Monday, May 30, 2016

The Best Parts of My Week - 5/23/16--5/27/16

Hi everyone,  
      This week students and staff started counting down the last remaining days of the school year.  There is so much to do and so many events left until our last day that I find myself thinking:  "Stop counting please!  There is not enough time left to do what I need and want to do!"  Despite the packed schedule and feeling like I am running out of time, there were many "Best Parts"!

.....I had a great conversation with a second grade student this week about how his dad went to our school and about what has changed and not changed since his dad was a student.  Since I was his dad's teacher, he knew he could ask and get the correct answer!  He asked me about the kinds of activities we did but also about equipment and even the structure of the gymnasium.  He was fascinated by the changes and information and I was happy to share!

.....We have been working our our Gymnastics unit for a few weeks now and this week was the last week of the unit.  As I was watching my students perform during the different station activities I was struck by the improvement in not only skill but confidence!  While Gymnastics is a favorite unit for many of my students it is also very stressful as I am always focused on safety.  However, at this point in the unit I almost wish we could continue on a bit longer when I see the students participating confidently, exuding joy of movement, and working so hard!

.....Our Fuel Up to Play 60 Student Ambassadors have been working hard all year and our biggest project is a Bike Rodeo and Safety Clinic which is being held this coming week.  I thought it would be fun to advertise the event by bringing in my bicycle and setting up Fitness Frankie and Physical Eddie on the bike.  I have a helmet for Physical Eddie (mine) but Fitness Frankie is a bit too small for a traditional helmet.  One of our parents noticed he did not have a helmet and suggested we find one for him.  After searching my son's room, I found a suitable helmet am planning to strap it on.....Safety First!  This picture is prior to the finding of the helmet so stay tuned for the safer version!

.....I taught my kindergarten students the Peanut Butter and Jelly dance this week.  It was silly but so much fun!

.....Later in the week I was wearing a jacket that I bought when I was in Scotland at St. Andrews Golf Course.  We had the amazing opportunity to go to the practice round of the Open in 2010.  One of my students came into the gym and noticed my jacket.  He asked about it and I was surprised and impressed about how much he knew about the Open!  He is a third grader but plays golf and has great aspirations to play in his future!  Not one other student noticed or commented on my jacket that day.  How observant is that?

.....As our Gymnastics unit was winding down a fifth grade class was interested in creating some routines in small groups and then performing them for the class.  Thursday was the last class of the unit and I explained that students would have the chance to practice and then could let me know if they would like to perform for the class.  I explained that this was a choice and not everyone had to perform if they chose not to.  Prior to the start of the performances I reminded students about how good audiences behave and also reminded them to show respect.  Not only was I impressed with their respect and behavior but I was also impressed with their willingness to perform for their peers.  We had duos and small groups create and perform a routine but we also had a few individuals who had the courage to perform a routine for the class.  We were having so much fun that I did not want the class to end!  I had the privilege of sharing the experience with their teacher who was just as impressed and proud!

I hope you enjoyed the "Best Parts of My Week"!  Visit my website:  North Park Physical Education to find out more about our Physical Education program.  

Follow me on Twitter!  @mrobPE

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Best Parts of My Week - 5/16/16--5/20/16

Hi everyone,
     It was a week that ended with a snow day give back day so even though it was a shorter week it ended with a page full of notes about the "best parts"!

.....As I was spotting a group of students on a single bar during Gymnastics, a kindergarten student came up to say: "You have a beautiful voice....."  I was flattered of course, but surprised that he would notice that enough to comment on it!

.....Use of the high balance beam is one of the most exciting segments of our Gymnastics unit.  I don't begin the unit with it because I want students to practice on the lower beams first.  When it is finally time to get on the "big beam" as they call it, most students are beyond excited.  Of course, there are some students who are not fans of height (just like me...).  Those students are a bit more hesitant and I always tell them that using the beam is a choice.  While there are always a handful of students who decide not to use the beam, most choose to have a turn.  Kindergarten students must hold my hand and the rest of students can hold my hand if they want or need to.  I am always pleased with the answer that hesitant students give when I ask them if they trust me.  They hold my hand so tight and are so proud of themselves when they have finished their turn successfully. Some students are so nervous that my hand is wet with sweat from holding their hand, yet, they still are brave enough to try!

.....Operation Healthy North Park is at the halfway point and I counted how many "Coop Cars" we have so far.  I am excited to say that we have collected 1,695 cars so far and more are on the way!  This means that our community has exercised for at least 33,900 minutes so far to celebrate National Physical Fitness Month!

