PE in 2018 - Better than Ever!
For many parents, memories of school PE include rope climbing nightmares, waiting interminably for a turn at kickball, and fears of being picked last for steal the bacon. Fortunately for the children of MPCSD, today’s physical education classes and teachers are specially trained, based on brain and movement science, and designed to teach all students - at their own pace and mastery - skills that lead to a lifetime of healthy exercise. Every MPCSD school has full time physical education-credentialed teachers who create programs that offer choice, age-appropriate skills-based lessons, and a fun, supportive, and inclusive environment. The focus of PE is building physical literacy, confidence, self esteem, love of movement, and a life-long habit of exercise. Every student has access to the PE equipment and works at their own pace. Skills that build hand-eye coordination, balance, and crossing the midline also build brain development. PE has become more skills based over the years and now focuses on teaching motor skills that can be used in a variety of settings, providing children a solid foundation in various types of movement and the confidence to participate in sports. In addition to these district-wide goals for the physical education curriculum, each school adds its own unique flair that makes PE exciting for our students.
At Encinal, the PE program now includes Team Time, started by teacher Amy Gee. Team Time is a daily morning activity that gets the whole campus up and moving and provides a healthy start to the day. Staff and even parents join the students in this fun way to wake up their brains. Dance is an important addition to the PE curriculum - including the infamous Halloween Thriller dance - as young children are natural dancers and early exposure to dance movement helps eliminate the gender stereotypes that come along with dance and promote it as a fun and healthy way to incorporate exercise into kids’ lives. To encourage physical activity beyond scheduled PE time, Ms. Gee started a running club for students in grades 2-5, who have a scan card to keep track of how many times they run or walk the track. Together, the PE activities at Encinal teach skills, foster self esteem, and set students on a path toward healthy living.
Megan Stone, PE teacher at Laurel, has started a fun enhancement to the PE curriculum called Bring Your Parents to PE week. Parents and grandparents joined their students for a special week of fitness and fun full of running, jumping, playing games, and learning and participating as a member of their child's PE class. Ms. Stone also makes good use of the SeeSaw platform to send reminders and schedules, Healthy Habits like eating fruits and vegetables, and explanations of skills like motor perception for kindergarteners. The Laurel program offers volleyball and hula hooping among its manipulatives, all in a program designed to provide choice and skills in a supportive and varied environment.
Oak Knoll PE teacher Hope Scheid has developed a creative and innovative physical education program that challenges all skills. The physical and movement skills are complemented by life skills such as respect of peers, teamwork, critical thinking and understanding that students each have a different set of skills and abilities. Oak Knoll students will learn hockey skills and then instead of playing a traditional hockey game, invent other games that use all of their learned skills. With these interesting hockey type games everyone participates and students can practice a variety of techniques while developing confidence in their physical abilities. And Ms. Scheid makes sure Otters always have fun!
At Hillview, the Physical Education department’s overall philosophy is to enable and encourage an active lifestyle for students. In addition to the regular PE classes, the department is continuing to expand its choice options with Dance/Yoga, Team Sports, Lifetime Sports, and New Games so students can explore physical activity in their area of interest. The movement skills developed in the elementary program lead to performance in a variety of complex activities like sports, dance, slacklining, and rock-climbing. The addition of a vertical rock wall this year adds improving grip strength/dexterity for better (hand) writing and another option for students that like/appreciate non-ball activities to the already diverse curriculum. Hillview students focus on building strength and dexterity, working together, and problem solving through exposure to learning and growth opportunities based on natural curiosity and self-motivation. Hillview's annual dance show, that grew out of the Dance PE elective, has become a highly anticipated school event and demonstration of the skill and power that is expressed in all PE activities.