Originally published Nov. 20, 2018 in the Daily Herald.
By Madhu Krishnamurthy
Starting next school year, students at Elgin Area School District U-46’s six high schools will be able to take a variety of physical education courses promoting a physically active lifestyle and moving the district away from the emphasis on team sports.
The U-46 school board Monday night approved new high school physical education curriculum, resources, equipment and teacher training for a total cost of $191,502. Technological resources — heart rate monitors and iPads — make up $156,305 of that expense. The same technology already is being used at the district’s middle schools for physical education classes.
New high school courses include functional fitness, strength and performance, walking for wellness, and team sports officiating and coaching. All courses will be one semester long and available to freshmen at all district high schools starting in the 2019-2020 school year. Interested sophomores, juniors and seniors also will be allowed to participate in those courses, officials said.
The goal is to appeal to students with varying interests and abilities who typically don’t participate in physical education classes, officials said. “The number of our students who participate in team sports is decreasing,” Tracey Jakaitis, U-46 student wellness and physical education coordinator told the school board during an earlier presentation. “It’s not necessarily a lifelong fitness and wellness activity, so we need to move our curriculum to what our students need. The majority of the students in physical education do not desire to play volleyball, basketball and soccer. We want kids to be able to do real movement. We want to be able to offer them other opportunities.”
The new curriculum will help students develop critical thinking skills necessary to understand, analyze and produce knowledge specific to movement and their health, as well as develop competence and confidence in their choice of activity, officials said.
It also establishes districtwide cohesiveness of standards, assessments and rubrics aligned to the updated Illinois and National Learning Standards.
Teachers and students will use iPads for assessment and lesson planning. Teachers will be trained on the new curriculum and equipment in the spring.