Monthly Archives: March 2015

Send “brain breaks” to Extinction!

Words shape thoughts and thoughts shape actions. If you have ever played sports you know this as fact. What do you do when someone makes two basketball shots in a row? Tell them that no one makes three.  Put your fingers in your ears when the ball bricks off the rim.  What does the guy on the free throw line do when taking his shot? Tells himself he is going to make it. Self-talk is just one way that words shape our thoughts.

Different languages associate gender with nouns. This affects the way that the same objects are viewed by different cultures.  This article from Newsweek does a much better job explaining why language changes the way different cultures view the world.

The power of words and thoughts are so strong that we have words that are not allowed to be said anymore in America.  Football teams are having to remove their nicknames because the words are offensive to people. Why does it matter to them? It matters because words shape thoughts and thoughts shape actions.

This brings me to the point of my blog.  I am starting a trend to eliminate the term “brain break”.  That term makes it seem like people who are exercising as a break from sitting are temporarily stopping their learning.  This bothers me. We know the science behind exercise.  “According to a study done by the Department of Exercise Science at the University of Georgia, even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions.” When we move we are not taking a break we are creating a brain boost!

Recent research from UCLA demonstrated that exercise increased growth factors in the brain- making it easier for the brain to grow new neuronal connections.” It is really simple.  The more we move the better it is for our brains. This is why I am publicly petitioning @gonoodle to get rid of the term “brain break”.  I believe that brain boost would be a much better term that will encourage people to move and make time to improve their learning.

Q1: What words in the English language really bother you? Why? #slowchatpe

Q2: What is a phrase that your ss say that drives you crazy? Why? #slowchatpe

Q3: What is a phrase that your co-workers say that drive you insane? Why? #slowchatpe

Q4: What is a phrase that your bosses say that grinds your gears? Why? #slowchatpe

Q5: What phrase motivates you the best? Why? #slowchatpe


Two Mistakes Two Causes Championed

Response To Blog:

The blog that was published by OPEN was posted this week.  It addressed many issues that I was worried about in my blog.  The one area that was cleared up for me is that OPEN continues to demand ownership for anything physical education teachers post.  I do not care if OPEN is owned by a corporation or an individual.  I do not want to hand over my intellectual property and say here you can own this for free.  It goes against everything I believe in.  PE Central allows you to submit but they pay you $50.  I do not think that the company or anyone working for OPEN has ill intent.  My problem is the principle of the situation.

They claim that they must demand this for liability purposes.  I am not a lawyer but PE Universe, which allows users to submit videos, is owned by Gopher and they have this posted on their site:


The main part that pertains to us is this statement: “For clarity, you retain all of your ownership rights in your User Submissions.”  Why can’t OPEN do this?

The site is an awesome place for resources that I will definitely use but until the ownership issue is changed I will not submit any lessons to the site.  If you understand they own your material and agree that for the good of the profession I will hand over my property and all rights to it than I support you doing that.

The idea is great, the people who worked on it is great, and the final product is great.  I am just wary of the submission part.

What is my role in social media? This week I made two mistakes using social media and championed two areas of social media that I found morally outrageous.  First let me start out with my missteps.  Neither mistake was make or break but at the same time neither mistake makes me proud to think about.  The first mistake I made was on Voxer yesterday.  I let my sense of humor get carried away and starting making jokes that were inappropriate in mixed company.  The jokes were not super offensive but I definitely crossed the line between professional and personal.  This is something that happened so quickly that I barely even realized it happened until Mary Neal (@mrsneal0) helped me realize that I need to be cognizant of all the words that leave my mouth.

The second mistake I made was I let my emotions get in the way of logic.  I publicly called someone out that tweeted something somewhat sardonic in response to my questions.   This person deleted the tweet but I did not have the class to let it go.  I quickly stood on top of my soapbox and responded to the tweet. My response was respectful but unnecessary.  I apologize to this person profusely and don’t want them to think that my behavior is acceptable to me.

