Author Archives: David Haworth

Pacing the use of Technology in P.E.

Incorporating technology into an elementary school physical education class can sometimes be challenging. Each class is typically only 30 minutes long and much of the class time needs to be devoted to fitness skills and movement. One way to include technology in an elementary school physical education class is the use of heart rate monitors. Utilizing this type of hardware technology will not take very much precious class time and it will also enhance the students’ learning about physical fitness and heart rate. Among many advantages, heart rate monitors assist children in learning aerobic pacing and target heart rate, staying in the zone, comparing the effects of varied physical activities on the heart, visualizing changes in intensity, and being excited about seeing their personal heart rate progress on charts and printouts (Tipton and Sander, 2004).

I recently created a 5th grade elementary school physical education lesson plan for the PACER test that included the use of heart rate monitors. The Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run (PACER) is a multi-stage shuttle run designed to measure aerobic capacity. The objective of the PACER is to run as long as possible while keeping a specified pace. The PACER test with heart rate monitors lesson plan is designed to make the PACER test more interesting and fun for the students and help them be more engaged in their own learning. It could also spark an interest in using technology in their everyday lives.

This lesson plan requires the students to have active mental engagement in correctly using the heart rate monitors and keeping track of their partner’s PACER test score. This addresses ISTE Standard 4, component 3: Utilize technology to collect and analyze data, identify possible solutions, and make informed decisions. The heart rate monitors supported the students’ learning of how to monitor their heart rate and the importance of monitoring their heart rate during exercise.

hrI have not had a chance to teach this lesson, but after reflecting on the lesson I came up with one big issue: time. There probably just isn’t enough time to effectively teach the students how to use the heart rate monitors and take the PACER test in the same class period. The introduction to the heart rate monitors should be done in the lesson before the PACER test. In an earlier lesson, the students can learn how to use the heart rate monitors and then do a shorter physical activity that is not as strenuous and time consuming as the PACER test. Once the students are comfortable with the heart rate monitors, they can then use them with the PACER test.

Another potential issue with this lesson is that some students will struggle with getting the heart rate monitors to work correctly. The teacher should be sure to include frequent informal assessments in the lesson to ensure all the students are correctly using the heart rate monitors before moving on to the physical activity part of the lesson.

The learning target for this lesson was: I will improve my PACER Test score from my previous score and I will accurately measure my heart rate. The lesson plan currently includes a self-assessment at the end of class where the students give a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” if they successfully completed the two components of the learning target. In most classes, this assessment will probably be enough for the teacher to determine if some students needed a little more help with completing either part of the learning target. More detailed exit slips could also be used as a closing assessment if a teacher believes a class needs a more detailed and formal assessment.


Tipton, J. and Sander, A (2004). Heart Rate Monitors Promote Physical Education for Children, retrieved from sitename/Documents/DocumentItem/6621.pdf.



Teaching Students Safe Surfing

With the Internet becoming an integral part of many teacher’s curriculum, taking the time to correctly teach safe online surfing is of vital importance. Here are some sobering statistics: two-thirds of Internet users fall victim to cybercrime, online harassment has grown 50% in five years and continues to increase, and slightly more than one-third of youth surveyed were exposed to unwanted sexual material while online (Lucas, 2013).

As technology continues to become a more integral part of students’ lives, making sure that all members within school environments are well versed in appropriate use and digital citizenship will be an imperative (Ribble & Miller, 2013). Many school districts and schools simply block or restrict access to web sites. This may keep students safe at school, but what happens when these students have access through a friend’s cell phone or tablet that is not restricted? The classroom is an ideal place to really teach students the importance of safe online surfing. Blocking and restricting websites doesn’t help students in the long run, but teaching them how to be safe online enables them to practice good habits for their entire life (Lucas, 2013). Teaching online safety is really just about providing students with knowledge. This addresses component one of ISTE Standard 5: demonstrate personal responsibility for lifelong learning.

The online article The Teacher’s Guide to Online Learning lists several strategies to teach safe online surfing. One of the most important strategies listed in this article is to get the parents involved. Educating parents on the dangers of inappropriate usage and encouraging them to talk to their children about it is an effective way to ensure that students are safe online, both at school and at home (Lucas, 2013). One way that teachers can get parents involved is sending home a short fact sheet that includes information on the importance of online safety and ways to communicate with their children about online safety.

There are many different resources for teachers to educate themselves and their students about how to safely surf online. Common Sense Media and PBS Kids Webonauts Internet Academy are both excellent resources for elementary school teachers and students. Emailing parents a link to these sites to review with their children at home is also a good way to get the parents involved.

While most elementary school physical education teachers will not have any online surfing in their curriculum, it will still be important for them to reinforce the importance of online safety with their students. For example, a physical education teacher could discuss a few key online safety tips while surfing for a YouTube video on a fitness activity in front of the class.


Lucas, R. (2013). The Teacher’s Guide to Online Learning, eLearning Industry. Retrieved from

Ribble, M. & Miller, T.N. (2013). Educational Leadership in an Online World: Connecting Students to Technology Responsibly, Safely, and Ethically. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17:1 (2013): 137-45.

