Tagged “Physical Activity And Physical Education”

Healthy School Communities

Health and Learning News and Updates


Oklahoma High School Parents and Principal Frown at New School Lunch Guidelines: Not everyone seems pleased with the new efforts to improve school nutrition. Some critics say that the new guidelines will cost schools money when it's not certain students will even eat the healthier choices. Without buy-in from some parents, principals, and even students, how likely is it that the USDA's nutrition standards are going to have an effect? Comment on ASCD EDge.

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Klea Scharberg

Physical Activity and Physical Education Roundup

Many U.S. schools and districts have minimized or eliminated health and physical education programs; reduced the number of school nurses, counselors, and other health professionals; and focused on "the basics," largely in response to No Child Left Behind (NCLB). We know that students do better in school when they are emotionally and physically healthy. They miss fewer classes, are less likely to engage in risky or antisocial behavior, concentrate more, and achieve higher test scores, so how do we reconcile children's developmental needs and schools' diminishing resources and focus on testing?

For the last two months, we looked at why physical activity and physical education are crucial to ensuring that students are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. We examined the research about the need for physical activity and physical education; explored some of the recent criticism; examined the relationship between physical activity and physical education and academic achievement, engagement, and social and emotional health and learning; and considered how physical activity can be expanded across the day.

Listen to the Whole Child Podcast with moderator Sean Slade, director of ASCD Healthy School Communities, and guests Charles Basch, Richard March Hoe Professor of Health Education at Columbia University; Charlene Burgeson, executive director of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE)—a whole child partner—and Let's Move in School; and George Svejda, a physical education teacher at Sargent Shriver Elementary in Montgomery County, Md.

Question why children are less active today: is it because of increased traffic, neighborhoods with fewer parks, and cuts in school recess as the researchers suggest? How much physical activity per day is recommended for children and teenagers?

Learn the facts about child obesity from Whole Child Partner SPARK. What does it mean if a child is obese and what is the effect on long-term health? What factors contribute to the childhood obesity epidemic?

Think about why physical activity and physical education has been reduced or eliminated in schools. Steve Jefferies, professor of physical education at Central Washington University, past president of NASPE, and the publisher of pelinks4u takes a look at whether it is our ignorance of the benefits of physical activity or our arrogance in achieving adult goals at the expense of child development.

Discuss recent criticism of physical education in schools. Why do we need physical education, physical activity, and even recess? Is it just about giving students a break from academics? Is it just about developing fitter kids who can then do better on standardized testing?

Explore integrating standards-based instruction into physical education and physical education into standards-based instruction with this example of a project-based learning project from Andrew K. Miller, an educator and consultant for the Buck Institute for Education. By engaging them in a relevant and authentic task, students see why they are learning and what they are learning.

Read about coordinated school health programs and their eight essential components—health education; physical education; school health services; counseling, psychological, and social services; nutrition; staff wellness; a healthy school environment; and family and community involvement—and one Tennessee school district's success.

Watch how one California school emphasizes personal growth and development with transfer value to leisure time activity in its physical education program. The middle school content standards emphasize working cooperatively to achieve a common goal, meeting challenges, making decisions, and working as a team to solve problems. How does your school engage students through physical education to learn these skills?

Consider active gaming as a way to use appropriate, modern tools that children may find enjoyable and motivating and in which they will develop a desire to voluntarily be physically active. Lisa Hansen, PhD, assistant professor at the University of South Florida (USF) in the College of Education in the School of Physical Education and Exercise Science, codirector of the USF Active Gaming Research Labs, and PE Central’s Active Gaming managing editor looks at the need for student engagement—having fun—in physical activity in order to develop lifelong healthy habits.

Find ways to include and integrate physical activity and physical education in a well-rounded, whole child approach to education from Whole Child Partners NASPE, National Education Association, National Parent Teacher Association, Society of State Leaders of Health and Physical Education, and SPARK.

Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter to find more resources, research, and stats, including links to

Earlier today, the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance and NASPE hosted a national Let's Move in School webinar that brought together leading education, health, and sport organizations to advance school-based physical activity. Learn more from the press release, watch the archived webinar, and get information on standards and practical resources.

Have you seen a decrease in physical activity and physical education in your school and community? What is the effect on young people in your community?

ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Active Gaming in Physical Education: Embracing the Future

Lisa Hansen, PhD

Post submitted by Lisa Hansen, PhD, assistant professor at the University of South Florida (USF) in the College of Education in the School of Physical Education and Exercise Science, codirector of the USF Active Gaming Research Labs, and PE Central's Active Gaming managing editor. Connect with Hansen and share your questions and suggestions for implementing active gaming in the classroom at activegaming@pecentral.org.

