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Pretty Nails

This weekend my wife and her sister took a trip to the Poconos to see her aunt. This meant three days and two nights alone. I was mentally prepared to be Mr. Dad and rock the weekend until IT started. By IT I mean the wailing that was coming out of my daughter’s mouth when my wife went to leave. The faucets were wide open and the tears flowed like the taps at an Irish Pub on St. Patty’s Day. My wife hadn’t even got out of the door and things were going off the rails.

Working at a summer camp allows me to have an insight on kids crying when their parents leave that few other mortals have. I knew the longer the scene dragged out the worse it was going to be. Ripping the band-aid off became priority one.  I quickly helped the ladies out of the house and closed the door behind them. My daughter had just started to calm down when the door opened and my wife came back in with some stuff from the car she didn’t want to travel with. NOOOOO!

The scene reverted back to the pub. I grabbed a mop and a towel and was ready to clean up the lake that was forming under her. My heart was breaking. My brain was hurting from trying to figure out the quickest way to get a unicorn or a pony to appear in the kitchen. I then started down the road of inquiry that I knew would make everything better. “Do you want to paint my nails?” The tears stopped and together we walked over to the table.

My daughter is the quickest nail painter on the East Coast. Five minutes later each nail was a different color with some nails being partitioned and painted two colors. My daughter was calm and soon bedtime was upon us. The house quickly fell asleep and soon the morning rooster crowed.

We woke up and I went to coach my kids basketball teams. All was going well until one of the 40 kids in the first session asked me why my fingers were painted. I had totally forgotten about them! I explained my daughter had painted them and the kids started giggling. The same question was asked by a child in the second session. I explained again how Abbie had wanted to paint them and I was cool with that.

One of the fathers at the practice who I was friends with asked me about them as well. I told the story and the empathy immediately flowed from him. He has a daughter and understood without any need of explanation. He then proceeded to take a picture and send it to our friends.

After basketball I took the kids to a play with my parents. My parents are somewhat conservative and both of my parents made it a point to bring up my nails. It was not negative but the mere fact that it was brought up said something about how this wasn’t quite a social norm.

I have kept my nails painted all weekend because honestly, I am too lazy to find the nail polish remover and take the color off. I was also somewhat curious about what the reaction would be from the people I interacted with. I don’t know what judgments people are making about me when they see my fingers. Do they question my sexuality? What assumptions are they making? I know personally, I must feel some way because I forget that they are painted and when I see them it jars me for a second. That has to say something. Let’s face it. Most cis-gender heterosexual men don’t usually paint their nails.

I probably won’t clear my nails off for work tomorrow either. What will the elementary students I teach think? It will be a topic of interest I am sure. I purposefully wear a pink sweatshirt to show my students that gender doesn’t dictate color preference. This will be no different. My nails have nothing to do with my gender nor sexuality. This goes hand in hand (pun intended) with my gender lesson that I do with kindergarten students. We identify the difference between boys and girls. This year I will include intersex into the conversation as well. One of the answers the kids give is that boys don’t paint their nails. I counter with the question of whether it is legal or not. We discuss how most boys don’t paint their nails but that is a choice nothing more or less. This will give them a concrete example of someone choosing to have their nails painted.

I appreciate your time for reading the blog. Hopefully, this will push your thinking a little and see how you can show your students where their bias is. Drawing attention to it is the first step.


VLOG 17: Should we have a model for Health-Based PE?

A must watch. Vicky is so informative !

Physical Education & Sport VLOGs

This VLOG explores a pedagogical model focussed around Health. It is a guest VLOG involving Mark Bowler and Paul Sammon, who I am grateful for their contribution. The VLOG discusses the need to address health and what learning goals need to be at the centre of addressing health in physical education.

Research and Resources:
Haerens et al 2011′: Haerens, L., Kirk, D., Cardon, G. & De Bourdeaudhuij, I. (2011) ‘Toward the development of a pedagogical model for health-based physical education. Quest. 63, 321-338.

Metzler, M. (2011). Instructional models for physical education (3rd Edn). Arizona: Holcomb Hathway.

For more information contact Mark and Paul
On Twitter: @Health_Based_PE or @PaulSammonPE

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Are Fitness Appraisals a Part of a Quality Physical Education Program?


Should we use physical fitness appraisals in quality physical education classes? For the purpose of this blog, we are going to use the Spark Blog definition of quality physical education. That definition states quality physical education program, “…is a positive learning environment where students learn fitness and motor skills via a sequential and progressive path towards becoming physically educated people”. Assuming that we agree on what a quality physical education program is let’s look at what a fitness appraisal or assessment is. A fitness assessment measures physical strength, flexibility, agility and muscular endurance. There are many different types of fitness appraisals.The most common fitness appraisal that educators on Voxer and Twitter use is the Fitnessgram fitness test.