Minecraft in the Classroom?

With the huge popularity of Minecraft with elementary-age students many teachers are exploring ways to incorporate this building game in the classroom. Minecraft is basically about placing and mining blocks of different types of materials to build just about anything the user can imagine. The game world consists of 3D objects—mainly cubes—that represent materials such as dirt, stone, various ores and woods. Players gather these material blocks and use them to form various constructions. (Drzewiecki, 2016). Using Minecraft in the classroom is an intriguing way to engage students and help bring a topic alive through hands-on experience. The students can work in teams to create a Minecraft project, exploring and comparing solutions to a specific school assignment. This addresses the fourth component of ISTE Standard 4: Explore and compare solutions with various technology tools.


Allowing students to work on Minecraft projects in the classroom can be beneficial to their life-long learning skills. Minecraft gives students the freedom to create and push their imaginations to the limit, it helps students work on their problem-solving and critical thinking skills, and it helps students work together in a positive classroom environment (Drzewiecki, 2016). One example of using Minecraft in the classroom is with a social studies project. A social studies teacher can assign a project where students have to create a community similar to one they are studying about in their current history unit. In a recent Edutopia article about gaming and coding, the author reviews a 5th grade social studies project where the students work as a team to create a Minecraft community and they face many of the same issues as the Pilgrims coming to the new world. Minecraft is more than a game to these fifth graders. It is a simulation, a learning environment and a morality play all wrapped up in one incredibly engaging, shared experience. It makes a powerful impression (Kiang, 2014).

 In addition, there are several programs that teach students the basics of coding using a Minecraft model. My 5th grade son’s elementary school class used a program like this and my son raved about it. He would come home from school talking about the Minecraft game he created and couldn’t wait to get back to school to work more on his project. The beauty of using a fun tool like Minecraft in the classroom is that the students are having so much fun they don’t even realize their learning!

Unfortunately, with the limited time and resources available it would be difficult to incorporate Minecraft into an elementary school physical education setting. This type of technology tool is definitely best left in a regular classroom environment.


Drzewiecki, J (2016). Why Educators Should Use Minecraft in the Classroom. Education World. Retrieved from

Kiang, D. (2014). 3 ways coding and gaming can enhance learning. Edutopia. Retrieved from


Technology for Student Fitness Testing Scores

Every physical education teacher regularly tests their students for their fitness levels. Many elementary school physical education teachers utilize the President’s Youth Fitness Program, which includes a variety of fitness tests designed to measure a child’s overall health-related fitness. One of the technology components of the President’s Youth Fitness Program is called FitnessGram, which is an online assessment resource that evaluates the five components of health-related fitness: aerobic capacity, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, and body composition (Cooper Institute, 2016).

I talked with several current elementary school teachers about how they kept track of their student’s fitness score results and none of them used FitnessGram. One of them reported that she had thought about using it, but had heard it was too time-consuming and over-complicated. Only subscribers can directly access the FitnessGram program, so I was unable to find out for myself what the program was really like. After reviewing the different sections of the FitnessGram information web site, and the FitnessGram manual, this program does seem like it’s overly-complicated and not very practical. The manual was more than 150 pages long! Unfortunately, this seems like another online tool that is just “technology for technologies sake.”

Technology can still be used to keep track of and organize student’s fitness score results, but it does not need to be very complicated or intricate. A simple data spreadsheet program like Excel would be an effective way to manage the fitness score results. The teacher can have the students help with entering their data in the teacher’s laptop, as well as showing the students how to organize and keep track of their individual data as the year progresses. The teacher can then email this data to the student’s parents with a short note on the student’s progress and if there are any areas where they need to improve. This addresses the fifth component of ISTE Standard 3: explain how technology can be used to help process data and report results.

Learning how technology skills such as spreadsheets and databases can be applied in areas outside of a traditional classroom environment is an important skill for elementary-age students to begin acquiring. Such skills are essential for individuals in K-12, post-secondary and workplace environments (Huggins, 2014).


Cooper Institute (2016). What is FitnessGram? Retrieved from

Huggins, A. C., Ritzhaupt, A. D., & Dawson, K. (2014). Measuring information and communication technology literacy using a performance assessment: Validation of the Student Tool for Technology Literacy (ST2L). Computers & Education, 77(C), 1–12.

Elementary School Blogging

Blogging has become a growing trend in schools, even in elementary schools. Today’s students — and, increasingly, teachers — are tech-savvy, and they want an interactive and engaging classroom experience (Wong, 2014). Many elementary school teachers are finding that blogging is an effective way for students to use technology to communicate with their classmates and their teachers. Blogging addresses the first component of ISTE Standard 2: Identify digital tools that can be used to help students interact, collaborate, and publish.

Blogging is essentially just online journaling and is a simple way for students to communicate new information, news, ideas, comments or opinions to their teacher and their classmates. Teachers will need to give their students some basic structure and directions for their blog assignments of course, but letting students show their creativity in their blogs is also important.

Blogging is also an effective way to help students improve their writing. Blogs, because of their ease of use, and because of the context of news and editorial column writing, have become a highly effective way to help students to become better writers. Research has long shown that students write more, write in greater detail, and take greater care with spelling, grammar, and punctuation, when they are writing to an authentic audience over the Internet (Jackson, 2012).

