Physical Activity on Campus — Here, There, and Everywhere

Physical Activity on Campus — Here, There, and Everywhere by Paul Rosengard-Guest Blogger Part 4
Time to fire up the ole’ jalopy and finish our ride down Route 60-6! But before we merge into traffic, let’s make sure everyone is on board. Have YOU read Parts 1, 2, and 3? If not, just scroll down – you won’t need a GPS to find them… Where are we headed?

A place where every K-12 student engages in 60+ minutes of physical activity every day. And, if the goal is to maximize movement on our school campuses we know that in many locations we have at least 6 good opportunities to accomplish that:
1. Physical education
2. Before school
3. Recess
4. Lunch break
5. PA integration with non-PE subjects
6. After school At our last rest stop, we examined the roles of recess and lunch breaks and how they contribute to Route 60 (minutes a day) 6 (opportunities on campus). We presented strategies that if implemented, will increase movement minutes in these environments. This time, we are driven to visit #5 and #6 on our list, “Integration with non-PE subjects” and “After School.”

 5. Integration with Non-PE Subjects: Why didn’t I refer to this as integration with the core subjects? Because physical education (PE) IS a core subject. During PE class, students engage in a standards-based curriculum with a prescribed scope and sequence – as they do in other core subjects.

At each grade level, there are cognitive and physical skills they are expected to learn and be able to do – same as other core subjects. And during PE, students are assessed and earn grades, like any other subject in school. PE classes have been teaching and reinforcing concepts and methods native to other core subject classes for years.

In fact, PE teachers have become quite expert at integrating math, literacy, spelling, science, social studies and more, into their classes. And turnabout is fair play! I believe asking classroom teachers to infuse physical activity into their lessons is not only equivalent reciprocity, but it makes great educational sense. Why? Many students are kinesthetic learners, and movement enhances their ability to learn.

Classroom teachers can make their lessons more effective, efficacious and enjoyable by getting their students physically active during class. Additionally, classroom teachers can get students moving by incorporating energizers. These are short bouts of activity, not necessary linked to a specific subject or learning concept, but meant to invigorate! Energizers may be used to break up long blocks of math, language arts, etc., and spark the body and mind. After a good energizer, students heart rates are elevated, they’re thinking more clearly, and are once again, better prepared to learn. An example of a lesson where movement is integrated into a content area is the Peaceful Playgrounds 2-Go Games. 2-Go Games Brain Breaks integrate physical activity with academic learning standards designed for indoor classroom movement and learning. The 2-Go Games Program includes 6 colorful large game mats and 180 matching student table cards with markers to be used at centers.

 2 go games 2-Go Games
Christmas Brain Breaks

Download your free set. Christmas Brain Break Cards Download: Christmas Brain Break Cards Melinda Bossenmeyer, Ed.D. Let’s take these ideas and see how they play out on Route 60-6. If we can get just 1/3 of our classroom teachers to incorporate more physical activity into their schedules, say a conservative 5 more minutes a day each x 5 teachers, some of our students could accumulate another 10+ minutes of movement daily and they’re accelerating on Route 60-6!

As a physical educator, how might you solicit the support of YOUR classroom teachers? Here are a few ideas:
 1. At a staff meeting, briefly talk about kinesthetic learners, then ask your colleagues how they incorporate physical activity in their lessons. Praise and shape their responses (in part, to ensure what they’re doing is developmentally appropriate) and add your own supplements.

 2. Use this time to introduce or reinforce the concepts of integrating movement into a subject/lesson, and/or using energizers, and solicit signups from people interested in learning more and receiving resources.

3. Offer to help those who expressed interest by teaching them quick and easy energizers they can do in class (teachers love plug and play – and/or – activities that students can lead).

4. Ask for a few minutes at each staff meeting to showcase a different energizer, and/or have a meet up after school one day and do a mini-inservice for them. Ask teachers who integrate PA with their subject to show and tell the strategy, and debrief it so all think about how to apply the idea(s) in their classes. Want to turbo charge your role?

 5. Compile resources for them – a few I recommend are: · Peaceful Playgrounds ( · SPARK ABC’s (Activity Break Choices) · Take10 ( · Energizers for Schools ( Let’s take the next fork in the road and cruise on over to…

 6. After School: First, allow me to say that the 5+ years I worked in Parks and Recreation in California while in college were some of the best times of my life! Among other things, I was a playground leader and responsible for all the after school programming at an elementary school. I ended up doing that in 3 very different locations over time and each one became a great learning experience.

 After school (AS) programs are potentially a BIG contributor to our goal of 60 minutes/activity a day. In some areas, after school programs off campus are rich in options and opportunities. These are offered by and/or include: YMCA’s, Boys and Girls Clubs, Parks and Recreation Departments, playing in the neighborhood around home, sports leagues, classes, and more. But our target is activity on campus so let’s focus on what we can do to promote more movement there.

And let’s note, while some students have the opportunity and desire to play competitive sports and/or take movement based classes off campus (e.g., dance, martial arts, gymnastics, etc.), for many others, these options don’t exist. They may be too far away with no transportation to and from, or the fees and/or uniforms could be cost prohibitive. This is one reason why I’ve always been a big proponent of programs occurring on the school campus. Kudos to the many districts that provide extended day programs, where students do homework, have access to computers, eat a snack, and engage in physical activity. Because the staff overseeing these programs rarely consists of physical educators, these activity minutes are not always as effective as they could be. (Please re-read my characteristics of great recess programs in Part 3, because many of these apply to after school as well.)

