Thursday, May 14, 2009

Professional Portfolio Presentations

Last Monday, May 4th the Physical Education department hosted it's presentation of the best portfolios from the senior class of 2009 at Park Center. This was a great oppertunity for me as a Physical Education major, who is early in the program, to get a good look at what I should model my professional portfolio after. The presentation was from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm which gave me enough time to look at multiple portfolios. I didn't, however, have enough time to look at all the portfolios, but I did have a chance to look at some of the best ones.

I was able to look at portfolios from: Alicia Thomas, Richard Rolo, Caitlin Cruschow, John Fresetch, Jonathan Billing, Kevin Tripp, and Mallory Cogen. Every portfolio was impressive but there were some aspects of different ones that I liked. For example, Alicia Thomas' included many pictures which really added and showed that she had experience. It's one thing to just have a resume that says you have experience but to show pictures of yourself teaching really adds to it. I also liked how Mallory Cogen put time into making creative dividers for each NASPE/NCATE Standards. I liked how John Fesetch color coded his Standards with different color card stock so that you easily knew what section you were in.

Also, Kevin Tripp had a very impressive resume that caught the eye with a red border and Cortland logo. If I was an employer with an opening and was going through resumes to narrow down the candidates, Kevin's resume would catch my eye and make me take a second look at him. Finally I really liked Jonathan Billing's portfolio. You could tell that he took the time to make the graphics for his dividers and his cover art. It really put his portfolio above the others.

What I learned from talking to the different students who were presenting their portfolios was that I need to save everything. I need to save not only hard copies but also back up the computer files as well. Richard Rolo mentioned that I should create a folder on my computer for pieces of work that I want to put in the portfolio and keep everything organized by what semester I took the classes in. Luckily I already do this, but I still need to make a backup copy by burning the files onto a cd and keeping them seperate.

Overall it was a good experience for me observing the portfolios and I will attend future presentations so that I can continue to develop my portfolio and hopefully be presenting mine to faculty, staff, and students when I'm a senior.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Spanish Infused PE.. Olé!

Last week I took advantage of a free workshop that was offered on campus. It was infusing the Spanish language into your PE class. I found this workshop very informative and useful. Spanish is a language spoken by many children in our education system. I'm sure at some point in my teaching career I will run into some student who does not speak english, especially if I work in an urban school. Most likely the student will speak Spanish so this workshop was very helpfull.

The workshop was taught by Dr. Luis Columna with the help of some Physical Education students, some who spoke Spanish and came from a different cultural background, and some who spoke very little Spanish. It showed how we could play games and use activities that we already will use in our class, and incorporate some simple Spanish in it.

The first activity we did was working with a parachute. We learned 4 colors (Red - Rojo, Green - Verde, Blue - Azul, and Yellow - Amarillo). We also learned some basic movement words such as Running - Corre, Jump - Salta, etc. The object of the activity was for the caller to call out a color and a movement. Then everyone lifted the parachute up and if you were holding on to that color you had to do that movement to a different spot underneath the parachute. It was fun, and a great way to start developing the colors and movements we would use again in the future.

The next activity was a dance where we learned how to count to four and directions (left and right). It was also a cultural dance which was interesting. The next station was a type of human board game with many different activities to do. It again inforced the movement skills in Spanish. Next was a handball game and then a modified baseball game. These taught us how to say overhand and underhand throw (por arriva and por abajo respectively).

The following activity taught us movement concepts such as circle (cirulo). Finally we ended by playing Omnikin ball in spanish using the colors again. It was a great way to get everyone involved in the final activity as because of numbers many people weren't able to participate in some of the activities.

The most informative part of the workshop was at the end when Dr. Columna put everything into perspective for us. He said it didn't matter what language the student speaks that's in your class. If you learn a few simple words, it's not that much work, and it will mean the world to the student. It must be hard not speaking english and by just including a few simple words the students see that you really do care about them learning and about them fitting in with the class.

Finally I found the handouts that came with the workshop helpful. They not only included more words in spanish but also mentioned about deaf students in the classes. I have already taken ASL at my community college, but it is still interesting to learn about the impact of just including a few simple words and spending minimal time doing so, has on these students.

It's definately something I will keep in mind in the future as I begin teaching.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Last Week Working at St Mary's

So our last week came and went at St. Mary's. Overall I think it was a good experience for me and definately helped me develop into my role as a teacher. Coming into this I had some experience working with kids, but at a summer camp and as a coach, but this was different. Here we were put into more of a teacher role by leading activities and the evaluating what level students are at with different motor skills.

