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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Going Out With a Bang

          With our last lab upon us, and our last chance to impress the students at St. Mary’s with our games and activities, we wanted to leave a lasting memory in which everyone gets involved and actually wants to participate.  To do this, we had to bring out the secret weapon: the parachute.
          For some reason when students see the bright, colorful, large cloth, their eyes light up.  Watching the student’s heads perk up and watch as my classmates and I unraveled the parachute you could already tell this was going to be an awesome activity in which everyone was involved.

          It cannot be just fun and games, however.  When talking with Dr. Yang beforehand he made sure to stress to me the importance of incorporating as many motor skills as possible, so that was in the back of my head as we started.  The easiest way to get everyone moving was to just walk around in a circle.  From there we skipped, reversed both, and then it was time for the real fun.  For some reasons all kids act like they have never done this activity before, so as I started explaining how we were going to bring the parachute high, and then quickly snap our arms down and climb underneath forming a dome with us inside, they started freaking out.  When under the dome, I would call out colors and if the student was sitting on a stripe of that color they had to run and change spots. We also walked at different levels, both high and low.
          From there it was too cold to go outside so we went downstairs  to the cafeteria and played little games and other small activities.  I chose to work with a few girls playing mancala, before making my over to some other girls playing dress up with paper dolls.  The fine motor skills in mancala really impressed me, especially with how rapid fire it is from player to player, that they can continue talking and take their turn without even thinking.  Also, I loved watching how creative the girls got with the dressing up, and their responses to my antagonizing questions.  When I asked one girl why the doll had bright pink shoes to go with her black dress she responded, "Well it's her birthday and she got the shoes as a present," without even lifting her head up or having any signs of confusion.  
          When we finished up in the cafeteria I went upstairs to join the pre-K in their game.  In the first game, the group had the kids match up rubber chickens, six-sided die, and plastic numbers but color.  At each station they had to do an activity to how ever many the corresponding number was.  It amazed me how well some of the kids did.  The one girl literally had a flawless push up, bending at the elbows, back flat and everything.  Even those who struggled at first, especially with the sit-up, were very teachable when correcting their form.  After that a game of "Simon Says" was played, and since no one likes being called out for not following directions I teamed up with a little girl who seemed to be struggling grasping the concept of only doing things when Simon says to.  By the end she picked up on it and was all smiles, and it was great to know I played a hand in that.
         When it came time to do the group game, I made one of the biggest mistake an educator can make.  I let me competitive side take over and I put the children in harms way.  While playing "Sharks and Minnows" I attempted to dodge a tag made by my group member Luke and absolutely crushed a little girl who came up on my blind side to my left.  I fell right on top of her, very hard, and she immediately burst out crying.  I got her an ice pack and talked with her for a few minutes but I felt absolutely horrible.  While I will take it as a learning experience and move on, I really wish that was not my last memory at St. Mary's this semester.  She was fine by the time I left.
          As we brought it in for the team huddle and breakdown at the end of the lab, I started to think of all the memories I have collected.  I started to reflect on how far I have come as a physical educator in just four months.  Thinking back to when I arrived or my first lab and how nervous I was really blew me away.  I did not know how to talk to children as a teacher, I did not know what to do when things did not go as planned, and now all of that seems second nature to me.  Seeing as how this was my first real PE class here at Cortland, I could not have asked for a better experience.  The little cues I have picked up from my time at St. Mary’s have made me think, act, and plan as a teacher, something I was not aware of previous.  I am going to miss the kids, the environment, and really acting like a teacher.
          It has also made me aware of how important field experience can be, and I am going to do my best to find more opportunities both here in Cortland and at home to improve my skills as a future PE teacher.  Watching how far all of my classmates came was also something awesome to witness.  Each and every one of us improved tenfold in our ability to present our activities and keep the students engaged.  I credit most of that to Dr. Yang, and the advice he would give as opposed to the criticism when something would go wrong. I greatly enjoyed and appreciated my time at St. Mary's.