Fitnessgram is a fitness assessment and reporting program for youth, first developed in 1982 by The Cooper Institute in response to the need for a comprehensive set of assessment procedures in physical education programs.  The assessment includes a variety of health-related physical fitness tests that assess aerobic capacity, muscular strength, muscular endurance, and flexibility; and body composition. Scores from these assessments are compared to Healthy Fitness Zone® standards to determine students’ overall physical fitness and suggest areas for improvement when appropriate.” (Link)

Fitnessgram uses 6 main tests. (Link)

  • Either the Mile Run, PACER (20-meter shuttle runs) or the Walk Test  (measures aerobic capacity)
  • Push-ups  (measures upper body muscular strength/endurance)
  • Curl-ups  (measures abdominal muscular strength/endurance)
  • Either the Back Saver Sit and Reach or Shoulder Stretch  (measures flexibility)
  • Trunk Lift  (measures trunk extensor strength and flexibility)
  • Body Mass Index  (measures body composition: appropriateness of weight relative to height)

We have to question everything we are doing in the physical education community all the time. Why do we use fitness appraisals in physical education class? Let’s look at this from the beginning. “The first commonly used national test was developed in 1958 by AAHPER (now SHAPE America).  The Presidents Council became involved in 1966 when they started giving an award for kids who scored in the 85%ile on all test in the Youth Fitness Test (AAHPER Test).  In the mid-1980’s the Presidents Council took over the Youth Fitness Test and competed with Fitnessgram which was developed as a health-related fitness test.  The Youth Fitness Test was considered more a test of performance ability than a health test.” (Corbin Interview) The idea of testing students has changed over the years and will hopefully continue to change and adapt with research.

What are my students gaining by having their fitness assessed? “One of the purposes of fitness testing is to provide feedback to students and parents and encourage students to adopt PA (physical activity) patterns that will lead to improved health and fitness.” (Ernst, Corbin, Beighle & Pangrazi, 2006) This is good. We want to include parents and guardians. Anything that allows stakeholders outside of the class to be involved is a win for the students, the school, and the physical education program. The question then arises do the students adopt physical activity patterns that lead to improved health and fitness?

“Wiersma and Sherman (2008) state that when physical fitness testing is conducted in a motivating manner, it increases internal validity, self-efficacy, enjoyment, and overall interest in physical activity (PA) and that self-assessment is a viable means to increase competence in fitness performance.” (Hill, Downing 2015) The problem with this statement is their idea of what a motivating manner is. One student may appreciate being told their scores while another may be embarrassed or engage in negative self-talk based on their scores. “Harris and Cale (2007) and Rice (2007) warned that fitness testing may contribute to a diminished interest in PE (physical education) and PA (physical activity) in general because the results undermine the confidence, self-esteem, and sense of self as a PA participant for those who either have low scores or do not experience improvement.” (Hill, Downing 2015).

The other variable in this situation is the teacher. Many physical education teachers were athletes in their youth. Motivation in activities that you voluntarily sign up for, and probably excel at, looks much different than motivation for something that an institution tells you is important. If we assume that the teachers have been trained properly and understand that they are not fitness trainers there still is the problem that motivation looks different to every student. This is another reason that the most important aspect of teaching is not content but the relationships the teacher has with their students.

Our national organization has an entire position paper that you can read here. SHAPE Link It starts off by stating, “The main goal for fitness measurement is making students and their parents aware of the benefits of fitness. Students can use the personalized reports as a means to determine their own fitness levels and to take steps toward maintaining or improving their personal fitness levels. By providing personalized reports for the parents, including information about a student’s level of health-related fitness, teachers can enhance parental involvement in promoting physical activity.” I disagree that measuring for fitness makes the students aware of the benefits of fitness. The teacher needs to explicitly teach that content to the students. This could be done without doing any fitness assessments at all. One extreme example of this would be a class of students in wheel chairs. They would not be able to do the fitness assessments but could still learn the benefits of fitness. Knowing and understanding the benefits of fitness are purely cognitive. 

The second part of the statement is the key. The personalized reports can help parents and guardians understand the fitness level of their students. The data alone tells us nothing. Fitnessgram compares the student’s score to the Healthy Fitness Zone. This gives the students and their guardians the ability to see where they need to improve.

The main reason that physical education teachers use fitness appraisals in their class is they are forced to. Some states and school districts mandate that fitness appraisals be a part of the curriculum. California mandates that Fitnessgram is used. SHAPE America dedicates standards specifically to fitness appraisals. One example of this at the elementary school level is:  Completes fitness assessments (pre- & post-). (S3.E5.4a). The standard at the middle school level is: Designs and implements a program of remediation for any areas of weakness based on the results of health-related fitness assessment. (S3.M15.6) Another standard that is commonly used in high school is Develops and maintains a fitness portfolio (e.g., assessment scores, goals for improvement, plan of activities for improvement, log of activities being done to reach goals, timeline for improvement). (S3.H11.L2)

The SHAPE America position statement tells us that, “Purposeful measurement is an appropriate component of quality physical education. Combining fitness measurement and instruction is an appropriate instruction strategy and should be the main reason for measuring fitness. Measurement without a plan for using the data does little to serve students’ needs and is not an educationally sound practice. Students can use fitness data to explore types of activities that will lead to improving their personal fitness. Examining fitness data and the procedure for developing fitness plans can motivate students to make changes in their personal fitness levels. The sequence of fitness plan development should include:

  • Fitness data analysis.
  • Goal-setting based on test results.
  • Linking physical activities to personal goals.
  • Developing logs and journals and other physical activity measures.

Schools also can use fitness measurement to examine their instructional programs. By analyzing school data, schools can determine areas of concentration and begin the discussion of how to make instruction-related changes in the physical education program to address areas of student need. Analyzing the data might show the need for more professional development, for example, to improve various aspects of health-related fitness, and it might reinforce the need for curriculum development within a school or school system.” SHAPE Link

In the Fitness for Life books they use these steps for personal physical activity program planning:

Step 1: Determine personal needs (this includes both fitness and physical assessment—how much physical activity do you currently do?)

Step 2: Consider your program options.