This week was nice because we didn't have to worry about observing certain motor skills so we were able to focus more on bringing in props and working on our activities to do with the kids. This was important because this was our Easter Themed lab.

My group was picked to work in the cafeteria with the kids. We started with the older group of kids and I got to sit and talk with them for a little as I had never gotten the chance to do that before. I played a game similar to UNO with a few of the kids and another college student which was fun. I also walked around and talked to the kids playing with Legos and a few different board games. In terms of fine motorskills there was no doubt that these kids were more developed than the younger kids, but that is expected.

After a while they switched with the younger kids and we stayed down there. We brought in eggs with a different movement skill in them (Jump as High as You Can, Slide, Skip, etc.). Each student had to jump out to the basket in the center to get an egg and open it. They then had to do the action inside the egg back to their line. It was a competition to see who could get the most eggs in their basket between the two teams. We also had easter themed music and all of the college students were wearing bunny ears. Another member of my group went to the store and got some easter coloring books which the kids enjoyed too when they weren't participating in our activity.

We then followed the group we were with upstairs to have open gym where the kids could do whatever they wanted. I ended up in a game of tag with a few of the little kids which seemed to last forever. I was exhausted afterwards but I'm sure they got a workout too.

While I'm happy the semester is coming to an end, I still had a lot of fun working with the kid's at St. Mary's. I'm hoping to help out next year as a lab assistant for this class because I enjoyed it. It showed me that you can still have fun while assessing motor skills in children, it doesnt always have to be boring for them and you.

I also learned a lot on how to interact with students and how to be a better teacher. Patients is key. So is selling the activity you are doing and making it seem fun. You really do have to put on a different persona when you teach. This class has taught me that when it's time for me to teach or lead an activity I need to be enthusiastic and clear, and I will have success.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Kicking, Dribbling, The Environment, and Kolas

Once again last Wednesday we were back at St. Mary's School in Cortland to work with the kids as part of their after school program. This day's theme was the environment, which I'll get to how my group incorporated it later.

We started off in the gym with the K-2 grade kids observing their kicking and dribbling skills. The kids seemed not to be to interested today with the games but we were still able to observe what we needed to while two other groups lead their activities.

My group was chosen to work with the Pre-K kids this week, which I wasn't that excited about, but in the end found it really enjoyable. We basically get to just go into the room and play with the kids for a little bit. I joined a group of kids that were cutting out letters in play dough. It was fun to challenge them and see if they knew their alphabet. One thing I did notice was at that age most kids don't play together. Even if they are playing with the same thing they are in their own space and not working with each other. After cleaned up the kids listened to two stories read by a fellow classmate of mine.

Both of the stories had to do with the environment and peoples surroundings. The first book was about being on the farm. The second was about a duck who was traveling home. It talked about the duck's surroundings and what colors they were, and ended up making a rainbow at the end.

After that the children had a bathroom break and then snack time. While other members of the group set up a physical activity for the kids, I got to read a book about Kola's to both classes of Pre-K kids. It was a neat experience. The kids pay attention so well and always want to make comments about the story and whats going on. And yes, I was able to read while holding the book out to the side.

We then went into the gym where we played a game where the kids got to act like animals moving through the environment. There were sharks swimming in the ocean, alligators in the swamp, foxes in the forest, and even some butterflies flying through the air. It was fun to become involved in the activity and make the noises with the kids. We made sure each kid got a chance to pick a card and lead the rest of the group. Soon the kids were leaving and we were only left with a handful of students. So we broke and did whatever the kid's wanted. Some wanted to play a game where one person chased the others (like tag) but as an animal growling. Another student was shooting under-hand baskets and was able to make more than 5 in a short amount of time, it was amazing.

Soon I realized that there were more college kids than Pre-K kids so I went and interacted with some of the older students and played with them. We ended with a cheer with all the kids that were left that day.

It was another great day where I got to observe and learn things about younger kids.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Food fight!

Last Wednesday was the food lab at St Marys. The theme of the day was favorate foods, as each group had to create games that had to do with food, and also worked on overhand throws and catching. Our group decided on a game called popcorn. The students are broken into 3 groups. One group stands behind mats that are stood up and have a bunch of balls of different sizes. They have to throw the ball over the mats to the other teams. The other teams have to catch the balls (or the popcorn) and take it to their team's "bowl" (hula-hoop on the ground halfway across the gym). If the ball hits the ground then the teams have to throw it back over the mats and back into the "popcorn maker." It's similar to a game I remember playing when I was in elementary school.

