ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Get Up and Move Toward Better Physical Education

Post submitted by Whole Child Blogger Robyn Gee

It's not uncommon to find stories of elementary students who missed out on a period of recess because they misbehaved. It's not uncommon to see a student misbehave in physical education (PE) class and then have to run laps as punishment.

Carrie Flint, an elementary and adapted PE specialist from Redondo Beach, Calif., told attendees in her ASCD Annual Conference session that educators must stop associating physical activity with punishment. Students who have a bad experience in PE are more likely to be inactive adults, she said.

Flint's session, "Physical Education and Recess Environments: Keys to Success," touched on challenges PE teachers face, some helpful tips for making physical activity engaging and successful, and where teachers can find resources.

She said PE teachers and programs are constantly up against people who question the necessity of physical activity for kids who are academically behind, claiming there's no time for recess. "Well, if their heart doesn't work, I really don't care if they can read or not," responded Flint. She told attendees that research actually shows test scores remain the same or even improve when students have some regular physical education.

Flint touched on five issues that can pose problems for physical educators:

  • Students' lack of problem-solving skills
  • Inconsistent rules
  • Equipment issues
  • Unclear expectations
  • Not enough to do

One problem-solving strategy that Flint believes in wholeheartedly is teaching the entire school community to adopt and buy into Rock, Paper, Scissors as a way to settle conflicts. Whether it's a fight over whose turn it is or who's right or wrong, it can be settled by a quick game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, said Flint.

Flint also talked about designing the play space to be engaging for students to prevent them from complaining that they have nothing to do. She showed an example blueprint of a blacktop and said more models can be found on the Peaceful Playgrounds website. She showed how she painted grids, multiple foursquare courts, multiple hopscotch areas, a bean bag toss, and targets on the walls for kids to practice accurate throwing. One session attendee said she painted a giant computer keyboard on her school's blacktop.

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