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:

http://www.pecchallenge.org/challenges/partthrowcatch.html

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!  

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Curling In The Gym!!

I have always loved the Olympics, it's an opportunity to watch incredible athletes from all over the world compete in events that we don't always get the chance to see.  I think that the Winter Olympics are especially interesting as they happen during school days!  I have always been interested in the sport of curling, very much like shuffleboard, but on ice!  All classes have had the opportunity to "curl" in the gym.  I created curling stones along with making scoring sections of the gymnasium.  Many classes in grades 3-5 had the opportunity to participate in mini-tournaments.  Students in kindergarten used bean bags, and students in 1st and 2nd voted on what they wanted to try.  The vast majority of students voted to try the stones!

The curling stones that we have are frisbees filled with a pound of sand, cardboard tops, with a milk jug handle, duct taped to represent a team color.  Older students were taught the proper way to score, and we had some tournaments.  The younger students were taught the general concepts... but all groups were introduced to the "stones", "house", "button", and "hog line"!!

For the majority of classes, we had a live stream of the olympics on the gymnasium wall.  I am really happy with how everything went, everyone was really engaged!  Over vacation, the USA Men's Curling Team won gold, it was really cool to see!




Monday, February 5, 2018

Gymnastics & The Winter Olympics!!

I am occasionally asked by friends with kids or parents of students, "what do you recommend for a sport or activity at an early age?"  My answer is the same every time... gymnastics!!  (swimming as well, but we don't have that opportunity at school)

Gymnastics helps increase coordination, improve flexibility, and aids in strength development.  I wish that I was exposed to gymnastics at a young age!  Even though we only meet once a week, I believe that it's important to introduce basic gymnastics skills to all grades.  

We have some incredibly talented gymnasts at Loker and Happy Hollow.  I allow our trained gymnasts the opportunity to serve as coaches during our gymnastics lessons.  This has worked very well, the gymnasts have really enjoyed helping small groups of friends.  We introduce a variety of jumps, rolls, and balances.  Gymnasts with advanced training are able to showcase their special skills as well.  Older grades have the opportunity to create routines to show their classmates.  We also provide students with the opportunity to climb the rope (or swing), use the vaulting trapezoid, and monkey bars (HH).  

Another thing that I am really excited for is the Winter Olympics!  This is my first Winter Olympics while teaching in Wayland.  Next week, I will be live streaming the games onto the Happy Hollow projection screen and the Loker gym wall.  We will be participating in a variety of games related to the winter olympics, to celebrate!  



Monday, January 15, 2018

Basketball and Dance!!

Coming back from winter vacation, students in grades 2-5 have started a basketball unit.  Our kindergarten and first graders have been dancing in the gym!

In basketball classes, we have spent time practicing our dribbling, passing (chest/bounce), and shooting.  Students in grades 2/3 and 4/5 practice the same skills, but many of their activities will be different based on their level.  Fortunately, we have the ability to adjust the height of our hoops, and have a variety of different sized balls available for different skill levels.

One of their favorite shooting games to play is something I call "Spot Shot Basketball".  Students are placed in teams at one end of the gymnasium, with the first student in line starting behind a cone.  On the opposite end of the gym, we have three different sized hoops (small, medium, large).  On that side of the gym, we place down 20+ different circles.  Students take turns dribbling to a circle, taking a shot, and dribbling back to their team.  If they make a basket, they take a bean bag from the sideline, which helps them keep track of points.  At the end of the game, when they make a basket, they take the circle that they shot from.  While we do make this a competition, it's friendly competition, and we cheer for each team as they report their point total.

We are also very fortunate to have projectors available at both Loker and Happy Hollow.  At Happy Hollow, we project onto a screen, and at Loker I just use the gym wall.  I have a selection of videos that I have downloaded from youtube and GoNoodle which have students dancing along to various moves.  Some videos are from the game Just Dance, and they really love those!  We also have videos that have us following directions while moving along to the music.  This also gives us a chance to discuss spatial awareness as we move our bodies around others.  At the end of dance, students will have the opportunity to create their own little dances and have their peers dance along with them!