There are many web-based blogging programs available for teachers to use, but two programs in particular seem well-suited for elementary school students. The Blogmeister program is free, easy to use and gives the teacher control of publishing the student entries. Another easy alternative is KidzBlog, an affordable, secure, and simple solution for the elementary teacher wanting to blog on just one classroom computer (Jackson, 2012).

The ongoing issue with incorporating digital technology like blogging in an elementary school physical education class, however, is where and when will the students have access to computers with the limited time available in a physical education class? One way a physical education teacher could get around this issue is to work with the students’ classroom teacher to incorporate a physical education post with a regular classroom blogging assignment. For example, the physical education teacher can have the students write about their favorite physical education class game or activity. Or their favorite sport or exercise. A blog post like this would allow the students to use technology to communicate with their physical education teacher and their physical education classmates.


Jackson, L (2012), Blogging? It’s Elementary Dear Watson! Retrieved from

Wong, W. (2014). How technology enables blended learning. EdTech Focus on K-12. Retrieved from


Technology in Elementary School Physical Education

There are many ways that teachers can incorporate technology in an elementary school physical education class. Some good examples include, pedometers, heart rate monitors, health tracking programs, and video resources. The first three examples are wonderful ways for elementary-age students to learn about the importance of exercise and good health, but with limited class time available (typically only 30 minutes) these are probably better suited for secondary-age students. Limited budget is also an issue for this type of technology, although teachers can find creative funding methods though options such as grants. Showing students short animated videos for warm-ups or You Tube videos of a specific sport or fitness skill are both effective visual learning aids. Keeping these videos short, however, is important due to the limited class time.

It will be difficult, however, to use technology that will help students express their creativity in an elementary school physical education class. One of the few ways that some physical education teachers are helping students express their creativity with technology is through “exergaming.” Exergaming is where students play movement video games, such as Wii Sports and Dance Dance Revolution. The teacher projects the video from the game on a wall or screen and has the students rotate the video game controllers while the rest of the class follows along with what activity they are doing ( 2016). Exergaming would provide a way for students to express their own creativity through individual body movements and which games they would choose to play. This addresses the second component of ISTE Standard 1: create original works as a means of personal or group expression.

exergaming 1

There are many issues, however, around the use of exergaming in a physical education class. The biggest issue is that while it encourages movement (and at home decreases sedentary television watching), it can be a poor substitute for actual physical activity and sports play. The movements used for many of these types of games is not conducive to the actual psycho-motor skill needed for a particular sport or fitness activity. It also can create a negative, chaotic classroom environment where students are not fully participating and equal time at the video game controllers will be difficult to manage. In addition, many of the parents will probably dislike the fact that their children are playing video games at school. In short, the negatives of exergaming outweigh any perceived positives.

Physical education teachers need to be careful that they are not just doing “technology for technology sake.” It needs to have a practical application or benefit for their student’s learning. The noise of this digital information can be overwhelming. It can create a numbness to the outside world and limit the ability to retain and reflect on essential learning (Dillon, 2014). In an elementary school physical education setting a limited amount of technology has its place, but the majority of the class time should be focused on movement and the development of the student’s fundamental psycho-motor skills.


Dillon, B. (2014). The Age of the Digital Story, Retrieved from (2016). Using Technology in Physical Education. Retrieved from

Internship Post #4 – Teamwork

#8 Professional Practice: 8.1 Participating in a Professional Community. Relationships with colleagues are characterized by mutual support and cooperation. This means that being a successful teacher is about more than just teaching kids. You have to be able to communicate and work well with the other teachers on your staff, especially the teachers in your department. Teachers need to work as a team, cooperating and supporting each other with items like curriculum, planning, students and parent communication.

In a physical education setting, this is especially true. In secondary schools, physical education teachers share the gyms, fields, courts, offices and locker rooms. If the teachers don’t cooperate and communicate with each other than this will cause all sorts of issues with class logistics and management and the student’s learning will suffer. There needs to be a set plan in place for the location of each teacher’s class and a plan for what equipment is being used by each different teacher, so there is no wasted instruction time.

In my student teaching, it was imperative that I developed good relationships and communication with the other two physical education teachers. One of the teachers only worked for two periods at the end of the day and the other teacher was very disorganized and did very little lesson planning. I also shared a small office with these two teachers. I was able to overcome any potential issues by being courteous, supportive and friendly. I went out of my way each day to talk with both teachers and I was able to develop a good relationship with both of them, which helped pave the way to a successful work environment. I was also able to learn several new effective teacher practices from these two teachers. If a team is effective, then people learn from each other. They accomplish far more than would be possible alone. They inspire and challenge each other (Aguilar, 2012).


In my first teaching job, one of the first things I will do is to try and build good relationships with the teachers that I work with and not isolate myself. I will learn about their communication styles, find ways to effectively communicate and plan with them, and go out of my way to be friendly, courteous and respectful.


Aguilar, E. (2012). Effective Teams: The Key to Transforming Schools? Retrieved from