Now onto two other moments of the week that made me realize that my role in social media is changing.  @rusulalrubair and I started on Twitter at the same time.  We started following each other and I have enjoyed watching her go from a very pleasant, but timid social media presence, to a voice for equality and equity for all.  Today I was extremely disheartened to read her blog about a school in New York state’s reaction to a student reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic.

“Many students reportedly shouted their disapproval during the recitation, and later complained on social media.  Later in the afternoon, the school’s principal made a school-wide announcement to explain why the pledge was read in Arabic and to apologize to those who took offence.  Ms. Carbone said the pledge would only be read in English in the future.”

My only response to this is to respond WHAT!!! You apologized as well as stated that it would only be read in English?!! Does speaking English make you a better citizen than someone who speaks Arabic?  Is the Pledge only allowed to be spoken in English?  What are we saying when our educational system lets its students and families be explicitly treated like second class citizens and then apologizing to the wrong group of people!! I will not keep quiet when I read about bigotry and injustice.  Arabic and terrorism are not synonymous.  As Rusul states in her blog they don’t even speak Arabic in Afghanistan!

The second event that occurred this week is the unveiling of US Games lesson plan creator OPEN.  OPEN is a, “backward designed curriculum project that targets SHAPE America’s National Standards & Grade-Level Outcomes.”  The idea behind OPEN is a great one.  Free lessons for teachers and exposure for US Games. I applauded all this until I read the following:

“By hitting submit, you grant US Games all rights and ownership of the work submitted in addition to any derivatives of the work.”

This bothers me that they want to own my intellectual property.  When this was brought to the attention of the Physical Education Voxer community it immediately raised questions.  Instead of assuming the corporation was evil I contacted several members of the OPEN Development Council.  We have spoken to two members of the council which did not clear up the confusion we have.  I am waiting for a response from Aaron Hart which will hopefully clear this up for myself and the physical education community.  Regardless of the outcome this has made me realize that my role in social media has shifted from taker to questioner.

So what does all this have to do with my role in social media? This week made me realize that my words and actions can help make a change.  They can also make me look petty and juvenile.  I want my role to be that of someone who is constantly pushing myself and others to grow.  I want to learn more, think deeper, rail against injustice, and help change the world.  This can only happen if I hold myself to a higher standard than I have acted this week.

Q1:  What is your role on Social Media? #slowchatpe

Q2:  What do you have to do to protect your “brand” on sm? #slowchatpe

Q3:  How do you protect yourself from becoming too emotionally involved on sm? #slowchatpe

Q4: What do you do to protect education? #slowchatpe

Q5:  What warning would you give new people to sm? #slowchatpe

How Do I Step Out of Myself?

How do I step out of myself? That is a question that I have been wrestling with. I am in a book club on Voxer.  The book we are discussing is The Missing Voices in EdTech.  The subject of minorities and being shut out of edtech, having their ideas stolen, and the lack of diversity at conferences has been coming up over and over. The only problem I have is that I don’t see any of that where I come from.  The superintendent in my school is a woman, the staff is 90% women, and the main IT guy is black.  This means that those who make the decisions for technology (superintendent and IT) are minorities and the staff is made up of minorities.  The school is forward thinking, we have 1-1 for grades 3-5.  Technology is being embraced by minorities faster than kids agreeing that adding chocolate chips to pancakes makes them infinitely better.  My school does lack racial diversity in staff and students though.  My problem is how do I put that all aside and truly understand the plight of minorities in the United States?

I am much more aware of race now than I have ever been before. I walk into places and recognize that there are very few minorities outside of women at conferences and school events. Part of that is the school I work at is 95% white. The other problem, which seems to be widely accepted, is that minorities are not represented well throughout the ranks of educators and administrators.  This is a problem that needs to be addressed.

@adamphowell wrote a great piece this week asking “Do we have the equity of voice our profession needs as part of the discussion?”  He posted these results from a survey his team put out:


Those results are alarming. It is alarming from a socially connected POV, from an educator POV, and from the physical education teacher community POV.

