Thursday, December 15, 2011

Philosophy of Education

Philosophy of Education
Education is a very crucial part of society.  In this country we are extremely fortunate to receive an education, not to mention- a good education.  As someone who strongly believes in the pragmatic approach to the philosophy of education, I believe that the emphasis should be on the development of the whole person.  I believe that education today accomplishes just that- the development of the mind, body, and soul.  The difficult standards that are set by the New York State Educational System for students today are a perfect example of development of the mind.  Students are encouraged to think and reason for themselves in order to be successful on the exams, as well as, in life.  Education today also emphasizes the importance of the development of the body by encouraging students to participate in a variety of sports (both team and lifetime), as well as, making Physical Education classes mandatory for each student.  With sports programs, the athletes are taught to prepare for their competition by thinking of strategies to win.  This supports the pragmatic approach which is based on the “practical approach (based on what works).  The athletes are taught to think of ways to avoid losing and, if they do lose, they are taught ways to prevent it from happening again.  The people that provide you with your education- your teachers- are the people who are your guides while you are in school.  They are your stepping stones along your life and education.  They are the people who you learn from.  I want to make sure that, as an educator, my classroom is a safe and inspiring environment where students are encouraged to grow and develop themselves.  I firmly believe that it is important to have a solid program where you teach in a way that will draw students in, inspiring them to be the best they possibly can.  The classroom needs to be a place where students feel comfortable and secure, a place that is both inviting and inspiring.  I will make sure that I am always positive and smiling because I believe that it is important to be positive- you’re never fully dressed without a smile!  Your students need to know that they can do anything, they need to believe in themselves and this is exactly what I will help them do, as their teacher.  I believe that it is crucial to use creativity to open the minds and develop the character of your students.  The teachers that stand out in my mind were the ones who took simple lessons and applied them to life lessons.  They were inspiring to me, even as a student in the third grade, and made me feel that I could do or be anything I wanted in life.  As an educator, you have the opportunity, every day, to make a difference in these students’ lives.  Everything that you say and do is important in helping them grow.  I will always remember this when teaching my lessons because I want to be the teacher who they remember ten years later when they are sitting in a classroom being asked by their college professors about which teacher had the greatest influence on them.  I want to be the one who made a difference in their lives, the one who inspired them and helped them develop into responsible adults.  I want them to remember every lesson that I taught them and every experience that they received in my classroom.  I will make sure that my classroom is inviting, inspiring, and nurturing; a place of constant positive reinforcement, a place where my students know they have a solid support system in me.  I will make sure that I use my creativity to design every single lesson that I teach to be motivating and enhance my students learning in any way possible.  It is my personal goal to make a difference in the lives of my students, to help them create their own identities, to be one of their stepping stones in their journey of life.

Coaching Philosophy

Coaching Philosophy
My personal coaching philosophy consists of instilling a sense of hard work, dedication, and team work in my athletes.  As a pragmatist, I believe that it is crucial to develop my athletes’ minds, just as well as their bodies.  I want to help them set goals for themselves, giving them the tools necessary to accomplish those goals, thus assisting them in building self-efficacy.  I believe that, as an athlete, having a belief in oneself is crucial to one’s success, in sports and life.  As a coach, it is imperative that I provide for my athletes’ success, thus helping to decrease frustration and increase motivation.  I desire to invent new and innovative ways to help athletes fine tune their skills and develop their minds.  It is important that you are able to figure out what your athletes need to improve upon and then communicate to them in a way that they are able to benefit from your advice.  You could be an expert on recognizing what an athlete is doing wrong, but it means nothing if you aren’t able to connect with them in a way that they can understand what you’re saying.  It is important to take the time to get to know each one of your athletes, as a person and as an athlete, so you can help them develop in any way necessary.  There are always going to be those individuals who excel more than others but it is important that you remember to treat every person the same.  Last spring, I went to observe my ten year old brother, Brendan’s little league game.  I noticed how the children who struggled more with the game were always placed in the outfield.  That was not my idea of good coaching!  These kids were ten years old!  They should still be given the opportunity to play different positions.  How else would they ever improve?  By banishing them to the outfield, you are not accomplishing anything, except a sense of disbelief in their abilities.  It is important, as a coach, that you remember that each child should be treated fairly and given the same opportunities to learn as the others. Your job is to help each kid develop and improve to the best of their ability.   When losing occurs, I want my athletes to learn from the experience and help them find ways to avoid losing the next time.  In my opinion, athletics is a great opportunity to deliver life lessons to the athletes, and I will use every opportunity possible to do so.  I want to help these children develop good character and push them to their fullest potential.  I will do this by providing challenges that will force them to work hard and be persistent.  It is important that I help them to realize exactly what they are capable of and to get them to believe that they can conquer any obstacle they may encounter, whether it is in sports, or life.  I believe that the process is just as important as the product; setting realistic goals and formulating a plan of how to accomplish these goals is just as crucial as actually accomplishing them.  It is important that athletes set both personal, and team goals while participating in sports.  Team work is one aspect of sports that is crucial in order for success to occur.  It creates a relationship with one’s peers, which is something that is essential if one is to be successful in sports, or life.  Through my knowledge, dedication, and passion for sport, I hope that my athletes will gain the knowledge necessary to be successful in sports, as well as everyday life.  I hope that they walk away with the willingness to accepts any challenges they are given and the belief in their ability to overcome them.  If so, I will consider my job, as their coach, a success!

