“How do you go from where you are to where you want to be? I think you have to have an enthusiasm for life. You have to have a dream, a goal, and you have to be willing to work for it.” - Jim Valvano

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fundamental Skills, Assessment, and Health

Fundamental skill development and assessment are very important to Physical Education.  Many schools in the past have viewed Physical Education, or what I like to call a lazy version of PE "gym class" as a chance for teachers to take a break from their students, and often devote some of their time to lesson planning while their students can run around and play for a little bit.  Even as a child, I viewed gym class, and I'm calling it gym class because that's what I viewed it as then and now, because I saw it as a second recess because we literally didn't learn any skills or develop anything.  We simply played games such as tag, soccer, basketball, etc.  Those are things I played at recess as well.  We had competitions as well, however, how can you assess a competition necessarily.  Just because one person may win does not necessarily mean that they are physically educated.  That is why there are national standards which are put into place, so that students can be assessed based on how much they know about being physically educated.  One organization is NASPE, or National Association for Sport and Physical Education.  They created the National Standards for Physical Education which was designed to provide guidance for teachers who are trying to physically educate students (www.aahperd.org/naspe)  By having national standards, this then makes it easier for teachers to create curriculums and benchmarks so that students will know so much information by a certain time.  One way that this is done is on a scale from 1-4, 4 being the highest.  If the student meets all the requirements of a certain skill then they receive a 4. For example if the task is to properly serve a tennis ball, the key elements may be that they throw the ball high enough, put the racket in the back scratch position, hit the ball with their arm fully extended, and hit the ball 5 out of ten times in the volley zone, then they get a four.  If they most of them and can use a little improvement they might get a 3.  If they need help and can only do a couple of those elements then they may get a two.  If they get a one then they need to practice a lot more and are no where close.

Because of all of this, it is important to start young and by having these National Standards we can do so.  Health is a big issue, especially in this country where a good amount of our population is obese.  If students can be taught how to live a healthy lifestyle then we can decrease this national epidemic.  Many schools now have students create their own fitness plans so it helps students understand the importance of  health safety.  I feel as though through NASPE and other organizations that PE is headed in a great direction and students now are attending more PE classes and not "gym" classes so they are becoming more physically educated than students of the past.



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