Originally published Sept. 23, 2020 by The Chronicle-Telegram.

By Dylan Reynolds

Learning from home doesn’t mean becoming a couch potato, at least if Avon Lake Schools physical education teacher Jason Hayne can help it.

The kindergarten through 12th grade educator is utilizing video production skills he’s picked up over the past few years to film and edit instructional videos that get kids moving.

“Why not try to spice it up this year a little bit for the kids, because they’re already having to overcome a different level of engagement for them because they’re not one-on-one, and they’re not with their teachers and their classmates in person,” Hayne said. “I was just trying to think, maybe adding some visuals would add a little more of that excitement back, just in a different way.”

He teaches kindergarten through sixth grade in live Zoom sessions and the higher grade levels on demand.

During his Zoom classes, he delivers part of the lesson live and shows his prerecorded videos during other parts. He also makes the videos available to students outside of class in case they’re looking for guided exercise on their own time.

Some students may not have access to a portable device during the school day that would allow them to move to an area with enough room to fully participate, Hayne said, so he figured those kids could borrow their parents’ phones later to go outside and do the activities again while replaying his videos.

Students participating indoors are asked to designate an area in the house where they can move around, if possible.

“Having a space, visually in their mind, where they can be active was important to me to minimize risk of injury as far as moving around,” Hayne said. “Because I cannot control the environment they’re in like when they’re in front of me. And that’s one of the obstacles we’re trying to overcome, probably for all phys ed teachers across the world right now.”

Hanye started honing his video skills four years ago, when he entered a contest to win funding for wearable fitness tracking devices for students. To enter, he had to create a one-minute video that impressed the organizers from the Community West Foundation and Cleveland Clinic.

Redwood Elementary, where Hayne works, has won $5,000 for wearable fitness tracking devices twice in that contest.

So when Hayne was tasked with teaching physical education to students who opted to learn virtually this semester, he already had the tools to make videos that go above and beyond the call of duty, including green screen effects with cartoony backdrops that capture the attention of younger kids.

“I just tried to research how to do some editing from there,” he said.

In one of his recent videos, Hayne teaches students how to juggle different objects found around the house. He starts off with socks — something every student should have around the house, he said — but moves on to more challenging items like animal toys.

As he’s teaching, pictures of the animals flash into view and arrows appear on the screen to show students where they should be aiming.

In another video, he demonstrates “shadow ball” drills, mimicking the motions required to play popular sports. While he is miming soccer, a soccer pitch appears behind him. When he moves to volleyball, a net on the beach pops up in the background.

Although he is putting his own spin on virtual physical education lessons with special effects and cartoonish visuals, Hayne has been inspired by a community of gym teachers who have rallied together online to figure out how to motivate kids to get the recommended one hour of exercise each day while many are learning remotely.

“It’s been a consistent battle to find meaningful content since our world has changed with COVID,” he said. “It’s been a continuous battle through Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and there are definitely groups of really great physical educators creating content.”

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