Paradise PE’s Push For Student Choice and Engagement

Paradise High School students working out.

When Paradise High School in Arizona redesigned its physical education classes, they were eager to see how students would respond. With new classes and curriculum, Paradise set out to increase engagement through student choice. Teachers Alicia Roiko and Ashley Sjolander have led the charge in changing how Paradise approaches physical education.


Alicia says that providing students with new avenues to explore fitness and wellness has been a game-changer at Paradise,


“When we give students more choice, they are more likely to engage. Choice has helped boost students’ staying on task, working hard, and seeing health and wellness benefits.”

Paradise’s Push For More Class Options


In the past, all 9th-grade students were placed in a Competitive Sports class to start their physical education journey. But Alicia felt the disconnect between students and sports, 


“There were a lot of students just going through the motions. And a majority of students that had no interest in the sport or activity would usually moan and groan through class.” 


As a result, Paradise pushed to create a new class option for 9th-graders called Lifetime Activities and Wellness. The new class was designed to reach a wider audience of students and support choice and exploration of different fitness activities, 


“The split allowed for students who liked competitive sports to keep taking the class while also opening up new doors for many students who were more interested in recreational and lifetime activities.” 

Paradise High School students working out.
Paradise students complete a PLT4M Dance Fitness workout.

Lifetime Activities & Wellness Class 


With a new class option available to students, Paradise also introduced a new curriculum to help bolster the choices and options within the class. After introducing PLT4M to students and building some basic foundational fitness skills in the first semester, Alicia surveyed her students to see what types of workouts they would be interested in. 


After collecting the responses, Alicia created small groups within the classes and assigned different workout programs and options via the PLT4M app. Now, with their school-issued one-to-one devices, students spread out throughout the gymnasium and get to work, 


“We opened up various options like yoga, boxing, fitness, flexibility, and more. Students can find what interests them and explore fitness on their terms, which is huge for engagement and participation.” 


In addition to the physical activity assignments, Alicia says that the class also focuses on the cognitive elements of health and wellness, 


“We want to create a complete picture of health and wellness for students. Tapping into the health curriculum via PLT4M has helped us connect the dots within classes. For example, we currently cover a new nutrition topic each week.” 

Paradise High School students working out.
Students can complete a variety of different activity and cognitive assignments using PLT4M.

The Power Of Choice In Other PE Classes 


In addition to the new choices for 9th-grade students, Paradise has utilized PLT4M to enhance other physical education electives offered to 10-12th grade students. 


Ashley Sjolander, who teaches a few sections of a weight training elective at Paradise, says that the addition of PLT4M has helped students go from learning the basics of weightlifting to creating their own workout plans, 


“We started the semester with PLT4M’s Intro To Strength Training program and focused on form, technique, and safety in the weight room. And from there, we encourage students to use PLT4M as a resource to find workout options that interest them.” 


Through this process, Ashley has also seen a boost in engagement amongst the students, 


“It has given students a nice set of tools and resources to explore the weight room on their terms. And it has also helped me as a teacher to support all the different types of students in a busy weight room.” 

Paradise’s Continued Pursuit Of Engagement 


Paradise High School is only in the first year of the new approach to classes and curriculum. But after early signs of success, Alicia says that they are excited to continue deepening the level of student engagement in physical education, 


“Our goal is to continue finding new ways within class and with PLT4M to enhance student engagement and motivation. The PLT4M program is loaded with great resources and technology tools that we can continue to utilize in classes.” 


One area Ashley says she looks to tap into more is the data component of using technology


“Data isn’t just a tool for us as teachers to measure progress; it’s a way for students to see how far they have come in their fitness journey. With PLT4M, we can showcase that growth and find another great way to motivate them in class. We are excited to do more on that front.” 

With a new era of physical education underway, there are many more great things to come for students and teachers in health, fitness, and physical education at Paradise High School.

Paradise High School students working out.
Students at Paradise complete a flexibility routine.

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