketball unit for all grades.  Our younger students are spending time focusing on their dribbling skills, and will have the opportunity to shoot on a variety of baskets.  In our older classes, we add in some defensive skills along with advanced shooting games.

We have many students that play basketball and have advanced skills.  I always encourage those students to help others that don't have as much experience.  This year, I have seen so many students help others, and it has been amazing to watch.

With younger students, we are focusing on trying to control our dribble, small passes to a wall or to a partner, and basic shooting.  Our older students have been participating in some more advanced drills.  At the end of the unit, these students will have the option to play small scrimmages or shooting games at each basket.

With the purchase of new jump ropes this year, I have been using them a lot more during classes, especially in warm-ups.  When I first started teaching in Worcester, we had jump ropes out all of the time!  It's a skill that I still teach every year, but I feel like I don't focus on it as much as I used to, and I am noticing that we have many students that are struggling with a rope.  One of my goals this year is to conduct a jump rope assessment with second grade students.  We have done our preliminary assessments, and will be integrating the ropes into more lesson plans to help improve our skills.

This week, classes will participate in an activity that I call "Fit Deck", where students are pared up around the gymnasium.  I spread out three decks of cards, faced down, around the middle of the gym.  One student runs out to grab a card, and brings it back to their partner.  Based on the suit and value, they will conduct that many of a specific exercise.  Hearts are squats, so if you retrieve a 7 of hearts, both partners conduct 7 squats before they go out to fetch a new card.  After all of the cards are collected, the partners split their total cards collected, and we play a game of Fitness War.  Two students flip their top card, and the winner takes the opponents card.  The winner also politely asks the opponent to do an exercise of their choice (5 reps).

For students in K/1, we will do the cards as well, but I remove all face cards.  Also, they don't have to do a specific exercise for a specific suit.  If they retrieve an 8 of clubs, they pick any exercise/stretch/dance move to do with their partner for 8 reps or 8 seconds.  We will still do the Exercise War game, but I will spend more time explaining, and I think it's awesome for them because we get to integrate a little math and discuss greater than/less than.

This year, I feel like we have done so many different things within our units, that I am a little behind normal schedule.  We will be looking at floor hockey, volleyball, dance, and gymnastics coming up in the next couple of months.  The rest of the winter and early spring looks packed, hopefully the snow storms keep coming on the weekends!!!


Sunday, December 16, 2018

Scooter Handball and Stations

I decided to combine a couple of different games together to create a scooter handball/basketball activity for the older students.  Scooters are awesome, and the students absolutely love using them.  I have had a ton of students approach me to tell me that they could feel the exercise that they were getting in their leg muscles!  In this activity, we have two teams playing against each other, trying to score points.  This is a throwing and catching game, and we use three balls.  The goal is to pass to teammates, to ultimately throw at a target and score.  We have three targets available to each team, a large soccer goal, a small soccer goal, and the main basketball hoop.  We give each goal a point value, but we don't really keep score here.  Providing students with three different goals is great, because we all have different skill levels.  Some students are able to score easily on the one point target, and can challenge themselves to the two and three point targets.  We have other students that stick to the one point target, and are happy to keep trying to score there, and are ultimately successful. I started this game using two balls, but found that adding the third ball really helped the flow of the game.  Sportsmanship has been awesome, and it was really great to see the team work with students passing to each other.  Nobody was concerned with who won or lost, it was just great to see them enjoying the game!

With K-2 students, we have been working on stations.  I occasionally roll out stations when I want to have them practice a variety of skills in one class period.  We have been practicing hula hoops, scooters, scoops, and tricks with scarves.  Students have been really creative in their stations, coming up with a variety of different ideas on how to use their equipment.

I have also tried a warm-up activity that I've used in the past called "follow the leader", which is a great way for students to individually lead the group in a favorite stretch, dance, or exercise.  The entire class spreads out in a large circle, and one student starts in the middle.  The student in the middle demonstrates a move, and everyone else follows along.  On the whistle, the student in the middle high fives a new students with their hand up, switching jobs.  When classes are focused, this goes really well!!

I hope that all families have a fantastic holiday season, take care!!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Pumpkin Smash!!!

Every October, I play a game called Pumpkin Smash.  When I first started teaching in Worcester, I learned the game from a co-worker.  The game has evolved a little, and I have made changes, but it's a tradition and it's one of my favorite games that we play.

