Motivate Your Class With a Meaningful Quote and Image



Have you ever needed an idea or a visual to help set the tone for a class, running club, or any other group?  Recently, my colleague, Jedd Austin (@jeddaustin), found the above quote and photograph from American photographer, artist, and director Chase Jarvis.  Following an instant activity during our running club, we gathered our runners and asked them to reflect on the quote and image for 1 minute.  Our more than 100 1st-6th grade students suddenly became very quiet.  You could almost hear their minds at work.  Then, slowly, hands began to go up as our gang wanted to share their insight.  This meeting, although brief, was extremely powerful for our club.  We immediately began to notice increased effort. Students  were less likely to give up during our challenging workout of the day.  At least for this day and this workout, kids were inspired.  It is our hope that both the visual and discussion, will continue to encourage our runners.

Find a quote and set the tone for your group!

Next week’s quote:


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5 Motivating Fitness Ideas for PE – Part 1


Throughout my 20 years of teaching, I’ve steadily grown as a PE teacher through trial and error.  I remember my earlier days when each class was kicked off with a warm-up lap and a stretching routine followed by 3-7 more minutes of jogging around the playground. Day in and day out, it was much of the same.  Eventually, my students would lose motivation with this mundane routine.  Their once steady pace would inevitably slow down before ending up as a slow walk.  Frustration would ensue!  It didn’t take long to realize that the students were just bored –  unmotivated and unchallenged.  As mentioned in an earlier blog post titled,  Keeping Fitness Fresh in PE Class, diversity is what today’s students crave in regard to fitness.  When exercise is viewed by students as challenging, varied, and ultimately FUN, the more positive their experience will be.

Here are my Top 5 Motivating Exercise Routines for elementary school students.  They incorporate a range of exercises that drive the students while incorporating the three elements of fitness:  endurance, flexibility, and strength.  Please feel free to share what works for you, I’d love to add to my repertoire. (BTW – Check out my follow-up post called 6 More Fitness Ideas for PE for more motivating fitness routines).

1. 5-Minute Lap Challenge (Class versus Class)

Prior to the challenge, there’s a discussion on teamwork and how each student has to maximize his/her effort in order for the class to be successful.  Each PE class jogs around our small track for 5 minutes.  I tally the total number of laps the class completes as a team.  After 5 minutes, I take the total number of laps and divide it by the total number of students.   This quotient is the average number of laps per students.  Each of my classes per grade level complete this same challenge.  Following the challenge, I post the results in the gym.

The 5-minute lap challenge is repeated 4 times per year.

2.  As Many Rounds as Possible (AMRAP)

Our PE team uses this type of workout often due to it versatility.  We simply list 4-8 exercises focusing on different muscle groups. Each exercise is given a certain number of repetitions.  The students have to complete the list of exercises as many times as possible in a given amount of time.  Often we’ll include skills from the present unit into our list of exercises.  We’ll also add a lap around the gym which includes obstacles for further motivation. You’ll see this in the video below.

3.  High Energy Tag Games (No Elimination)

Often, you don’t think of tag as an exercise routine.  However, there’s no better way to get your heart rate up and activate all the muscles in your body.  Just try playing with you students and you’ll quickly find out first-hand.  Whichever tag game you choose there should NEVER be elimination.  In other words, if a player is tagged, there should always be a quick way to reenter the game.

4.  The Race to 500

Do you want to see your students practically fly around the gym?  This is another class versus class challenge.  Set up a timer so it’s visible to the students.  On the coaches command, the entire class runs around the perimeter of the gym.  The coach stands at the starting line and tallies each student as they pass.  When the class runs their 500th lap, stop the timer.  This is their score.  Once again we post the scores on our white board to motivate other classes.  Depending on the age and number of students and the size of your gym, you can increase or decrease the total number of laps.  For example, with a small class of 20 students in a large gym, you might have The Race to 250 Laps.

5.  High Intensity Interval Workouts/Tabata

Our students respond well to High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts.  I feel this is mainly due to the variety of movements and exercises you can add to the list.  This type of workout is sure to get your students sweating and their heart rates up. Simply create a list of 4-8 exercises.  Using a Tabata Timer, students perform each exercise for 20-30 seconds with 10-second breaks in between.   Below are a couple of examples.


Finding creative ways to motivate our students is an ongoing challenge.  We need to work together to share ideas.  These are my top 5.  Now I’d like to learn about yours.  Please post your motivating exercise routines in the comments section!  Let’s work together to keep our students fit and motivated!

Read Part 2 of this post called 6 More Fitness Ideas for PE.

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“What? I’m not cold! It’s HOT outside!”



It’s nothing new!

“What? I’m not cold. It’s hot outside!” If you’re a teacher, I’m sure you’ve crossed paths with this student. The one who refuses to wear long pants and a jacket, despite the temperatures either approaching or falling below freezing. No need for a hat and gloves because as he already mentioned, “What? I’m not cold. It’s hot outside!” Usually a boy ranging from 7 to 12 years old, this little guy will stick out like a sore thumb on the playground. He’s the one dashing around the field and playground, full of vim and vigor, looking like a streaker in comparison to his slower-moving, chilly, yet well-bundled peers. Honestly, upon observing this phenomenon, year in and year out, I just can’t seem to get into the mind of such a student. Is he actually hot? Does he THRIVE on people telling him how CRAZY he is for thinking it’s hot out? Is it all for attention? Is it childhood machismo?

Recently, during afternoon carpool on a cold and windy day, I felt one of my first grade boys staring at me. As I surveyed the rest of the students I could sense that he was looking at me in way that begged me to notice him. Immediately, upon making eye contact with him, he blurted out in rapid fire, “What Coach? I’m not cold. It’s hot out here! Why do people keep saying it’s cold?” It was like his mind had been programmed. His only response to any question would be the same. Teacher: “Do you have your homework in your backpack?” Student: “What? I’m not cold. It’s hot outside.” Teacher: “Do you need to use the restroom?” Student: “What? I’m not cold. It’s hot outside.”

Definitely wore shorts in the winter as a child

Maybe there are sensory issues involved? Perhaps he doesn’t like the feeling of fabric on his arms and lower legs. Or, he really IS comfortable in his shorts and t-shirt and DOES get overheated with a jacket, hat, and gloves.

At least in my mind, the mystery continues. Have you experienced this child? I would enjoy learning about your experiences with this phenomenon!  Now, as I prepare for school, I’ll need an undershirt, long sleeved shirt, hooded sweatshirt, winter jacket, ear muffs, knit hat, wool mittens, thermal socks, boots, scarf, and hand warmers.  What?  I’m cold!  It’s FREEZING outside!

Side note: I realize parents should probably, at least, make sure their kids pack a jacket on sub freezing days. I also understand as a teacher I should make sure my students are dressed appropriately for frigid temperatures.  But, honestly, I’ve never been a stickler for making kids wear a jacket and pants.  If they’re running around, having fun, and more importantly, don’t appear cold, then so be it!

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