Step 3. Set SMART Goals

Step 4: Structured your program and write it down.

Step 5: Keep a Log, Evaluate your program, Revise your program

Although SHAPE America believes that using fitness data is appropriate to make changes to physical education and health programs I would urge caution. Other factors must be taken into consideration before taking any measures. One factor would be the age of the students. A recent poll on Twitter asked when was it appropriate to start fitness testing. Almost 75% of the respondents answered K-5th grade. The problem with starting testing so early is that until students go through puberty they don’t have a ton of hormones released yet.  Dr. Pangrazi states in his speech at the Grand Resort Hotel and Spa that, “I also know that elementary school kids don’t respond to training  because there aren’t any hormones floating around their bodies. You can train them, and train them, and train them and they don’t improve.” (Link) He goes on to state that increased fitness scores nine months after the first one are due mainly to the students natural body growth.

Another factor is the lack of time students have in physical education.  According to children need to exercise con­tinuously for twenty to thirty minutes at a heart rate above his resting heart level three times a week. (LinkBoth of these factors could negate any reason to change a program. If programs are testing students too early or do not have enough time during the week to cause any real physical changes to the body, then no amount of professional development or instruction related changes will help change student’s fitness levels.

The biggest problem with fitness assessments lies in what teachers and school districts are doing with this data. Here is what the data should be used for according to the SHAPE America Fitness Assessment position statement: 

Inappropriate Uses

Inappropriate uses of fitness measurement include grading students and evaluating teacher effectiveness. Grading Students Because students differ in terms of interests and ability, teachers should not use student scores to evaluate individual students within K-12 physical education. Grading students on fitness might constitute holding them accountable for results that are beyond their control. Likewise, posting fitness results can create a situation that fosters negative attitudes toward physical activity. Recognizing and posting students’ fitness scores for fitness can create a feeling of frustration among students who struggle with their personal fitness levels. Instead, recognizing student success in improving fitness levels can provide a more positive way to acknowledge student achievement. Rather than posting names of students who have attained a high level of fitness, recognizing students who have improved fitness scores over time from year to year might be a better strategy.” (Link)

Inappropriate Uses for FITNESSGRAM/ACTIVITYGRAM (written by the Cooper Institute)

  • Evaluating individual students in physical education (e.g.grading or state standards testing)

  • Using as a sole criterion to justify students who can “test out” of physical education

  • Evaluating teacher effectiveness (e.g. teacher evaluations)

  • Evaluating overall physical education quality (e.g. physical education program assessment)

Another problem lies in the ability of the students and teachers to get true numbers. “Fitness tests are plagued by methodological limitations and the validity and reliability of some tests, test batteries and in applying norm and/or criterion-referenced standards with children has been questioned. These limitations stem from the many factors that influence performance and are reflected in fitness test scores (e.g., the environment/test conditions, test protocol, motivation, skill, heredity/genetic potential, maturation).” (LinkSome teachers are trained to administer the appraisals while others are not. How can we be sure that the test is reliable or valid? “This is mostly a problem for institutional testing.  If we focus on self-testing we can show kids that scores are only useful if you take the tests the right way.  Work about the true numbers mostly is associated with often inappropriate uses” (Corbin Interview)

We give the test one time in the beginning of the year, one time in the middle and one time at the end. There are so many factors that can sway the results that day. Children who are in soccer season at the beginning of the year will score much better on the cardiovascular test than they will at the end of the year. Their mental health, physical health, motivation, and diet could all play a huge part in the results as well. A true score would need to be taken numerous times throughout the year with all the variables taken out of the equation.

What conclusions can we make about fitness appraisals? A quality physical education program should be incorporating fitness testing into their curriculum. Using fitness appraisals before students go through puberty makes them unreliable as well as invalid. When physically appropriate, they can be an effective way to allow students to create a baseline of their fitness and start making fitness goals. “If students learn to use fitness tests for self-assessment, there may be benefits that go beyond the mere understanding of health-related fitness and physical activity.”(Corbin Interview) This can not be overstated. If we allow students to self-assess their fitness levels, which Dr. Pangrazi advocates, we are teaching them a life skill, not just a physical education skill.

We can also say that grading students on their fitness scores or improvement of fitness scores is not best practice. Using the scores to allow students to opt out of physical education is not best practice. Most importantly using the fitness scores as any sort of evaluative data for teachers is flat out wrong. This means using the scores for Student Learning Objectives, Grade Level Objectives, a Professional Development Plan or any other acronym that would hold a physical education teacher accountable for their students’ test scores is flat out bad practice.  

I will leave you with words of Dr. Charles Corbin. Dr. Corbin has written more than 90 books and 200 research articles in the field of fitness and wellness. He is the foremost expert in fitness appraisals with over 40 years of research experience. “Fitness testing is a tool that can be used for good or for bad, depending on how it is done. Our challenge is to make sure that it is used in the best possible way. So I urge, as Cale, Harris and Chen do, that we do everything in our power to make sure that fitness testing is used to meet the needs of youth and to promote lifelong physical activity. It is my view that informed teachers have become less likely to use tests inappropriately especially those who use the HELP philosophy and guidelines for appropriate and inappropriate practice developed by FITNESSGRAM®.”(Link(This HELP philosophy was developed for the Fitness For Life books and was lent to Fitnessgram and Physical Best. HELP stand for Health for Everyone for a Lifetime in a Personal way.) Pangrazi speech

Ernst M, Pangrazi RP, Corbin CB. Physical education: Making a transition toward activity. JOPERD. 1998; 69(9):29-32.

