Instructional Initiatives are the Perfect FITT

Instructional Initiatives are the Perfect FITT
Posted on 07/07/2014

By Alyson Brabitz, Physical Education Teacher at Showell Elementary School and the 2014 SES Teacher of the Year

When people think about new instructional initiatives, they usually do not picture a physical education class. However, physical education is definitely in the game! Interdisciplinary studies and technology integration, for example, are two initiatives contributing to physical education instruction.

One of the physical education programs which illustrates interdisciplinary studies – the integration of multiple content areas – is Showell Elementary School’s first grade Boardwalk Walk. SES first graders have the opportunity to earn a special field trip to the Ocean City boardwalk in May, while learning important standards associated with multiple subject areas.

To earn the field trip, students must walk a total of 10 miles, accomplished over time by combining a student’s walking distances in physical education class and recess. The Boardwalk Walk incorporates FITT, applying four principles of training: Frequency of exercise, Intensity of effort, Type of exercise, and the Time interval for the exercise. FITT emphasizes that “one size does not fit all.” One student may only be comfortable with walking a quarter-of-a-mile in one session, while another may feel comfortable walking a full mile. Finding the perfect exercise FITT for each child is an important life lesson.

Students are taught that walking is the perfect activity to stay fit, since almost everyone can do it and walking requires no equipment. In addition, students learn the importance of setting goals, monitoring progress, positive thinking, and encouraging others.

Math, social studies, and science are also integrated into this program. Students, for example, collect data and graph their walking progress on a chart. They also use a map to measure the distance from SES to the boardwalk. In addition, students make predictions about when they will satisfy the goal, adjusting their walking session-goals to stay on target. In art class, students design a class logo. Students then paint the logo onto t-shirts which will be worn on the boardwalk field trip.

The field trip is a wonderful experience for students. In addition to appreciating one of our most precious natural resources – the Atlantic Ocean, students walk two-and-a-half miles on the boardwalk. The Ocean City Beach Patrol also delivers a safety seminar about swimming in the ocean. They learn the science of a rip current, as well as what to do if they get caught in one.

One of the key components to interdisciplinary studies is collaboration. When teachers and community members collaborate to make real-world learning multi-dimensional, learning is more meaningful and lasting.

Technology integration is another initiative that physical education is embracing. Technology is a valuable tool in all disciplines, which is probably why my teaching intern – who is studying to become a PE teacher – chose to study “exergramming.” Exergramming refers to video games which require “players” to get up and move. My intern and I decided to incorporate a Wii dancing game within our dance unit. Characters on the video screen danced to music, while our students imitated their movements. The experience was engaging for all students.

If you have questions about how physical education incorporates 21st century teaching and learning initiatives, please call me at 410-632-5350.