.....Our school district held its budget vote on Tuesday and our teacher's union hosts a book sale and ice cream social during the vote.  I always volunteer at this event and this year I was helping with the book sale.  It was so nice to see current and former students and families and chat with them outside of school at a nice community event!

.....I have bus duty this month and I supervise students who are getting picked up.  I have written in this blog before about how I enjoy this duty because I get a chance to talk with students and ask them how their day went.  This week a kindergarten student walked in and asked me first: "How was your day?" It was so nice to be asked and even more special as it came from a kindergarten student!

.....A fifth grade class is conducting an experiment regarding exercise and academics. When I was discussing this with the teacher I was intrigued as it is a subject that is right up my alley!  As a school we all believe in the connection between exercise and academic success and as a result we are able to hold many special events that support this idea.  This class decided to conduct an experiment to determine if exercising before a math "sprint" (completing a timed series of math fact problems as quickly and correctly as possible) would improve their score.  They are compiling data for a month and invited me to participate.  I had some time this week to go down to the classroom and I was so impressed with what I saw.  Students completed a Math sprint, then we went outside to walk and stretch.  After exercise, students completed another Math sprint and corrected the tests.  Data is being kept in a Science notebook and results will be determined at the end of one month.  It was great fun exercising and being included in the process.  I even showed the students some research to support the connection between exercise and academic success.  As we were going back inside one student exclaimed: "We should exercise before every test!"  I agreed!  I am so fortunate to work in a school that is supportive and connected to best practices in education! Click here for pictures!

.....While I spend my time choosing to focus on the "best parts" each week, there are definitely challenges along the way.  After a chat with a class about behavior and need for improvement, I noticed that student behavior improved and there was a different "feel", if you will, during the class.   I stopped the class a few minutes early to discuss the change.  The students agreed that  there was a definite improvement in behavior so I asked them to tell me what they thought was different.  The responses were thoughtful ad accurate.  One student explained that they spent more time helping each other get better at the skills by giving specific feedback as I had been encouraging them to do using sentence starters that are posted at each station.  Another remarked that she noticed more body control by students, and a third student said that they were "calm but active"!  I let them know that I was proud of the improvement as well as their terrific responses.  We all agreed that being calm but active, using good body control, and giving specific feedback to help each other get better were great goals to have! 

I hope you enjoyed the "Best Parts of My Week"!  Visit my website:  North Park Physical Education to find out more about our Physical Education program.  

Follow me on Twitter!  @mrobPE

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Best Parts of My Week - 5/9/16--5/13/16

Hi everyone,
     It was a great week but someone starting counting down the number of days left in the school year.  We are in session until the end of June but we have a number of days off due to some days off for unused snow days.  The number of days left was 27 and I thought – “oh no….that is not nearly enough time to get done what needs to be done with all of the year end events coming up!”  It is the time of year that seems to fly by when I want it to slow down!

…...I was struck by the creativity that my students have when I saw a first grade student use a noodle sideways to accomplish a goal in a way that I had not thought of!

…..As I was encouraging students to exercise so that they could turn in “Coop Cars” for Operation Healthy North Park I had many students eager to share their weekend activities with me!

…..A first grade student was sharing a story with me about his younger brother and an adventure they were having together.  A vacuum cleaner that was in the gym reminded him of a snapdragon and the adventure they had had recently at home.  He said:  “he’s my sidekick!”  How great is that?

…..During an activity using a springboard during our gymnastics unit one second grader complemented a friend after he had taken his turn.  He said:  “You’re a natural!”  This pleased the friend of course and he began to say to others:  “hey!  I’m a natural!”

…..Our Fuel Up to Play 60 Student Ambassadors organized a Veggie Taste Test Day this week and during our meeting this week we organized all of the veggies that students would be trying.  Students had decided on kohlrabi, red cabbage, radishes, and cauliflower.  My colleague and I bought and cut up the vegetables and the students counted out servings and organized surveys, napkins, and bags of vegetables.  They were very excited about the event and since we had some time and some leftover veggies we asked students to try them out prior to the actual taste test.  The reactions were priceless!  Some students said:  “I loved everything!” and others were surprised by the taste of some of the vegetables.  They were very thoughtful in their taste testing!  I told them to keep their results a secret until their peers had a chance to try them too! 

…..During the Veggie Taste Test Day I happened to be visiting a class when the event was happening.  The students were so excited and could not wait to try the new veggies.  It was very encouraging to know that students were indeed open to trying new things.  This particular class has a guinea pig named Truffle and he was invited to the taste test too!  Students had surveys to fill out based on their like or dislike of a particular vegetable.  One student created a survey just for Truffle by drawing a table on her own survey.  She took care of the results.  Truffle liked the red cabbage, did not like the kohlrabi or the radishes, and was not sure about the cauliflower at first but warmed up to it later!  It was so cute to watch Truffle try everything and to watch his friend write down the results! 