I got to lead the activity which was fun, and I think it went pretty well. The teams got mixed up a little but it was still alright. I found that by being enthusiastic about things made the kids want to play the game. All the kids were involved which is always a plus, and none of the kids got bored with the activity which has happened in the past. I think keeping the game pretty simple was a good idea. Sometimes the games played are way too complicated for the kids and they get confused and end up not enjoying the games.

After the activity my group finally got to stay up in the gym and work with the older (3-5 grades) kids. We started by playing the game "SPUD" which was a lot of fun. Then we played some Knockout basketball. It was fun with the older students because we could participate with them and they would be able to compete with us more than the younger kids could. I still like the younger kids as its fun to be creative and keep things fun.

I also met a 9 year old who's soccer skills were amazing, and his knowledge of the game. He truely amazed me that he could finish crossed balls from across the gym. And since soccer is my favorite sport and I have a strong background in it, it was fun to talk about soccer teams and players with him. It still amazes me some of the skills these young kids have, I just hope they stick with those sports.

Overall it was another fun week at St Mary's, as all weeks are.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I saw this a couple weeks ago while flipping through the channels, and have finally gotten around to posting it. This video clearly shows just how important Adaptive Physical Education and Sports are to people. There's no doubt in my mind that I'm doing the right thing by adding the Adaptive concentration, even if it means a few extra classes.

I'm also behind on a post about the last week in St. Mary's. Hopefully I can do that tomorrow, I've just been busy with school work.

Monday, March 2, 2009

St. Mary's Lab 2

Last Wednesday was our second lab at St. Mary’s. Upon arrival I was surprised that I could not only remember many of the kid’s names, but they remembered me. Once again it was fun getting to know some of the other kids there that I hadn’t gotten the chance to work with.

This lab we were to rate some students on their locomotor skills (running, hopping, and galloping). To do this we observed other groups of college students teaching the kids new games. Also during this time I went around to the kids who were trying to just walk away and do something else and motivate them to play the group games. My group also had a chance to teach the kids a game. Our game was “Zanny Zoo” from the Station PE site. It was a great game, the students picked up on it quickly and they were very active during it and were patient when they were waiting to go.

To explain the game quickly, students are in groups with half the group on one side of the gym and half the group on the other with a pile of cards face down in the center. One student walks out and picks up a card which has an animal on it and an action (for example: Gallop like a horse). The student then gallops like a horse to the other line where they hand the card off to the next person. That person then gallops to the center and picks up a new card and does that action to the next line, and it repeats.

After the games my group got to go work with the Pre-K kids. This was an interesting place. As soon as we entered we were basically ambushed by eager kids. They wanted to tell us their names, how old they were, what they were playing with, even showing us around the room. We helped set them up for snack and then two of us were sent into the gym to set up an activity for them, while the rest of the group had story time.

I was one of the two in the gym, so we decided to create an obstacle course which would teach them jumping. It was great, the kids loved it, especially crawling through the tunnel and rolling across the mats like a log. We even had some older kids join in.

Afterward we played a giant game of “Chuck the Chicken” with all the kids. I think this game is a little bit too high of a level for some of the young kids, but they still had fun. The college students had to help them, but in the end it worked.

As always it ended with everyone getting together and saying a cheer. I was exhausted afterward again, but it was well worth it.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

"Coaching is Teaching"

Last Thursday night I attended a speech by a guest speaker here on campus. The guest speaker was Cincinnati Bengal’s Offensive Line and Assistant Head Coach Paul Alexander. The talk that he gave was titled “Coaching is Teaching.” I was surprised at how many people attended the talk, and it was very interesting to hear from a graduate of SUNY Cortland who had made it to one of the highest positions out there in his field.

Most of the talk was about coaching, as the title would indicate, but I found this useful because I plan on continuing my coaching career once I am done with college. The first thing Coach Alexander said that caught my attention was when he mentioned that coaching is the only classroom that you can be fired for having students fail. He also reminded us that there is no tenure in coaching and you can be fired at anytime from the position. While this mainly implies more towards college and professional coaches it is still something to keep in mind at the high school level. Also I don’t know where my career will take me, so I may end up teaching and coaching at the college level.