 The best on-campus after school programs offer:
1. Access to Movement Environments: Many campuses limit student access to activity areas — and this is unfortunate. Some schools literally lock up all the indoor and outdoor facilities as soon as the final bell rings. Others fill up the gym, field, blacktop, with sports teams that typically only serve a small percentage of the student population. While kids can be active in small rooms and hallways, it’s certainly advantageous to have access to more movement environments. Attaining greater access should be priority one for any AS program.

 2. Scheduled Activity Time: What is scheduled is done, and it’s important that all students have many opportunities to move between the critical hours between after school and when they go home. I prefer programs with designated times for both unstructured and structured movement options – and – times where kids can just get up and move if/when they need to!

3. Sufficient Equipment: AS activity opportunities require plentiful, developmentally appropriate equipment options so students can participate individually, in pairs, or in small groups. As with recess, I highly recommend that AS equipment is kept separately from items used during PE classes. This enables easier inventorying and replenishment for both essential programs.

 4. Trained Facilitators: Attendance and active participation in AS programs can be greatly enhanced by a charismatic leader who chooses inclusive, active, and fun games that students want to engage in. All youth leaders must be adequately trained in how to organize and teach games, as well as how to provide positive and useful feedback to students. As with recess, it’s vital to individualize learning as much as possible, and offer (e.g.) “nice and easy,” “recreational,” and “hardcore” options for students to choose from. Additionally, facilitators need to know how to get students active as quickly as possible, with minimal instructions and rules. Professional development focusing on learning and applying sound pedagogical skills should be mandatory for all youth leaders. Ready for a few more tips for the road?

5. Intramurals: In my opinion, every school, elementary, middle and high, should have a stellar intramural program. What is intramurals? Leagues, ladders, or tournaments in various individual and team sports (e.g., tennis ladder, flying disc ultimate tournament, soccer round robin league, etc.) that consist of students from that school (usually – but I always would include kids who lived in the area but attended private schools too) who want opportunities to play a sport they enjoy with others. A good intramural program can have fall, winter, and spring offerings, (sometimes aligned with sports in season, but they don’t have to be) and can draw many more students than are allowed to play on school teams. Intramurals can be excellent extensions of PE class – environments where students practice and apply what they’ve learned during PE, and – students who LOVE PE and just can’t get enough!

 For example, if students are learning Badminton in PE, Badminton singles and doubles ladders (with rules for play) could be posted and times designated for practice and play scheduled and broadcasted. Or, intramural could be a 3 on 3 coed basketball tournament divided into 3 levels (starter, intermediate, advanced), that occurs during or after students have basketball in PE. I could give you many examples, but know that great intramural ideas have few limitations so think about what your students would like to do more of and figure out how to provide it for them! Remember, you’re not alone. You have parents who play and love different sports and might be willing to help organize, referee, and more. There are also parents with unique skill sets (e.g., Jazzercise, Yoga, Pilates, etc.) instructors who might be willing to lead classes in their specialty. 

6. PE Integration: We mentioned how intramural can reinforce concepts learned during PE class, and so can after school programs. I encourage all PE teachers to set a goal to coordinate more with your school’s AS staff. Wouldn’t it be terrific if they were doing activities that gave your students more practice in what they’re learning during PE? Could you help them infuse more movement minutes into what they’re already offering?

 7. Check Out System: I mentioned in Part 3 how I’d like to see all schools incorporate an equipment check out system allowing students to take equipment home after school, on the weekends, and even over holidays and vacations. A PE teacher can even tie this in with goal setting to be active away from school!

 8. Decorate to Motivate: How does your after school program look? Are there colorful posters of “real” people (not superstars, not perfect bodies) being active on the walls? Do you have books and magazines that tell inspiring stories of people being active, doing a sport they love? In behavior change, we call this “environmental stimulus.”

 Could your environment benefit from a little sporty make over? And please remember to include people of all colors and both genders in your displays. Which AS ideas resonated with you? What might you take away from this article and apply to YOUR school?

 We’ve finished our trip down Route 60-6! What did we learn from the experience? Let’s check our odometers and see how our miles (er… minutes) are adding up. If we can gain an extra 10+ min. of activity from “Integrating with other core subjects,” and another 15+ from embellishing our after school programs, that’s 25+ active minutes every day and we’re closer to our goal of 60+!

 Here’s a conservative summary of the active minutes (and how many more we can add if we apply our ideas) from all 6 settings:
 1. Physical education = 20 now + another 5 per class
2. Before school = 5 now + another 10 per day
3. Recess = 15 now + another 5-10 per day
4. Lunch break = 10 now + another 5 per day
5. PA integration w/non-PE subjects = 10 now + another 5-10 per day
6. After school = 20 now + another 15 per day Remember our destination? A place where every K-12 student engages in 60+ minutes of physical activity every day. We’re there! On this drive down Route 60-6, we learned we CAN enable our students to accumulate 60 minutes of physical activity every WEEKday.

 There are plenty of opportunities on campus – and so many more away from school! The journey is over, but it’s really just beginning. I’m counting on YOU to rally and drive positive change on your school campus. Will there be some detours along the way? Of course, few goals worth accomplishing come easily, but to succeed, it has to happen at the grass roots level, one school at a time. And that’s why we need YOU.

 Route 60-6 is the road we ALL must travel. Good luck and safe travels!

Questions and comments to @paulrosengard or