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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!