Central Coast New Tech High (CCNTH) is a project based learning school in California. Opened in 2010, the school has always explored different and unique ways to empower students with challenging and rigorous learning opportunities. Check out how the school has evolved its physical education independent study course that sets students on a path to long-term fitness, health, and wellness.
Goals of Physical Education Independent Study
The goal of physical education is to instill lifelong fitness and health skills. At Central Coast New Tech High, PE teacher Gabriel Villegas says that the physical education independent study course is designed to put that goal into real-world practice,
“We want our students to find ways to exercise and stay active throughout the day. The goal of our physical education independent study is to support students as they explore that in their everyday lives.”
Drawing on the CDC recommendations for physical activity and the California PE standards, Gabriel has worked over the years to design a class that allows students to learn and grow their physical wellness skills independently. While students can still take a traditional physical education class in school, Gabriel says CCNTH has always worked to make electives a staple of the school,
“The physical education independent study has over 90 of our 300 students enrolled per semester. The course is popular and gives students a great opportunity to learn and get a PE credit in a different and unique way.”
Challenges Of Physical Education Independent Study
With a large percentage of CCNTH students enrolled in the physical education independent study course, Gabriel has always looked for ways to manage the large group,
“In the past, we have tried to open it up so students could make a fitness log and do their own thing. It became challenging to track and manage all of the different students throughout the semester.”
As a result, Gabriel looked to find a solution that would still give students choice and freedom but under a unified approach to help streamline the logistics of tracking so many students,
“We needed something rigorous and impactful for students. Because students have the freedom with the course to workout on their own, there needs to be accountability and consistency throughout the semester.”
Technology’s Role For CCNTH PE
After trying different approaches to managing the physical education independent study students, Gabriel looked for a different type of technology to support the course. First, he got all of the students onto PLT4M, an online physical education curriculum and technology,
“PLT4M has been a game-changer for the course. It helps manage all the different students throughout the week and semester and allows me to focus on motivating and connecting with students.”
To monitor and manage student participation, Gabriel uses PLT4M’s activity timestamps to see how long it took students to complete a workout within PLT4M,
“I set clear expectations at the beginning of the semester. Students are required to take at least 30 minutes to do their workout. In addition, they have to log a daily finisher and any other baseline fitness testing throughout the semester.”
While the long-term goal is student choice, Gabriel starts every student on an introductory unit to create common ground around fitness,
“We start all our students on the Intro to Fitness program to build a strong foundation. From there, students can go in different directions within PLT4M to try things like yoga, dance, pilates, weightlifting and other fitness options.”
In addition, Gabriel assigns PLT4M’s Fitness Literacy program, which provides written and video materials on fitness concepts. Here, students must review and then complete multiple-choice questions to demonstrate they have grasped the material.
Altogether, Gabriel says this approach is helping to build students’ confidence and knowledge in fitness and physical education.
Each part of a PLT4M Intro To Fitness lesson comes loaded with video and written instruction. Check out a sample from part of a lesson where students learn the air squat.
Project Based Learning Component
Because CCNTH is a project based learning (PBL) school, Gabriel has worked to develop different ways to make PBL a part of the PE curriculum. This semester, every student will complete a final project where they create a five-minute “brain break.”
After students all submit their final project, Gabriel says that everyone will vote and select the top brain breaks to be used throughout the school,
“The top submissions will end up being used by the rest of the school during classes for brain breaks. It is a cool opportunity for students to take what they learned and apply it to their own project.”
As students progress to the next semester and start to explore other types of fitness options via PLT4M, Gabriel says that he is excited to see what other PBL initiatives the physical education independent study course can tap into,
“There are so many opportunities for physical education to take a project based learning approach and technology plays a big role in executing that.”
Key Takeaways On CCNTH’s Physical Education Independent Study
When Central Coast New Tech High started the physical education independent study course, Gabriel says they knew motivating teenagers to workout on their own would be challenging,
“It is a unique way to approach physical education. But it creates a sense of ownership that everyone eventually needs after high school. This course helps to bridge that gap and support students as they explore fitness on their terms.”
As the school continues to evolve its independent study and project based learning approach, Gabriel says that physical education will also adapt and change to best support students,
“This is just our first step in building lifelong fitness skills. I am excited to see this program grow with PLT4M as we continue to open up new programs and workout options for students over time.”