Hill, G., & Downing, A. (2015). Effect of Frequent Peer-Monitored Testing and Personal Goal Setting on Fitnessgram Scores of Hispanic Middle School Students. The Physical Educator, 72(2). Retrieved from

Paris and Social Media: Changing the World As We Know It

The internet has changed my world. Check that the internet has changed the world. Crazier yet the internet is redefining what my world is. Friday night was going well. My kids ate dinner and I had just cleaned the kitchen. We went downstairs and my wife said something wild was going on in Paris. She showed me a video that was posted on Facebook about an explosion that had happened. Most people have probably seen the clip of the soccer game where the explosion was clearly heard. That was where the internet and social media first started to be a game changer.

I googled soccer game, Paris, attack, and the early reports were filtering in that there was a terrorist attack and that hostages were taken. There was no waiting for the news that night or the newspaper tomorrow. We expect this instantaneous response to news now. It was not too long ago that this wasn’t the case.

My next step was going to Twitter and clicking on the Moments option on the bottom. This allowed me to see Tweets related to the bombing as well as my regular feed. This was one of the first times I had used this option. It kept me up to date with the events but did not overload me with drivel that the talking heads would spit out just to say something. This is something that I will be using again in the future (not just for horrific events).

An amazing thing occurred during this tragedy. “Some Twitter users in the city immediately began using the hashtag #PorteOuverte, or “open door,” to offer their homes as a shelter for those afraid to be on the streets with nowhere to go.” (Eggert, 2015) I had not heard about something this wonderful happening before. Maha Bali (Bali_Maha) informed me about this event in Australia which is extremely similar. Both events show that when people are needed the most they find a way to come through. Social media is allowing aid to happen instantaneously. 

Just when things are at their worst and I worry about the world imploding, I think of Mr. Roger’s mom’s words to him.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” (link) 

Social media has many pitfalls, but it also has so much potential to bring us together. People opened their doors to anyone that needed safety during a time of need. They did not care about race, religion, gender, or any other dividing factor.

The hostage situation came to an end. This would have normally been the end of my journey. News articles would summarize what happened and I may or may not have read them. Ordinarily I would have been overloaded and stayed away from the negativity. Times are a changing. I opened up Voxer and @JustinAion was ranting about how the media was running with the story but routinely ignores what goes in Syria and other countries every day and how many people died in those countries from bombings that gain no traction in our mainstream media. This made me think. How much does the media control what I see and therefore what I think? Do Americans only worry about “civilized” countries? Do they ignore countries that don’t look and act like them? Are we desensitized to everything; or is it simply that we don’t care when people from other countries we deem lower than us kill each other? Is it elitism that causes us to ignore the world’s problems or is it something far worse? Could it be that we just don’t care about people that we don’t deem “refined”?

Social media played another key role for people who were in Paris or had connections to people in Paris. Facebook set up their site so that people could find out if their loved ones were safe. (link) This is another way that social media can be used to help people. Think about how very useful this would have been on 9/11 when people had to wait hours or a full day to find out if their loved ones were safe. The rampant use of cell phones makes this process so much more effective now.

After the attacks there were multiple tweets and pics about crowds of people gathering together to show support. I used the Periscope live video app to watch this happen live. That is amazing. Talk about the best way to create empathy!! These people became so much more real whn I am watching this unfold live.

My journey through this event was not finished yet. Social media still had one last influence on me. This came in the form of a blog written by Maha Bali which you should read here. Her blog raised so many points that mainstream media would have never touched on. She writes, “Because the sad thing about empathy is that we are more likely to be empathetic toward people who remind us of ourselves.” She is right. It is much easier for me to put myself in someone’s shoes that it is for me to relate to strangers. By strangers, I mean people that don’t look or act like me. I can relate those that look and act like me which is why Paris seemed so wild to me. These were people who were just like me and had no reason to die. The problem with that thinking is that by default I am saying that all the stories that I ignore about other people have died in bombings do not deserve the same empathy or respect. 

The only way to combat that is to make sure that we have people we interact with that don’t look and act like us. This allows us to see everyone as humans and create empathy. This oversimplifies a complex subject, but it is definitely a starting point in relating to those who are different from us. Maha’s blog has so many more points that I could have written my entire blog just in response to it. I highly recommend you read it.

Let me summarize how the internet and social media played such an important role in this event. It started with the everyone sharing the news on various social media outlets. Twitter played a pivotal role in providing people safe places during the event. Facebook created a way for people to find out if their loved ones were accounted for. Twitter moments allowed their users to be kept up to date. The discussions on Voxer, Twitter, and Facebook allowed people to voice their views that would have never been posted on mainstream media. Periscope allowed me to see the gathering of the crowds via a live feed. Blogs have been and are being, written which will push our thinking much further than anything that will be written in the associated press. The internet and social media have changed how I view the world by allowing the perspectives of others in. My world will never be the same. 

