Category Archives: 5 – Learning Environment

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.



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.

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