By: Mark Banasiak @MoreThanGym
I love it when students go home and tell their families about what they are learning in PE class. When I cross paths with parents, our health tips are the number one thing they tell me their children share with them.
Our class routine allows every class to start with movement. The students literally enter the gym skipping. We then participate in a few minutes of instant fitness activities and then gather for a daily health tip.
The daily health tip is nothing fancy. It is a brief moment that we carved into our routine that allows us to share health, safety, or nutritional information to a captive audience. The formula is simple:
- I share the health tip (e.g., “Cheese is a healthy snack.”).
- I frame the health tip as a task for the students to turn and talk to their neighbor (e.g., “Please turn and share with your neighbor why cheese is a healthy snack.”).
- The students turn and share with one or two of their neighbors.
- I get their attention and restate the question (e.g., “Please tell me the reason your neighbor said that cheese is a healthy snack.”).
- I call on volunteers and non-volunteers. When called upon, the students are expected to state their partners name and tell us what their partner said. I repeat what they say so the entire class can hear it. This process requires the students to pay attention as their neighbor speaks. It is also less intimidating to share out loud what someone else said. Most of the time the answers are reasonable. However, if the answer is completely false then I interject factual information.
- After calling on a few people to share, I restate the tip and provide 2-3 reasons why. (e.g., “Cheese is a healthy snack because it is a dairy product that has protein.”).
When it is all said and done, I have managed to repeat the health tip 3-4 times in about 2-3 minutes.
After the health tip, I tell the students what skills they will be working on during the rest of their PE class. We then quickly transition into either skills practice or a large group activity.
Each health tip could easily be turned into a full lesson; however, the goal is to make it short and sweet. It should be just long enough to help them remember but not so long that it cuts into their movement time.
Why is the health tip an essential part of our class?
First, it provides a prescribed moment during every single class where I can share important information on healthy living. Our curriculum map does not specifically outline teaching these topics. I, however, find it a worthwhile venture.
Second, it allows me to personally interact with the students. The process of having the students sit close to me for the health tip mimics a primary classroom where the teacher sits in a rocking chair with the students gathered around.
Third, it allows me to hear a student’s voice. Since we are an active class, I can go a long period of time without actually hearing what a student’s voice sounds like.
Fourth, it builds in open-ended questions and allows the students to generate verbal responses within every lesson. When we are evaluated, one of the 12 indicators our administrators are looking for focuses on questioning. The health tip guarantees that every single PE class has purposeful questioning built in. The teacher shares a health tip, asks a question, the students think, they share their responses with a partner, and then some have the opportunity to share out.
Finally, it gives me 2-3 minutes every class where I can sit while the students are gathered right in front of me. That may come across as lazy; however, when you are on your feet almost all day then that 2-3 minutes allows your feet to say, “Ahhhh!”
What tips do we share?
Most of the health tips are generic and can be shared at any time of the year. For example:
- keep a bowl of fruit on your kitchen table, counter, or in the fridge
- don’t eat in front of the TV
- take a hike
- take the stairs instead of the elevator
- eat the skin on your potato but not on your chicken
- limit your salt intake
However, some of the health tips are calendar specific.
- (Fall) Be active and get your heart rate up over fall break. (This one is followed after the break by asking the students what they did to be active and get their heart rate up over fall break.)
- (Winter) Play in the snow.
- (Time change) Check the batteries in your smoke detector & have a fire drill.
- (Fall) Raking leaves is good exercise. (And jumping in them is fun!)
- (Spring/Fall) Visit the local farmers market to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables.
- (Spring) Consider planting a garden.
Most of the health tips can be turned into a question with one of these question stems:
- Why is it better to…?
- What is your favorite…?
- Why should you…?
- Why do you think it is a good idea to…?
- How can you…?
The health tip is a unique 2-3 minutes that we carved into our routine that I truly believe is making a difference in the lives of our students and their families. One parent recently shared that their child relays the health tip every night at the dinner table. She loves it when her child states, “Mr. Banasiak says,… .”
We are fortunate to see our students every other day so we get to share almost 90 health tips a year. If you see them only once a week you would still get to share about 30 of them. You can probably create a list of health tips by yourself. However, if you need help, just search for health, safety, and nutrition tips for kids on the internet.
How do you relay health, safety, and nutritional information?
Would the process outlined above for having a daily health tip fit into your routine?
One year, I took the health tips a step further and had the 4th and 5th graders complete a PE Portfolio (please see a sample below). Each week the students received one entry and had to work with their families to complete it. Each portfolio entry was a single page worksheet front and back.
- PE Portfolio Week 1
- I described the purpose of the portfolio.
- I introduced sleep as the topic of the week.
- I provided a grid for them to log the amount of sleep each family member received nightly.
- PE Portfolio Week 2
- I shared the recommendations pertaining to the amount of sleep people need.
- I introduced brushing your teeth and flossing as the topic of the week.
- I provided a grid for them to log when family members brushed and flossed their teeth.
- PE Portfolio Week 3
- I shared toothbrushing mistakes as well as the recommendations from the American Dental Association for brushing and flossing.
- I introduced sugary drinks as the topic of the week.
- I provided a grid for them to log the number (and size) of sugary drinks each family member consumed daily.
- PE Portfolio Week 4
- I shared the recommendations from the American Heart Association pertaining to the consumption of sugary drinks.
- I introduced community parks as the topic of the week and encouraged them to visit a couple of them.
- I provided a grid for them to log the parks they visited and critique them.
- PE Portfolio Week 5
- I shared additional information about the parks we have available in our community.
- I introduced fruits and vegetables as the topic of the week.
- I provided a grid for them to log the amount (and type) of fruits and vegetables each family member consumed daily.
- PE Portfolio Week 6
- I shared the recommendations from ChooseMyPlate.Gov pertaining to the consumption of fruits and vegetables.
- I introduced screen time as the topic of the week.
- I provided a grid for them to log the amount of screen time (non-academic) each family member engaged in daily.
- PE Portfolio Final Project
- The students reviewed their previous 6 portfolio entries and reflected on what they did well and where they need to improve. They then developed a plan to improve.
Do you think creating and working with your students to complete a PE Portfolio would be beneficial for them and their families?
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