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 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. 


Mr. O

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