Students work harder and more frequently meet class goals when given the freedom to craft and manage their own individualized PE lessons.

“This year students will develop their own workouts based on their activity needs,” said Jeff Miesner, the physical education teacher at Odebolt Arthur Battle Creek Ida Grove High School.

Miesner gauges his student’s effort – and success in meeting regular goals – by the data he gets from the heart rate monitors students wear. Last year he introduced the IHT Zone wrist heart rate monitor to his students and has seen a noticeable increase in both exercise ownership and effort.

PE lessons

Middle-school students in Washington Township, Pa., jump rope in gym class in February. (Greg Wohlford/ Erie Times-News)

“The bulk of last year’s workouts were all developed by me,” he said. “By the end of the year students were individualizing workouts for their specific needs.”

At New Tech High School in Dallas, Texas, teacher Kelly McClennon saw similar results in her students. With P.E. mandatory for ninth and tenth graders, she saw more and more students enroll in her 11th and 12th grade elective course. Not only did students sign up for class, they demonstrated command of the skills they learned in prior years to create their own PE lessons.

“Every six weeks they submitted a workout plan of what they wanted to do,” McClennon said. “Each week they had to set goals and turn them in. A lot of those goals were based on what they wanted to see on their heart-rate data. What I found was actually giving them the choice and letting them plan their own workout, they actually were always reaching and exceeding their goals.”

McClennon’s students crafted various types of PE lessons including:

  • Weight room circuit exercises
  • Fitness exercises such as push-ups, sit-ups, and jumping jacks, and
  • Non-traditional team games including capture the flag and Call to Duty.

As long as the data she gets from reports in the IHT Spirit System demonstrate that the students exercise at an elevated heart rate for extended periods of time, she lets students take the lead.

“We go to work here!” she said. “We want to see the kids have a plan with their P.E. They come in, put their monitors on and get right to work. That was very encouraging. You give them this choice to do what they want to do and they are out there working.”

Teachers, though, don’t just let students come to class and take charge. Teachers still deliver lessons and set expectations. Students must prove they’ve mastered the concept before the teachers give them the freedom to plan their own PE lessons.

“Make sure that the students have the prior knowledge to be able to create a workout that meets the correct criteria,” said Oskaloosa Middle School P.E. teacher Betsy Luck, who uses a flipped classroom model with her students. “You give them the goal for the day but allow them to choose how they are going to meet it. They understand that it is their responsibility to active enough to achieve the goal for that day.”

Once students prove mastery, teachers simply reinforce what’s working and offer timely suggestions to help students improve effort even more.

“The majority of their workouts became self-managed,” Miesner recalled. “I might occasionally walk by a student and compliment them on working hard. If I noticed a student or group wasn’t where they should be, I just mentioned where their heart rates should be for that activity and you can immediately see them pick it up.”

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    Eager students find success by creating individualized PE lessons
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    Eager students find success by creating individualized PE lessons
    When given the opportunity to create and monitor their own individualized PE lessons, students demonstrate skill mastery, passion to exceed goals.
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