This is a throwing game, with pumpkins as targets.  I used to tape three actual pumpkins to scooters for students to throw at.  This year, I decided to take a giant ball and tape it orange.  I placed a silicone cup on top, and taped that green.  We have two teams in this game, throwing from each side of the gymnasium.  The pumpkin is placed in the middle circle, and the object of the game is to smash the pumpkin across the other teams side.  At Happy Hollow, we use pre-existing lines for our boundary, and at Loker, I taped down lines for boundaries.  Students stand outside of the box to throw, but can get balls from anywhere in the gym.  I traditionally play this game with students in grades 3-5, but some 2nd grade classes will have the chance to play as well.  For kindergarten and first grade students, I am working to create a game where we use the pumpkin as well, because they think it's really cool.  Check out some of the action from this week!

Monday, October 22, 2018


We took a little break from our normal units in order to have classes participate in the PACER, which stands for:


We discuss what this means, and spend some time going over aerobic capacity.  I stress the importance of this being a laid back run, where we do the best that we can.  We also spend time talking about how we are all different, and that this is not a run where someone wins.  We also go over how important it is to cool our bodies down when we are done. 

Fifth grade students write their scores down, and create a goal for themselves when we run it again in the spring time.  They are encouraged to come up with realistic goals that they believe they can reach. 

Third and Fourth grade students will also run again in the spring, but we don’t chart our scores.  Students are encouraged to create personal goals for themselves.

First and second grade students also participate in the PACER, but they run from sideline to sideline in a modified version.  Also, we decided to do something different this year, and have them participate in a partner run.  Students paired off and would take turns doing two laps at a time.  We did not worry about missing lines, just encouraged them to go as long as they could, cooling down at the end.  I usually stop the group at a certain number, whereas the third-fifth grade students run until the last person is done.  I think that the first and second grade students really enjoyed the partner run.  This gives students a little bit of an idea on how the PACER works, and they are pumped to run the long way when they get into the third grade. 

Coming up, we will be participating in some fall themed activities.  I have a couple of brand new games that we will be playing, that I am really excited to try!

Friday, October 5, 2018

Pathways and Overhand Throwing

Many of our kindergarten and first grade students had the opportunity to participate in pathway stations, where we practices traveling in straight lines, zig-zags, and curved patterns.  We also discussed levels, traveling low and high.  We had six stations set up, and students took turns practicing their movements.  Each stations lasted about three minutes, and we rotated so that every student got to participate in all stations.  Towards the end of our session, some classes had the opportunity to pick their favorite station to go to, and some classes participated in a timed group obstacle course!

Students in grades 4 and 5 were presented with a pass/catch challenge this week.  We have been working a lot on our overhand throwing, and this was an opportunity to practice our skills.  PE Central, a popular physical education resource website, created this challenge:

The students did a really awesome job in attempting this challenge!

After our challenge, we played a game of battleship, which is very popular.  We use gymnastics mats as "ships" and each team gets eight pins to set up around their ship.  Each team has one "scuba diver" that can travel across the gymnasium, collecting balls.  The goal of the game is for teams to try and "sink" other ships by knocking their pins down.  Once a team has all eight pins knocked down, they are "sinking" and must work together to decide what other ship they are going to attach onto.  I love this game because students get a ton of opportunities to practice their throw, and play defense on their pins.  Students also have to work together to communicate jobs, who is scuba diving, guarding, and throwing.  It's a blast to see them join ships,  often times we have three ships teaming up to try and take out the one last ship!  We play music, and have a blast playing this one.  The video below has no music, but it's only because I was using my iPad to film the action.

Up Next: PACER Run

Monday, September 24, 2018

Team Building Challenge!

"Teamwork Makes The Dream Work"
During the first few P.E. classes I like to plan activities that allow me to get to know the students that I haven’t had before.  I also like to plan team-building games so that we can discuss the importance of teamwork.  I tell each class that they are a team, and to have a fun and exciting year of P.E. we all need to work together.  It is fun to hear students talk about the teams that they watch and root for, and how important teamwork is in accomplishing their goals.  

"Cross the Ocean" is an activity that I sometimes run, last year I ran the activity in the middle of the year.  There were a few classes that were having a hard time working together in certain activities, so I rolled this game out between units.  I decided to have all 2nd-5th grade students participate in this activity at the beginning of the year.  The rules and challenge level varies between grades, I adjust based on the grade level.