…..We had a Healthy Highway assembly this week and we are now traveling down Leadership Lane.  It was a special assembly as we imparted the message of leadership and the concept of being the ‘first follower” of good leadership.  We reintroduced our lions – Courageous Cassie and Courageous Carlos.  Students are earning Courage Cards by showing the courage to do the right thing and Cassie and Carlos are now sitting on the main office counter to see who is earning the Courage Cards! 

…..My week was extended a bit as I attended the 51st Annual SEZ of NYS AHPERD Elementary/Middle School Awards Ceremony.  As the president of the SEZ it was my job to make some opening and closing remarks, and to congratulate each honoree as they received their award for outstanding participation and leadership in Physical Education class.  What an honor it was to meet over 400 honorees and their families and congratulate them on their achievement!  It was a special privilege this year as my first year as president since I was able to congratulate several of my own students who were honored as well!  It is a truly amazing group of young people who have much to offer and are terrific role models for their peers.  It was a proud moment for their families for sure and I could not help but smile back as I greeted each one and saw the pride and happiness on the students faces as well! 

I hope you enjoyed the "Best Parts of My Week"!  Visit my website:  North Park Physical Education to find out more about our Physical Education program.  

Follow me on Twitter!  @mrobPE

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Best Parts of My Week - 5/2/16--5/6/16

 Hi everyone,
     It was Teacher Appreciation Week and there were so many reasons t o feel appreciated! 

…..Monday began with a lovely breakfast provided by our PTA.  One of the many nice things about this breakfast was that there were many healthy options to choose from!   We have worked hard to teach our students about the value of healthy foods and it has been nice to see the changes reflected in what we choose to eat as adults too!

…..We started gymnastics this week and we are so very lucky to have a beautiful gymnastics set up to use for our unit.  No matter how many times I begin this unit, I am still surprised at how excited students get!  They could not wait to take off their shoes and get started!

…..It was a VERY rainy week here in the Northeast so our outdoor plans for our Project ACES event on Tuesday had to be changed.  Our plan was to have our Student Ambassadors for Fuel Up to Play 60 be the “bus drivers of the day” and have them lead bus groups of buddy classes to different “bus stops” to do different exercises.  It would have worked better outside for sure but we made it work inside despite some wrinkles in the plan.  I asked one of our ambassadors at the end of the day what she thought of the event.  She said:  “It was tough” then she paused (which made me nervous) and smiled wide and continued with “but it was SO MUCH FUN!”  It was a relief to hear that she enjoyed it!  Fitness Frankie helped too!

…..I have been using the idea of a Tabata (interval type exercises) as a warm-up with my students.  This week I used noodles and taught students a noodle tabata that I learned on Twitter and modified for our classes.  It was super fun!  Students really liked the music and the warm-up!  One primary student said:  “This is like going to the gym!”  Another remarked: “This is a workout!”  Still another said:  “I Iove this music!”  I smiled and thought…..that’s the idea!

…..A teacher stopped by my office to tell me that her students were choosing to eat apples for snack instead of the unhealthy foods that some had brought in to school.  Apparently there are some leftover apples from breakfast that come her way each day.  She shares them with the students who need a snack.  Some students began to ask her if they could have one too and put away their unhealthy snack.  How great is that!  I was so happy she shared!

…..Wednesday our PTA put on a delicious luncheon to continue the celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week.  While some parents were getting the luncheon ready I had a chance to chat with some of the moms who were volunteering.  One of the moms is my former student and we had a nice time reminiscing.  Our school will be celebrating 50 years next year and we were talking about the history of the school.  It turns out that I am one of the few, if only, teacher who has worked for all three principals of our school since it opened…!   

……Physical Eddie spent some time in a second grade class recently and he learned all about the parts of plants.  Students and Physical Eddie also learned that different vegetables are actually parts of plants and part of the lesson involved trying some new vegetables like broccoli, which is the flower of a plant.  The class contributed to a journal entry in Physical Eddie’s journal and many said that they learned so much and now like vegetables that they had not tried before!  I had a chance to compliment the class and talk to them about the project.  I love it when Physical Eddie’s adventures (and the other bears too of course) involve cross-curricular experiences!

…..One of the best parts of my week unfortunately involves a tragedy that happened to one of my co-workers.  While I will not get into the details of the sad event, as a result of it I was able to witness the strength and resolve of those involved, and the outpouring of love and support from my work family to all those affected.  North Park is the absolute best!

