Monthly Archives: September 2017

7 minutes out of 45 MVPA

“The term in loco parentis, Latin for “in the place of a parent” refers to the legal responsibility of a person or organization to take on some of the functions and responsibilities of a parent.” (link) Using that line of thought, do we have a moral and ethical responsibility similar to the legal responsibilities to those same students? I believe we do and that our job is to teach the whole child. This means that I have to address their emotional, social, and spiritual well-being as well as their physical wellness.

To be honest this has pushed me further out of my comfort zone than I had anticipated. I am not explicitly teaching in the psychomotor domain but instead focusing on the affective domain. It is counter-intuitive for me. Shouldn’t I be focused on how they are moving not why? If I was looking for the short term I would say yes. I care more about the long game though. How can I set my students up to realize that movement is beneficial to them for now and the future? How can I create an atmosphere and culture that invites ALL the students in? That’s what I care more about. As the month comes to a clear I will move along into a more Game Sense/TGFU lesson with the help of Seth Martin’s yearly plan.

My 4th, 5th, and 6th graders have all been playing their own games or physical activities and reflecting on why they chose and enjoyed that activity. My 4th graders have moved from partners to small groups. They will finish with large group games next week. We will then compare and contrast those activities.

I taught one lesson to my 6th grade that had only 6 minutes of mvpa time. This particular class needed to discuss racism, race, and discrimination. I spoke with Andy Milne and he gave me the idea to jigsaw four stories that Students of Color had told during a radio interview. Each group read one story, wrote their thoughts down on a whiteboard, and then presented their story and thoughts to the class. Each group also had a second whiteboard to write down any thoughts they had about another groups story. We were able to speak about the n-word, discrimination, prejudice, race, and how they will be in a much more diverse school next year.

The lack of movement in the class was a necessary trade for the knowledge and discussion that was engaged in. I am not advocating that this should be the norm or that any other Phys Ed classes I teach will have such low mvpa (moderate to vigorous physical activity). The point is that I teach the entirety of children. If there is an issue that needs to be addressed I will do what is necessary to address it in the best way I know how. If this means that I have to deviate from the norm than that is what I will do.

My pre-k to 3rd graders have been working on locomotor movements and spacing. I have used this game to teach spacing and defense from Brian Lewis. It is an awesome way to incorporate underhand toss, defense, and spacing. I also snuck pivoting in as well. The basic idea is for two students to pass the ball to each other using the underhand toss. You can not take any steps with the ball you can only pivot and turn. Once you reach the other side of the gym the goal is to knock down a bowling pin. As the game progresses you can add defenders and move the approach line back. The kids loved it.

I also used this game created by Joey Feith and posted on his website. The beauty of this is that I brought up the video in the gym and we did each build together. The students loved the game, especially the booty box! As you can tell I am using the resources I come across to bring a better experience for my students. That is the importance of being connected. It is not look at what I am doing. It is look at how I am becoming a better teacher for my students by using the resources that I have come across.

Speaking of another really cool resource Mike Ginicola posted this really cool resource utilizing cartoon characters and locomotor movements. The students did different movements in order to get from one character to the next. I switched it up a bit and had the pdf projected and had them do the movement while saying the alphabet or counting to 10. This was a very easy and effective lesson because I didn’t have to create the resource. Again that is the beauty of being a connected educator. I want to work smarter not harder.


Hopefully, this will help someone else with either the resources I have linked or the idea that teaching to the affective may be more important than teaching explicitly to the psychomotor for Physical Education teachers. Crazy humanism approach to teaching. I know.


Most Important Standards

Here are the most important standards for 4th, 5th, and 6th grade Physical Education to me.

Describes/compares the positive social interactions when engaged in partner, small-group and large-group physical activities. (S5.E4.4)

Describes the social benefits gained from participating in physical activity (e.g., recess, youth sport). (S5.E4.5)

Identifies the components of physical activity that provide opportunities for reducing stress and for social interaction. (S5.M2.6) Describes how moving competently in a physical activity setting creates enjoyment. (S5.M4.6)

We have spent the first week breaking the standard down together as a class into kid-friendly language. Once the students came up with their definition and we had discussed it as a class they wrote it in their Seesaw account and sent it home to their parents and guardians.

They spent the rest of the class creating and playing partner games. At the end of the class, they wrote down why they enjoyed doing the activity with their partners. We will move on to small and large groups with the same idea of deconstructing what makes it enjoyable to move with other people.

Once we have all the information we will attempt to make a concept map. This will guide us throughout the year on why we are moving and what we gain from doing it with other people. It’s not fancy or especially tech savvy. It’s just the most important thing I can possibly help my students to discover and analyze.

Charlottesville Teach-in

Educators, begin the school year strong with pedagogical strategies that counter larger systems of oppression.

