This blog is the seventh in a series of posts written with staff and students at Oregon Active Schools elementary schools. Oregon Active Schools supports programs that inspire a lifelong love of physical activity and its many benefits for every child in Oregon through opportunities to be active before, during and after school.
HERE'S WHAT PARKDALE ELEMENTARY STUDENTS HAD TO SAY ABOUT EXERCISE AND PLAY AT THEIR SCHOOL:
Q. What is your favorite part of recess or PE?
I like to play and have fun with my friends when I’m in PE and at recess.
The best thing about PE is when we learned how to jump rope.
I like to play tag in PE and at recess.
My favorite part of recess is getting to run.
My favorite part of PE is when we get to play tag games.
Q. Why are exercise and play important?
Play is important, because it is fun!
Exercise helps you grow up to be healthy and strong.
Exercise helps you grow big strong muscles, and it is fun.
I think exercise is important, because it makes you sweat.
HERE'S WHAT PARKDALE ELEMENTARY STAFF HAD TO SAY ABOUT EXERCISE AND PLAY AT THEIR SCHOOL:
Q. What makes your school and students special?
Our school is special because we are located in a small rural community. Our students and families know each other very well, and it is like a large family.
A little more than fifty percent of our students are English Language Learners. Students come in at all different language levels, but our school is awesome about meeting the needs of each of our students.
Parkdale is special because of the people who work here and the kids we serve. Having worked in multiple schools before this one, I have found that Parkdale is incredibly unique thanks to the autonomy of the teachers in regards to their belief that all students truly can learn, as well as the hard work I see teachers putting in on a daily basis in order to promote this learning.
Q. How did your school use your Oregon Active Schools grant?
Parkdale used the Oregon Active Schools (OAS) grant in several ways. Our first priority was buying much needed basic physical education equipment in order to provide a varied and standards-based PE class to all students at Parkdale. We bought jump ropes, several types of balls/beanbags and other basic supplies. These purchases allowed us to eliminate wait time for our students in PE by putting the appropriate equipment into each student’s hands.
The OAS grant also allowed us to offer “non-traditional” opportunities for our students in their PE class. With new equipment, we were able to teach a wide variety of activities students had not previously been exposed to, such as team building skills and racket sports. This gives our program the opportunity to engage all students and to give them the confidence to participate in a variety of physical activities as they continue to grow.
We also used the OAS grant to purchase some new technology for our students to use in PE. We bought a tripod to hold an iPod so that students can begin to self assess their own skills through recording and observation. We are also getting ready to roll out pedometers that can be uploaded with individual student data at the end of each class. This will allow students to track their steps taken and activity time while in class. The data will be used to help assess the effectiveness of lessons and to encourage students to be fully engaged in class.
Finally, the OAS grant was used to help overhaul the whiteboard in the gym. Students are now using the area to self assess their performance in class. This area is helping the students become more aware of themselves and take control of their own learning.
Q. What changes have you seen in your school since it became an "Active School?"
The biggest change I have seen is at recess. Students are now participating in activities at recess that they learned in PE. I like to think that good PE is contagious and not limited to the four walls of the gym. When students are able to take something they learned in class, make it their own and use it outside the classroom, that shows that it is important to them. I also have parents telling me that their students are introducing activities that we are doing in class at home. It makes me smile when a parent tells me, “I played Man in the Mirror with my daughter last night before we went to bed." As the physical education program continues to grow at Parkdale, I will continue to look for ways to make natural changes. For example, some of the staff that supervise recess have been approaching me about the recess equipment. We are already brainstorming about how we can use some of our OAS grant funds from next year to improve our recess program. The OAS grant was the catalyst we needed to start this positive shift in our students.
Coach Hassell continues to come up with new ideas to teach the kids and new tools to use during PE time. The kids love the fast pace and the new, fun activities they are presented with. He also provides teachers with games and activities we can incorporate in the classroom. This saves us enormous amounts of time, because we don't have to teach the students the activities, and we can get them moving in our own classrooms.
Q. Why do you believe physical activity in schools is important?
My kindergarten students look forward to seeing Coach Hassell and going to PE every school day (even when PE is not scheduled). Coach's straight-talking, developmentally appropriate teaching captivates my students. They happily go to PE and return to me as sweaty, red-faced, physically-spent and euphoric kinders! After PE, we have 35 more minutes of school. Some days this is a difficult time because my students are tired and looking forward to going home. On PE days, the last part of the day provides a time for focused learning for most of my students. I think this focus comes from the physical activity they just experienced in PE. While I give my students brain and movement breaks throughout my instruction, there is nothing like 40 minutes of physical activity to fire up the brain synapses.
PE is hands down the majority of my students' favorite part of the day. It is a place where they are so engaged mentally and physically. At the end of the day students write memories from their day on slips of paper that go into our memory jar. Every PE day they are excited to write down and remember the game they played, the skills they learned and their successes. We have PE early in the day, and on those days students come back ready to focus and engage in academic content.
Parkdale Elementary School is one of Hood River County School District's eight schools.