What is our job as physical education teachers? What should we be doing to encourage children to engage and remain engaged in physical activity? How do we continue to learn how to motivate children to want to voluntarily be physically active ... and step away from the iPods, computers, and video games?

Research suggests that the most important element in a child's life is having fun. Studies also demonstrate that children will more likely remain engaged or continue an activity if they consider it enjoyable. If this is the case, it is our job to figure out how to make physical activity more enjoyable.

What worked 30 years ago may not be as successful with this generation. What works now may not work 5 years from now. We need to continue to educate ourselves on appropriate, modern tools that children may find enjoyable and motivating and in which they will develop a desire to voluntarily be physically active. A modern tool that is gaining in popularity in physical education programs and other health facilities is being called active gaming, or exergaming.

Active gaming combines the use of technology in the form of a game with physical activity. Children are able to engage in the technology games they enjoy, such as video games, while being physically active. Active gaming is an appropriate, modern tool that the current generation relates too and undeniable enjoys. Visit PE Central to learn more about active gaming and follow the active gaming blog.

ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Ignorance or Arrogance: Depriving Children of Physical Activity in School

Steven C. Jefferies

Post submitted by Steve Jefferies, professor of physical education at Central Washington University (CWU) and past president of Whole Child Partner the National Association for Sport and Physical Education. He is also the publisher of pelinks4u, a nonprofit program sponsored by the CWU Foundation and supported by a variety of companies and organizations connected to the physical education profession. E-mail Jefferies at steve@pelinks4u.org.

A country is as strong as its citizens, and I think mental and physical health, mental and physical vigor go hand in hand.

—John F. Kennedy

Almost 50 years ago, John F. Kennedy, U.S. president and the parent of two young children, connected the strength of the nation with the need for a physically active citizenry. Sadly, this vision remains unfulfilled, and by all accounts we now face worsening health primarily as the result of sedentary living and poor diets.

In the last decade, the crisis in our schools—persistently low academic performance—has been addressed at the expense of student health. The goals of No Child Left Behind, although admirable in their intent, omitted any health or physical education requirements. Not surprisingly, many schools responded by reducing or eliminating opportunities for daily physical activity and increasing seat time focused on those "academic" subjects targeted for assessment.

Ironically, the reading, writing, math, and communication skills educators would dearly love to see increase will never be realized as long as we persist with the current dualistic perspective of body and mind. Whether we look to the Roman "sound mind, sound body" philosophy, Piaget's recognition that babies both "learn to move" and "move to learn," or our own personal life experiences, it's clear that bodies and minds starved of movement deteriorate.

Not long ago, our schools were most culpable in turning the children who showed up as "happy puppies" in kindergarten into sad old dogs by the time they graduated. Children arrived at our schools from infancy and early childhood where they were used to the joyous movement of unstructured play, only to be swiftly deconditioned by the joyless imperative to sit still. Witness the same relish of these youngsters given the chance to escape outside for recess and free their bodies from the captivity of the typical academic classroom.

Today, sadly many children no longer even arrive at kindergarten as happy puppies. Much earlier, sometimes from birth, they have been conditioned by a continuous diet of television viewing and fast food to a sedentary lifestyle. They no longer want to move. Worsening obesity is merely a symptom of this malaise. The fundamental problem that all educators need to solve is a lack of bodily movement, because this inactivity negatively impacts emotional, social, intellectual, spiritual, and, yes, physical health.

Incarcerate any human, and decline is inevitable. The simple fact is that through thousands or maybe millions of years of evolution, the human body was designed to move. Bones, muscles, and brain cells are nourished and thrive on a diet of physical movement. When the body doesn't move, it declines.

Whether through ignorance or arrogance, in today's schools we've become accustomed to allocating time for our students to move based on an arbitrarily constructed adult prescription. In elementary schools, twice a week physical education for 30 minutes at a time meets most agendas. How absurd can we be? Do adults really believe that they can specify how much movement the young, physically developing body needs to flourish? Little wonder our classrooms are full of children exhibiting behavioral problems, lacking social skills, and unfocused and disinterested in instruction.

In large part, our frustrating struggle to promote academic achievement is the consequence of our dull-witted efforts to inject learning into environments that do their best to preclude learning. But what do we do? We give them more of the same thing. Have them read longer. Make them do more math problems. Eliminate recess. We persist with the mantra "pile on the bookwork and surely they'll learn." This approach will never work with our children, and they deserve much better.

Like us, children perform well when they are healthy and happy, and they are at their happiest when they are moving.