Check out my Lab 6 for some reflection questions on my time at St. Mary's!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Taming the Wild

                In my first go around with the preschoolers they ate me alive.  I was not prepared, out-manned, and did not know what I was getting myself into.  This time I had my boys with me, brought supplies, and was ready for battle.  The results?  Hit and miss, but much better overall.
                For the first and only time this year the PE 3 were able to take on the pre-K as a group.  The first lab I had at St Mary’s I was fully in charge of keeping them busy as Luke and Kyle had a swim meet.  It did not go well.  It was a great reality check for me however, since I was able to learn that children that age do not have a short attention span, it is non-existent.
                This time around it helped that the kids were able to burn some energy on the playground.  The last lab I worked with them they scattered like bees out of a hive when they got through the gym doors.  We met the kids out on the playground, where they already had their separate games set up.  Some were climbing up the jungle gym equipment and jumping off, some were playing hide and seek, and others were playing house.  I teamed up with a group of girls to play hide and seek, except with different rules then I am used to.  In this version I have to count to ten very slowly before I go and look for opponents, and if I tag anyone or not I am “it” again.  Also, after each game someone gets bored and leaves, which turns in to saying “do you want to play tag?”  This is fun for a round, and then someone gets bored so the question “do you want to play hide and seek?” is asked, and the circle goes on and on.     I was also able to play with a girl who seems to be intellectually disabled, which was my first hands on experience to work with a child in an adaptive PE teacher role.  I learned quickly not to doubt her.  As she began climbing up the jungle gym I asked her, “Oh are you sure you can do that?” and was answered with a face as if to say, “Yes I am, and who the heck are you to doubt me?”  When she got to the top and jumped off, she used her hands to catch herself, resulting in dirt and wood chips to dirty them up.  She looked at me, stuck out her hands, and when I stuck mine out she gave me a double-low-five until they were relatively clean, and thanked me with a beaming smile.  We continued this for several minutes, and unlike the other kids who seem to lose attention in activities very quickly, she looked like she could repeat the climb-jump-clean off process for hours.
                After some more tag games, Luke and Kyle got a large group together to play sharks and minnows so I joined.  Surprisingly almost every child participated and seemed to enjoy themselves.  There were some tears by a few who did not like the idea of being a shark, but those tears quickly turned to smiles when I told them they could simply return to the game as a minnow.  Several rounds of this were played before we went in for snack time.
                After snack time it was time to return to the gym.  The place where I was run over by a bunch of four and five year olds just a couple months before.  This time I was prepared.  In an attempt to incorporate more cognitive skills, I went to the dollar store the day before lab and got supplies.  I bought some magnetic alphabet letters, and some toys of animals.  The goal was to print out pictures of animals, have them find the corresponding animal and bring it over, and also have the kids find the letters that spell out the animal.  For example, a picture was hung up of a cartoon lion, and four large dashes beneath it.  The kids were to find the lion under the cones and bring it over to the picture, and find the L, I, O, and N and the ground and stick it to the poster.  Well, I did not think this through clearly enough, as a few problems arose.  For one, the letters were far too small, and were choking hazards.  Secondly, I did not specify how many letters each student could pick up so they would walk over to us with 10-12 letters in their hands looking confused.  Also, I did not incorporate enough movement and exercise in the activity.  And most importantly, I did not realize that all kids this age could not spell the words.
                If I had to do it over I would spread out the letters enough so that they are not jumbled.  I would make the kids do some sort of movement, be it a hop, jump, skip, back to the posters after they pick up one, and only one object.  On the posters, instead of blank dashes I would outline what letters should be placed on top of them.  All in all though, I was impressed with how the students handled the activity. 
                Well, it wasn’t sweet redemption like I anticipated, but it was a vast improvement.  I had the kid s under control for pretty much the whole time, and that is a very large upgrade from the first time I worked with them.  As much of a pain as it may be sometimes, the pre-K is a blast to work with and I’m going to miss them.

Safe to say, I kept it funky today.

Check out my Lab 5 for details, and more photos below!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A New Generation of Fitness

