Teachers Extend PE Lessons Beyond School Year by Modifying Neighborhood, Childhood Games with Fitness Elements
Students in Andrew Pulling’s Portland High School physical education classes can maintain their fitness while taking part in family games at this week’s July 4 family picnics by displaying their PE heart rate training skills.
Pulling creates engaging PE lessons for his students by modifying activities many high schoolers feel they might have outgrown. Two of Pulling’s most engaging lessons include:
- A modified frisbee game originally designed for yard or neighborhood parties; and
- Learning to see a bicycle as a fitness tool.
“It’s kind of like their youthful excitement comes back to life,” Pulling explained. “They just eat it up and don’t realize how hard they are working. As a teacher I push them a little bit harder because I know they’re enjoying this activity. At the end of it, they’re sweating, they’re laughing, they’re enjoying it.”
Adding Heart Rate Fitness to a Backyard Party
The frisbee has become one of Pulling’s essential PE tools. Almost all of his students have used a frisbee as younger children, but by introducing some new games, complete with heart rate goals, Pulling helps his teenagers see the disc as much more than a child’s toy.
“It’s revitalizing a youthful activity, and it’s something that’s newer for them,” he said. “We tie into the revitalization of the youth toy with an active application activity that they enjoy.”
Ultimate frisbee has always been part of Pulling’s unit involving fitness around frisbees. He recently added a different game designed to improve student’s frisbee-throwing skills and teamwork with a focus on fitness. He modified the backyard target game Kan-Jam by having students sprint from station to station between frisbee throws rather than remaining in one spot tossing a frisbee at a target. The lesson reinforces PE heart rate training skills that are key to his overall curriclum.
“it’s a high-energy game the way we have it set up,” he said. “The original game is just a backyard game that’s pretty laid back.”
Pulling’s lesson was one of six winners in IHT’s Fall Spirit Challenge. The prize included IHT ZONE wrist heart rate monitors for his students to wear during class to measure their heart rate while working out so they can see if they are exercising in a heart rate zone that improves their cardiovascular fitness.
Heart Rate Fitness is Just Like Riding a Bike
This past school year, Pulling added a cycling unit to his curriculum, putting students in touch with another staple of their past – the bike. While a few students hadn’t ridden before – the comprehensive unit includes a lesson for beginners – many had but as with frisbees, didn’t see the bike as a fitness tool.
“We are taking a childhood tool or game and reinvigorating it,” Pulling said. “They are smiling while they are doing it. We’re adding to it. We’re treating them like vehicles on the roadway, making it more challenging than it was when they were younger.”
The curriculum includes the basics of riding and then moves into a fitness unit, where Pulling challenges his students to ride at a pace where they are exercising at an elevated heart rate, though Pulling wants that to be the students’ secondary focus.
“I don’t want their ultimate goal to be heart rate,” he said. “I want the goal to be them enjoying what they’re doing while they are being active. It’s healthy and fun.”
And if they are having fun, they will put find themselves riding at an elevated heart rate, the teacher found.
“Most of them want to be active and get a workout, at least in our school,” Pulling concluded. “We tie into the revitalization of the youth toy with an active application activity that they enjoy. It’s all about motivation. Motivating the kids to do something that they want to do and motivating them to something that they’ve already enjoyed in their life, those two things come together pretty well.”