SHAPE Boston Day Three Recap!

Days Three (Thursday) of the SHAPE America Conference continued the professional learning and networking from the first two days of the conference. Here’s a recap; the day four reflection and a final reflection will be posted sometime this weekend or early next week! I don’t go into crazy detail about all of the ideas I obtained from sessions, but hope to write about them as I implement them during the school year.

Members of my PLN I Met: Keith (@MrKNoel), Chad (@ChadDauphin), Melanie (@MelanieLynch52), Adam (@pe_mullis)

Sessions Attended…

  • “TOYs (Teachers of The Year) Just Want to Have Fun In Health Class” (Melanie Lynch and Mary McCauley). This session with Melanie & Mary gave me some ideas for the content portions of our skills based health curriculum. I’m always interested in seeing how other teachers teach the same content areas that I do, and I left with some ideas specific to nutrition and even some classroom management techniques. Melanie and Mary were engaging presenters who exude passion for health education.
  • Exhibition Hall. I spent some time browsing the exhibition hall. I clearly had to spend time at the Springfield College booth (Class of ’08), and networked with a doctoral student there. I picked up a book from Human Kinetics on promoting health and academic success in schools using the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child approach. I had a great conversation with the representatives from the CDC’s School Health branch, and the Melanoma Foundation of New England. We were fortunate to obtain a facial analyzer machine from a similar foundation, the Melanoma Education Foundation. I swung by the Dove Self Esteem Fund booth to have a chat with Jessica Lawrence, and talked about all things health education on a macro level.
  • “Health and Physical Education Advocacy Using the School Health Profiles” (Regan Dodd and Kim Kato). This was a brief, 30 minute presentation about using the school health profiles from the CDC to advocate for health programs. I fill out the survey every two years, but never looked at the end report, which I now plan to do!
  • “Bye Bye, Binary: Inclusive Secondary Human Sexuality Education” (Emily A. Owens-Edington). I attended this session because the information around LGBTQ education is constantly shifting. Since we shifted our human sexuality curriculum, I’m always trying to stay up to date on the most current terminology, especially because the students stay right on top of that information. This session featured a lot of crowd sourcing from the audience, and I enjoyed hearing the perspectives of other teachers. Although I knew a lot of the information that was presented, I left with some ideas about how to promote an inclusive environment in my classroom, and a GREAT three sentence response to anyone who is using offensive language relating to someone’s sexual identity or orientation: “We don’t use people’s identities/orientations as insults in this space. We value and respect each other. Thank you.”
  • “Physical Activity in the Classroom, Pittsfield, MA: A Success Story” (Linda Avalle). I’ve been attending a lot of sessions about implementing changes on a school wide level to increase student movement and engagement. Linda Avalle and representatives from the Pittsfield (MA) Public Schools shared their success story of shifting from a district where 2.7% of elementary students were physically active for the SHAPE/CDC recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day to 75% of students meeting that benchmark. Discipline referrals also went down significantly, AND they have the data to back it up! A 5 minute activity break in the morning and afternoon, a 20 minute structured recess, and 30 minutes of physical education daily did it.

Resources to Share…

  • The Genderbread Person. I’ve used this in health class during human sexuality, and it does a great job with the differences between biological sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. 

One Takeaway to Implement ASAP…

  • The three sentence response for when students use hurtful/negative language towards other students is a good one for teachers to have: “We don’t use people’s identities/orientations as insults in this space. We value and respect each other. Thank you.”

Final Thought….

  • One of the best aspects of conferences like SHAPE America? The conversations that happen between sessions or in the before/after moments when people are settling in. When you’re in a place surrounded by people who are passionate about the same things you are, it’s almost impossible to not have a great, profession enhancing conversation. 

Now, about that grading…


SHAPE Boston Day Two Recap

Day Two of the SHAPE America Conference was jam-packed with learning and meeting friends from my #healthed and #slowchathealth PLN. I wrote this in a rapid fire way, so please pardon any typos for now!

