Monthly Archives: September 2019

Flocabulary Rapped Me Up

Flocabulary is legit. You can stop reading the blog now and figure out how to purchase a license for yourself. If my affirmation alone doesn’t convince you then I will attempt to persuade you by explaining just what it offers.

At its’ core, “Flocabulary is a learning program for all grades that uses educational hip-hop music to engage students and increase achievement across the curriculum.” The music and the knowledge that it transmits are worth their weight in gold. The kids watch, rapt.

It is so much more though. When you log in you can choose to play the video, use the vocab cards, play a vocab game, read & respond, quiz, or create your own lyrics using the vocab words. Capture

One of the features I love is how you can click the discuss tab on the bottom right of the videos and questions come up just like they would in EdPuzzle. Capture

The vocab words cards are filled with colorful pictures that really grab the students’ attention.

The vocab game is a cool click and drag game that reinforces what we have discussed in class. Capture

The literacy component of reading and responding helps me infuse literacy into my health class as well.


This quiz is a quick formative way to get some data to assess where the class should be directed next. Capture 1.JPG

The lyric lab may be the coolest part of this!! You can choose various beats as well as the vocab words of the lesson. The students can voice over the beats. The program also gives you rhymes for the vocab words. Capture 2.JPG

In conclusion, I usually am not a super geeky tech tool blogger but Flocabulary is a really cool tool to have in your belt as a health teacher.



Immediacy of Action

Last week I received this email:

Hi Justin, hope all is going well for you.  I’m — one of the OT’s at LIS.  I was wondering if you have a few minutes if you could stop by to talk to me about a student in Mrs. —– class.  I’m in room — all day today.

When I get an email from a colleague like this I like to go find out what is going on right away. I immediately went to speak to her. To make a long story short one of the students was upset about something from my class when they went down to her class. After a quick conversation about the student, I left her office.

I had a decision to make. I could go on back to my office and continue to try to get everything set up for the year and keep my head above water, or I could go and make sure that the relationship between the student and I was not frayed.

You can probably guess from the title that I walked down to the student’s class and asked their teacher if I could speak with the child quickly. The teacher agreed and I was able to speak with the student in the hallway. I had a pretty good relationship with the student and I asked them if I could put my arm around them as we walked and talked down the highway. They responded yes and we spoke about why they had been upset. Once I made sure the relationship was repaired and the incident was addressed we walked back to class together.

A couple of thoughts occurred to me about this situation. I could have first repaired this relationship sooner. I can give you multiple reasons why I didn’t; however, what I need to remember is you can’t move on to the next task until the prior one is finished. This means that I may have a slightly agitated teacher who lost a couple minutes of prep or was slightly late to a meeting because I refused to leave relationships frayed.

The second thought was that it was amazing that the OT took the time to email me and make sure that both the student and I were able to repair our relationships.

Finally, I am glad that the day did not end before I was able to address this situation. Issues no matter how big or small are best dealt with as soon as possible. This was a minor issue to me but obviously bigger to the child.

If you take away anything from this blog it is that relationships are more important than content. Next time there is a conflict in your class, especially as a Physical Education teacher, find a place and a time to find the student and address it. It can be a simple question such as, “We good?”.

I am sure most of us know and do this already. And sometimes we just need a reminder.

The Blinker is the Indicator of Success

The other day I was having a fantastic conversation with a friend about using a turn signal when driving. Some of you may call it a blinker while others use the term indicator. The more we talked the more I wondered if you could use someone’s use of a turn signal as a gauge of their communication in a relationship! I am personally not a great communicator in my personal relationships and it was not lost on me that I don’t always use my turn signal when driving either.

In my professional life, I am much better with communication, especially with my students. I am new at my school and they have typically started their year off with fitness testing. One student asked me why we haven’t done fitness testing this year. In response, I asked her and the class what my philosophy was. They said to have a positive association with the movement. This proved to me that I had communicated clearly my philosophy of Physical Education to them. I followed the question up by asking how many students liked fitness testing. About two to four students raised their hands. I asked how many students did not like fitness testing. Over half the class or about 12-15 students said they disliked it. Knowing that I am not mandated by the state to do this and it is in direct opposition with my philosophy it was an easy decision to not engage in this practice.

This is not a knock on fitness testing. If physical educators have done research and honed their philosophy down where fitness testing is an integral part of their program they have to do what they have to do. It just doesn’t fit into my philosophy.

Being clear with our students about the why behind my decisions will help them understand the importance of Physical Education. In school, my blinker is always on. I want my staff, my administrators, the parents, and most importantly my students to know why we are doing what we are doing. A blog you may find interesting that goes deeper into this idea is called Walk the Walk by Dr. Ash Casey. He states that we have to have, “purposes evident in our programs.”

My final thought is that we need to have our philosophy’s finely tuned.  Judy Lobianco calls it the elevator speech. This involves us having to read, write, listen to podcasts and continue to learn about our craft. After all how can we use our blinker if we don’t even know we need to turn?

Team Building Through Physical Challenges

This year I have taken my services to a new district. The grades that I will be teaching are 4th-6th. The first day I saw the students and I smiled because I truly felt like I was where I belonged. The racial makeup of the student body is much more representative of the world than my last school.


My district administrators have clearly stated multiple times that we as teachers need to build relationships with the students as well as create opportunities for the students to build relationships with each other. One way the school is doing that is breaking each grade in half and creating 6 houses. These houses of about 150 students each will be engaging in various team building activities for one period every six days. The house leaders will be organizing and running these activities with input from the various non-tested areas. This means that Art, Music, Physical Education, Spanish, and Health will all be collaborating. The creative energy that will be harnessed has my juices flowing!! Imagine the possibilities!

In my physical education and health classes, we will start the first unit with team/cooperative games. This unit is imperative to my goal of creating an atmosphere where everyone, including myself, wants to be there. I will be relying heavily on the Human Kinetics Book: Team Building Through Physical Challenges. Not only does the book give you ideas it also has videos showing how to do the activities and challenge cards that you can print out to run the activity. I will reflect on the unit in a future blog.

Finally, I would like to leave with you is the introduction slides that I used when introduced to the students. I was able to summarize my philosophy for both health and physical education in 6 slides which you can find here. My challenge to you is if you had to explain your philosophy to parents, staff, and students what would it be? How do you communicate the goals of your program in a simple yet effective manner? The why matters!

Have a great new school year! I can’t wait to share the highs and lows of my new journey!