Healthy School Communities

Health and Learning News and Updates


School Ends Policy of Tying PE Grade to BMI Measurement: Parents at a Chicago-area school get together to pressure school officials to discontinue linking students' body fat measurements to fitness grades. The BMI Index will remain a tool used to track physical fitness levels, but will no longer be shared with the students on progress reports.

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Klea Scharberg

Harvey Silver Asks "Who Taught You How To Think?"

More than a decade into the 21st century, we continue to face education challenges from the last century. To move forward, we must develop knowledgeable learners equipped with the necessary academic, technological, social, and economic skills to compete in the global community. The ASCD 2011 Annual Conference in San Francisco, March 26–28 2011, will engage participants in dynamic, diverse dialogues that lead to bold actions to address the challenges of learning, teaching, and leading.

In this video, educator and author Harvey Silver says getting students to reflect on their thinking and how they learn to think are the most important goals in education.

[T]he second person that had a real impact on my thinking was my high school football coach ... [H]e asked me to notice the formations to see how people were lined up and I realized that you could learn a lot just by looking, by examining and thinking ... Thinking is the name of this game. I think this question is important to ask teachers because I think they need to ask their students: What does it mean to think?

Harvey Silver is president of Silver Strong & Associates and Thoughtful Education Press and has been a teacher and administrator at the elementary, secondary, and graduate levels. He was named one of the 100 most influential teachers in the country and has conducted numerous workshops for schools, districts, and state education departments throughout the United States, including the Georgia Critical Thinking Skills Program and the Kentucky Thoughtful Education Teacher Leadership Program.

He is the author of several education bestsellers, including The Strategic Teacher: Selecting the Right Research-Based Strategy for Every Lesson and So Each May Learn: Integrating Learning Styles and Multiple Intelligences. With Richard Strong, Silver developed the Thoughtful Classroom—a renowned professional development program based on the commitment to make students as important as standards. Connect with Silver on Twitter @harveysilver.

ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Pathways to Success

Did you know that recent molecular biology research has detailed how physical activity has a positive influence on your ability to learn, emotional stability, and physical health? In molecular biology and other sciences, the term "causal pathways" is used to describe factors that lead to a given result. In the past, scientists often thought that there was only one causal pathway for each disorder, but scientists have since found that most cases involve a combination of factors.

Like the health and well-being of the human body and mind, the success or failure of each child will not have one causal pathway; it will be a combination of experiences that work toward or against ensuring that each child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.

While physical activity and physical education are not the only causal pathway to success, they are essential to helping young people thrive throughout their lives. As the debate over and criticism about the role of physical activity, physical education, and recess in schools rages on and the amount of human and financial resources devoted to this area dwindles, a growing body of research confirms the necessity of this component of educating the whole child. Those concerned with the time spent on physical education and physical activity during the school day can rest assured that research has demonstrated it has no detriment to student success. In fact, high-quality opportunities for physical activity and physical education actually improve student learning.

If we're committed to young people's lifelong cognitive, physical, and emotional success, creating pathways where physical activity and physical education are not part of the course will inevitably lead to dead ends. But you don't have to take our word for it. Download the most recent Whole Child Podcast, read and share your comments on the Whole Child Blog, and share resources and examples of physical activity and physical education by e-mailing us at wholechild@ascd.org.

Have you signed up to receive the Whole Child Newsletter? Read this month's newsletter and visit the archive for more strategies, resources, and tools you can use to help ensure that each child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.

Klea Scharberg

Underserved Students Realize Dreams of College

Bronx Preparatory Charter School in New York prepares underserved middle and high school students for higher education, civic involvement, and lifelong success by holding high expectations and providing a caring, structured environment. The school's 700 students in grades 5–12 spend 50 percent more time in school than their peers in traditional public schools. Heavy emphasis is placed on math and literacy. Middle school students attend up to two hours each in math and English daily and are introduced to high school-level content in 8th grade. During the 11th and 12th grades, students can take college-level courses.

College is integrated into every aspect at Bronx Prep, with rooms named after colleges and universities and teachers constantly referring to students' future higher education. Consistent science, social studies, physical education, and artistic block scheduling provide a well-rounded education. Middle and high school students spend one hour a day, four days a week participating in classes such as piano, violin, dance, and drama. One hundred percent of the school's first three high school graduating classes were admitted to four-year colleges.

Sean Slade

Race to Nowhere: The Start of a Community Conversation

On Tuesday night, close to 300 people attended a screening of the Race to Nowhere documentary hosted by Alexandria (Va.) City Public Schools, the Alexandria PTA Council, and ASCD. Probably more remarkable than all these hardy souls venturing out on a very wintry night to view the film was the fact that they stayed for more than an hour after the screening to start a discussion.

