As a teacher, you only get so much time with your students. While every school follows a slightly different bell schedule, most teachers face similar challenges as they race against the clock to cover everything in class.
David Stoddard and Phillip Frost, PE teachers at Quincy High School in Washington, have 34 minutes each day with their weight training and fitness classes. With a large class of students ranging from first-year students to seniors, the teachers have to juggle different experiences and a tight time window.
To enhance the learning experience for every student, David and Phil have fostered student-to-student teaching and incorporated technology into the classroom.
Peer Teaching In Physical Education
Due to scheduling constraints, many PE teachers find themselves teaching to a diverse set of students across a range of grades and ages. Some arrive with a solid and firm understanding of course materials, while others are brand new to a unit.
Take Weight Training for example. The risk of injury from improper movement mechanics or unsafe practices heightens the need to make sure every student is taught appropriately for their experience level. But how can you cater to the less experienced without losing the interest of your older, more seasoned students?
For David and Phillip, the first two weeks of the year are devoted to the basics around safety, form, and technique in the weight room. For the new students, this is educational and necessary. For the older students, this provides a review and refresher. Everyone benefits.
After the first few weeks, David and Phil assign each student to a weightlifting station, pairing 3-4 students from different grade levels. David explains the advantages of this structure,
“It allows the younger students to get more feedback from their peers and not just the teacher in the class. We go from one teacher in the classroom to many. And the older students benefit because they are reinforcing their own knowledge and skills through teaching.”
This consistent stream of peer teaching allows the teachers in their respective classes to navigate the weight room and give more meaningful individualized instruction where needed.
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Leveraging Technology in PE Class
In addition to the peer teaching at each station, each group also has one Chromebook to use. The goal of incorporating technology is twofold: to individualize workouts and to increase efficiency.
To accomplish this, Quincy High School’s weight training classes have introduced PLT4M. Through an online system, each student has access to a personal account. Better yet, multiple students can work together on one device at the station and still maintain an individualized experience.
In doing so, the efficiency of their short class time has increased, which David sees as a huge improvement,
“The flow of the class is ten times better. Students can get everything they need right down to the weights and reps they should be doing for any movement assigned.”
And because PLT4M is a digital resource, the teachers have found that adapting lessons allows them to customize the workouts to fit the class goals and time frame. David illustrates the flexibility,
“There are certain things we could do if we had more time, but instead of it being an issue, we just adjust and modify to fit our exact needs.”
Keeping With The Times
At Quincy, the three person PE department has worked together for many years now, and continue to try and keep their fingers on the pulse of what is working for students. David, now in his 17th year of teaching, Phillip, now in his 6th, have worked in tandem with Kelly Wallace (the heart and soul of the department), who is now in her 28th year and takes on many of the other PE classes offered at the school.
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Together, David describes the department as a group always looking to give their students the very best,
“We have a great team of teachers here, and we have worked hard to make sure that we keep PE cutting edge and relevant for our students.”
Quincy High School has created a place where everyone can succeed, even with students of every grade in one class. The teachers have a shared excitement about the progress. David describes the progress they look forward to in the future,
“We have liked the format of everyone doing the same workout, but with different weights to keep it personalized. In the future, I could see us going even further down the individualization road with students doing a variety of workouts via PLT4M in one class.”