As technology becomes an ever growing part of our daily lives, physical education has been a place where many teachers want students to disconnect. While other subjects have proven the benefits of technology in class, many physical education classes are wary of the potential distractions. But that hasn’t been the case for every physical education program.
John Glenn High School in Indiana implemented technology in physical education to support students and teachers. By turning tech into an advantage, John Glenn High School now better engages their students and stays organized throughout a busy school year.
The Challenges Of Delivering Workouts To Students
From the intro to strength classes for first-year students to advanced pe classes, much of John Glenn High School’s physical education centers around the weight room. Kurt Foster, PE teacher and strength and conditioning coordinator, was always happy to see so many students coming into the weight room throughout the day. But Kurt struggled to get students the appropriate workouts during class,
“The biggest challenge was getting the workouts to students. We either had to print out hundreds of pieces of paper and have students write down all the sets, reps, and weights they did, or we would put it up on the whiteboard and trust that the students would get the workout done.”
Students are held accountable with printed sheets, but logging everything can cut into an already short 45-minute class period. And with the whiteboard workouts, students can efficiently jump right into the training, but accountability gets a lot harder with no way to log workouts and only one teacher in the room.
Kurt wanted to find a solution to empower student accountability and efficiency.
Turning To Tech – Chromebooks and PLT4M
Like many other schools, John Glenn’s PE department had often said no to technology. They wanted students off their phones and social media so they could be focused on getting through their workouts.
But as a one-to-one school, there was an opportunity to use the students’ Chromebooks during class. Paired with the Chromebooks, John Glenn High School signed up for PLT4M.
With PLT4M, Kurt could now take the workouts that had previously been on the whiteboard or printed sheets and assign them directly via the digital program tool.
Students now log workouts directly to PLT4M via their Chromebooks, and all of the data and information gets reported to Kurt’s teacher account. Not only has it improved overall accountability in class, but students have also learned to use the technology efficiently in the process.
Three Strategies To Keep Technology Use On Track
Implementing technology in PE does not have to make life more complicated for teachers. In fact, basic strategies can support students’ use of technology during class and keep them on task. For John Glenn High School, three key strategies have helped make technology in PE a sustainable initiative.
Strategy 1: Model Appropriate Technology Use
There are two options at John Glenn High School for freshman PE: General PE and Intro To Strength Training. Both class offerings utilize PLT4M and take a guided approach to introduce technology.
For example, Kurt uses a projector in class to help students learn the in’s and out’s of how to use PLT4M,
“By using the projector, we showcase the different components of PLT4M to students so that they know where to log workouts, where they can watch instructional videos, and how they can see their progress.”
By modeling the steps Kurt wants the students to take, they can then learn to independently log workouts on the Chromebooks.
Strategy 2: Partner Students Together
Although every student has access to their own Chromebook, it doesn’t mean every student needs to have one during class. Instead, students are put into smaller groups and use a feature called rackview that allows multiple students to work together on one device.
Each student still receives their individualized workout and is responsible for logging their information, but now they can help keep each other on track. This simple strategy removes the opportunity for students to get lost and distracted because they are working as a group to stay on task.
Strategy 3: Participation Points
When students start a workout in PLT4M, a timer tracks how long it takes them to complete the entire assignment. Kurt uses this activity tracker as one portion of the student’s daily participation grade. Instead of constantly reminding students to log workouts, this participation component reinforces students to use PLT4M every day.
Student Engagement Increased With Technology
John Glenn High School first adopted PLT4M to help deliver and track workouts. But, the benefits of introducing technology have gone far past just delivery and data collection. Kurt sees a tangible difference in the engagement from students,
“The buy-in from the younger students has gone up drastically. As kids, they love immediate feedback and seeing the live results. It makes getting students bought into the program much easier.”
With technology, Kurt is most excited by the ability to impact a larger population of students at John Glenn High School,
“With everything that PLT4M has come out with from new programs and different ways to engage kids, it has made it possible for us to reach more students in a positive way that otherwise don’t typically see the benefits of physical education.”
Key Takeaways On Technology In Physical Education
By turning to technology as an additional resource, John Glenn High School has created a unified and organized approach that has benefited students and teachers.
Students have better insights into their progress and are more engaged with their learning throughout the year. In addition, teachers have drastically reduced the time it takes to track and monitor students and can instead spend more time focusing on instruction and working directly with students.
For Kurt and his fellow teachers at John Glenn High School, they are proud of the decision to implement technology,
“PLT4M has helped shape what our PE curriculum looks like now. The combination of having pre-made workouts and being able to develop our own has allowed us to expand our PE Department and reach students that normally do not see the positive side of Physical Education.”