Flourish with Fitness – September’s Back to School Fitness Challenge

FLOURISH WITH FITNESS

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I’ll be referring to the year’s take-home fitness challenges as FLOURISH WITH FITNESS challenges. As you see in the above definition, the word flourish refers to growing and developing in a healthy way, especially as the result of a favorable environment. We the parents, teachers, and guardians provide the opportunity for our kids to grow. What better environment for exercise than home, either by yourself or better yet, with family and friends.

The goal of each FLOURISH WITH FITNESS challenges is to introduce a variety of exercises, healthy habits, and routines that are quick, easy, and fun to perform, yet challenging enough to increase heart rates and help build strength. Ultimately, promoting lifelong fitness and its countless health related benefits will hopefully be a main take away for our students and families.

Updated BTS Fitness Screen

For the month of September, students will be challenged with an AMRAP (as many rounds as possible). I will spend the week prior to the challenge discussing the workout and practicing the four exercises that make up the AMRAP during PE class. This allows me to help them with form before setting them off to do the workout at home. I’ve incorporated rest days this year as well. Students need to know that giving your body a break is an important part of any workout regiment. I also encourage the students to teach their parents the workout. Many parents inform me that they too take the monthly challenges!

At the end of the month, students turn in their calendars. Students who complete ten days or more receive an award certificate with a gold sticker a plastic shoe token.

tokens
Shoe Tokens are always a hit with students

For an editable copy, click September Challenge 2018

For and editable copy of the award certificate, click Back to School Challenge Certificate.


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The Recess Equipment Dilemma: Part 2 – A plan that works

In The Recess Equipment Dilemma: Part 1 Frustration, I shared the challenges I’ve faced over the years plotting various solutions for student accountability in regard to recess equipment. Simply stated, “Why is all the recess equipment being stranded on the play ground?”

“Personally, I have meticulously developed plans, charts, and strategies to ensure all recess equipment would be retrieved and accounted for following each recess session. Initially, the designs worked flawlessly, however, much like the not-put-away shoes we trip over, forgotten equipment was strewn across the playground, waterlogged, faded, and over-heated. Ultimately, the playground balls in particular, would be lost, stolen, flattened, or would simply disappear into the playground abyss. Plan after plan after inefficient plan, would end with the same fate. No recess balls, no student accountability.”

Summing up my previous post, I concluded with the following:

Several years ago, my team and I set up a meeting to brainstorm ideas for yet ANOTHER plan. What we devised was a system which included the PE team, the classroom teachers and assistants AND the students all working together.

AHA! MOMENT

After poring over the many failed attempts to teach out students accountability, my team and I finally determined the missing ingredient: Us! The Teachers!

As adults, we set alarms to wake up, fitness trackers alert us when we need to move, and our cars remind us when we are low on fuel. Like us, students thrive with reminders. They crave adults leadership to model appropriate behaviors. It’s the same as a math teacher spending extra time on a difficult concept, ensuring that every student understands. The idea parallels the reminders we consistently give students in the lunch room when the noise level exceeds the limit. Even we, the adults, need similar reinforcement and guidance. My point is, we can’t expect to devise a recess plan, explain it to the students one or two times, the expect them to carry it out flawlessly over an extended amount of time.

To that end, here is the plan my team and I developed several years ago. We shared the new plan with our students at an assembly with a thorough explanation and PowerPoint presentation.

 

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The first thing we did during our presentation was state the dilemma and explain the  goal of the Improved Recess Plan.

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Next, we gave an brief overview of the plan.

Breif Plan Overview

We followed the overview with a more in depth discussion about each of the three points, beginning with the bag. We were fortunate enough to purchase several bags, each a different color for each grade level. Every year the bags are restocked with equipment color coordinated with the bag. Every school has a different budget for equipment so it’s understood that the contents of your recess bag may look different than ours. You can also use laundry baskets as a cost efficient option instead of bags. Regardless, the plan remains the same. 

1. THE BAG

The Bag
We later realized we were handing out WAY too much equipment at once. We now store some of the equipment for later in the school year.
Bag Continued
Our school has four classes per grade level. Each class takes turns storing the bag.

It’s imperative to include a checklist on the bag. This reminds the students of its contents when it’s time to gather the equipment.

SharpieEQUALLY IMPORTANT: With a sharpie, label each ball with the grade level.  

 

Bag Labels

Each bag has an inventory tag. This is a MUST!

 

2. THE NEW SYSTEM

We instructed the students and teachers to create an additional student job called Recess Equipment Manager. As stated below, the Recess Equipment Manager would have a specific job description. However, this chosen individual would need help.

Teachers on recess duty would have to remind students to collect the equipment using the checklist attached to the bag. They would have to hold not only the managers, but the rest of students accountable for the equipment if it was left behind. Teachers also have to remind students to report any lost or damaged equipment. Find a time to speak to all the teachers regarding this important responsibility. Set up a time during pre-planning if possible.

