Student-Centered Strength And Fitness Classes

Littlestown High School

When students walk into Strength and Fitness class at Littlestown High School at the start of the semester, they are asked, “What are your goals?” And the question is far from a rhetorical one for students to sit quietly and consider. Instead, it acts as a launching point for students to set out on a student-centered learning experience for the rest of the semester in Strength and Fitness classes.


Littlestown High School in Pennsylvania has reshaped how students interact with fitness in physical education and is seeing the positive results of a student-centered learning experience. Here is how they do it.

Littlestown’s Transformation To Student-Centered Learning 


A few years ago, PE teachers Dan Lawrence and Deanne Wenrich knew they wanted to change their approach to physical education. At first, Dan explains how the PE teachers looked to foster student choice, hoping for more engagement, 


“We knew times were changing, and we wanted to create more choices for students. In our traditional PE classes, we would offer different activities for students to choose from during class. And we also worked on getting a unit in the weight room to expose students to the basics of strength and conditioning.” 


And while Dan and Deanne said the early changes were good, they saw an opportunity to take it a step further with a dedicated Strength and Fitness class. The PE teachers planned the class to be a student-centered learning model, allowing students to choose the training programs and workouts they would follow. After getting support from the school, the two teachers designed an elective open to any 10th-12th graders at Littlestown High School. 


What started as a singular section of Strength and Fitness with 19 students has grown to over 200 students enrolled in the now multiple sections of Strength and Fitness classes. Deanne says that the popularity amongst students doesn’t come as a surprise but rather as a sign of success for student-centered learning in physical education, 


“You can see and feel the confidence that students build within the class. And because they are empowered to make choices and explore fitness independently, it takes away much of the stress and pressure of feeling like a teacher is breathing down your back. Altogether, it has made for a class where we now see a majority of our 10th-12th graders.” 

Littlestown High School
The Littlestown fitness room is currently an open floor plan that connects the weight room to wrestling room all in on space, where students can spread out and complete different types of workouts.

A Snapshot Of Student-Centered Learning At Littlestown 


Now in the sixth year of student-centered learning in Strength and Fitness, the classes operate as a well-oiled machine. Each day, students come to class with their school-issued 1-to-1 devices. From there, students can open the PLT4M app on their iPads, where they can choose from a wide range of different workout program options. 


And while students have the opportunity to choose everything from weightlifting to yoga, Deanne says that a majority of the students are interested and excited by the idea of weightlifting,


“We start any of our new students on the Intro To Strength program because it builds a strong foundation and confidence in the weight room. From there, the majority of our students, boys and girls, decide to take part in the advanced off-season program.” 

Essential Guide to Teaching 

Weight Training 

Our five essential steps to initiate or improve your weight training program. Filled with extra resources, videos, and real-life examples, don’t miss this free resource! 

With the iPads and PLT4M, students can log and enter weights and workouts right on their individual devices. Within the weight training program options, Littlestown students can take a student-centered learning approach by being autonomous and self-paced as they complete workouts. 


And with short 45-minute class periods, Dan says that the feedback the app provides has helped to motivate and empower students throughout the semester to work hard and be efficient, 


“The students love the insights and data from the app. And with leaderboards, they get excited to see themselves landing as a top performer in different metrics. It makes for a really fun environment.”

A Bright Future For Strength and Fitness At Littlestown 


With tremendous growth and progress within the Strength and Fitness classes, Littlestown High School is excited by what lies ahead. 


After the school made an initial commitment and investment in the Strength and Fitness classes, they are doubling down with a new state-of-the-art weight room and fitness center. Deanne says that this shows the continued support and emphasis the school places on the fitness, health, and wellness of students, 


“Our new space will help us further the mission of student-centered learning with a brand new weight room, turf, and cardio room that will only expand students’ choices and options.” 


In addition, Dan says that the physical education initiative has started to spread throughout the entire school, 


“The sports coaches have always supported the Strength and Fitness classes. But now, as they are seeing the progress and impact of the class on the student-athletes, they want to find ways to get more involved so that all their athletes can benefit from the weight room.” 


Altogether, Littlestown High School has transformed the learning experience by taking a student-centered approach. As a result, students are engaged, active, and excited by Strength and Fitness classes and continue to see progress as they work hard throughout the semester. 

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