Q1: How do you build empathy for all people even the ones who differ from you? #slowchatpe

Q2: What are your thoughts on the moments function of Twitter? #slowchatpe

Q3: How could you aid people during a tragedy using social media? #slowchatpe

Q4: What did you use to keep yourself informed about during the bombing? #slowchatpe

Q5: Whose blog or tweets should people read to expand their views on an event? #slowchatpe

Where the Real Twitter Happens

I have an announcement that may shock the world. You don’t see the real Twitter. You see a polished politically correct version of Twitter. The real Twitter occurs in direct message groups. Direct message groups can be started by one person. It can be a group of two people up to I don’t know how many. I have been in one with at least 20 people. If you want to know more about it click this link here

The great thing and the lousy thing about Twitter is that it is an open forum. Anyone can and should jump in at any point in time. It was hilarious to `read during an argument one party sounding off that other people jumped into their argument. That is the whole beauty about Twitter. Everyone can see your tweets and respond to them. The lousy part occurs when people use fake accounts to make heinous comments. Every explicitly racist, sexist, moronic tweet all came from fake accounts. I can’t take people seriously who use fake accounts unless your job is tied to your comments.

So what happens in the real Twitter? The real Twitter has people having civil conversations without the worry that someone will misinterpret their comments or jump halfway in ruin the whole flow of things. The real Twitter has cursing, honest ideas, and best of all no limits to the amount you can write. Groups of people can communicate in a safe environment that won’t get them fired!!

If you feel that you want to discuss something with a group of people in a more private arena look into setting up a direct message group and take sensitive topics out of the public and into the safe confines of the direct message. If you want to connect with me add me to a direct message thread!!!

Q1: Why do you send a direct message on Twitter? #slowchatpe

Q2: Are you in any direct message groups? Why do you take it private? #slowchatpe

Q3: What do you love about the public nature of Twitter? #slowchatpe

Q4: What would you like Twitter to change? #slowchatpe

Q5: Who do you follow that argues the most on Twitter? #slowchatpe

Don’t Make Me Hoarse, Cite Your Source

There is a pandemic that needs to be addressed. Something we have all done at some point and time. A thing that is so tiny in the grand scheme of life that we overlook the need to follow proper procedures. That thing is giving credit where credit is due. Specifically giving credit and social media when we borrow and broadcast other people’s images, ideas, and content. Everyone scrounge around Twitter, Facebook, and Voxer looking for gold nuggets from others. Why wouldn’t you? That’s the best thing about being connected. The problem arises when we don’t give credit to the originators when we do.

Most people who know me understand that I hate the idea of paying for lesson plans. We create them for free using and share them using the #physed shared Google drive. The drive also has posters, images, and videos. While they are free they come with a cost. The cost as you will read below is real, although it is not always monetary. I am worried that the creators of original content are going to stop being so free with sharing if we do not stem the tide of plagiarism and content theft.

This week I am going to let the innovators do the talking. Each one of these teachers has contributed significantly to the #physed community in one-way shape or form. They have created numerous resources that have helped change the image of the #physed community.

They are going to tell you why it is so important that we give them the credit they are due.

Here is an excerpt from an email I received from @joeyfeith this week in regards to him reacting to people using his work without giving him due credit. Joey is an OG of the social media #physed community:

I know what you are saying: “it’s a sign of respect”, “it’s just sharing good practices”, “it’s just getting the word out to more people”.

That’s what this community used to be about (and, really, still is in a lot of ways): teachers getting excited about new ideas and sharing them with others. However, back then there were fewer incidents involving people omitting the sources of their inspiration. People would get credit for everything they did and, rather than recreating someone’s work or posting it on your own site, people would go out of their way to link back to other teachers’ blogs and websites so that new people could discover them. It worked, it was beautiful, and it was what inspired me to keep at it.

But, lately, I don’t see so much of that. Not just in regards to my own work, but with others too. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

Credit seems like such a silly thing. What’s the big deal, anyway? Ideas are ideas and everything gets remixed. This is the Internet we’re talking about.

That’s really easy to say when you don’t know the process behind making those ideas a reality. The process that involves a moment of clarity, the struggle and frustration of making the thing you see in your head a tangible resource, and then the hesitation in regards to “do I make this free or do I sell this? Screw it, I’ll make it free!”

It is hard to explain how much of my soul has been put into making be something and helping raise awareness for our online community. It’s hard to explain it. It’s not something that anybody but me can measure. I do measure it, though. I measure it in the amount of friends I’ve lost because I couldn’t figure out how to balance my social/work life. I measure it in the amount of nights my wife sleeps alone or how many weekends she spends wishing we were out doing stuff as I work on building stuff and getting it right (well, trying to). I measure it in the missed family opportunities and the money “lost” (there are a lot more costs involved than people know).

All of these I measure, and all I have asked for to balance it out is some credit. Call me vain, call me a jerk, call me whatever… the credit is enough to keep me going when I really don’t feel like it (which has been more and more often ever since last year).

Terri Drain (@terridr99) is another innovator in the #physed world. She created some great videos and podcasts for physical education teachers to unpack standards and also created the website Her story is similar to countless others I have encountered on this subject.

Terri: I discovered that someone copied several pages from my website and used them as their own. I had to ask them to take it down. It created a very awkward situation.

Me (doing my best psychiatrist impersonation): How did that make you feel?

Terri: Disappointed in the fact some people think it’s okay to lift someone else’s work.

Me: Did it make you think about not wanting to share or keeping things to yourself, or doing something differently in the future because of it?

Terri: Philosophically I believe, probably like you and most people out there, we are going to move forward as a profession when we share and learn from each other. I’m determined as ever to share but always preface any workshop that I do with you are welcome to use my stuff, but you need to give credit from where you got it.

Ben Pirillo (@coachpirillo) is one of my favorite creators in the entire world. He creates youtube dance videos that are so easy to follow and fun to watch. He also creates a ton of other activities that he gives out for free and some that he posts on teachers pay teachers which you can check out here. (these are not lesson plans but actual lesson activities that he created so don’t call me a hypocrite) He also runs a sweet #physed website you can check out here.

