Lincoln Physical Education Teachers Integrate Academics into Activity

“Okay everyone, pull one foot up for the quad stretch. I want you to skip count from 4 to 40, counting by fours please,” said Lincoln Elementary School physical education teacher, Aaron Zwald.

“4, 8, 12, 16, 20…” said the students as they stretched.

“Okay, now pull the other leg up for the quad stretch. Let’s skip count backwards from 40 to 4 counting by fours.

Mr. Zwald, along with fellow Lincoln School physical education teachers, Ryan Calkins and Jill Hopkins, were having students “skip count” during physical education class warm-up time. Skip counting is a math strategy used at the elementary school level and is done during class. The physical education teachers tailor the counting to the student’s grade level. Using skip counting is just one of the ways the teachers help to incorporate academics into their physical education classes.

“Skip counting is an essential skill for students when learning number sense, understanding the base-ten number system, and learning to multiply and divide,” said Mr. Zwald.

In addition to skip counting during warm-ups, the physical education teachers are using formative assessments. This type of assessment is used to monitor student learning to provide ongoing feedback that can be used by instructors to improve their teaching and by students to improve their learning. The teachers may ask a question about what they are learning in physical education and ask the students to “pair and share” with a partner. Once each group has had time to think and discuss the question with a partner, a group is called on to share-out their answer. After giving their answer, all of the other students in class are asked to raise their hand if they agree. This enables all students to have an active roll in answering the question and ultimately their own learning. This also gives the teachers an opportunity to see who is understanding the work and who might need more help. “Think, pair and share” is something the students do in their classrooms so they feel comfortable doing this during physical education classes too.

The teachers also put students in the place of a coach, trainer or official. They use critical thinking skills, problem-solving skills, and think outside the box to “become” one of these people as opposed to just thinking like a player. The teachers also use peer coaching to have students help each other learn the physical education skills necessary to play the game or complete a given task.