…..Friday was “bring a flower to your teacher” day as a culminating event for Teacher Appreciation Week.  The idea is that students bring a bunch of flowers and hand out one or two to many different teachers that they appreciate.  I received so many beautiful flowers from my students and I feel loved and appreciated.  I am truly fortunate and the smile never left my face on Friday as flowers kept arriving! These beauties are just a few of them!  

I hope you enjoyed the "Best Parts of My Week"!  Visit my website:  North Park Physical Education to find out more about our Physical Education program.  

Follow me on Twitter!  @mrobPE

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Best Parts of My Week: 4/25/16--4/29/16

Hi everyone,
     It was a short week due to two snow days!  Well, not actual snow days but unused snow days that our district gives back in the nicer weather!  School was closed on Monday and Tuesday and so we had a nice long weekend to relax and recharge!  The remaining three days of the week were packed with “Best Parts”!

…..The first day of the week was Wednesday and we had a special CPR/AED event planned for our fifth grade students during the afternoon.  I find myself saying “Another day, another event!” quite often and after finishing last week with Family Fitness Night and beginning this week with CPR/AED I was saying that same phrase again!  Due to the generous support of a local paramedic unit as well as the support of our building principal we were able to provide Hands Only CPR training as well as training in the use of an AED for our entire fifth grade class.  I was so proud of how seriously the students approached the event as well as how hard they worked to learn the skills.  Students shared their own experiences and one student remarked that she is a “mother’s helper” and is getting ready to be a babysitter.  She needed to learn CPR to take on these important responsibilities.  Another shared that she is a volunteer at a nursing home where her mother works and she is required to know CPR in order to volunteer.  Others told me about their Scouting experiences and how they need to learn CPR to earn badges.  What amazing group of young people I have the privilege to work with!

…..On Wednesday night I was part of an event sponsored by the Southeastern Zone of NYS AHPERD called the Meeting of the Minds, which is an event where professionals get together and share ideas in order to grow professionally.  A very enthusiastic PE professional started this event and I was privileged to be a part of it this year!  We had a great time sharing ideas and discussing programs and policies in our different districts.  I truly believe that we make our profession stronger by sharing and this was a wonderful opportunity to do just that!

…..My primary students are finishing up a unit on balancing and one of my second graders said to me last week:  “You know why I’m good at that?  I went to the park and practiced!”  I love it when students take skills that they are learning in school and find ways to practice them outside of school!

……As May approaches and we focus on celebrating National Physical Education and Sport Week as well as National Physical Fitness Month I was telling my students about the special project that we do called Operation Healthy North Park.  This is our fifteenth year doing this project and it is a way to encourage families and students to exercise outside of school.  Every time students and families exercise outside of school they can fill in a coupon of sorts and send it back to school.  Since we are a Healthy Highway school we use “Coop Cars” which are the theme car for HealthyHighway.  All cars are displayed on a bulletin board and I count them as the month goes on.  This week I was showing a second grade class the bulletin board and pointing out their class car and racecar bag for the “Coop Cars”.  One of my students said:  “I bet I’ll get a lot because I’m athletic!”  I hope so!  Stay tuned for updates!

…..At the end of the week my fifth grade students were taking a PE vocabulary test.  This test is an assessment of vocabulary words that students have been learning for some time and is a district requirement.  As I watched the students taking the test I was impressed at their perseverance (Our Healthy Highway road is Perseverance Path!).  They stuck with it and were quiet and respectful while others finished.  My heart was smiling with pride!

…..In my district we share gymnastic equipment so that we can have a significant amount of equipment to use for our gymnastic unit.  It is definitely a favorite unit and my students get so excited when they know that this unit is approaching.  Setting up the equipment is no small task.  I hate to admit it, but it was easier when I was younger!  We have the good fortune to have our varsity cheerleading team practice in my gymnasium and as a result the cheerleading practice floor is stored in my gymnasium as well.  We have a great relationship and when it comes time for gymnastics we use the practice floor for our unit.  On Friday afternoon, the team arrived to help me set up the floor.  It is such a great group of young men and women and they were only too happy to help!  Led by their coach, they set up the floor in no time flat!  Last year I tried to do it by myself, which did not go so well!  Earlier this year the coach reminded me to ask for help when it came time to set it up.  I did, and I am grateful! 

I hope you enjoyed the "Best Parts of My Week"!  Visit my website:  North Park Physical Education to find out more about our Physical Education program.  

Follow me on Twitter!  @mrobPE