Ben: If it’s stuff that is on my teach #phsyed Weebly site or the videos it’s fine as long as they are citing where they got it from. Just like you would cite a source if you were writing a paper. I have had a few people that I have seen use my activities that I am selling putting pictures out on Twitter and not giving me credit for my ideas. In addition, you should ask the person who created the content for permission to share.

Me: Tell me how it made you feel when you found this out.

Ben: I was frustrated. Really? I created that idea and I developed it. If you don’t want to buy it that’s fine, but don’t post it online and not give me credit to me. It gets even worse when people are liking it and retweeting it. If it gets to the point where I see my items being used and not citing where they come from I will stop sharing things in that way. I would do my videos, but it would definitely hinder what I am willing to share.

Lynn Burrows is a physical educator from Colorado. She runs a fantastic site you can see here. Lynn presents around the country.

When it comes to people “stealing your ideas” without giving credit I think a couple things happen. Initially, people cite your resource. They then share that idea with four people or maybe 100 people. Some of those may cite you some won’t. The next generation has no idea where the ideas came from. I’m not saying it’s all innocent but when people get further away from the original source of the information they lose the sighting of it.

I love Lynn. She is one of the sweetest people in the world. I try to emulate her outlook on life. She really sees people as people and not the physical shell they occupy. This is an important point to remember. People are not maliciously stealing ideas and attempting to steal credit. We have to remember some people may not know or be able to find out the original source of information. This is not a free pass to excuse them. It is a rational explanation of why some ideas are not attributed to the originators.

Sarah G-H (@GHSaysRockChalk) is an innovator and member of the @PHYSEDagogy team. (No one knows how to say it. They even messed it up on their own podcast interview!) She opened up about just exactly how hard it is to let go of content that she creates and how horrible it is to find out that your ideas are being stolen and people are taking the credit for it. Sarah also explains how copyright infringement and plagiarism are serious violations of people’s time and energy.

I’m very protective of the things I create for my students and am very cautious when sharing resources on Twitter. I understand there are members of the #PhysEd community that believe in #SharingIsCaring and #TogetherWeAreStronger, but sometimes (ok, a lot of the time) I’m really uncomfortable sharing things that take me hours to create.

Earlier this year I discovered that entire sections of my school website (the site my students and parents can view) were stolen and re-published on another site. Screenshots from that site were shared on Twitter and Facebook and that teacher received a ton of credit for work they didn’t produce. I ended up confronting that teacher and we had a very awkward conversation. I do believe we should always give credit to our sources, whether we use a quote on a blog, borrow an idea from a friend, or adopt a new teaching idea.

#PhysEd resources should be free, but that doesn’t mean they don’t come at a price. I spend hours every night working on things for my classes. My husband makes sure I have time to work by cooking dinner, cleaning the kitchen, and making our lunches for the following day. He packs our sons’ backpacks, asks me if I need any help with anything, and checks to make sure I’m not forgetting anything.

When I share snippets of the things I’m doing in class, it’s incredibly frustrating when I receive messages asking me to share an entire resource that took me hours to create. “Hey, can I have a copy of that?” “Can you send me all of your rubrics?” “Can I have your lesson plans?” I know this may sound really selfish, but it’s really, really hard for me to share things that take me so much time and effort to create.

Why would we not give Sarah the credit she deserves when she does share her work when it is clearly so hard for her to part with it? I believe more people find it harder to share their resources than let on.

Andy Vasily (@andyvasily) is one of the most gifted educators I have come in contact with. His ability to bring the curriculum alive to the students is something I will be attempting to replicate for my entire teaching career. Andy is now a #physed consultant that travels the world lifting the profession of education to new levels. His words always come from a place of empathy and understanding.

When I first saw all of the discussion this week on Twitter about the issue of people not crediting who they get their ideas, resources, and inspiration from, I must say that it struck a chord with me. I think that it is critically important to look at this issue from all angles, especially from the perspectives of those whose work has been taken without being given due recognition. When I read the part from Joey’s email that Justin posted above, I think that he (Joey) brings up hugely valid points when it comes to the incredibly hard work that goes into maintaining and developing a website, taking our ideas and making them into tangible resources, and sharing good teaching practice in general. Joey has been instrumental in changing the face of physical education as have many of the educators mentioned in Justin’s blog post here. Every single one of them has been doing their own part in bringing attention to the need of transforming the way physical education is delivered. They are not the only ones, there are so many others on Twitter as well.

Lynn B, Ben P, Terri D, Kevin T, and Sarah G also all shared snippets into their own stories and when questionable conduct has occurred in regards to the taking or borrowing of their ideas. I’m of the mindset that we must share our best work and in so doing, we can hopefully inspire change in the practice of other educators which ultimately impacts and enhances student learning for the best.

I’m also a huge believer in the laws of abundance, meaning that when we give all of ourselves and share our work, it will always come back to us ten-fold in variety of ways that end up making a difference in our own lives. Despite having a law of abundance type attitude when it comes to sharing thoughts and resources so freely, it can certainly hurt when someone else just takes these ideas and runs with them without acknowledging where they got the ideas or inspiration from.

