3 Accountability Tips Using PLT4M
This past spring was unlike anything in the history of education. Never have educators and students been collectively forced to adapt so quickly to a brand new approach to teaching and learning.
The efforts of educators in making that transition was nothing short of extraordinary. However, challenges in this new “Remote Learning” approach quickly became apparent. In Physical Education, where so much of the assessment of students is activity based, the big question was, “How do we make sure kids are doing what they are supposed to?”
With a new school year on the horizon, Remote Learning will once again play a huge part in the daily lives of both students and educators. So how can we learn from the challenges of the Spring, and improve our approach this school year?
In this article, we will look at three areas of assessment available to Physical Education teachers using PLT4M.
1: Utilize Benchmark Fitness Testing
The concept of “Pre” and “Post-testing” is nothing new in Physical Education. Testing a Fitness Benchmark at the start of the semester establishes a baseline. Then, the same test is performed at the end of the semester, with the assumption that if the student participated with regularity, their benchmark test score will improve.
There are a few important considerations in using Pre and Post testing that we should address before looking at how this can be done within PLT4M.
First, you must consider the student’s readiness for testing. We wouldn’t test students in Algebra the very first day of class, because they have no baseline understanding of the underlying concepts. Similarly, an 8th grader who has never participated in a Fitness course should not perform a battery of tests as the first thing they do. For this reason, our FIT101: Intro to Fitness course does not introduce baseline testing until the culmination of the program in Section 6.
Second, Pre and Post testing should not be the only source of evaluation. As students have varying levels of physical capabilities, Pre and Post testing should only be a part of the overall assessment. With that said, how best to approach Pre and Post testing? First, establish what you want to test. What do you feel represents an assessment of total fitness?
At PLT4M, many of our programs use the following tests to assess different areas of fitness:
- 1 Mile Run (Aerobic Capacity)
- 2 Min Max Burpess (Anaerobic Capacity)
- Max Push Ups and Max Pull Ups (Upper Body Strength)
- Squat Therapy (Mobility)
- PLT4M Metcon Test (Total Fitness)
Students can use the PLT4M app (or web) to set up their Analytics Dashboard (see tutorial here). From here, they can simply log their test results when and as assigned.
At the conclusion of the quarter, you can use the Reports page to run progress reports for both overall Change in Result, and Percentage (see tutorial here).
We are firm believers in personal progress as opposed to universal standards. For that reason, we like to use Percentage based improvement as it makes improvement more relative to the individual.
Next, we will look at participation based tracking and evaluation. Because this is far harder to measure remotely, and easier to “game” as a student, the Pre and Post Testing offers a nice counterbalance to the participation evaluation.
If a student shows 100% participation, but all their benchmark testing went backwards, you know something’s not quite right.
See for yourself how PLT4M can partner with your school this school year.
2: Measure Participation and Activity
So much of school, and life in general, are sedentary (video games anyone?). Simply getting kids to be active for an hour a day is a huge win for educators, and the health benefits are extraordinary (more on that here).
For this reason, Activity and Participation can also be a great tool for assessment. As discussed in the testing section above, kids may have different physical abilities that affect their pre and post testing results.
Participation is the great equalizer. It takes no talent. It only takes effort.
When you assign a program through PLT4M, kids have access to workouts through any device.
Students will “Start” their workout through their account. This begins a timer that will record the time spent within the workout. As kids go through the workout, they will hit “Done” on each exercise after completion.
From here, there are three ways kids can end a session:
- Student finishes the workout by hitting “Done” on each exercise
- Student exits the workout before finishing by hitting “Pause”
- Student doesn’t do anything and the workout times out after 60 minutes
Ideally, we want kids to complete the workout straight through in one session, but sometimes they can’t and need to pause. If they come back and finish that workout, the time and exercises will be added to the session.
All the training information feeds back to you as the teacher, allowing you to grade on both participation and activity.
We often get asked, “Well, how do I know they aren’t just playing video games the whole time?”
Fair question. Outside of having kids film themselves every second of every workout, there is some inherent trust required (kids can also get the questions to their science test on the internet). However, because our app will time the kids out after 60 minutes of inactivity and marks the time spent as the last time they hit “Done”, it takes a lot of diligent effort to cheat the system.
If a student is trying to “game” the system by hitting “Done” on each exercise quickly, you will see the exercise completion may look great, but the Time Spent will tell you something is off.
Furthermore, remember that this is part of the overall approach. Benchmark testing will highlight kids who “gamed” the activity and participation, because their results won’t improve.
So far, we have looked at physical improvement and participation. The final part of the equation is learning comprehension.
3: Assess Learning Comprehension
While improving the fitness level of our students is a top priority, in order to prepare them for a lifetime of fitness, we must also prepare them with the knowledge to understand why it is so important. Knowledge is power.
Within PLT4M, there are two different EDU program options that utilize non-activity based learning.
EDU101a: Nutrition will introduce basic concepts of nutrition and what growing bodies need to eat (calories). It will cover macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat), and finally connect all the pieces to our everyday lives. It also has reflection questions built within each chapter.
EDU101b: Assignments covers a much broader spectrum of Fitness and Wellness topics, ranging from the importance of Physical Education to an in depth discussion of the body’s energy systems. Similar to our Nutrition program, each article or video has a set of reflection questions, accompanied with a full Teacher’s Answer Guide.
Putting It All Together
We are by no means saying with authority that this is how you should run your Remote Physical Education classes. We recognize that every state, district, and school are different. We’ve been amazed at how creative so many of our teachers have gotten, and how effective they were during the challenging spring semester.
At PLT4M, we believe in the Pursuit Of Better, and whatever you can do to help your kids improve a little bit each day is A-OK with us!
Our simple hope in writing this article is to provide some inspiration, along with some “know how”, when it comes to planning for the new school year.