    Spending a day at the Exergame fitness lab was such an eye opening experience.  I've seen and played games like DDR and Wii before, but these games brought fitness to a new level.  There were fitness appropriate activities ranging from the toddler age, to the adult age, and everything in between.
        I started out dancing on the iDance mats with everyone, but my competition was minimal so I moved on after a few rounds of domination.  I then tried out by far the most tiring thing I did all lab.  I saw people playing an NBA basketball game on an Xbox so I figured I would go check it out.  When I got over there the person playing immediately handed me the controller so I figured "sure, why not."  What I did not realize, however, was that the controller I received was powered by a stair master application, so in order to play you must constantly be moving your feet.  I did not think it would be that bad until I tried, and halfway through the 8 minute quarter I was literally dripping in sweat.  It was exhausting, and by far the least fun, yet most rewarding video game I've ever played.  I continued on to a more vintage, realistic version of Wii tennis, but we could not get the controllers to work (which I was fine by, I needed a few minute break after that basketball game).  
        After domination yet again, this time in Wii, it was time to head over to the next room and see what games they had for the younger crowd.  In this room, there were more early childhood level equipment, still technology based however.  We started talking about the benefits of such technology based games in PE, and the discussion went real well.  The obvious reasons such games work is that they are different, and can easily attract someone's attention.  A game for a pre-K student in which they hear the toy say a number and they have to run and find the cone with the corresponding number on it and scan it like a bar code, is a lot more exciting than just saying, "go find the cone with the number 3 on it!"  There is no dodging that technology is taking over our society, so as opposed to fighting it, we as physical educators should be embracing this change because of all the good that can come from it.  Getting kids to become engaged in PE is more of a challenge now than it arguably ever has been.  Incorporating video games with fitness and lessons is a great way to keep them engaged, while working at improving their overall well being in something they enjoy.
        We then were assigned the task of coming up with different types of games using the equipment that could be used at the pre-K level.  The cut outs of the animals with the letter the animal started with immediately caught my eye.  While it may not be technology based equipment, it certainly was creative and it got me thinking.  Since there was not enough to make a full set, I wanted to build off that, and get the kids minds thinking.  I went to the dollar store today and bought toy farm and wild animals.  I also bought five packs of alphabet letters.  I am going to scatter the letters on the ground, and cover the animals under cones.  I will have pictures printed out of the animals covered (a pig, a cow, a lion, etc) in which they have to work together to match the animal with the picture as well as spell it out (which is why they will be simple, animal words) using the letters.  We could expand on this idea and have them write out their name, and whatever else we want.  I feel this game is a great way to incorporate animal recognition, spelling, and physical fitness since they will be running around doing this.

Hopefully the kids think this is as funky as I do, check back soon to see my Lab 5 report and to see how things went.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The PE3's Hit Single: "Don't Have Babies"

It's is finally here...what you have ALL been waiting for...the debut of the PE3 and their hit single "Don't Have Babies."  The song is depicted from our lab book and chapter 5: Prenatal Factors Affecting Development.  Luke, Kyle, and I, get down with our bad selves discussing what parents should and should not do when pregnant and after they give birth, to maintain the highest level of well being for their child. 

Lyrics are listed below the video, enjoy!

Yo Fellas
Kick it one time boy

Yo PED, let’s kick it!

Don’t have babies
Don’t have babies

Alright stop
Put down your drink and listen
What you doing what that cup? just listen!
Something, you have to think of nightly
While you’re with your brand new wifey
Will it ever stop?
Yo, I don’t know
When you turn off the light, say no
Do you really need all that scandal?
Child support is a lot to handle


But don’t make the wrong moves
Sex fillin’ your brain
Like a planet of fools
It’s Deadly,
To you and your babies
Spreading stds should be a damn felony
If you don’t love it
then leave it
Don’t give it away
You better be safe,
Or a kids on the way
If there’s a problem,
Sex won’t solve it
Wait till your mature,
you’re babies applaud it

Don’t have babies

Don’t have babies

Don’t have babies

Don’t have babies

Don’t have babies 

Now that the baby is kicking,
Time to stop partying, and to stop drinking,
No FAS, you wouldn’t be joking
No tobacco either, can’t be smoking
Burning cigs? kids won’t be quick or nimble
All these problems? definitely preventable
But could be gene based, like sickle cell disease
or how about club foot? that’s called talipes
get tested!
Keep track of the pregnancy
All nine months, give or take two weeks
Stage 1, 2, 3, then you’re at delivery
After that, you know what's left?
Both parents stay involved, that’s what’s best!