Another point that Alexander made was “to be a great coach, you have to coach the great players.” Too many times, at all levels, coaches only focus their work on their lower players to catch them up with the other players. Often the top skilled players are neglected and are often bored at practices, so it is important to continue to push them to improve their game as well. This can also be used as a physical education teacher, because you don’t want students to be bored because you are at a lower skill level than they are. That could end up turning them off to physical activities.

He mentioned skilled players again when he told us that you should watch what the skilled players are doing because they are most likely doing things right. He also said not to change what they’re doing to the accepted ways. A great point he made about observing players during games is to take all emotion out of your head when watching. That will allow you to make corrections without having your own personal judgment for the player clouding your mind. This will increase the success of your team.

He did mention education briefly. He said he learned from his mother to not smile until Thanksgiving, which I found comical. He also mentioned that no matter what the situation (classroom, team, etc.) there will always be the students or athletes that cause trouble, and that you cant always just send them to the principals office, you need to learn how to deal with them.

The most interesting thing he mentioned was how much music has made him a better coach. This struck a chord with me because I have always been involved with music my whole life. Some things he learned from music was to work at a different pitch to project your voice over all the other noises. He mentioned that there was only one Bass in the orchestra, yet it still is heard. This will be useful in the phys ed class as well as coaching. He also learned from music to work slow while practicing to perfect the technicalities.

He also mentioned that you need to get into a mental state before a game or even a class, just like a musician has to before a performance. He stressed that mistakes will happen, and that no one has ever played a “perfect game” in football or in life. Finally he said never focus on the audience, focus on the music or what you’re doing.

The best part of the talk, in my opinion, was at the end when he talked about composure and showed the video of Lindsey Jacobellis from the 2006 Olympics (where she wiped out showing off and lost the gold medal). I wished he would have stressed it a little more, but the point got across to me.

Overall I think it was a good talk and I learned a few things that I can take and apply to how I teach and how I coach.

Friday, February 13, 2009

First Day at St. Mary's

Wednesday was our lab’s first day at St. Mary’s Catholic School here in Cortland working with the after school program kids. The best way to sum it up was: it was an experience. Our group gathered in the back entrance to the school as the kids were being dismissed from school and beginning to check in for the after school program. Some of the kids were excited to see college kids there again, while others began trying to tease us and act like they didn’t want us there. It was funny because with the later group you could see the smiles on their faces when they turned, reassuring us that they were happy we were there.

When we entered the gym we got into our smaller groups and were assigned to a lab assistant and an age group of children. The group that we would be working with that day was made up of kindergarten and first grade kids. We were assigned to the gym first and began playing games such as Sharks and Minnows, Tag (with other locomotor skills such as hoping, galloping, etc.) Crabwalk tag, hula-hoop chain race, and others.

The kids we were working with were off-the-wall, but I don’t really blame them. After being kept inside all day in a classroom, wouldn’t you want to just run around and be loud and crazy after school? I think it was intimidating to some other (college) students but I had no problem jumping right in and helping the lab assistants and playing the games with the kids.

Sure there were a few problems, some kids didn’t want to play anymore, or wanted to play certain activities (one kid asked me probably 20 times in less than an hour if I would play basketball with him) but I found that if I acted really excited about the activity we were doing as a group they would give it a shot. There was also a couple of “trouble-makers” but with patients I even got through that. Looking back now I wish I would have handled them differently, but that’s what’s nice about this class, I can reflect and learn how to handle different situations that will come up when I begin to teach on my own.

After a while it was time for our group to switch with the older group downstairs in the cafeteria. So we stayed with our group and went downstairs as they ate a snack and then played games, built things with legos, colored, and did other activities. This part I liked the most because I got to talk to the kids, and learn things about them like their name. I started by playing Connect-4 with one kid. Another, kindergartener came over and wanted to play. It was amazing to see the difference in fine motor skills between two kids that were separated by only a year or two. I then went and played a board game with another kid. I felt like I was playing the game in the movie “Big Daddy” because the kid was making up the rules and always beating me. Finally, I sat down at the legos and helped them build pirate ships.

We went back upstairs for a little and because there really wasn’t enough kids to play games we had free time. I finally got to play basketball with the kid who asked before and was amazed at his skill for such a young kid. He was past the other kids in skill level by far. Another kid began to play and would only shoot using an underhand two-handed toss, so I worked with him on his regular basketball shot. We ended the afternoon by playing with the large parachute as a group. It was fun, and brought me back to my childhood and Phys Ed class. We ended with a cheer (1…2…3…St Mary’s Stars!) and we were done.

