The Fun Theory is a Physical Education Staple

The “Fun Theory” website is dedicated to the idea  that “something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behavior for the better.” It’s an initiative of Volkswagen, as a marketing tool to develop the image that their vehicles are fun, but the ideas are all user-generated and the concept is an excellent one. Here’s how it works: there is a cash award for the best ideas – videos are submitted to the site showing each submitter’s theory in action – and an online vote is taken to determine the winner.

Some of the ideas are simple, some require complex engineering, but the results are a lot of fun to see – and many seem highly effective!

Here’s one idea with a fitness slant. You’ll often see an escalator beside a set of stairs – in subways, airports, malls, etc. Usually, the stairs are vacant while the escalator is highly used. In the situation shown on the video, 97% took the escalator while the stairs were typically used only 3% of the time. So a group of engineers got together to make the stairs more fun. They completely changed the user percentage – after their “fun” change, 66% of users took the stairs while the escalator percentage dropped from 97% to 34%!

“Fun” is a theory that physical education teachers have been practicing for decades. One of the main goals of good physical educators is to make fitness fun, because that’s the best way to motivate students into making physical activity part of their daily lifestyle.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]physical education,fun theory,fun activity,fun fitness[/tags]

Concussion Reference Card & an Excellent Concussion Blog

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In the USA, more than 100,000 children visit the emergency room with a concussion every year. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Many more concussions will be ignored or go undiagnosed. Athletes are particularly likely to just try to “shake it off” when their “bell gets rung.”

<center>Concussion Reference Card</center>
Concussion Reference Card

Athletes in high school sports like football, basketball, rugby, hockey and soccer are particularly likely to sustain head trauma. But any student in a physical education environment can get whacked on the noggin.

Unfortunately, leaving a concussion undiagnosed and untreated can have dire consequences. Permanent brain injury and even death can be the result.

Download the Card

Here’s a card you can print out and carry in your wallet or medical kit. It will take you through some steps to follow if you suspect that a student has sustained a concussion. Once you reach the web page, click the “Ahead of the Game” logo to download the card.

http://www.dkneuro.com/2010/08/er-concussion/

In fact, the blog of Dean Karahalios, MD, a concussion expert, provides a lot  of information on concussion and spinal injuries. It’s an excellent resource.

http://www.dkneuro.com

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

To check out the PE Update.com website, Click Here!
To subscribe to the free Fun Stuff for PE Newsletter, Click Here!

[tags]concussions, head trauma, athletes and concussions, concussion[/tags]

Where Are All the Soapbox Cars?

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My most memorable childhood playthings weren’t factory-made. When I think back, I had the most fun swordfighting with poplar saplings, sliding down snowy slopes on cardboard boxes and playing battleships with homemade graph paper.

I‘ll never forget our day-long sod fights up in the woods—protecting  forts hammered together from old crates and using ammunition made from clumps of grass with dried soil still attached—or the satisfying puff of dirt that signified a direct hit on an opponent’s clean shirt.

But when was the last time you saw a child playing with a soapbox racer made from scrap lumber or a crystal radio set that they had assembled themselves?

Maybe it’s just me, but it’s been quite a while since I’ve noticed any kid in my neighborhood using homemade playthings—such relics have all been replaced by space-age technology from the toy factory.

Nope—a poplar sapling doesn’t stand a chance against a battery-operated Jeddi sword with sound effects and luminous plastic blade. Why rely on gravity to move your soapbox car when a mere $500 will buy you a fully operational miniaturized electrical sports vehicle.  Graph-paper Battleship games are now computerized, and air-powered splatter guns with washable die pellets have replaced our hand-tossed dirt sods. Crystal radio sets have been supplanted by 400 pound boom-boxes with enough power to stuff the Toronto Skydome with thumping, stereophonic sound.

Let’s face it, this is not the decade of do-it-yourself kids.  And while I must confess that I had my share of high-tech gizmos as a kid, including a T-V ping-pong game and a slot car racing track, none of them occupied much of my play-time.

Today, many kids have the attitude that if it isn’t store-bought and doesn’t have a peer-accepted designer label, it isn’t worth using.  And that’s a shame.  Our children are missing the great satisfaction of playing with one’s own creations. And with this, they’re losing the ability to improvise, to innovate, and to create something usable, if not perfect, out of nothing.

Perhaps as physical educators, we should provide more encouragement for creative improvisation. Check the “Equipment” section of the PE Update website and you’ll find dozens of ideas for home-made sports and PE equipment: everything from tin can walkers and 2”x4” balance boards, to garden-hose quoits and  pizza box hurdles. Here are some other ideas—some tongue in cheek and some not— that might improve our childrens’ dearth of plaything creativity:

  • Make MacGyver re-runs required television viewing for all school-age children.  Although our students may never need to know how to make an atomic bomb out of a comb and a lipstick tube, the program’s emphasis on creativity and improvisation is valuable.
  • Allow each student one hour a week in the school dumpster to find materials to build their own game or sports implement.  This “dumpster time” will also reduce the school’s waste output.
  • Provide an extra classification for school waste materials included in blue-box programs.  One box for glass and metals, one for paper products, one for organic material…and one for kids.
  • Use P.E. class as a “market” for your students’ creative efforts.  Sometimes all it takes to get a child’s creative juices flowing is an expressed need for it.  Scoops made from bleach containers, tin-can walkers, home-made hoola hoops, broomhandle aerobics implements—these are all examples of phys-ed equipment your students can make and use in class.

