The Wyomissing physical education department in Pennsylvania has reshaped its curriculum to better support students’ pursuit of lifetime fitness. In past years, the school offered general physical education and some electives. Now, Wyomissing Junior Senior High School students have a wide range of lifetime fitness electives to choose from that better align with real-world fitness opportunities.
Why The Shift To Lifetime Fitness?
Physical education has always been a hot topic of discussion in schools. “Should physical education be required?” has always been a question in the world of education.
Often the arguments against physical education stem from games and sports being the primary focus of the class. As a result, many students associated PE with stress, anxiety, and flat-out failure.
Jodi Reardon, the physical education department chair at Wyomissing and 2021 Pennsylvania PE teacher of the year, knew that this negative view of PE was impacting her students,
“When I talked with the guidance counselors, I would hear stories of students not wanting to come to school because of PE. I have even seen doctor’s notes asking for alternatives to class because of the toll it took on kids.”
But Jodi didn’t want the solution for students’ stress to be removing PE entirely. Instead, she wanted to shift the focus of physical education to serve students better,
“I want students to see the positive connections to physical education. Not only are there physical benefits, but mental, emotional, and social. If we can help students find something they enjoy doing, they will be more likely to reap the long-term benefits of lifetime fitness.”
Planning The Shift To Lifetime Fitness Courses
Before Wyomissing even began planning a new slate of courses, they started by surveying students. They asked questions like, “What type of classes would you like to see?” and “If you didn’t have to take PE, what would make you sign up for a class?”
After surveying the students, Jodi met with fellow PE teachers, school counselors, the principal, and other district administrators to start the curriculum review process,
“Everyone was on board with the change to lifetime fitness. We all saw it as an opportunity to make physical education classes students wanted to take and would actually benefit from.”
Lifetime Fitness Course Offerings At Wyomissing
Once Wyomissing had surveyed students and met as a team to make a plan, they were ready to roll out the newly adapted physical education course offerings. The classes transformed from general physical education courses to a wide range of elective choices that any 9th through 12th grader could choose from. Some of these electives were brand new, while others were continuations of popular courses already offered.
The electives included:
- Mind and Body Connection
- Strength and Conditioning
- Personal Fitness
- Net Games
- Backyard and Rec Games
- Team Games
Jodi was excited to see a new range of classes and electives offered to support lifetime fitness better,
“We believed what we had created would be well received because we had asked for student input. The different electives gave every different type of student a chance to choose something that would allow them to take part in physical education and enjoy it.”
Mind and Body Connection
The Mind and Body Connection elective was one of the courses directly created to address students who were hesitant or nervous about PE. The main goal of the class is to support students in finding the lifetime fitness activity they enjoy most. Jodi described a typical day in class,
“Each day, we start with 10-15 minutes of mindfulness to help students with general stress and anxiety. It also helps the students get into a better mind frame for the rest of class where they choose their own workouts.”
Each student has to research and find a type of workout routine they want to try. Students search online, find activities on the PLT4M app, or create their own routines like walking or running programs. After doing so, students fill out a three-week calendar of workouts. Once the three weeks are up, students are encouraged to try something new, or if they like the workouts, continue with another three weeks.
The results of the new class have been tremendous,
“It is a huge motivation for the kids to know they have choice and ownership. Students pick things like yoga, HIIT workouts, dance, stretching, and more. Now many of the students who never wanted to be in PE love being in class and doing a workout that they chose.”
Today the Mind & Body Connection class took a mindfulness walk around the campus. They took in the sights, smells and sounds of the morning and reflected on them when they returned to the building. Not a cloud in the sky! What a beautiful day for a walk! pic.twitter.com/YMb0V0E2Pt
— Mrs. Reardon (@WyoSpartansPE) September 21, 2022
Strength & Conditioning and Personal Fitness
As a part of the lifetime fitness initiative, Wyomissing continued offering strength and conditioning and personal fitness electives. These courses have some of the highest enrollments throughout the options. Using PLT4M, students learn proper form and technique and get personalized workouts. Jodi says that this has helped to reinforce the goal of lifetime fitness,
“There are a lot of student-athletes that like to take this class. The PLT4M program helps them achieve their short-term goals of personal improvement for sports, but also builds lifelong skills that they can take to any gym or fitness class.”
Not only do students want to take part in the strength training and personal fitness offered, even other teachers at the school use PLT4M as a resource,
“We have teachers asking for workouts, which sends a great message about lifetime fitness when the adults in the school want to participate. So teachers will get onto PLT4M and get workouts done just like the students do in class.”
Bonus Content! Instructional video from the PLT4M library breaking down the medball squat.
Games – Net, Backyard, and Team
A core component of the lifetime fitness inniative is integrating different types of games. While pe games often elicit images of dodgeball and basketball, much like the rest of the curriculum, Wyomissing has shifted the focus to a lifetime fitness focus,
“A lot of students have never played games like pickleball or corn hole, but these are activities they can do for the rest of their lives. Having the skills and knowledge around these games helps students explore new physical activity opportunities.”
And not only are students getting active during class with these games, but Jodi also emphasizes the social-emotional learning components of these activities,
“Physical education is one of the only places where many of these students will interact. We have all different types of kids coming to class and learning to play and socialize through games without even realizing it. It is empowering to see the social skills built throughout the different game electives.”
Great day to end our Nitroball unit! pic.twitter.com/VrUahOty8j— Mrs. Reardon (@WyoSpartansPE) September 16, 2022
Lifetime Fitness Serve All Students
Physical education has the opportunity to impact physical, mental, social, and emotional health. But to do so, students need to be motivated and engaged with the class. Wyomissing’s shift to a lifetime fitness course offering has done just that.
Now, students can choose from a wide range of courses and tap into the benefits of physical activity and physical education in different ways. As a result, students will leave Wyomissing with the skills and interests to pursue fitness and health well past high school.
Jodi is proud of what Wyomissing has created and excited for future years to come,
“The more I teach these new electives and courses, the more I am excited by it. As students continue to grow, more and more students will see and be motivated by physical education at Wyomissing.