As an avid blogger myself, I have put a tremendous amount of time and energy into my work, into sharing my practice, resources, and ideas. And as Joey states, credit seems silly at times. Why is it necessary really? Everybody is taking ideas off the internet and making them into their own. However, at the heart of it, receiving credit can make a big difference in motivating those who share their ideas and resources so freely to continue doing the great work that they do. When someone’s work has been impacted by another or an idea, resource, or thought taken, giving credit is the right thing to do. There is an excellent book that I want to recommend to everyone that deals with the idea of good theft and bad theft. “Steal Like a Artist” was a New York Times best seller authored by Austin Kleon. You can find it here. I highly recommend reading this book as it puts the idea of good theft and bad theft into genuine perspective.

I was once collaborating with a fellow teacher from another international school about an idea that I had. I wanted this teacher to try it out so that I could actually see whether or not the idea worked outside of my own teaching space. We were rolling out the idea during similar units that we were teaching simultaneously. The plan was to collaborate and share how things were going during the unit, but due to time constraints, we never got the chance to connect again. You can imagine how I felt a few months later to find out that this teacher had taken the idea and guest blogged about it on a well-known educational organization’s website without referencing the fact that it was my idea in the first place and that we had been working together on it. This person essentially stole the idea and wrote as if it was theirs all along. It was frustrating and hurt a great deal. This is just one example, but there have been others as well.

So, I can sympathize with Joey and all the others mentioned in the post as I have also experienced times in the past that my work and ideas have been taken. However, in moving forward, I believe that we can all learn from these experiences and I’d like to thank Justin for sharing this topic on his blog, but to also thank Joey for sharing his genuine thoughts as well as the others.

It’s essential to understand and realize the importance of crediting others when necessary. It is critical to ask ourselves to what extent the ideas of others drives our teaching practice and whether or not we have authentically recognized those who have inspired us to be better at what we do and given credit where credit is due. Ultimately each and every one of us knows whether or not we’ve done this.

My final innovator is the king of creation in my opinion. His website is second to none. If you can think of an app or resource to use in physical education his website has reviewed. He has authored numerous books which I have shelled out my hard earned money for. I personally recommend the Great Games Handbook. His dice digital book puts some great twists on games that you wouldn’t think of. No, I am not his agent nor do I make any money off of his sales! His name is Kevin Tiller. My favorite story about Kevin and people stealing his material was when he was in a voxer group and someone was talking about this great game they had just learned at a conference. He kindly stated that the game they were referencing was straight out of his first book!

For me to sit down and write a book takes a lot of time. Not just time to write it. I mean the thinking process that goes into how I want the book to be designed, what the cover looks like, and how the layout is. The first book I wrote took me ten years. The second book took me a year. It is a very meticulous process where everything has to be symmetrical, colorful, eye appealing, as well as have solid content. It takes a ton of time. You want it to be high quality if your name is going to be attached to it. That being said I see people on Twitter referencing a game that I know is mine that they didn’t cite as being from Phys. Ed. Review. I always call them on it. I say hey that’s one of mine! Just to say give credit where credit is due. When I find something worth sharing I credit them. I mean my website has a ton of content that I share from other people!! I always give reference and credit where credit is due.

If you think about it is a violation of copyright. In all of the books I have written, there is a copyright. If someone doesn’t reference my book that is the issue. Not someone just taking the idea and using it. The internet has so many resources out there that people think it is fair game. They say no one is going to sue me or know one will know. We need to do the right thing even when no one else is looking.

Recently someone asked me if they could purchase 15 of my books and resell them at a conference. I never got back to them and gave them permission. They ordered the books. I think some people want a piece of the glory after I did all the work. If I was out that conference I would ask them did the author give you permission to sell these? If not I wouldn’t buy it. I am hoping other people read this because we should have kindness and courtesy. Instead of reselling my books why don’t you invite me to your conference or put a link to the site where I am selling the book.

Hopefully, the innovators above have impressed you enough to want to cite your sources. You may be saying to yourself right now that I don’t use any of this to make any money. That is the impression I was under. I always thought they couldn’t sue me because I didn’t make any money off of the image or source. I was wrong:

“Fifth Myth: You can use another person’s ‘work’ so long as you don’t make any financial gain or profit from it. This is definitely wrong and false. You are breaching Copyright whether you make money or not! You cannot use the argument that you are giving the Copyright owner free advertising or that you came up with the ‘lucrative’ idea and you will share it with the Copyright owner – any and all profits you make would be taken into account by a court if you were sued. And irrespective of whether you make any money, you are still breaching Copyright. The defining issue is not financial gain but the actual breach. Find your own images and content to use and ideas to make money from.”

Richard Byrne (@rmbyrne) has a great article on how to search for images that are allowed to be used for noncommercial use here. It is vitally important that we only take images and cite the source.

How should we cite sources on social media? Here are a couple of great ideas I saw in this blog recently:

To Cite Someone’s Content on Twitter:

Simply include a “via @username” somewhere in the tweet. If you’re retweeting someone’s content but you edit their original tweet, be sure to change “RT” to “MT,” which stands for “modified tweet.”

To Cite Someone’s Content on Facebook:

Facebook makes it pretty easy to give credit when you’re sharing someone else’s content right from their own timeline — they have a ‘Share’ button ready and waiting for you, and they make it easy to see the originating URL, originating sharer, as well as the names of people who shared it.

I don’t believe that most people are actively stealing credit for other people’s work. (except for the people the innovators talked about above) Most people fall into the trap of seeing ideas online and implementing them. (which is what we want) In their excitement to share, they forget to credit where they got it from. In some cases, they may credit their source, but that is not the source of origination for that idea or image. My point in this blog is not to create a culture where every word and thought has to be attributed to others. The point is to do your best to give the credit to where the credit is due. Credit is the new currency in our new world of free sharing. It is the fuel and motivation that keeps the innovators pushing their new materials out.