Join MAPSO Freedom School and other educators for a Charlottesville Teach-In, your critical professional development and back-to-school anti-racist survival guide. After large group discussion on the social/historical context of the terror in Charlottesville, breakout sessions will focus on responsible teaching in a violent culture, the intersections of race and standardized testing, addressing systems of oppression in subjects like math and science, language and false narratives, and the role of white educators in both upholding and dismantling systems of oppression.

This is the event that I attended on Saturday, September 9, 2017. It started with a keynote from Dr. Leslie Wilson. He had a couple of statements that really made me ponder. The first one was that in 2045 the census bureau predicts that the United States “becomes a majority minority”. What does that mean for us as a country politically, racially, educationally, and all the other allys that I am missing? Will the shoe finally be on the other foot? Where will the power and money be shifted? Will we have to wait that long for us to finally acknowledge our sordid past?

The next point he raised was that the statues in Charlottesville were dedicated to traitors to our country who lost the war. What other country are traitors celebrated with streets and statues lionizing them? Could you imagine a Hitler Avenue (thanks Dr. Bree) in Germany or Stalin Drive in Italy? It’s that simple. There is no discussion or argument that can erase that fact.

One of Dr. Wilson’s other fantastic illuminations is that we have to teach our children that America is not the perfect country that we pretend it is. He didn’t end there though. His full statement was, “America has never been perfect we are working toward perfection. Our students will lead us there.” That is powerful. We have to acknowledge our past but still aim for the American dream of becoming the land of the free and the brave. I too believe that our students can lead us there.

The next speakers were named Dr. Rhea Almeida and Diana Melendez. They both worked for the the The Institute of Family Services. Their talk was the kind that I really dig. They had a clip from the movie Watching Even the Rain. After the clip was shown we had the most interesting dialogue based on this image.


The amazing part was that the audience was filled with such a bastion of social justice knowledge that the discussion was rolling deep. It’s truly astounding when a group of brilliant people (myself excluded) can riff about something. It was a shame the time was so short because the dialogue could have continued for an hour easily.

The dialogue centered around the characters and what their hierarchy of power, privilege, and oppression was. It was interesting how point of view has a lot to do with privilege. There were a couple of people who thought one character was Latino while others thought he was white. That interpretation of race changes where the character would be placed on the prism. How often in life does that happen with people? We assume a person is one thing when they identify as another. How does that change where society places them on the pyramid?

After the two speaking slots, we went to a breakout session.  The session I chose was about anti racism in elementary (primary) schools. Dr. Bree did an excellent job of having us interact with each other, getting out of our seats, and creating a safe space to speak.

The major takeaway that I was really able to reflect on was that at this juncture we need to camouflage culturally responsive teaching into our lessons. Any system has its rules and norms. School is no different. One of the rules we need to follow is that we must teach the standards that we are certified in. Some feel the standards need to go but that is a discussion for a different day. When we take the king’s gold (get paid) we sing the king’s song (follow the rules). With that being said every subject has a standard where social justice can be infused with it.

Here are 8 quick examples of how you can be “covered” or “justify” to your administration and guardians why you are teaching culturally responsive or anti racist material in your class. Every one of them is a New Jersey standards that should be mastered by 4th/5th grade.

Social Studies: Equality and fairness. Jim Crow discussion here we go! 1


Math: Fractions. 3/5 compromise would fit in perfectly here. 



Social Studies: Historical Text. Say no more. 4


Science: Natural Resources. Humans are natural resources. Discussion on slavery and not being compensated for your labor. 



Technology: Learners of other cultures. Engage with people and their cultures who don’t look and act like your students. 



Art: Compare and Contrast. Find work from People of Color and various time periods. Great way to show the value they have added instead of highlighting the plight or deficit of PoC. 



Language: Culturally authentic materials. IT’S TELLING YOU BRING IN VARIOUS VOICES!



Physed/Health: Basic human need. Discrimination! Mic drop. I’m out 


The point of those examples was to show that in order to be a culturally responsive teacher we don’t have to go outside our area of expertise. The standards are there supporting us! We just have to embrace them.

Dr. Wilson brought up the point that waiting until college to teach our students the real history of the United States is wrong. I believe we need to start discussing skin color, religion, gender, disabilities, and any other identifiable factor with our students starting in kindergarten. Read this to verify the following facts:

Infants begin to notice and respond to skin color cues ( around 6 months old)

1-2 year olds are curious about physical characteristics of self and others (skin color, hair texture, gender anatomy); May “match” people based on physical characteristics.

3-4 year olds Identify and match people according to “racial” physical characteristics and groups, but often confused about complexities of group categories (e.g., “” How can two
children with dark brown skin be in different groups, e.g., African American and
Mexican American).

