Monthly Archives: May 2016

End of Year #LastBell

The end of the year is approaching and people are working hard to make sure we aren’t just mailing it in for the last month of school. Andy Milne (@carmelhealth) discussed this on our Blab two weeks ago. His point was we get paid the same rate for the last two weeks that we do for the first two. According to Andy, our effort should remain the same regardless of what time of year we are teaching. 

Jen Hogan, a principal in Alabama, started the hashtag #lastbell for much of the same reason. Here is a large excerpt from her blog:

“Let’s throw that “tradition” on it’s head. Let’s re-evaluate the influence we have on students’ lives. Let’s all join together as an education community to celebrate the time we have left with students. Because, whether it’s August or May, every moment we have with students is valuable.  

Starting on May 2, and every weekday during May, the Voxer group for Women in Educational Leadership is leading a movement on social media to celebrate those who teach until the last bell. This movement includes school leaders, classroom teachers, counselors, and support staff, because in a school, we’re all a part of the group that influences children’s lives. We want you to join us for this incredible movement using the hashtag #lastbell!

Let’s celebrate those who bring it in May! It’s easy… just snap a picture, share a quote, and more to let the world know about those people in your school who make a difference for others. You can share this on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Periscope, and/or your blog. Be sure to use the #lastbell hashtag, since the hashtag will be the “hub” for sharing our celebrations!” Resource link

The irony of the situation is that my students are the happiest they have been all year. The teachers are the ones with the burnout. Why are the students so happy? Reason number one is that the weather is changing in New Jersey.  The students are playing outside for recess more often now. The movement combined with the sun is making a huge difference. The benefits of recess are so numerous that a school in Texas is giving their students 4 recesses a day!!

Another reason my students are so happy is that there are a ton of field trips planned for the end of the school year. When the students are able to make connections outside of the classroom that is where we succeed as teachers. This begs the question why don’t we do more learning outside of the classroom. I know field trips cost money but that doesn’t mean that is the only way to learn outside the classroom. We can take walking tours, team up with local businesses to see how they operate, or simply learn outside. We can use GAFE outside without a wifi signal and it will automatically synch when we enter back onto the wife.

I have made it a point to take my students outside as much as possible this year. I lose some control when a plane from the local army base flies overhead, a bee buzzes past someone’s ear, or the garbage truck comes making more noise than seems necessary. This doesn’t bother me anymore. Hopefully, the students are associating being outside and moving with enjoyment. This is a huge goal of the physical education community. Create a positive association with movement and the environment. The benefits of achieving this goal are on par with teaching students to read or learn mathematics.

If you are burned out take a look at your class. See if they are burned out as well. If they are, shake things up a little. Get out of your classroom. Go to the gazebo, under the trees, or walk to the park. The time you will lose getting there will be more than made up when the students are happy to be there. This positivity will spread to you and help make you a happier teacher. Take pictures and videos of the people who are making a difference at your school and post them to #lastbell. And remember, you get paid just as much during the last week of school as you do during the first week. Thanks for the reminders Andy and Jenn!!!!

Q1. How do you to get the students out of the classroom when you teach?

Q2. How do you minimize distractions when you leave the room?

Q3. What is your favorite field trip you went on as a child?

Q4. What is your students’ favorite field trip to go on now?





Mothers Day

Mother’s Day is quickly fading. The party’s over. Most people are on their way. Their belly’s full of food and drink. Happy memories of children laughing, milestones reached, and the joyous reflection of the journey of life flashes through mother’s heads. For most this is the norm for Mother’s Day. For others, this day is full of sadness. The woman who wants to have children but can’t, the mother whose child died before their expected time, the son or daughter who no longer have a mother to celebrate with or the child who is estranged from their parent.  

This makes me reflect on perspective. The same thing has many meanings to many people. Let’s think about this from a classroom perspective.  What are we doing that we see as positive yet our students may perceive as something else? This is why it is so important that we understand our students and know exactly how our students perceive what we saying.

Relationships are so important for this very reason. It is the job of the teacher to understand how their message is being received by the student. Does the white teacher understand how their student of color truly understands their message? Does the leader of the school understand truly see how their interactions are looked upon by their staff? How does the parent understand the communications between home and school?

The only way to ensure that what we are doing is truly being received in the matter that we intend it to is to keep constant communication with all stakeholders. This involves asking questions, sending out google forms, emails, conferences, and any other way to ensure that your message is being consumed in the way you intend it to.  It is our job to make sure that this occurs.

Q1 How do you send your message to your stakeholders?

Q2 Has any message ever turned out different than you intended? What did you do?

Q3 What do you do to understand your students so that your message comes across as intended?

Rose By Any Other Name

This week I came across an article entitled “Physically literate and physically educated: A rose by any other name” written by Monica Lounsbery and Thomas McKenzie. The premise of the article is that the term “physically literate” is not a change that SHAPE America needed to switch out “physically educated” for, and could possible damage physical education as a whole.

Before we dissect the differences between “physical literate” and “physically educated” I would like to state with great incredulity how quickly SHAPE America did something!