The film reveals an issue that has widespread effect on our children's health, growth, and learning: In many communities, we have reached a saturation point in the amount of work, study, and practice our students can do and the amount of content knowledge they can absorb, understand, and make useful in their lives. And, as was stated by ASCD Executive Director and CEO Gene Carter in his welcome address, "In many cases this saturation point is being reached by our children before they enter their teenage years."

One of the key reasons ASCD became interested in the film—besides its support of a whole child approach to education—was the film's producers' determination to have the film catalyze conversation and, in particular, community conversation. We started this community conversation in Alexandria Tuesday night. It was a dialogue that involved parents, students, teachers, administrators, many Whole Child Partner organizations, local PTA, and local school board members. We were also fortunate to have not only Carter, ACPS Superintendent Morton Sherman, and Alexandria PTA Council President Karen McManis in attendance, but also the film's producer and director, Vicki Abeles, the film's educational consultant, Sara Truebridge, and our local Congressman and whole child supporter Jim Moran.

The conversation began last night, but we want the conversation to continue. To this end, we are posting many of the comments made last night in response to a series of questions we posed. From here, we want the conversation to continue—at a minimum—online.

Race to Nowhere screening

Question 1: Is stress and overscheduling a problem?

  • Many kids exhibit a pressure to be perfect.
  • Many kids feel the pressure to cheat.
  • A sudent in kindergarten expressed stress that he didn't do well on a quiz.
  • Why are we proposing an extended school day?
  • Proposing a longer day does not mean we are proposing more work or more homework.
  • A longer day can provide greater time to think and discuss.
  • The issue is what we do with the time.
  • We need greater emphasis on physical education, individualized instruction, and study time.
  • We need to connect kids with counselors.
  • We need increased attention on how we interact with each other and the children.

Question 2: What currently works to alleviate stress, or what would help to alleviate stress?

  • Our children need to be outside and play in the fresh air.
  • We need to teach our children how to solve problems through negotiation.
  • We as adults don't do a good job with conflict resolution or negotiating, and our children look to us to learn how to manage stress.
  • Some of us don't know how to relieve our own stress!
  • We tell students to sit down, shut up, etc., but they are in school ALL DAY long.
  • We say teach, teach, teach: but we have to model what we want for our children.
  • I appreciate the film tapping into the early education piece—tapping into the entire child.

Question 3: Should we focus most attention on reducing the stress involved with schooling (proactive) or increasing avenues to deal with stress (reactive)?

  • We have to start modeling the behavior we want our children to have.
  • I didn't see the issue of cyber bullying highlighted, but that's a huge stressor.
  • This is a time to consider how to help the entire child by having more time in the day.
  • We can do things with the time; make better use of the time we have (e.g., kids sit for 30 minutes in the morning in the gym while kids in other countries do yoga or physical activity).
  • Kids need to valued for what they are good at; forcing every kid down the same path is just wrong.
  • Why don't we test for multiple intelligences? How do we move in that direction?
  • Most of the progressive, so-called high-performing nations (Singapore, South Korea, Finland) are approaching the focus on learning entirely different than the United States. They are moving away from where we are headed.
  • Schools are reflections of what their communities expect.
  • It's not just the responsibility of the school; it's also of the responsibility of communities they serve.
  • School plays a vitally important role in providing the appropriate learning experience for each student.
  • School is only responsible for a segment of the learning experiment.
  • ASCD is focused on learning, not schooling.
  • If a child is not doing well, he or she deserves the opportunity to be reassessed (don't say "retested").
  • Our education system is upside down, and it won't change from the top down.
  • The U.S. Constitution [indicates the rights to] life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness: school is rarely about the third.
  • We need a greater emphasis on the first five years of life.
  • The desire for change needs to come from communities, communities such as Alexandria.

The following questions were not asked last night due to time but are posted here to elicit responses.

Question 4: Are there things that we could focus on in each family, classroom, or school?

Question 5: Are there things we could focus on at a local, state, and national level?

Read the questions. Read the responses. Submit your comments. Continue the conversation.

Klea Scharberg

What Should Physical Education Look Like in the Year 2020 and Beyond?


Whole Child Partner the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE), which has members including P–12 physical education teachers, is conducting an initiative called PE2020 to answer the question, What should physical education look like in the year 2020 and beyond?

Over 1,600 essays have been submitted by physical education teachers, college and university faculty and teacher candidates, K–12 students, parents, school administrators, policymakers, and community members and are being shared, discussed, and analyzed to create a road map into the future of the physical education profession. Please read what people are saying and add your own thoughts (500 word maximum).

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