5-6 year olds Show evidence of societal messages affecting how they feel about their self and /or group identity, i.e., evidence of beginnings of internalized superiority (IS) or
internalized oppression

May select to play only with children close to their gender and racial/cultural
identities, but may also reject members of their own racial/cultural group (e.g.
darker skinned African American children, Spanish-speaking Latino children)

May use prejudicial insults and name-calling to show anger or aggression, knowing
that these terms hurt.

Do those facts make you think we need to wait to talk about visually identifying characteristics? Dr. Bree hammered it home when she said we teach our preschoolers to sort by colors and then turn around and say our kids don’t see color.

I would like to thank Mapso and specifically Okaikor for creating a day that can change students lives. The time for talking is over. We now need to take what we are learning and put it to good use.



Depression is Real

This week I have a guest blog that cut right to the heart of what depression is and what it looks like. Take a look at what is going on with the people around you and be cognizant of any changes in them. You never know where and when depression may strike.

I can’t stand this constant feeling of self-doubt and worthlessness. I’ve always been one that has poo-pooed mental health issues, especially “depression”. Maybe I felt that the term was just thrown around too often and easily, or that I possibly didn’t think it truly existed. That was until just recently when I came to the realization that I was stuck in the middle of a depressive episode that wouldn’t go AWAY!!  I’ve always had these feeling of self-doubt, low self-esteem, sadness, fatigue, etc., but I would simply attribute it to stress. Everyone has stress, everyone feels this way sometimes, right??  As I write this, I hope it provides me with a way to deal with this current episode. About 2-3 weeks ago, with the start of a new school year, I noticed these feelings starting overcoming me. As I dismissed it as stress, I went about my normal routine of exercising, eating right, working on what I was passionate about (PE, Teaching).

Previously, these feeling would subside after a day or two so I wouldn’t think anything of it. This time days went by and they were still there, getting stronger. One of the first things I did was look up symptoms of “depression” on WebMD, Mayo Clinic, and CDC websites. As I scanned the list of symptoms I was able to check them ALL of, and it hit me like a ton of bricks!!  The biggest thing that I noticed was that I had NO desire to do anything that normally mattered to me. I stopped working out, began to eat like crap, had no interest in Social Interaction (left all Social Media).  To make things worse, this all began as the school year started. I do my best to put on a good show at school!! It’s a struggle at times, but being with the kids makes it easier. By the end of the day, I’m beyond exhausted. I’m at the point where I stopped bringing anything home to work on, I’m considering NOT having my after-school running program, stopped helping other teachers. I tend to stay in my hole, come and go without much interaction at all. It’s tough to get excited about things when you feel like nobody appreciates you and what you try to offer. Professionally, I’ve offered to help or be apart of special/extra groups or projects that I’m extremely interested in, but have been told no or have simply heard no response after days/weeks.

I’m at the point where I stopped bringing anything home to work on, I’m considering NOT having my after-school program, stopped helping other teachers. I tend to stay in my hole, come and go without much interaction at all. It’s tough to get excited about things when you feel like nobody appreciates you and what you try to offer. Professionally, I’ve offered to help or be apart of special/extra groups or projects that I’m extremely interested in, but have been told no or have simply heard no response after days/weeks.

It’s hard to quantify what it’s like to have these thoughts and feelings. I’m constantly exhausted, no interest in hobbies/passions, self-doubt, worthlessness, anger, sadness, even suicide. There have been times in which I’ve put considerable thought into the easiest way to kill myself(where and how). In these periods of absolute darkness, it’s been my Kids that squash any of these thoughts. It becomes almost impossible to love anyone else when you don’t love yourself. My kids have been the only exception. I couldn’t imagine putting them through the loss of their father. And although I don’t always have love to give, they seem to find a way to sure their love with me. If I didn’t have them in my life, I’m not sure I’d be writing this.  

I look back over the past 20 years and it hits me that this isn’t the first time I’ve experienced these thoughts and feelings!! I can honestly say that I’ve probably ruined many relationships because of it. Truthfully, I don’t have many friends! None from high school, college, work or my neighborhood. I used to always blame others for not calling, hanging out, etc. As I come to terms with what’s actually happening I’d be willing to bet I had a large part in how things transpired. I hope that by finally acknowledging what I’m going through I can keep from ruining the few relationships I have. There are a handful of friends, you know who you are, that I truly respect and admire who have influenced me to share my experience. Without them, I would never have the courage to share my story.

As this inner fight continues, I hope to find the strength to overcome these feelings of isolation and despair. I ask you to always consider the emotional state of others as we may not realize what they are going through.  If someone you know becomes distant, temperamental or just “off” please reach out, show you care! The smallest gesture could mean the world of difference to someone.

I know life is turbulent with school starting, the state of our country, family, and every other emotional and physical drain we have. However, we can’t forget that the individuals that surround us have to be a priority. Please make sure that you are checking in with your loved ones and making them feel that you care about them. Thank you for reading this blog and I love you all.