Originally published Feb. 18, 2022 by The Press Times.
By Heather Graves
In the past 13 years as a physical education and health teacher, four of them at Bay View Middle School, Riley Knapp said he often looks outside the box to come up with new, fun activities to engage his students.
“The students appreciate the variety our phy ed team offers, and we are always looking to incorporate new activities,” Knapp said. “I am always trying to introduce and incorporate new games that can be learned in class that would be considered lifetime activities.”
“The physical education curriculum at Bay View focuses on team/individual sports, strength training and cardiovascular fitness,” Knapp said. “We were fortunate to get a top-of-the-line weight room and cardio room three years ago. We focus on teaching correct form, and how to lift weights safely. The cardio room has a variety of machines where we use heart rate monitors to track progress and intensity.
He said phy ed at Bay View incorporates traditional sports, as well as some non-traditional units.
“Like longboarding, skateboarding, rollerblading, snowshoeing, Kan Jam, Disc Golf and ping pong to name a few,” Knapp said. “We offer our students a lot of options and experiences, but we are always looking to improve on what we are doing.”
With more than 950 students, he said the physical education team is always looking for ways to give students real-world experiences that help motivate them to stay active, and give them positive social interactions with their peers.
The next activity Knapp said he is looking to add to the curriculum is a team game called Board Ball.
“Board Ball is a four-person game and is advertised as a way to ‘lower the barriers of volleyball,’” he said. “The game is portable and reminds me of another popular game our students play here, which is Spikeball.”
Knapp said Board Ball is considered a yard game that can be played indoors and outdoors.
“It is an extremely active yard game that utilizes volleyball skills and can be played indoors or outdoors,” he said. “The idea started last fall when so many students wanted to play volleyball outside, but we didn’t have a net available for them. I searched around and came across this new game called Board Ball on Twitter and showed a few students some Youtube videos, they thought it looked fun, so I created a DonorsChoose for it.”
Donorschoose is the leading crowdfunding platform for public schools.
The site connects public school teachers in need of classroom materials and experiences with donors who want to help.
It’s like GoFundMe, but specifically for teachers.
The Howard-Suamico Education Foundation (HSEF) also supports teachers’ DonorsChoose projects by contributing the final 25% up to $400 while funds are available, which is made possible through its annual Choose to Give campaign in partnership with Nicolet National Bank.
Nicole Smith HSEF Executive Director said donors directly connected to the Howard-Suamico community are able to see exactly where their dollars are going, and gain insight into the learning they’ve inspired through classroom photos and impact letters.
“As a former classroom teacher, I know how hard teachers work to get resources so their students can thrive, often funding these resources out of their own pocket,” Smith said. “HSEF’s partnership with DonorsChoose, Nicolet Bank and the community is one way that we can support and empower teachers as they try new ideas in the classroom.”
Knapp said the Bay View physical education team has completed 10 DonorsChoose projects so far.
“People around here love to give and help, which is a luxury for our students,” he said. “I have done three other DonorsChoose projects that have been successfully funded. They include a class set of Longboards for our wheels unit. It also allowed us to make additions to our weight room by getting new kettlebells and hex bars.”
Smith said the district has had 144 projects totaling $80,738 in fully funded resources on DonorsChoose since August 2019.