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Training the Mind and Body

We are half way through the week, and I must say that I've had so much fun visiting PE, Driver's Ed, and Health classes throughout the day in order to check out some of the amazing things happening in our classrooms. Our teachers and students sure did not disappoint, and I learned so much in just a few short days!

I must admit, I have not spent much time during the school day down in the PE/Athletics wing. After visiting a few classes, I was hooked and super impressed with the curriculum options we provide for students. As I walked up the stairwell to see one of the dance classes, I was greeted with various tapping sounds. Low and behold, Ms. Marie Valente was leading a class of students and teaching them how to...wait for it...tap dance! All students were wearing tap shoes and learning a routine that Marie carefully explained and modeled for them. Later in the day, Ms. Jordan Fandrey taught the same class, and she also was able to dance and lead the students as they learned the tricky footwork associated with tap dancing. The students in both classes were engaged and working furiously to learn the moves. While some were embarrassed as they messed up a move, there was a sense of accomplishment as they continued to practice, were motivated by their teacher, and then mastered the move. Ms. Valente and Ms. Fandrey did such a great job of breaking down the steps for the students and differentiated how they modeled the moves in order to help all learners. It was quite impressive and made me want to try it out myself!

In another gymnasium during different periods, Ms. Julie Bannack and Ms. Shelby Thormeyer taught a step aerobics class, to students in their Body Sculpt classes, that was really fun to watch. Similar to the tap class, each teacher modeled the moves a bit different and did everything in their power to help the students master the moves. I cannot believe that these strong women can do the aerobic moves AND teach/talk to the students while doing them. It was so awesome and motivating to watch. The students were attentive and worked very hard to get the moves right. Ms. Bannack and Ms. Thormeyer continually encouraged them to keep trying the moves that were a bit tricky and provided tips/counted it out to make it easier for them to complete. I was invited back to this class to try out Zumba later this week. I am looking forward to being a part of the action and learning from these strong teachers.

At the other end of the building, the health teachers are teaching a unit about stress to our sophomore students. When I walked into Ms. Laura Kurtyak and Mr. Dave Brouwer classrooms, the students were in the middle of an activity, and the classroom was alive with a competition. Students were in groups of 4 and taking turns rolling dice in order to roll a 6. As one person rolled the dice, one of his/her peers wrote numbers continuously on a paper, working furiously to get to number 100. When the dice roller rolled a 6, he/she took the marker away from his/her peer, passed on the dice, and the process continued. The goal was to be the first person to get to number 100. Students were cheering, arguing, stressing, and totally into this activity. It was fun to watch. After someone finally won or the time was up, Ms. Kurtyak and Mr. Brouwer asked the students to explain what happened to their emotions and actions during the game. From there, they explained that perception of activites will affect our level of stress during the situation. It was a really great way to simulate the effects of stress on the mind, body, and one's actions.

I've also had the opportunity to chat with various teachers in this department and brainstorm different ways they can utilize technology in order to enhance their curriculum. At the Birkett Freshmen Center, Ms. Laura McCarthy, Mr. Dan Fitzgerald, and Ms. Allison Perry have enjoyed using Google Classroom in order to communicate with their students and collect assignments. Ms. Perry had the students complete an intro slide in Classroom in order to introduce themselves to the class. She was excited to learn how easy and convenient Classroom makes this process. Ms. McCarthy is teaching a blended class this year and is starting to experiment with various options including Classroom, Flipgrid, and a new heart rate monitor in order to differentiate instruction for all students. Her enthusiasm and willingness to try new things are contagious, and I can't wait to observe what she does with the blended class this year.

When Ms. Trudy Bennorth contacted me about options to document student growth, I was excited to meet with her and figure out the best options for her Student Learning Outcomes. As we discussed Google Classroom and other video options, we landed on FlipGrid as the best option for filming students complete a badminton skill. Students will record their swings for the pre-assessment; Trudy will teach badminton over a few weeks; students will then record their swings for the post assessment....and BOOM - Ms. Bennorth will be able to witness student growth and assess how they grow by comparing the two videos. FlipGrid is an awesome video resource to utilize in the classroom, and it is easy to use and integrate with Google Classroom. I look forward to helping Trudy with this process in the future! Here are some great ideas for incorporating FlipGrid into your class. is only Wednesday, and I have so more to observe and share. I will continue to post updates later this week. Our P.H.D. department is rocking it out, and our students are reaping the benefits. #whatsup