We later realized that there needed to be a team of Recess Equipment Managers. Therefore, each class would provide one manager for a total of four.  Following a recess session, having more eyes on the equipment proved to be more efficient and less taxing.

Students who are NOT the Recess Equipment Managers need reminders that they too are responsible for the equipment. If a student takes a ball from the bag, then that same student should make sure the ball is returned to the bag at the end of recess or when they are finished using it.

The System

 

Below is the policy we initially established for damaged equipment. Presently, without hesitation, we will replace any equipment damaged from normal wear and tear. We are not as lenient with lost equipment.

3. REPLACING EQUIPMENT

 

Replacing Equipment
Each school will have a unique plan for replacing equipment depending on budget and philosophy.

The above plan may seem elaborate and perhaps even over-the-top. I’m sure some of you have recess equipment plans which are more simplified and work well for your school. Our color-coded equipment plan has definitely, without a doubt, been the best plan implemented thus far throughout my career.  However, for every successful plan, there needs to be a team effort. Our students are being molded from early on to become responsible and accountable adults. Along with their parents, we the educators, play a significant role in this development. We can and should use recess as another opportunity to enhance student accountability.

*Special thanks to my colleagues Jedd Austin (@jeddaustin), Brian Balocki (@brianbalocki), and Laura English (@PECoachLaura.)

 


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The Recess Equipment Dilemma: Part 1 – Frustration

Why I love recess:

I strongly believe recess provides elementary-aged students a brilliant balance to their school day. It’s an opportunity for students to freely explore and socialize while developing and boosting emotional, physical, and social growth in an unstructured environment.

But wait! There’s more!

Recess also throws in a bonus lesson of responsibility for the students, and grants educators an opportunity to reinforce student accountability.

What? Read on.

SOLVING MY RECESS RIDDLE: Where is everything?

Over the last 25 years, I have attempted to teach students to be accountable for recess equipment, and I know I’m not alone. I’ve witnessed teachers with recess captains, leaders, and helpers toting out baskets, bins, and bags, filled with their gear, only to return empty.

Personally, I have meticulously developed plans, charts, and strategies to ensure all recess equipment would be retrieved and accounted for following each recess session. Initially, the designs worked flawlessly, however, much like the shoes we trip over that were never put away, forgotten equipment was strewn across the playground, waterlogged, faded, and over-heated. Ultimately, the playground balls in particular, would be lost, stolen, flattened, or would simply disappear into the playground abyss. Plan after plan after inefficient plan, would end with the same fate. No recess balls, no student accountability.

I recently stumbled across the following email sent to the faculty and staff of a school where I previously worked. The date was September 13, 2006, and I was frustrated another “well-thought-out plan” was leading to failure. I was seeking assistance and guidance from anyone to help teach our students to be accountable. Therefore, I attempted to douse the dilemma with a little humor, and draw other teacher’s attention to my frustration…empathy anyone?

Anyway, here’s the email:

Ladies and gentlemen,

It brings me great sadness to announce the untimely death of our beloved soccer ball. As I braved the elements and journeyed across campus in search of our missing friend, I was horrified to discover our once firm, bouncy friend, completely flat under a butterfly bush.  As I placed my hand on his damaged polypropylene skin, and shook gently while asking,”are you okay?”, I immediately realized I needed to attempt to resuscitate with my air pump.  After several minutes of rescue breathing I realized the ball was dead.  The apparent cause of death was several puncture wounds to the bladder.  It is my belief our friend was taken outside to be happily kicked around.  Then, instead of being put back with his friends in his little white laundry basket home, he was abandoned. Being forced to face the elements proved to be too much of a challenge for the less than 24 hour-old ball.  Perhaps as he was bouncing around searching for his friends football, volleyball, basketball and kickball, he rolled into a pack of dogs.  It seams the punctures are a result of dog teeth.  Dogs are NOT balls best friends. Hopefully DNA can narrow the search for the killer by presenting the breed responsible. There will NOT be a public viewing of the ball since I already threw it away. 

Please be gentle with the remaining balls as they are in a state of grief. Inform the children the balls may not bounce as high and far as usual since they’re feeling rather flat today. Kim is available for anyone who needs counseling.

Warmest regards,

Justin

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Perhaps you’ve experienced similar challenges. Maybe you have a plan that has worked for your school. If so, please share. Several years ago, my team and I set up a meeting to brainstorm ideas for yet ANOTHER plan. What we devised was a system which included the PE team, the classroom teachers and assistants AND the students all working together. To be continued…

Stay tuned for The Recess Equipment Dilemma: Part 2 – A plan that works. 


If you enjoyed this post, consider following my blog to receive future posts.

Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/justybubpe.

Check out my Facebook group called Keeping Kids in Motion!

Youtube Channel

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