Members of my PLN I Met: Andy M (@carmelhealth), Matt (@Physed_Pomeroy), David (@WstprtWellness), Collin (@CollinBrooksie), Nick (@NicholasEndlich), Rich (@richwiles), Jo (@LovePhyEd), Allisha (@RunDanceLive)

Sessions Attended…

  • “Action Academics” (Kenny Clark). This session focused on incorporating physical activity into the regular classroom. This is a topic I’ve been interested in and been thinking about since our school became a 1:1 school with Chromebooks. Kenny had some ideas that can be implemented by teachers of any subject, and some school-wide ideas, too. I’m thinking about compiling some of the information with other movement resources to present to our entire teaching staff. With a new term starting Monday, and a new group of students, there are one or two changes I think I can make almost immediately to my teaching. I’ll probably blog about them in the future.
  • SHAPE General Session. John Jacobs, the Chief Executive Optimist, gave a FANTASTIC presentation to the convention attendees about positivity. It’s hard to put into words if you didn’t experience it. 
  • “Participatory Activities to Engage Students Within The Health Classroom” (Andy Milne). I was BUMMED that Andy Horne wasn’t able to make the convention, but THRILLED that I was finally able to meet Andy M. and see his presentation. I’ve been following Andy & Andy on Twitter for a while, and have collaborated with them on Voxer and the SHAPE America Podcast as well. Andy’s session was engaging and thrilled with ideas that I think we can add into our health curriculum to fill some gaps. 
  • “Facilitating Role Plays in The Health Education Classroom (Jessica Lawrence). Jess presented another engaging session that was relevant to our work in the health classroom. We use role plays in two of our three grade levels, and this session helped connect the dots for creating additional steps/protocols for our students. We spend so much time, for example, trying to teach students about interpersonal communication skills, that we forget they need to know how to write an actual role play. I think we’ll now give students a half script to fill in and then will bring in an administrator to demonstrate a role play and the processing that happens afterwards.
  • SHAPE Social. I spent the evening networking and connecting with other health and physical educators. A lot of talk centered around advocacy and what we can do as health educators to help schools, families, and communities understand the importance of being healthy. I was able to meet a few more members of my PLN, and even found a way to go 2-0 in a new game.

Resources to Share…

  • Tools2Engage: This website by Andy & Andy has a bunch of their health education teaching resources. It’s worth checking out! (That’s an understatement)

One Takeaway to Implement ASAP…

  • Action/Participation Cards. Kenny shared a template for action/participation cards. I plan on making copies or developing a similar template on cardstock for all my students. Each direction of the compass is associated with a specific movement activity. Students have a “Movement Activity Partner” and link up with them to perform the movement and answer my prompt.

Final Thought….

The #healthed crew from Twitter and Voxer is like one big family. I have never met any of these individuals until this week, but I have shared resources with them and discussed a lot of health education “stuff” in Voxer or in a podcast. Despite never having met any of them, it felt like we had already met and known each other for a long time. The power of individuals to create change is big, but when it’s added to the power of other individuals, obviously it multiplies. This group of health educators and physical educators are onto something, and big things are on the horizon.

Now, about that grading…

SHAPE Boston Recap

Today was the first day of SHAPE Boston! Mother Nature and her friend by the name of Stella allowed me to head into an extra day of SHAPE Boston due to a snow day. I plan on briefly writing a short recap post after each day at SHAPE, whenever I can based on the evening events, to reflect and share some resources from my notes. My brain is always SPINNING (in a good way!) after I attend conferences, so I guess this is my way of working through some of the information now working its way through my cerebrum.

Members of my PLN I Met: Jessica (@cairnguidance), Amy (@teaching_health), Mary (@PrideandjoyMary), Bob from PE Pep Talk (@PEPEPTALK). 

Sessions Attended (each 4 hours long)…

  • “Systems Thinking, Systems Changing: Institutionalizing School Health Programs” with Jessica Lawrence. This session tasked attendees with completing a simulation board game that simulated a three-year process to implement a system-wide change in school health. It was research based, fun, and VERY informative yet frustrating. It was a real eye opener to see all the work that has to take place to get multiple stakeholders on the same page in order to implement a systems change within your school or community. I’m currently getting my administrator’s license, and for me, this was a valuable experience in making sure to build relationships and create buy in before attempting to implement a wide scale change. It’s hard to explain in detail, but I know the handouts and information provided will inform my career when I eventually make the move into administration of some kind. My ideal admin. gig? Being responsible for a school or district wide culture of educating the whole child through wellness initiatives (or something like that).
  • “Ready to Go Health Projects For Any School On a Budget” with Amy Lauren Smith. I’ve worked online with Amy before, and I used to write for Choices (she still does), so I was looking forward to this session. Amy actually messaged me last night and asked if I could help out due to her co-presenters being unable to get into Boston due to the snow. I was happy to help out a member of my PLN, if only for a short period of time during the session. Amy focused on project based learning in health education, and I’ve been thinking about how we can use elements of the PBL Framework in our skills-based health education curriculum. I left the session with some ideas of my own to share with my colleague as we further refine and improve our scope and sequence.