“Without widespread consultation within the profession (e.g., discussion and debate at national conferences) or extensive committee work or marketing research, the term physically literate replaced the term physically educated in the 2013 release of the U.S. national K-12 PE content standards. The lack of broad engagement in professional discourse and market research prior to this replacement is concerning given the extensive effort the profession previously undertook to define a physically educated person.” link

We hear all the time about how long it takes an organization as big as SHAPE America to make changes; however, it seems that when enough people in power feel a change is needed things can be done swiftly.  After reading this article I wonder did they move too quickly? How did they move so quickly from physically educated to physically literate yet completely ignore social media for almost 5 years?

This brings us to the question of why. Why was there a need for SHAPE America to change from the physically educated student to the physically literate student? According to Lounsbery and McKenzie there wasn’t a large clamoring for the change. They couldn’t find any documented criticism of the term “physically educated” or backlash against the 1986 (old) outcomes.

The answer may be in this publication from Dr. Paul Roetert, Chief Executive Officer of SHAPE America, which you can find here.

Although the case can be made that becoming physically educated in the broad sense is a life-long endeavor, most people identify physical education as a subject area taught within the school curriculum.”

What I surmised from this statement is that the name change was needed because people may have confused the “physically educated” student with the class Physical Education. Is that the only reason why we undertook this massive overhaul?

Another theory some physical educators have is that we are always battling against the “old” reputation of physical education teachers. We have an inferiority complex that has lasted over 50 years. Physical educators are always trying to prove they are “real” teachers. Due to this lack of acceptance we follow general education trends and allow the pendulum to swing wildly from one direction to the other. Lounsbery and McKenzie sum this up purposefully:

“… (in) response to the general education movement to emphasize morals, values, responsibility, respect for self and others (sometimes referred to as the hidden curriculum), PE responded with character education curriculum models. Similarly, when general education emphasized inquiry based learning, team building, and curriculum integration, PE followed with the movement education and sport education models and efforts to increase academic subject matter integration (e.g., math and reading) into PE. Efforts to keep up with educational trends, plus the profession’s own development, resulted in so many changes in emphases over a 50-year period (e.g., play education, developmental education, humanistic education, personal meaning, movement education, kinesiological studies) that PE has been referred to as the “chameleon of all curricula”.

The changes were made before the ESSA act elevated and acknowledged health and physical education as part of a student’s “well-rounded” education. Maybe this will settle our profession down and help them realize we are our own subject that should address the whole child but focus on physical activity and health.

Although the impetus for the change still remains unclear to me let’s analyze what the terms “physically literate” and “physically educated” are defined as. SHAPE America defines physical literacy as, “…the ability, confidence and desire to be physically active for a lifetime.” (link) Physical literacy should focus on the following:

  • A renewed focus on the importance of the physical educator in the school setting
  • Deliberate practice of well-designed learning tasks that allow for skill acquisition in an instructional climate focused on mastery
  • Recognition of the term “literacy”, paralleling the terminology used in other subjects such as health, reading and mathematics
  • Adoption of the concept within sport, recreation and other physical activities to create lifetime opportunities for all
  • Embracing the concept to enrich the quality of our own lives as well as those around us
  • A decrease in sedentary behavior, overall inactivity and obesity rates in our country

NASPE only defined a “physically educated” individual in the frame of what a “physically educated” student should be able to do:

  1. performs a variety of physical activities;
  2. is physically fit;
  3. participates regularly in physical activity;
  4. knows the implications and benefits from involvement in physical activities and
  5. values physical activity and its contributions to a healthful lifestyle. (link)

Now that we understand what the terms are, how are they different? Take a look at Lounsbery and McKenzie analysis of the outcomes (standards) changes that occurred when SHAPE America moved from “physically educated” to the current “physically literate” wording and revamped the standards.

When Lounsbery and McKenzie analyzed the old standards versus the new standards they became worried that physical education had moved away from the psychomotor domain and into the cognitive domain. They stated:

“Table 2 shows that most of the words remain the same, but those that have changed clearly reflect a shift away from doing (2004 standards) to knowing (2013 standards). This is of great concern for us, and it leads us to question whether the difference in being physically literate and physically educated is the difference between knowing and doing?” (link)

I am not sure I wholeheartedly agree with that statement. Here is my breakdown of their argument. The tables below show their breakdown of the current and previous standards.



Standard 1

Change: “The word variety moved from referring to physical activities generally to referring to motor skills and movement patterns.  Competency in movement patterns and motor skills are no longer contextualized as being needed to participate in physical activities.”

Did we really need to have physical activity in that standard? Where else would we be demonstrating competency in motor skills and movement patterns? Aren’t motor skills and movement patterns physical activity? Standard 1 does not support their fear that we are moving from doing to knowing.

Standard 2

Change: “Understanding is changed to applies knowledge.  Application to learning and performing physical activities is removed.

Applying knowledge is a step toward movement not away from it. The subtraction of physical activities and replacement of movement and performance does not mean that physical activities are eliminated. I don’t know any movements or performances applying standard 2 that aren’t physical activities. The change to Standard 2 does not support the argument that movement is being replaced with sedentary learning.