Not only does it make minorities uncomfortable the teaching profession is losing out on a whole majority of voices. When we have people all cut from the same cloth making decisions group think is bound to occur. We need all walks of life to push education forward.

I am Jewish. That is not considered a minority. I have taken heat for this my whole life but I am able to go places where people look at me as being white. It has got to be brutal to constantly think you are the only representative of your race or gender in whatever meetings or conferences you go to.

When I hear about inequity and injustice I want to do something. I want to change things. When I presented at my last two conferences the subject was on social media and technology. Before my session I was actively trying to find minorities and inviting them to my session. I did not approach them and say hello you are a minority would you come to my session but I was conscious of the audience that I wanted to reach.  I want to be a change agent. Whether or not this was the right way to go about it I do not know. What I want to know is how can I right these wrongs that are occurring.

This brings me all the way back to the beginning. How do I step out of what I see and know? The answer I came up with is I will just start to listen. I will close my mouth and listen. I will hear what is being said and marinate on it. I will mull it over. This week I encourage all people but especially minorities make your voice heard. Enlighten me as to what I am missing. I will not be commenting on any of my thoughts this week. Any questions will be asked to clarify a response.  This week please tell the world your story.

Q1. Is your school district represented with the same staff and student racial makeup?  #slowchatpe

Q2. What should school districts do to ensure that their staff is more culturally diverse if they aren’t already? #slowchatpe

Q3. Do schools do enough to encourage all ss? Why or why not? #slowchatpe

Q4. Do we teach cultural differences in our class? How? #slowchatpe

Q5. What can educators do to become culturally literate? #slowchatpe


This week I received an email from a parent inquiring why their student was, “Taking surveys about how they liked the class and what they thought about it.” You would think the parent would be congratulating me on taking an interest in what their child thought about my class. At least that was what I was expecting.  The email continued to inquire an explanation of why this is happening and a copy of my curriculum.  That was not the direction I had expected our communication to travel. I have to admit the email did have a connotation.

The author’s son was given a google form that asked him, “What can Mr. S. do to improve your motivation in his class?” The second question asked the student to rank their amount of movement in my physical education class from 1-10.  This was the full extent of the questionnaire.  It was two questions long.  I do not know if the parent knew the extent of the research I was conducting before the email.

Why doesn’t this parent understand what I am doing? Don’t they trust me enough to run my own class?  I had to step back.  I put myself in their shoes. My child comes home and tells me they were using technology in physical education class. This doesn’t seem to make sense on the surface. I get it.  As a teacher I have to be my own best advocate.  I can either become defensive and moan and complain like we hear teachers do all the time, or I can rise to the occasion and educate them on how much education is changing toward becoming student centered.

I am choosing to meet with the parent and educate them as to why it is so important that I infuse technology and student voice/choice into my program.  The main reason I gave the survey is because I wanted to do action research into the motivation of my students during my class. I will start the conversation with this fact from the Michigan University.

Receiving student feedback in the middle of the semester can help you know what you are doing that facilitates the learning of the students and it will help make you aware of any difficulties they may be having with your instruction. (Improving Your Teaching: Obtaining Feedback  Adapted from Black (2000) Center for Research on Learning and Teaching)

This shows concrete evidence why it is so important to have students communicate with the teacher and allow them to understand who they are teaching.

Now that the research supports my practice I will inform her about the Danielson evaluation system.  The system specifically states:

The complexity of teaching requires continued growth and development in order for teachers to remain current. Staying informed and increasing skills allows teachers to become more effective and to exercise leadership among their colleagues. Academic disciplines and pedagogies have evolved. Refine their understanding of how to engage students in learning.

This is the most important part of our conversation.  The model that I get evaluated on demands that I implement these practices. Whether you agree with Danielson’s model or any other they ALL agree that developing and maintaining relationships with students is so important. When we can understand what they want to do, we can understand what motivates them.  This is something that can make my life and the student’s life better. You tell me what you want to learn or do and I will find a way to incorporate that into my lesson.