Resources to Share…

One Takeaway to Implement ASAP…

  • During Amy’s session we were using sticky notes to share our goals for the session. Sticky notes are commonly used for formative assessment. I thought about using sticky notes during project work, and having each group write their goals for the class period on a sticky note before sticking it to the wall. At the end of the class, the group can reflect on their progress working towards that goal, and make a game plan for next time.

Final Thought….

  • We had a great discussion in Amy’s session with a pre-service teacher who is preparing to student teach at the undergraduate level. The conversation was focused on boundaries between students and teachers, specifically about disclosing or not disclosing information. I think the student left with some valuable insight from experienced educators. It’s refreshing to see future educators at conferences like this, and more importantly, not being afraid to ask questions.

Now, about that grading…

The “Speak Up Pocket Guide” from Teaching Tolerance

Recently I’ve been compiling resources to examine related to school climate and school culture. This is partly due to general curiosity and partly an attempt to develop a project I can work on as part of a practicum towards my license in administration. I’ve been familiar with the resources from Teaching Tolerance since my early days teaching, but their information is more relevant for educators now than it ever has been before.

Today I was examining a free resource about responding to prejudice in schools: Speak Up At School. I was really just skimming through it and decided to download the PDF to examine more closely when I had a chance when I saw the “Speak Up Pocket Guide.”

The pocket guide is a handy little tool teachers, administrators, and students can use when they confront bias language or related situations in their school. The pocket guide provides guidance on four different ways to speak up against bias: interrupt, question, educate, and echo. 

I was able to print out and make two of the pocket guides before my eighth grade health classes came in. We’re currently in the middle of our analyzing influences/human sexuality unit, and today we were on the second lesson of two lessons focused on gender identity. A follow-up activity after viewing a clip about Jazz Jennings was a turn and talk, with each group being asked to brainstorm answers to the following prompt: “Regardless if you agree or disagree about other gender identities other than your own, take the time to come up with a list of ways friends or peers might be supportive of Jazz – or someone who is discriminated against in general.”

This specific class is ahead of the curve compared to their peers with their knowledge and understanding of topics around gender and gender identity, and discrimination in general, so we had a conversation that was more engaging than some of my other classes. After hearing their responses, I brought in the “Speak Up Pocket Guide.” I showed it to the class and mentioned how it’s a valuable tool for someone who isn’t sure what to do when they confront a challenging situation related to biased language or stereotypes. It was a perfect tie in to how students can support anyone who is discriminated against.

Here’s a quick video showing how to assemble the pocket guide from the Teaching Tolerance website. Print it out, put it together, and start confronting bias when you see it in your school. You could probably make your own template in a Google Doc or Word Doc to take this idea and apply it to skills from the National Health Education Standards (advocacy and communication come to mind), which could make a nifty little project for your students.

Now, about that grading…

Taking Action

My One Word for 2017 is “consistency.” In all aspects of my life, I am striving to be consistent…in taking care of my running/health in preparation for Boston, in the feedback I provide my students, and in how I reflect on my teaching practices and collaborate with my colleagues. This also extends to other areas of life as well.

To say I feel troubled by the current state of politics would be an understatement. With that being said, I  can apply my consistency goal to another area of my life: contacting the elected officials who represent my community and state on the local and national level. I have a voice and I aim to make it heard.

So far this year, I’ve contacted Senators and Representatives about two specific issues related to education and athletics. At this point, I plan to consistently contacted elected officials about whatever issues I am passionate about. For now, that means issues relating to education and equality.

Want to follow along? I’ve embedded a Google Sheet below; I’ll use it to keep track of who I contact and the subjects I write about. I don’t know what, if anything, will happen as a result of this, but I know that this is an important time for individuals to make their voices heard.

Now, about that grading…

Thoughts on Feedback

Last week, I was thinking about the kind of feedback I provide my students. An image (it’s below) shared on Twitter by the user @Alex_Corbitt caused me to self reflect.