Standard 4 (old) Standard 3 (new)

Change: “Adds demonstrates the knowledge and skills to achieve.”

Lounsbery and McKenzie state, “The standard, once primarily psychomotor, is now firmly placed within the cognitive domain. A PE program now no longer is expected to actually improve fitness or engage students in physical activity.” There are numerous problems with this summary. The first complication of the argument is that if physical education see their students once or twice a week physical fitness is not a realistic goal. Physical education teachers are not fitness instructors. We can not control what happens outside of our class. Fitness is only achieved with regular exercise. Having students for 20-60 min of mvpa per week is not an attainable goal for students to achieve and maintain physical fitness.The change was necessary.

The second problem with this argument is that demonstration does not disallow movement. It is true that the teacher could allow a paper and pencil test to demonstrate but it can also be done by having the students demonstrate through movement activities. I have faith that physical education teachers will assess using movement activities over sedentary assessments.

Standard 5 (old) Standard 4 (new)

Changes: Reference to physical activity settings was removed.

Are we only teaching our students about physical education? I teach students who have lives before and after my class. I would hope what I teach goes way beyond just physical activities. The lessons they learn about teamwork, socialization, work ethic, physical fitness, etc., will be used not only in school but in life. The removal of physical activity settings forces the teachers to understand that we are teaching our students about life not about physical activities.

Standard 6 (old) Standard 5 (new)

Changes: Recognizing the value of physical activity has replaced actually valuing it.

This change makes sense to me. How do we assess if a student values something? Do we send out questionnaires? Have them document them valuing physical activity? Our job is to give the student all the information they need to live a healthy active life. What they do with that information is up to them.

Standard 3 (old)

Changes: Eliminated

I understand that we want students to participate in physical activity but we can’t demand they do it outside of our class. Physical literacy stresses the benefit of lifetime movement which will allow students to be engaged in physical activities before, during, and after our class. When we get students to buy into physical literacy they will naturally be physically active.

In summary, I do not believe that changing the changing the main objective of physical education away from the “physically educated” to the “physically literate” student is a negative. There may be a slight shift to the cognitive over the psychomotor is teachers choose to structure their class in that fashion. I believe that most physical education teachers will incorporate these standards and keep or add mvpa time to their classes.


EdCamp Garden State

Yesterday I went to to EdCamp Garden State. The first session I went to was facilitated by @mrfieldmanchs. The session was all about social justice. One of the main nuggets I came away with is that in order to have a discussion about social justice we have to start with the definition of privilege. According to the, “We can define privilege as a set of unearned benefits given to people who fit into a specific social group.” Once we understand privilege we can have the hard conversations about our privilege and how that affects our students. I also noticed that I manterrupted @jacq_mccarthy during the session. I apologized to her after the session. At least I am aware of my micro-aggressions these days. The conversations were productive and reinforced that we need to infuse social justice across the year and not just fit them into separate months. 

Jacqueline (@jacq_mccarthy) ran a session on Buncee.  For those of you like myself who don’t know what Buncee is :

Buncee® is a whole new way of creating and sharing online and mobile greetings, memories, interests, new finds, business stories and more in a unique, fun and social way. By leveraging the capabilities of online tools and iOS devices, buncee makes it easy for even the most ‘non-technical’ individuals to create and share engaging and interactive multi-media creations that can be shared publicly or privately.

Our web-based platform provides users with multiple easy-to use tools to add personal photos, text, drawings, and online content such as YouTube videos, Soundcloud audio, flickr, Google, or public Instagram images into a digital canvas called a ‘buncee’ that can be shared among all your social and private networks with just a few clicks.

It was a great session. The part I liked the best was that she gave people the time to play around with the new tool.  I think of Buncee as an interactive flyer or slide show. There will be so many ways you can use this product!! I will be using Buncee in the future.

The final session I went to with great trepidation. I thought was going to be a whining session. The session was called teacher burnout. I went on the off chance that it was going to be about how to prevent it instead of just complaining how hard everything is in schools today. There was some complaining but the facilitator was writing down ideas on how what we do in our schools to prevent burnout as well as how to change our school climate. The room was sharing multiple ideas and it stayed positive for most of the session.

One nugget that came out of the session was that one teacher stated he received an email from his supervisor on Friday afternoon that they wanted to meet with them on Monday. The email did not have any details on what the tone or the reason for the meeting was. We discussed how much this bothers teachers. It ruins the nights and weekends of teachers. I understand that appointments need to be made but I am sure that teachers would much rather meet that day then chew on something for an entire night or weekend. Check out this link  for the sessions as well as the session notes.

Special shot goes out to reconnecting with my man TJ Mckinney (@tj9er) who was my pseudo roommate in college!! It has been years since we hung out! Kudos to Dan Whalen (@whalen) for organizing and running such a wonderful event!

Q1: What program do you use to make flyers in your classroom? #slowchatpe

Q2: What are your thoughts about Buncee? #slowchatpe

Q3:  How do you avoid burnout? #slowchatpe

Q4: What is one tip that helps keep your staff culture warm and friendly? #slowchatpe

Q5: What lessons do you keep for the end of the year to combat student burnout?  #slowchatpe