The students are presented with a scenario: The are on an island with a volcano erupting behind them.  They need to evacuate, and cross dangerous ocean water (the basketball court).  They can only use special stones (circle spots) to stand on in order to move to safety.  The stones can only be picked up, placed down, and handed off.  The stones can't be slid or thrown, and any student that contacts the floor without being on a stone will have the whole team restart.

We talk a lot about the importance of positive communication, sharing of ideas, keeping all teammates involved, and problem solving.  I also present this as an activity where we want all teams to succeed, there is no win for being the fastest to complete the task.  We had some absolutely amazing collaboration between classmates, and we had a couple of situations where teams broke down and had a difficult time.  We were able to reflect on these experiences, and hopefully learned a lot from the activity.

There were two over the top awesome examples of teamwork that I observed this year.  Mr. O'Donnell's grade 2 students made me so proud during their activity.  The first team that completed their task, took their circles, and ran onto the gym floor to help other teams cross the finish line.  I never see this!  This group did not care about being first, and also cared about other teams.  For second grade students, this blew me away!

The other thing that I saw this year was how many students went outside of their comfort zone to help the team.  For the older grades, when things got really difficult, they shared stones, went on rescue missions, and even piggy backed!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Welcome Back!!

I am incredibly excited for the new school year!  This first week has been awesome, students have been pumped to get back into the gymnasium, even with the super hot temperatures.

I love checking in with students on what types of adventures they went on over the summer.  I also enjoy talking with them about what they are looking forward to this school year.

One of my favorite parts of the new school year is welcoming in the kindergarten students.  It must be pretty overwhelming to have class in the gymnasium on your first day of school!  All kindergarten students that I had today did an amazing job.  My last class of the day was Mrs. Cherwinski's kindergarten crew.  It was their first day in kindergarten, and after an incredibly long and hot day, they had to deal with listening to me in the gym before dismissal.  It was my favorite class of the day! We had a blast, they were so incredibly engaged, and excited to be there.

For our 1st-5th students, we have been doing a variety of activities to help review rules.  I do a little more talking than usual during our first meeting, but we still get plenty of movement in.

One new strategy that I have implemented this year is the use of small sticker spots in the gym for home bases.  Each student (grades 1-5) will have an assigned number spot in the gym where they will go to immediately as they enter the gym.  This helps with teaching appropriate spacing and effective warmups.

After our initial meeting, classes will be presented with some team building challenges, to help highlight the importance of teamwork and sportsmanship.  Once we have the opportunity to finally meet with the Monday classes, we will try to get every class on the same page, and start updating units.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Wrapping up volleyball, what's next?

For a couple of weeks in class, we take the time to participate in activities using the volleyball nets.  At both Loker and Happy Hollow, I set up two nets, going from baseline to baseline.  While this cuts down on court size, having two games open provides the students with so many more opportunities to practice and play.

Every single grade, from K-5, is introduced to the volleyball "set" and "bump"... how this is introduced and what we practice is incredibly different from grade to grade.  

Prior to practicing volleyball skills, we also play a game called "messy backyard", where students practice their overhand throwing skills, tossing over the net.  I generally run this with students in grades K/1, and for some 2nd grade classes.

Students in grades 3-5 participate in a variety of stations and drills that focus on the volleyball bump, set, and serve.  We also play a game of "newcomb", which is a catching and throwing game.  This game is great for helping teach spacing and communication between teammates.  A few groups attempted to participate in a full volleyball game, combining all of their moves, and we had some great volleys!

Prior to vacation, we have been reviewing our overhand throwing technique, and students are participating in overhand throwing activities.  Students in grades 3-5 will be participating in a game called "angleball" in the gymnasium.  This is a great team game that has students passing a small ball down the court with the goal of throwing it at a larger ball that rests on a poll.  We play this game with two smaller balls, maximizing participation.  We have already had some great contests this week, with students showing great sportsmanship!  There might be a class or two of second grade students that has the opportunity to play as well.  The majority of K-2 groups will be participation in parachute activities before we break.

I hope everyone has a great vacation, and I look forward to being able to get outside as the weather gets warmer!  

Kicking Skills!

PE Update: Kicking Skills! I hope that everyone had a fantastic April vacation!   During the break, I was able to come up with some bra...