How One School District Has Evolved In PE & Athletics
Just about every week, a group of Physical Education teachers come together to talk about what they are doing in their classes across the Yuma Union High School District in Arizona.
Across the district of six high schools, Physical Education has made a concerted effort to transition to fitness and wellness-based programming. While each school is at a different step in the process, the changes are starting to take shape, and the weekly meetings allow for open dialogue around all things PE.
At each meeting, the team of teachers work to evaluate the successes and challenges at each school site. Together, they look to brainstorm and create a more inclusive and rigorous Physical Education model for all students in the district.
Kathy Hoover, a former PE teacher, now Vice Principal within the district, knows that the mission of this group is more significant than just an improved PE curriculum,
“Students do better academically when they get to participate in regular fitness and exercise. That goes for everyone, and we want to provide opportunities for all students in an inclusive way that meets students where they are at.”
The Kofa Case
Before becoming an administrator at Yuma High School, Kathy Hoover served as the PE Instructional Lead and Athletic Trainer for Kofa High School, just a few miles down the road.
Kathy and her colleagues started to develop classes and curriculum that would help encourage and support various student goals.
“Our district places a big emphasis on student choice, individual learning, and helping students to monitor and track their progress.”
Knowing that many teachers and coaches had varying backgrounds and experiences around fitness and strength and conditioning fundamentals, Kathy sought out supplemental resources to support the group. After finding PLT4M, Kathy was excited about the tool’s diverse PE and athletic opportunities.
“What excited us about PLT4M was that there were all sorts of programs and videos to explore for proper technique and form. There were major advantages for students and athletes, as well as teachers and coaches.”
3 Years Later
After implementing PLT4M over three years ago, Kofa has now fully integrated PLT4M into their PE and Athletic program.
Gabe Ortiz, now the Instructional Lead at Kofa, is excited by what they have accomplished at the school.
“PLT4M is the foundation of our program. Students bring their 1 to 1 device to the weight room so that I can tailor the workouts via PLT4M to our gym and the experience level of the student.”
In one class, Gabe can see a mixed bag of students ranging from brand new first-year students to returning seniors who have taken the course for multiple years. Each student has access to experience-appropriate programming that meets their individual needs.
Gabe describes what he sees from all of his student’s as ‘agency’ in their learning,
“We have a projector where we loop some of the key instructional videos. But from there, students have personalized weights (when they are advanced enough) via the PLT4M app. This is where they start to see themselves improve or potentially start to plateau. With the information at their fingertips, it provides them that agency and accountability to not just be randomly working out a few days a week in PE. Now they have ownership in their progress and improvement.”
Below is an example of a PLT4M instructional video. Each time an exercise is assigned, a video and notes are paired with it via the app/web browser.
Want to learn how your school or district can use PLT4M?
Fully Integrated and Expanding
At Kofa, Gabe and his colleagues have fully integrated PLT4M and the mission of fitness-driven Physical Education and Athletics. This school-wide approach to fitness education and strength and conditioning got others in the district interested and excited.
After Kofa saw incredible success, the larger district and other high schools have started to incorporate PLT4M into their programs.
Kathy, now at Yuma High School down the road, looks at Kofa as the example that other schools can learn and work to adapt from,
“It takes about three years to have a robust implementation of anything new in education. Kofa is at that point and is modeling some significant improvement. Many of the other schools are new to using it and trying to figure out what makes the most sense for their different group of students. It is exciting to see it all take shape.”
Back To The Meeting
The weekly meeting that helped drive many of the schools to adopt PLT4M in the first place is now a place where teachers share their best practices with the fitness education curriculum and technology.
Because each school is at a different stage in adopting PLT4M, the meetings provide a helpful place to learn about how their colleagues use the curriculum and technology differently.
Gabe Ortiz has even found some unique ways to connect PLT4M to other subjects and studies at the school,
“We have students analyze their charts and graphs. By looking at their progress and evaluating their data, we have them connect that to their ACT and test preps that require similar analysis. It’s just one fun way we are bridging the gap in PE with the help of PLT4M!”
Each school is somewhat different in implementing PLT4M, but all are making significant headway. In an unprecedented year in education, PLT4M has allowed Yuma Union High School District to adapt the curriculum and technology to fit their specific needs.
Whether it is a fresh batch of first-year students, or advanced student-athletes, the technology and curriculum can mold and fit to serve the individual needs of students.
When asked, both Gabe Ortiz and Kathy Hoover were hopeful that the district would continue to make even more progress in the coming years. Kathy closed with this,
“There is so much for us to benefit from using PLT4M in PE and Athletics. There is so much to be gained when it comes to our student’s health and safety by using PLT4M, and as more teachers and coaches adopt this, we will continue to see improvements in and out of the classroom.”