Monday, December 4, 2017

Striking (Floor Hockey/Pillo Polo)

Hockey is one of my favorite sports to teach, play, and watch!  I have always loved the sport, and as a striking unit, I make sure that we cover it each year.  There are many different movement skills and concepts covered in our lesson plans, and the students really enjoy practicing for their mini-games.

Students in grades K-2 have been using our pillo-polo sticks, which have a handle, a shaft, and what looks like a giant q-tip on the bottom for striking.  These sticks are smaller and softer than our hockey sticks, and provide a larger surface space to hit with.  We cover stick safety, proper way to hold the stick, controlling a ball, spatial awareness, pathways, directions, and speeds.  Students practice dribbling and passing with partners along with shooting on goals.  Our kindergarten students spend more time with dribbling, and might not get to shooting, but still have a blast!  We play dribbling games that keep everyone involved and engaged.  Students in first and second grades have the opportunity to shoot on nets, and are introduced to goalie positioning and strategies.  Some classes will have he opportunity to play in mini-games.

Some grade three students will start the unit with hockey sticks, and some with pillo-polo sticks, it all depends on if I feel that they are ready for hockey sticks or not.  If a third grade class starts with pillo-polo sticks, they will ultimately play a large team game at the end of their unit, and will probably have time with the hockey sticks as well.

Fourth and fifth grade students spend time working on stick drills.  We have students practice dribbling weave drills through cones, passing/receiving, and we play shooting games to practice a safe shot.  We then move onto playing a healthy competitive team game where we focus on safety and sportsmanship.  Fourth and fifth grade students will spend a class playing a pillo-polo game at the end of the unit as well.

Everyone is working hard on developing their striking skills, and I am proud of all classes for being safe and respectful throughout our striking unit!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Wrapping up overhand throwing/catching

With a few spots of nice weather, some classes (2-5) had the opportunity to try some frisbee throwing and catching as well as play a couple of small frisbee related games.  Not all classes had this chance, and with the weather turning wet and cold, I have decided to do more of the frisbee that I had planned in the spring.  I extended the amount of time that we have been spending on overhand throwing and catching.  There are so many fun games that we can play to practice this, that the kids really enjoy!

One activity that we play is called "Super Battleship", and it's a blast!  Modeled after the board game Battleship, we create a wall in the middle of the gym.  We stand the gym mats up and extend them from side to side so that when we have two teams, they can't see the other side.  Each team gets 10 bowling pins as their "ships" that they can set up anywhere on their side as long as they are inside the court lines.  Students can play goalie on their pins, and protect them, while throwing over the mats to hit pins on the other side.  To reset a fallen pin, they can shoot at the main basketball hoop on the other side (the one thing they can see!), if they hit the backboard they can reset one pin, a made basket sets all pins back up.  If students make a catch in the air, they can bring the ball with them to the one small opening we have on the far side of the wall to have a shot at the pins or basket without having to throw over the wall.  We had an absolute blast playing Super Battleship this year!

The next sport specific unit that we will introduce is floor hockey.  The main skill that we are working on is striking with an implement.  We have hockey sticks, pillo polo sticks, and noodles that we will use with groups, depending on the grade level.  All grades will practice their skills and have the opportunity to participate in mini activities.  Depending on how the unit is going with each class, some 3-5 students will have the chance to play in full hockey games towards the end of the unit.

I am looking forward to our hockey unit, it is definitely one of my favorites!

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact me: daniel_oconnor@wayland.k12.ma.us

Thanks!

Dan

Monday, October 23, 2017

"The Conflict Corner"


We talk a lot about the importance of "talking things out" when there is an issue between students in class.  More often than not, a minor disagreement is simply squashed by a game of rock-paper-scissors.  Sometimes we have an issue that is a little more complex, which requires students to take the time to talk things out.  Students have always been encouraged to use their words and communicate how they truly feel.  I feel that these social skills are super important to work on in class, but I also felt like I could be doing more.  