Perhaps our growing awareness of the environment and the trend towards recycling will make home-made playthings more acceptable to young people.  And as teachers, we can use this new attitude to develop our students’ ability to improvise and innovate.

P.S. In case I’ve given you the impression that I was a combination Huck Finn/Thomas Edison as a child, I have a confession to make…I never was able to  get my crystal radio set to work, and I’d personally like a light-saber.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]physical education,children's play,games,sports equipment[/tags]

Physical Education Training Produces Better Academic Teachers

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One thing about physical educators is that they realize the value of making lessons fun. They also realize that an active child is a child better able to learn.

This often applies for those physical educators who teach academic subjects. A great example is Marilyn Rodgers of Hernando High school in Desoto Mississipi, an experienced physical educator whose teaching skills were considered too valuable to be wasted on “gym.” Instead she was placed in a history classroom where she remains to this day.

However, Rodgers incorporates her PE training – and the love of games that first attracted her to the profession – into her history classes to keep her students involved and her lessons fun.

One example is a game she plays in which students must correctly answer history questions in order to get the chance to take a shot with a basketball. (I’m not sure whether she had to does this in the gym, or with crumpled piece of paper in the trash can in the classroom).  The class is broken up into groups, with the team scoring the most baskets winning the contest. It’s popular, it keeps the kids involved, and they have fun while learning history.

It’s a great example of the physical education attitude and training applied to academic teaching.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]physical education,teaching,history[/tags]

Be on the Lookout for Students Who Play “The Choking Game”

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I have just read about a disturbing activity that may affect students in your school. It’s called the “choking game.” This game has killed at least 82 students in the USA and sent at least 72 Canadian kids to the hospital. In fact, a newly released survey has found that 79,000 students – just in the province of Ontario alone – play this dangerous game.

The survey, called the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health survey, was conducted in 2007 by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Involving Ontario students in grades seven to twelve, it found that seven per cent had played the choking game. There was no difference in participation level between girls and boys or among grade levels.

What is the choking game? Kids either choke themselves – or get someone to choke them – until they begin to pass out. This state of oxygen deprivation produces a temporary feeling of euphoria. The game has other names: the scarf game, space monkey, the pass-out game, blackout and five minutes to heaven.

However, it is easy to go too far with this game and a slight miscalculation can be deadly.

What signs may alert teachers to students who are playing the choking game? Bloodshot eyes, frequent headaches, marks on the neck, and the possession of strange items such as ropes, collars and dog leashes.

As Physical education teachers, you are in a position to prevent a tragedy. You can discuss this game and its dangers during health classes. And the T-shirts that students wear in class will expose marks on a student’s neck that is an indicator of game-play.

References:
1. The “Choking Game”, Psychological Distress and Bullying: Ontario teens continue to exhibit troubling behaviour. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, May 1, 2008.

2. “Almost 80,000 Students Play “choking game.” The Canadian Press, May 3, 2008.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]choking game,physical education,coaching,health,school,students[/tags]

Do Teachers Deserve All Their Holiday Time?

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It’s almost March break and teachers will soon be getting a long-deserved week of rest and recovery.

Now, there are those who claim that teachers are overpaid for the amount of time they work and the number of holidays they receive. I, of course, disagree. Teachers are in a highly stressful job – a job in which they’re on-stage, performing in front of an audience, throughout their entire working day.

How many actors, disc jockeys, weathermen, or talk-show hosts perform for six or more hours in a row? Few radio announcer’s shifts last longer than three to four hours…because it’s hard to stay “on” for longer than that.

Teachers must be “on” for an entire school day. Then stay after hours to coach or supervise extracurriculars. Then go home to mark papers, tests, and essays and prepare for the next day’s lessons. And spend weekends away from home taking other people’s children to tournaments and games.

In fact, most of a teacher’s vacation time is really just reimbursement for time worked outside of the classroom. Do teachers deserve their holidays? You betcha!

The alternative is a generation of burned out teachers – teachers who don’t have the energy to entertain, to motivate, to intrigue, to capture the attention of students. Bored students don’t learn as well. Bored students drop out of school.

Want to hear a real example of poor value for wages paid? How about the $240,000 paid to an advertising agency for creating Scotland’s new slogan. “Welcome to Scotland.” Where can I get THAT job?

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]teaching,holidays,teachers[/tags]