Don’t have babies

Don’t have babies

Don’t have babies

Don’t have babies

Don’t have babies

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Grouch Still Gets it Done

     I remember sitting in front of my TV when I'd get home from Pre-K and Kindergarten and being captivated by the likes of Bert, Ernie, Big Bird, and the rest of the gang on Sesame Street.  I would have never thought that it would have the same effect on kids of today's generations which are all about computer animation and high tech graphics.  I was wrong.  However, it did not look like I would be at first.
     This week the PE 3; Luke, Kyle, and I, were assigned the task of coming up with games and activities to play with the Kindergartners and first graders that would test their overhand throw and catching abilities  While we were instructing, the rest of the students from our 201 class would grade one or two students on their form in each of these categories.  Thinking about how important it is to catch the interest of the students in order to get their full participation, I needed something clever, so I went out on a limb and picked a game that had to do with Sesame Street, not sure if kids today even still watched it.
     When the kids we were working with came in the gym and settled down after their normal ,"Aw man! Not the college kids!" routine, I sat down with them and asked what they thought about Sesame Street.  A few heads turned, but most of them shrugged their shoulders with no interest and a few even piped up and told me, "That's for babies!"  These are Kindergartners remind you.  Well that had me quite nervous in the fact that my whole first game was predicated around Oscar the Grouch, and "feeding him" by overhand throwing the yarn balls and gator balls into the "garbage can" of panel mats I had set up.  I went to Lowes, K-Mart, and Wal-Mart all in hopes of snagging a large refrigerator box that I could paint to look like a garbage can, but in the end I had to settle on the mats which still worked out well.  
    When it was time to start I did an instant activity, temple tag, just to get the students moving around, their hearts beating, and their minds in the state to be active and participate.  After about five or so minutes of that, it was time to see if Oscar the Grouch could still capture minds like he did when I was young.  I started explaining the game and pulled out a picture of Oscar the Grouch, asking the students if they knew who he was.  It was a resounding, "OSCAR!!!" with much excitement, causing me exhale a big sigh of relief.  After I explained the rest of the game, and told them to "put on their gloves," they were already racing to the center of the gym where the gator-skin and yarn balls were. 
     Unlike the last lab in which there were very few participants, and those that were participating were quite rebellious, everyone seemed to want to play this game which felt great is the instructor.  I had to keep pushing the students back behind the 5 yard perimeter I set up with cones to ensure they were throwing correctly and not placing the ball into the garbage can, but other than that it went smoothly.  
     After about six or seven minutes of that, I modified the game to have Kyle and Luke waive their Oscar heads back and forth like a pendulum and for the kids to try and hit Oscar.  Originally I was going to place a panel mat across the top of the other mats and have bowling pins to knock off to "free" Oscar, but I was not sure the panel mats were sturdy enough to endure a beating like that and I figured a target practice was a better test of throwing anyway.
     While viewing how the game was being run, I got plenty of tips on how to be an effective teacher.  With help from Dr. Yang, I circled the perimeters of the game, always with my back to the wall (or sideline) and always with all the students in front of me.  I also would randomly praise a student if he or she was showing correct form, or I would try and help a student if they seemed to be off task or struggling.  It was great to add even more knowledge to how to be an effective teacher.

     After that it was Kyle, and then Luke's turn, and both of them did very good as well.  We then went outside on the playground and go to just run around and play with the kids in a non-organized setting which was super fun to do.  I played star wars with one of the kids pretty much the whole time, as he would not let me do otherwise.  It was great to make such a strong connection in a teacher role, but also as more of a mentor since I am not yet seen as a grown up in their eyes.  At the end of the day we were given the task of collaborating a whole program game, and an end of the day song to dance to.  We were not aware of this beforehand but adapted quickly and with Dr. Yang's help was able to configure a "bulldozers and builders" game, as well as danced to "the wheels on the bus."  It was great to succeed as a group after being put in an adverse situation 
     I would say the lab was as close to perfect as you could get.  And it's safe to say that Oscar's still got it.  Check out my Lab 4 report, and stay funky everyone.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Curve Ball Leads to Fun and Fenway

     This past week was supposed to be one of the most influential in my development as a physical education teacher.  I would be with friends, professors, and past graduates soaking in as much as I can while making connections and networking.  I was attending the 105th AAHPERD National Convention and Exposition in Boston, MA. 
     For over a year I have been planning and preparing for this event.  On Tuesday the 13th I arrived at the hotel with my good friend Billy O'Hare, who I drove up with, and we checked in and headed to the convention center.  When we checked in we got our badge and our convention book filled with events, coupons, certificates, maps, anything we needed for our stay.  When we started walking around and exploring we were amazed at the facility, it was huge!  Each floor got more spectacular as we looked around, and we just kept saying to ourselves how perfect this place was for a PE venue this large, and how much fun we were going to have. 
     We headed back to our hotel to grab my car because we were picking up our friend, Nick Mangan, who graduated last year and was staying in our room.  Once we got Nick back and settled in, we headed for a bite to eat.  While on our way to a local restaurant we noticed thick black smoke bellowing our beyond a strip of buildings near the convention center.  When we headed over we saw what we thought was the local Hilton on fire, but as we asked around it was the building behind it, however the Hilton was all evacuated.  We didn't think much more of it and continued to go eat.  
     Just after we ordered our food and were getting settled in, the power in the restaurant cut off.  We were shocked, and still hungry, so we decided to leave after about 10 minutes of contemplation.  On our way back we bumped into Dr.  Couturier who was sitting in the convention center with all the other residents of the Hilton who were stranded for the time being.  
     The next day we woke up around 8 and we were told the conference was delayed until the following day.  By around 10, Dan Miller, a fellow sophomore and roommate with us, along with our last two roommates Chris Heim and Frank DiPasquale, were all checked in so we decided to go sight seeing.  The city of Boston is so much better than New York City in my opinion.  It's cleaner, less crowded, and the people around you just seem nicer.  It was also great to hear from Frank, Chris, and Nick about their experiences so far subbing, and how student teaching went.  Picking their brain about certain classes and aspects of PE was also really beneficial to Dan, Billy, and I as we tried soaking up as much information as we could.
     On Thursday we again woke up around 8, and again woke up to the conference being delayed, this time until around 11.  So, we all went for about a half hour jog around the city, which felt great to do since I hadn't done much physical activity in a few days.  When we got back, showered, and got dressed, we received a text from Elena Fallon our APEM president that the conference was canceled.  We were shocked.  Due to health code and safety issues the convention was canceled and we were getting refunded next week.  We were all pretty bummed.
    Then we thought about it.  Now what?  We have pretty much a free vacation in Boston with $30 a day to spend on food.  Then we started brainstorming.  The rest of the trip was filled with memories that will last me a lifetime including tours of Boston breweries as well as visit to the 100 year old Fenway Park.  That was really something else.  You can't really capture the history and feel of the park until you go there, and the views from all over were spectacular.  My favorite was the view from up on the Green Monster in left field.  It was an unreal experience and again, not one that I will soon forget.
     While the trip did not go exactly how we planned, there is no denying it was a great time and one that was still beneficial.  Picking the brains of Frank and Chris, as well as NASPE major of the year Nick Mangan, was a pretty solid backup plan once the convention was canceled.  They were more than helpful and friendly to a few undergrads who aspire to be them and I hope to repay the favor to undergrads when I am their age.