As a teacher and a coach, providing feedback is a daily part of my routine. I want to become better at providing consistent feedback to ALL my students, not just those who I think need it, and with that I was thinking about what effective feedback is, both in the classroom and on the track. 

I also want to work on how I take in feedback, and by that I don’t mean how I receive feedback about myself or my work (although keeping an open mind is ALWAYS important), but I mean when students or student-athletes provide something for me to give feedback on: an assignment in class; workout splits, etc.

Here’s an example from the track and field world.

A long jumper keeps having difficulty hitting the board, a common frustration among high school long jumpers. The easy (lazy) answer is to move their take off mark around a few inches and try again. And again. And again. The correct approach (which can be difficult) requires analysis: how is their approach down the runway? Are they losing momentum? Are their steps consistent? Are they accelerating properly? Heck, are they even running in a straight line down the runway? This doesn’t take that much more effort and will result in fewer fouls and more PRs from the jumper. I’m not THAT great at coaching the jumps, but that’s an easy shift to make! That’s coaching.

With a little more effort, educators can improve their feedback, too. We can’t assume anything as educators, but we can notice trends/patterns among our students to help us analyze what we’re doing and what we need to change. BUT as an educator, I don’t want to provide students with all the answers. That may be appropriate to do when teaching the long jump directly to a student-athlete, but in the classroom I need to make sure my feedback is informative with enough room for the student to figure it out on their own, too. Asking specific questions and knowing how to direct students come into play here.

My school is a 1:1 Chromebook school, and if anything, that has INCREASED my ability to interact with students face to face. I’m constantly circling around my room, keeping an eye on what’s going on, and trying to check in with students when they’re working on long-term assignments. I’m not perfect, and I do miss things. But, I found a way to utilize our technology to increase the effectiveness of the feedback I give during project work (that’s a separate post I need to write at some point). Even if you don’t have a 1:1 environment, here’s the image that I found beneficial when thinking about how we give feedback to our students that basically summarizes all of this blubbering into a nice, organized image:

From Twitter User @Alex_Corbitt

How effective is the feedback you provide your students? Imagine yourself in their shoes, and determine if you would be able to work effectively with the feedback provided. Would that work? Or would it cause frustration? Just some thoughts flowing through my brain this week.

Now, about that grading…

My #oneword For 2017

Last night I got together with a bunch of my running club teammates to have a feast and our annual Goal Summit, which happens every New Year’s Eve. We eat a ton of great food, catch up, and talk about our goals for the upcoming year (both running and nonrunning related) so that we can best figure out how to support our teammates. After all, our team philosophy is centered around the motto, “Your Goal Is My Goal.”

I didn’t share any goals last night because I was finalizing what I wanted my #oneword for 2017 to be. Andy Milne recently wrote about this concept on the Slow Chat Health blog:

“One alternative to the traditional new years resolution is the concept of one word. The theory behind this idea is that we choose a guiding word that points us towards the type of person that we want to become. And unlike a resolution, a single word can’t be broken. I think of it more as a gentle nudge in the direction towards a more improved version of myself. In this article by Nicole Dean she suggests that you decide what one thing, if applied to every area of your life, will have the most impact and bring the most positive changes into your life. Then you work to apply that word to every area situation and task you find yourself in.” –Andy Milne,

For me, this concept makes total sense. One word can be applied to anything I want to achieve in 2017 and beyond. I don’t know if the word I selected fits the bill, but it will work for me. So, my #oneword for 2017 is consistency. This one word has so many applications to my personal and professional life:

  • I will aim to provide my students with the feedback they need to succeed in my classroom with consistency
  • I need to complete my post-run, “bullet proof / prehabilitation” exercises with consistency during the week, so I stay injury free and PR at Boston in April
  • If I have thoughts, opinions, or ideas to share with my PLN, I will blog, tweet, or vox them with consistency
  • And so on! 

I want my students to understand that so many things can be accomplished if they work at things consistently. I’m always telling my high school trackletes that consistency is key to improvement, and that goes in the classroom, too. I want my students to see that if they chip away at their goals frequently and consistently, that great things can happen.

With that being said, it is my hope to share ideas and thoughts relating to education (and a few other things) in this space. Currently, I’m calling this blog “I’m Behind On Grading” because…well, I’m ALWAYS behind on grading. There’s more information in the “About Me” section. Thanks for reading!