By: Mark Banasiak @MoreThanGym
Good classroom management is key to an efficient physical education program. At my school, we team teach and see anywhere from 50-70 students at a time. As a result, good organization is required! One of the best classroom management tools that I have at my school is the gym floor. That’s right, the floor plays a key role in each of my lessons and ultimately makes me a better teacher.
When planning my lessons, I often ask myself the following question:
What floor markings can I use to help transitions, grouping of students, and activities go smoother?
For many years, I used floor tape (lots of floor tape). You can purchase 1” or 2” wide floor tape in a multitude of colors. You can use it to easily add 4-square courts or activity boundaries. Small pieces of tape can also be placed on the floor to indicate where students need to stand during an activity. The problem with floor tape is that the students like to pick and pull at it. Eventually, the tape will come up.
You can use cones; however, they have a tendency to move. Somehow, they never remain in the same place where you set them.
If you can, talk with your administrator about painting additional floor markings! This is a task that requires a lot of time, planning, and painstaking detail. However, the fruits of your labor pay off in terms of better classroom management.
At my school, we have a gym that is roughly 96’x60’ and is covered with 12” x 12” VCT floor tile. The only permanent markings on the floor are a basketball court, a volleyball court, and six four-square courts which are inlaid with 2” black VCT tile.
Every 4-6 years, our custodians strip all of the wax off of the gym floor. When this happens, the bare tile is exposed and ready to be painted. The actual painting process requires about a week of our time during the summer; however, it is well worth it for the next 4-6 years of classroom management!
The cycle of stripping and repainting has occurred several times during my tenure at Sango with new ideas being added each time. The latest occurred during the summer of 2012. As we prepared to repaint the floor, we knew what our main goal was. We wanted floor markings that would maximize student learning by helping with student movement during activities. We also needed the markings to assist with the grouping of students, to ease transitions, to minimize set-up (i.e., not having to use floor tape), and to help utilize all of our space in a safe manner.
After collaborating, our plan called for us to add the following floor markings:
Orange Line – This divides the gym in half lengthwise.
Yellow Line – This divides the gym in half widthwise. *The existing half-court basketball line was black and confused the younger students when we instructed them to stand on the black line. We meant the outside boundary line of the basketball court versus the half-court line. Therefore, we painted over the black half-court line and made it yellow.
Blue Lines – These divide the gym into three team sport areas (i.e., ultimate anything, soccer, hockey, etc.).
Long Jump Rope Stations – These consist of two purple hands that are 14’ apart with a red heart in the middle. Each turner stands on a purple hand while the jumper stands on the red heart. We have 17 of these stations evenly spaced out.
Paw Prints – These spaces are in rows and columns. We have 140 of them painted on the floor. Each child is assigned one at the beginning of the year. These spots are used for individual skills practice, partner practice, and as part of our line-up procedure.
**Every other row of paw prints has a black dot. These are individual jump rope spots. This provides for the students to be safely spread out while they jump. All students stand on a paw print with a black dot and face the stage. These dots also assist with finding a partner. If every student sits on their assigned paw print, we simply ask those on a paw print with a black dot to face the stage and those on the other paw prints to face the bathroom. Each student should then be looking at a partner.
Four-Square Courts – We painted an additional 14 courts so we have a total of 20 four-square courts on the floor. We use them all of the time for a variety of activities and organization. I use four-square courts all the time!
Purple Circle – This is a 44’ circle that we use when dancing and demonstrating some of our activities.
Orange Letters & Blue Numbers – These are evenly spaced around the perimeter of the basketball court. These are starting points for relay lines and many partner activities.
Yellow Dots – The existing volleyball court is marked with a broken black line. To help students spread out, we painted yellow dots on every other piece of the broken black line.
Our Step-By-Step Process:
- Plan which lines we need and make a diagram.
- The custodians strip all of the wax off of the floor and expose the bare VCT floor tiles.
- Use pencils and rulers to measure and mark the lines.
- Lay down blue painters tape to help keep the paint between the lines.
- Paint the markings. We use porch and floor paint from the big home improvement store. It usually takes 2 coats. We bought a gallon of each color.
- Some of the markings need stencils. The die cutter from the school’s workroom is used to make them (use card stock). Tape the top edge of the stencil to the floor, hold the bottom edge with one hand, and use a circular foam brush (see image below) to dab the paint on. We can usually get 2-3 uses out of each stencil depending on how much paint bleeds onto the back. After a marking is stenciled, use a small paint brush to clean up the edges.
- Most of the 1-2” dots are made with circular foam brushes that are purchased at the local craft store. IMAGE
- The custodians seal the floor with wax.
- We get 4-6 years of assistance with our classroom management.
Pro-Tip For Down the Road: The last time we did the floor we planned to repaint several of the lines after they were stripped. Therefore, in advance of the stripping, I marked the edges of each line using a hammer and a nail punch. This created a small dot that was subsurface. When all of the wax and paint was removed, the little dots remained. All we had to do was connect the dots with tape, and the process went quicker.
I have had a few people tell me that the floor markings are overwhelming. At first, they may be; however, I only focus on the markings we need during that lesson and wholeheartedly believe the students do the same. I can attest that the students have functioned quite well over the last 18 years. All of the markings on the floor truly accomplish our goals. These markings facilitate student learning in every class I teach!
I am a better teacher because of our gym floor.
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