I got down and funky in Boston, time to head back to Cortland.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The PE 3 Unite at Last

Today was a really odd day.  Going in, I was anxious and excited.  My group mates, Luke and Kyle, were back and we were going to teach in a group for the first time as "The PE 3."  We had an extra week to get our games ready, and I was more than ready to just hop right back into the swing of things and give my best effort for things to run smoother than my first go around. Unfortunately, things did not go expected (as should have been expected) and life though us another curve ball right off the bat.  For some reason most after school activities were canceled, and the number of students who attended the after school games program drastically declined from our first lab.  Its tough to decide which is more difficult; trying to corral a large group of kids and retain their attention long enough to listen to brief directions and participate in the game, or try and convince a small group that the game will be interesting enough to play so that there is not ZERO people joining your activity.  It was quite the challenge, but a challenge the PE 3 took head on.

English: Connect Four Svenska: Fyra i rad
Image via Wikipedia
First we went down to the cafeteria.  I went and watched the usual barn burner of a connect-four game which always seems to last long and draw a crowd, but it got a little too heated for my liking.  After I attempted to calm the kids down before a teacher eventually took over, I then made my way over to the legos.  Again it amazed me at how creative and meticulous some of the kids are in their constructions. One student sat across from another and tried to create his face, and surprisingly the proportions and color choices of the blocks made it look somewhat recognizable. The girls on their other hand had their own agenda, and each was building a part to their dream house they were all going to live in.  One girl was creating a car, another the house, and the third a garage.  Even in the 3rd and 4th grades these children's ideas and imaginations were running wild and it was a pleasure to witness.  

I then challenged one of the boys to a game of checkers.  As an extremely competitive person it was tough for me to let him win, but with all the rules he came up with along the way I have a feeling I would not have lasted until the end anyway.  I then attempted to teach the boy how to be a gracious winner and the importance of this, but it did not seem to get through to him,

Bosnian handball player in the 2006 qualificat...
Image via Wikipedia
Up next it was time for the gym, and my game of Hawaiian Handball.  Since only three girls and three boys chose to participate at the start, I chose to skip my story of how each team was a tribe defending their island.  It was important to keep them interested.  When initially recruiting kids the name "Hawaiian Handball" would perk their interest simply due the fact that they knew enough to be aware it could be fun, but there was still room for intrigue.  We went right into game play after a brief instruction period with my group mates and our TA Matt generously played to add to the numbers.  The game went smoothly expect a few of the rules, like traveling, were not paid attention to by the students no matter what I tried.  There were no safety concerns while playing which was a big plus.  However, the game did not last very long, and the adaptation of playing with their feet similar to soccer had them boycotting to leave so we moved on.

Luke and Kyle's games seemed to go very well, and all in all it was a good day.  The low number of students made it better and worse in their own ways, but working with students always seems to have its up and downs.  We stayed positive and did not get discouraged a very good sign.  All in all, the PE 3 had a solid debut, more than I can say about Miami's big three in their debut.

Even though it was rocky to start, it was another great experience at St Mary's School.  Stay funky and take care everyone

Check out my Lab 3 for more!