A quality physical education program has curriculum, units, and lessons that are standards based. One of the important standards for a physical educator is Standard 1 which states that a physically literate person demonstrates competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns (SHAPE America; National Standards & Grade Level Outcomes). This standard allows physical educators to prepare students to participate in many different physical activities and sports with confidence, which will lead to a life full of activity.
I have taught physical education for 23 years, and every year I always ask my students why they may not like certain sports and physical activities that we do. Each year, I get the same response: “I don’t like the activity because I’m not very good at it.” I then ask them how they could get better at it. Well, we all know that if they got better at the skills, it would make the game play better, and then more fun will be had when they play the activity/sport.
Along with Standard 1, moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) has become a major focus in our lessons. However, with this focus on MVPA, some have dropped focusing on Standard 1 because focusing on skills may not get their students’ heart rate up into the appropriate range. But, this does not have to be the case. Skills can still be taught effectively while focusing on MVPA as well.
As I have traveled across the country doing presentations at various state and national conferences, my platform and focus has been on infusing fitness into daily lessons. One of the sports I present on is volleyball, and the teaching of the forearm and overhead pass. One way I used to teach these skills was with the command style, and they were pretty stationary. As I went back and looked at my lessons and started asking myself about whether or not they were getting to the appropriate MVPA, I noticed that I needed to change the way I had the students work on their skills. We all know that if they lack the skills, the game of volleyball is a serve, it hits the ground, and the team scores a point; not much fun for anyone. So, with a little thinking and creativity, I have been able to increase MVPA and skill development.
Within my research of trying to find ways to increase skills and MVPA, I came across the Skillastics® program. The first one I used, was the basketball program. Then, the volleyball kit came out, and I knew I had to have it. Skillastics® fits with everything I believe in and want to accomplish in my class. The one nice thing about it, I didn’t have to come up with the fitness activities and there would be a lot of variation in my lessons. Throughout my volleyball unit, I use the task cards to help with the skill development. It allows the students to work independently, but yet stay focused on the skills but yet get in a good workout. Once they have learned the tasks from the kit, we use the entire kit to play Volleyball Skillastics®. While they are doing this, I know they are working on the skills, increasing MVPA, and having fun.
Skill development is crucial in giving the students confidence they can participate competently in the sport or activity. However, just because you work on skills, doesn’t mean that MVPA must be lost. All you need to do is think, be creative, or use a program that already focuses on both.
Sandy Slade is the CEO & Founder of Skillastics®, the #1 on-site and virtual physical activity resource for groups of children of all sizes. The on-site programs are designed around Skillatsics Activity Kits. These Activity kits include an innovative technique of play, executed on an oversize mat, where up to 100 children can play at one time.
The virtual programs provide students with an amazing variety of physical activity experiences that consist of 30 days of content lasting 30-40 minutes a day taught by national experts.
Skillastics® is enjoyed by over 10 million students in more than 25,000 Physical Education and After School settings nationwide.