Before the start of the school year, I came across a blog post on a fellow PE teacher blog site, one that I visit often to gather and share ideas.  The title of the post was "The Conflict Corner" and was tagged under classroom management.  The concept is simple, setting up a specific area of the gymnasium where students will go to resolve any conflicts that happen during class.  When a student invites another student to the corner, they must join them, showing good sportsmanship.  Signs are posted at the conflict corner that give students step by step guidance on how to resolve their problem.  Some students won't need this as much, but it is a helpful tool for those that do.
The corner has been created at both schools, and has been used at least a dozen times.  I think that it has really helped students that need assistance in working things out.  It also allows for me to spend more time on helping students with the tasks they are working on.  I am always available for students, and want them to come to me if they have a major issue, but having them figure out solutions to minor problems on their own is incredibly valuable, and this has been a great addition to our PE classes.  

Thank you to Ben Landers at www.thePEspecialist.com for allowing me to use this idea and image!  

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

PE Update: Overhand Throwing

All classes have been working on their overhand throwing through a variety of warm-up activities and larger games.  Here is a recap of what we have been doing with each grade:

Kindergarten: We have just recently introduced throwing to classes.  With kindergarten students only having 30 minutes of physical education, each lesson seems to go incredibly fast!  We spend a lot of time on spatial awareness throughout the year.  We generally spend warm-up time moving, following directions, and working on not crashing while staying on our feet!  

We have discussed the idea of watching our target, arm positioning, and stepping with our opposite foot.  We have also spent time practicing throwing at targets on the gymnasium wall along with introducing mini games that have students getting a lot of chances to throw!

1st Grade:

Students are excited to have 45 minutes in class this year!  We review the spatial awareness concepts that we talked a lot about as kindergarteners, and practice those strategies in warm up activities.  We have also covered the overhand throw and students have been able to participate in fun throwing activities such as "pin guard", "battleship", and "Oscar's Garbage Can".  These are activities that students get a lot of movement in and a ton of practice on their throwing skills.  We have also had students spend time practicing throwing at targets and with partners, so we have talked about catching skills as well.

2nd Grade

As we know, each student is different and each classroom is different!  Second graders have participated in many of the 1st grade activities listed above, but some classes have been challenged to try some more advanced games.  The groups that do an excellent job following directions and try their hardest while being great sports will have opportunities to try games that I generally run with older grades.  In 2nd grade, I start to introduce more fitness based warm-ups using signs and spots for various exercises.  

3rd Grade - 5th Grade:

Students in grades 3-5 were given an overhand throwing assessment, which all classes competed.  We spend more time talking about arm positioning, side orientation, oppositional stepping, trunk rotation, and follow through.  

Many of the third grade classes have been introduced to basic football skills.  We have had the opportunity to throw and catch with partners and in small groups.  Some classes have practiced throwing to partners who are on the run.  All third grade classes will have the chance to play "scooter football" in the gymnasium.  

Our fourth grade classes spend a little more time on football, working on throwing in groups, and throwing and catching on the run.  Defensive concepts are discussed, students in fourth grade will also play scooter football in the gymnasium, and some classes will have the chance to go outside for flag football.

Fifth grade students spend more time on defensive concepts, and will go outside at the end of the unit for a chance to play flag football.  We have many students that either play football at recess or outside of school and are passionate about football, and understand many of the more advanced concepts and rules of the sport.  Unfortunately, we only meet once a week, and like many sports, we I can't cover every little detail!  At the end of our unit I provide students with different options.  Students are not required to play flag football.  For students that are interested in playing a competitive (healthy) game, I have that as an option.  For students that want to learn more about the game, I have a "new to the game" flag football option.  I also create an activity for students using footballs that is completely different from a football game.  

Most classes are at the tail end of our football unit, and it has been a lot of fun!  Our younger students have been having a blast with their throwing games, and will be using a variety of balls, but not footballs quite yet!  

Before I end this update, I wanted to post a quick share.  I have an application on my phone called "Team Shake" that helps create small station groups or even two large teams for classes.  It is an amazing tool to have available for class!  All of the students know about it and understand the process.  Last week, in Mr. O'Donnell's 2nd grade class at Loker, I used it to create partners for a fitness activity.  When I read each pair of students and gave them their assigned spots, the rest of the class gave each student a standing ovation as they went to their spots.  They weren't prompted to do this, it was so organic and awesome.  The smiles on each face as they trotted over to their fitness circle were priceless.  It was five minutes of the day, but it absolutely made my day/week/month. 

Thanks,

Mr. O

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 st...