Phys Ed App a ‘Game Changer’ for Yorktown Schools

Phys Ed App a ‘Game Changer’ for Yorktown Schools

Written by Nick Trujillo
Photo Credit: Brian Marschhauser
This article and photo was originally published on Tap Into Yorktown.
Thank you to Nick Trujillo and Tap Into Yorktown for allowing PLT4M to repost this article.

YORKTOWN, N.Y. – In a world where school has been reduced to sitting in front of a computer screen for hours at a time, staying active becomes an increasingly difficult challenge. Physical education classes held on Zoom are one way to keep students moving around during the day, but Yorktown High School has found a creative solution for students to avoid remaining sedentary.

The PLT4M (pronounced “platform”) app offers physical educators a way to assign students with workouts throughout the week. The app offers pre-made workouts and the choice to create your own to send out. It also includes video tutorials of exercises for students to watch and learn from, as well as the choice to create your own instructional videos. This app was referred to as a “game changer” by both Robert Barrett, Yorktown athletic director, and Mike Rescigno, Yorktown High School physical education teacher.

The app allows students to log their progress for every workout, creating leaderboards and charts to show what progress students are making. Rescigno said, “It’s about giving kids a product that they find valuable and a good use of their time. We’ve been trying so hard to find the balance of accountability, fun, productivity. All the things that you look to do a good job as a teacher. It’s hard to do remotely. It’s not easy.”

While describing the current use of PLT4M to the board of education, Barrett was encouraged by the progress the app allowed physical educators to make. “It enables our fitness units to be enhanced. It reaches kids of all different and varying abilities” he said. “It enables them to kind of track what they’re doing, engage them on fitness and nutrition and mobility and things that they might be able to get out of that time.”

Rescigno, the former head coach for the Yorktown varsity football team, had experience with the PLT4M app during his coaching career. When COVID-19 required school to be done in a remote setting, he saw an opportunity to implement the app into his P.E. program.

Accountability was a big selling point for Rescigno. Physical education is a hard subject to teach when you cannot be physically present with a class. The PLT4M app has allowed the Yorktown P.E. teachers to see tangible results in students without being in the same room as their class.

“I can go into the app and I can see who’s in there, how much time have they been in there, what are they doing currently,” Rescigno said. “It’s really nice because accountability is good both ways. I think kids actually crave the accountability piece because it helps them get into a rhythm and then they’re exposed to the benefits.”

The workouts keep the students active throughout the day, but physical education has had to adapt along with the rest of the education system this year. There is a much bigger focus on mental health and wellness as students continue to feel the toll of 11 months of isolation under social distance safety guidelines.

With the focus of physical education now being on mental wellness and positive thinking strategies, the assigned workouts on PLT4M have taken a supplementary role in the program. The app has allowed Rescigno and his colleagues to not be “overloading any one end of what P.E. is. Curriculum-wise, I think we’ve branched out enough and provided a little bit of variety here where it’s fresh.”

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Rescigno said he is appreciative of the Yorktown School District administration for taking the chance on this app and committing to supporting the physical education department during a period of uncertainty.

“We’re lucky to have an administration that supports a physical education program and provides this,” he said. “That’s a big deal. I don’t think every school would say, ‘Oh sure, no problem, get it.’ We have leadership that sees it important to provide education from all different angles and P.E. is important to them.”

Right now, the app is not included in the budget for the 2021-22 school year. However, Barrett and Rescigno see a long-term future for this app in the school system.

“When the kids come back fully in person, we can transition into modules that allow us to use the app while they’re in person with us and we’ll be able to give them more in-person feedback,” Rescigno said. “They’ll also be able to track their progress digitally and use it as aid to make the experience more rich.”

While discussing the cost of keeping the programs offered by PLT4M, Barrett said, “If we’re able to utilize it the way that we’re using it this year, it’s a little under $2,700. If we’re not utilizing it the way that we’re utilizing it this year, it reduces in price determined by the number of students that are using it.”

Barrett added that if it were to be implemented specifically for students unable to participate in P.E. or for students rehabbing injuries, it would also reduce the price.

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