To say I was exhausted after is an understatement. But I did really enjoy it. I was glad I got involved early with working with the kids and didn’t just sit back. I’m sure next week will be just as much fun.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Dodge, Dip, Duck, Dive, and Dodge.... Right out of P.E. Class

Dodgeball, yup, we've all played it. They even made a great comedy movie about it. But does it have a spot in K-12 Physical Education classes in schools? In my opinion it doesn't. Sure the game teaches great skills such as moving, balance, throwing, dodging, and even catching, but there are better physical activities that are better suited for the P.E. class.

One of the main problems with dodge ball is that most kids do not like to play it. These kids are often the kids that need physical activities the most too. They are the slower, less agile kids that are often not as comfortable with their physical abilities and because of this they are looked at as the "weaker" students in the game.

Now think back to when you played dodgeball... If you were one of the skilled players, you probably remember who you went after first in the game. It was most likely the "weaker" players. Because this is an accepted part of dodgeball, there's no wonder that these kids do not want to participate, or do not enjoy Phys Ed class when games like this are played.

Overweight and obesse children is a major problem today. To do this we need to find activities that kids will not only enjoy to participate in but also activities that they can continue to participate in as they grow older. Dodgeball is not one of these activities.

Don't get me wrong, I do think there is a place for Dodgeball as a physical activity. Afterschool groups dedicated to dodgeball and even touranments on the weekend or after school is fine. This allows students to choose to participate in dodgeball and doesnt force them to play just to get their participation points in class.

What do you think?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

My Journey into Physical Education

I figured for my first post I should explain how I got here, to P.E. Sorry it's kind of long, but it's been a long journey here.

I was a typical kid growing up. As a younger kid I played as many sports as I could. I sometimes wonder how, or more importantly, why my parents drove me from practice to practice, game to game. I remember a few times where I was have a basketball game a half an hour from home and have to rush to a hockey game or practice back in my hometown. But I think they realized I loved sports, so they did it, and I appreciate it.

When I got into high school I decided to focus on one sport, soccer. When it was the "off-season" I played indoor through the winter and spring, played in outdoor leagues over the summer. I became obsessed with the sport, which I still am.

When it was time to decide on a college I had been leaning towards athletic training but decided to go for Physical Therapy because I thought it left me with more options. I enrolled in a small college in Buffalo, NY because they had a soccer team I could play on and wanted me to play. The Doctorate of Physical Therapy program was an intense program with no breaks really. I also realized that I didn't like PT. I decided to transfer home to a community college until I realized what I wanted to do.

While I went to community college I went through way too many majors. I started in biology just because I had the science credits. I thought maybe about becoming a doctor but couldn't really see myself doing that. I decided to go for science education but me? teach labs for a living? I don't think so. I kept the education idea and decided to switch majors into a history education program.

I played a year of soccer at the community college but couldn't play a second because I had used two years of eligibility. I wanted to continue to do something with soccer and it just happened that my old high school had an opening as the modified boy's soccer coach. I had been helping my former varsity coach the previous season while playing at the community college and he suggested that I apply for it. The first year I co-coached with a friend of mine from high school, and the second year they decided they only wanted one coach, and selected me.

The athletic director must have been happy with my performance (either that or she was desperate) because she offered me another job coaching 7th grade girl's basketball. I hadn't played basketball since I was in 8th grade so it was a learning experience for me. Not only was I coaching girls for the first time, but I had to study the game to become the best coach I could. I don't take much credit for it, but the girls didn't lose a game that season.

Also during the summer for the past two years I have worked at a sports camp for my church. It has been a great experience for me. Many of the kids that go to the camp are from the Boy's and Girl's club so it gave me an opportunity to work with kids from many different backgrounds and with many different abilities. I always found a way to keep things fun at the camp, while still being professional and responsible for my duties.

Through coaching both teams and working at the camp, I learned that I loved working with kids and loved being active. It was very clear to me that History education wasn't for me. So I decided to start taking classes that would transfer into a P.E. program. Since I made that decision I have never looked back, and never second guessed myself.

So here I am. This is my first semester at SUNY Cortland and so far I really like the school and the P.E. program. I can't wait to get out there and working with kids. While this blog was required for a class, I think I can make it more than that. Hopefully this will be a way for me to stay connected to friends and family both at home, as well as those living away. It will also be a way to get across that P.E. is more than just "gym class." It is a changing profession and I will be ready for that change. But I'll get into that more in the future...