My guess is that most innovators & creators want to change the world and make it better. When people have attributed the idea back to the original source that person gets confirmation that what they are doing is helping change the world. Is it is more than just that pat on the back or the likes and favorites on social media. I am sure they love to see an idea generated created a better experience for students.

My final thoughts are to the innovators. I believe that most people are not stealing your ideas on purpose. They are genuinely excited to be doing new and different things all the time. If you see someone using your material reach out to them in the most discrete way and kindly ask them to acknowledge where the ideas and content originated. Start out from the position that the individual did realize they were doing something wrong. We do not want to crush individuals that are attempting to make their world a better place. As one man said always choose humanity over ideology.

Q1: How important is citing your resources to you? #slowchatpe

Q2: Did you ever have someone take your ideas and not give you credit? #slowchatpe

Q3: What makes you want to share ideas on social media? #slowchatpe

Q4: How do you come up with new ideas or lessons? #slowchatpe

Q5: Who is an innovator we should connect with? #slowchatpe

I Am

What was the last movie that changed your thinking? Was it Fight Club like @sarahdateechur or maybe it was the Matrix? Perhaps you are wondering if we are a dream within a dream within a dream? The movie that changed my thinking came from a recommendation on Twitter. @Sisyphus and I were having a conversation about socialism. (not getting political here) Someone in the feed mentioned to me to see the movie I Am. I did. Now my mind is trying to sort it all out. Here is a quick summary of the movie.

“I AM is an utterly engaging and entertaining non-fiction film that poses two practical and provocative questions: what’s wrong with our world, and what can we do to make it better?   The filmmaker behind the inquiry is Tom Shadyac, one of Hollywood’s leading comedy practitioners and the creative force behind such blockbusters as “Ace Ventura,” “Liar Liar,” “The Nutty Professor,” and “Bruce Almighty.”   However, in I AM, Shadyac steps in front of the camera to recount what happened to him after a cycling accident left him incapacitated, possibly for good. Though he ultimately recovered, he emerged with a new sense of purpose, determined to share his own awakening to his prior life of excess and greed, and to investigate how he as an individual, and we as a race, could improve the way we live and walk in the world.

Armed with nothing but his innate curiosity and a small crew to film his adventures, Shadyac set out on a twenty-first century quest for enlightenment.  Meeting with a variety of thinkers and doers–remarkable men and women from the worlds of science, philosophy, academia, and faith–including such luminaries as David Suzuki, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Lynne McTaggart, Ray Anderson, John Francis, Coleman Barks, and Marc Ian Barasch –  Shadyac appears on-screen as character, commentator, guide, and even, at times, guinea pig. An irrepressible “Everyman” who asks tough questions, but offers no easy answers, he takes the audience to places it has never been before, and presents even familiar phenomena in completely new and different ways.  The result is a fresh, energetic, and life-affirming film that challenges our preconceptions about human behavior while simultaneously celebrating the indomitable human spirit.”

One great point I walked away is that the heart is more important in leading us through life than the brain. Compassion and emotion affect our bodies and may affect outside of our body. He illustrates the point by showing how his emotions affect a bowl of yogurt. It is no secret that stress and worry can cause disease and physical pain. Can our heart and emotions play a part in the physical world?

The greatest part of the movie is that cooperation not competition is how nature functions. Mr. Shadyac illustrates this by showing insects, birds, deer, and fish all working together. This is where the mind bomb was dropped. He stated that Darwin only talked about survival of the fittest twice, but wrote about love 95 times in the book The Descent of Man. That is a pretty significant difference.

I think about my privilege a lot. Would I be able to get ahead in life if I did not have the love and support of my family growing up? Would I have been able to go to college? The cooperation it took from my family and community in order for me to succeed is miraculous. I firmly believe we need to work together in order to achieve. This can be at the micro level of a household or the macro level of a country. Our country thrives on competition yet cooperation is the only thing that enables us to live quality lives. Corporations have grown so big that they don’t care about the individual at all. Have school systems done the same? Have we put our students into a competition ring where we measure them against each other? Have school systems grown so big that we can’t change them so we keep ignoring the individuals that need the most help?

The movie makes me question how connected to each other are we? I am not talking about social media connections or even family connections. I am talking broader connections. Connections outside your church, mosque, synagogue, yoga studio or any other physical space where we connect to other people. How much does my action in Trenton, New Jersey affect someone in Tokyo? What influence do I have on people in my own town? Think about this fact, “The reality is that the odds of breathing a single molecule of air that once passed through the lungs of Jesus, even in a single one of your breaths, is near certainty. The odds of encountering even one of those molecules within your entire lifetime is even more certain.” What does that mean for us? Nothing it was just a cool fact.

The movie leaves me feeling scared about the fate of man (and woman) kind. It also leads me to believe that helping other people has never been more needed in the history of the human race than it is right now. Watch the movie and Tweet or Vox me with your thoughts!

Q1: What does education do to support the idea that we are all connected in one way shape or form? #slowchatpe

Q2: How does your school make sure that your staff stays connected as people and not just coworkers? #slowchatpe

Q3: What do you do in your class to make them realize your class depends on cooperation in order for everyone to succeed? #slowchatpe

Q4: Do you feel that American life is more about cooperation or competition? #slowchatpe

Q5: Who in your PLN is your connector? The one who knows people. #slowchatpe