An example of this is when a student approached me and stated that he hated dance.  I understand this feeling. I am not the best dancer naturally and never practice the skill. This does not bode well for me ever improving in that area. The student stated they would rather be playing basketball. This is a chance to use student voice/choice or pull the power my class my lesson card. The opportunity was perfect to marry what we both wanted to do. I offered the student the idea that they could use basketballs to demonstrate rhythm and movement to a 4X8 meter.  The student accepted and both parties left winners. The point of that anecdote was that when you understand what students want to do and can tie it in with what you want to do learning is more fun and less stress.

This is another opportunity for me to show the world how education has evolved into a place of inclusion instead of exclusion.  We all have gifts and interests.  The trick is finding out what they are in each of our students and encouraging them to pursue what they find enjoyable.

This week will be extra special at #slowchatpe because Sandy Otto will have her class tweeting all week with us!!!  More student voice = more empowerment!  Join us this week to Tweet with @sandyotto class about motivation!

Q1: Do grades motivate students/you to try their/your best? #slowchatpe

Q2: What are motivating words, songs, or movies that inspire you/ss to give it their all? #slowchatpe

Q3: How so you motivate your classmates/ss to work hard and try their best? #slowchatpe

Q4: Do you as a student/teacher get motivated by your classmates/ss? If so when or how? #slowchatpe

Q5: What is something that the school could do to help motivate you? (ts and ss) #slowchatpe

From Good to Great

We have all heard the Greek myth of Icarus.  Icarus’s father warns him first of complacency and then of hubris, asking that he fly neither too low nor too high, because the sea’s dampness would clog his wings or the sun’s heat would melt them.  This is the story that closest resembles my life. I did not want to get too high because life would kick me down. I did not want to be too low because then my life would be meaningless. That all changed when I read the book entitled Good to Great penned by James C. Collins.

The book analyzed why some companies were able to achieve statistical greatness while others didn’t.  It researched companies that were good than hit a transition point where they went on a 15 year tear with stock returns that averaged 6.9 times the general market average. (read the book for more explanation)  The quote that really resonated with me came from the bottom of page 71.  It stated, “There is nothing wrong with pursuing a vision for greatness.”  That statement right there gave me the freedom to imagine being great.  I was able to change my mindset and start believing that greatness is in my future.  That is step one to greatness. Believing that

I understand that greatness and arrogance have a close relationship, but they are not mutually exclusive.  I can want to be great without having other people be beneath me. In my perfect world we would all be great.  I do not need to step on others to get to the top; however, I definitely need the help of others to achieve greatness.   See the story of complacency and hubris is true in attitude not outlook.  We can want to get better while all the time understanding we are not the best.  Sports has taught me this lesson time and time again.  There is always someone faster, stronger, or better at something I do. It is not about what they are doing but about how I am bettering myself.  How am I training to excel in life?

This week I watched the culmination of an idea come to fruition.  William Bode (@bodepe) and I started a physical education Voxer group toward the end of last school year.  It has grown to something that is way beyond anything we could imagine.  There are Voxer groups for Elementary, Middle and High school PE and Health.  There are groups for Field Day, assessments, solo taxonomy, technology in pe, and so many more.  It has become the greatest form of professional development that I have ever used.

If you are interested in Voxer and you are a physical education or health teacher; Mike Graham (@pe4everykid) and Lynn Burrows (@lovepeme) have created the best introduction to Voxer you could wish for.  It has links to how to download and start on Voxer, what the chat groups are, lesson plans from over 50 teachers, and so much more! This link to Voxer Form may just be the link that takes you from being a good teacher to being a great one! If you are an educator and are interested in Voxer contact (@schleiderjustin)  to get put in SatChat where we post a question a day about education.

Q1:  Do you want to be great? Why or why not? #slowchatpe

Q2: Is being great a growth mindset or just arrogant? Why? #slowchatpe

Q3: What are doing to better yourself? #slowchatpe

Q4: What are you doing to better others? #slowchatpe

Q5: How can we convince our students that greatness is achievable? #slowchatpe