State Conference at Turning Stone Resort and Casino

I am currently getting ready to go into my last semester here at SUNY Cortland and am trying to make the most of any resources that I can; thus I decided to attend the state conference this year.  It was the best decision that I've made yet in my college career (other than choosing to come to Cortland- :-) P   I was able to watch so many awesome presentations and learned so much!  When I returned from the conference (on Saturday), my brain literally "hurt" from all the information that I had in it from just those couple days there.  I met so many amazing people, a couple of teachers in particular who really inspired me.  I've since contacted them and am going to observe a couple of their classes over winter break.  I can hardly wait!  I am so excited!  Since going to the conference, all I want to do is find ways in which to better prepare myself as a teacher.  Attending the conference was exactly what I needed to inspire me and, for those of you reading this that haven't attended PE conference, I highly reccommend making the time to go to the next conference.  I cannot wait to go the National Conference in Boston this March!!!  I cannot emphasize enough-  Go to the Conference!!!!!  You will walk away with an entirely different mindset.  It will open door for you, you will meet amazing, inspiring people, and it is so much fun!!!!  I promise that you will not be disapointed!!!! 

Classroom management

I learned a lot this semester about classroom management.  You would assume that most of it was from my 355 experience but, suprisingly enough, it wasn't.  I actually learned the most about it from my Educational Psychology professor, Mr. Ralph Hesse.  I highly recommend him to anyone that hasn't taken the class yet.  He is an amazing professor who is, quite possibly, the best teacher I have had yet at perfecting classroom management.  I learned so much from him and he helped to inspire me to strive to be the best teacher that I possibly can.  For any of you out there who care to take the time, I highly recommend that you watch a video called, "Hobart Shakespeareans".  It is a very inspiring video that I promise you will not be a waste of your time!  I recieved many different tips, from my Mr. Hesse, this semester, some of them obvious, that I wish to share with you.  Thus, I have decided to share with you one of my papers that I wrote this semester on Classroom Management.  Here it is: 
Beginning your first day as a new teacher can be extremely nerve-racking.  Expectations are high and all on eyes on you every step of the way.  You are now personally responsible for opening the minds of several young boy and girls; it is your goal that each and every one of them walks away a better individual.  Confidence is essential and there is very little room for error.  These children’s well-beings depend on you.  One of the most critical things to becoming an effective teacher is classroom management, yet it is also one of the most terrifying things to rookie teachers.  “Though the ability to manage classrooms can be a challenge, it isn’t impossible, and with careful planning and effective instruction, it can be readily accomplished.” (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010)  Why is classroom management so important?  How can one insure that they are effectively managing their classroom?  When it comes to motivation in the classroom, is it better to have a learning based classroom or a performance based classroom and what are the differences between the two?  
                The first key to good classroom management is to know exactly what it is.  It is important that one understands that discipline is what happens after a problem occurs and classroom management is what happens before the problem occurs.  Also, it is important that you promote safety and order in the classroom.  Students need to feel safe before they are ready to learn.  This leads to the question, why is classroom management so terrifying to teachers “treading the water” for the first time?  The complexity of the classroom is the number one reason that makes teachers nervous.  They are in an environment that is “multidimensional and simultaneous,” (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010) simply meaning that there are a large number of events and tasks occurring at the same time.  A second characteristic of the classroom that makes it so complex is that these events occur rapidly and things change quickly.  As a teacher, it is important that you remain poised and ready to deal with whatever may come your way, as these events are unable to be predicted (third characteristic).  The last thing that makes classroom management so challenging is the fact that everything you do is public.  It is important that you are able think on your feet, adapting quickly.  When you make your lesson plans, it is crucial that you know them, inside and out, because you can’t be worrying about what to say next when a problem occurs in the classroom.
                “Classroom management is more than simply creating an orderly environment.  It is a process that contributes to learners’ academic, personal, and social development.” (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010)  Our first way to managing the classroom is to develop learner responsibility.  It is important that you allow your learners to be actively involved in the process of helping whenever possible so that they recognize they are being responsible.  Have them aide you in establishing class rules and a mission statement.  This will better motivate them to follow the rules, while teaching techniques in which they can show responsibility.   Another way to manage the classroom is to develop a positive learning environment.  If students feel safe and encouraged, they will be more motivated to participate.  It is important that you “wear you attitude on your sleeve”- be respectful, enthusiastic, fun, and caring.  You also want to maximize the time and opportunity for learning (third way of managing the classroom).  In order to do this, you have to be well organized.  Make sure that you plan in advance; you shouldn’t be worrying about what you’re going to teach next.  Be present and focused on what is happening right in front of you.  Plan the least amount of transition times and establish routines and procedures.  When it comes to making rules, it is important that you follow some guidelines, if they are to be effective.  State the rules positively (“should” rather than “should nots”), minimize the number of rules, solicit student input (have them help make the rules), emphasize the reason for the rules, use concrete examples to illustrate the procedures, be consistent, and establish what consequences will occur if the rules are broken.  The fourth, and final, way of managing the classroom is to understand the characteristics of your students.  It is important that you get to know each and every one of your students- know their ages, their motivation levels, their sensitivity, and their eagerness.  If you want to be a good teacher, it is crucial that you do this; let them know that you care, “They don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” (Maxwell)
                When it comes to motivation in the classroom, is it better to have a learning based or a performance based classroom?  In order to answer this question, we must first know the difference between the two.  A learning based classroom is one where the emphasis is on effort and on understanding the information.  It is one where the goal is continuous student improvement.  In a performance based classroom, the emphasis is on high grades and public displays of ability.  Performance is priority.  One can clearly see that a learning based classroom is what one desires to have in order to ensure the highest level of motivation in our students.  The first variable associated with a learning based classroom is that one needs to have self-regulated learners, learners who set goals and recognize the thought process and behaviors that lead to achieving these goals.  In order to help students become self-regulated learners, one needs to guide them, using steps to help them arrive at their destination.  The first step towards getting them to their destination is to emphasize the relationship between accepting responsibility and learning.  Next, the students themselves give input into the elements of being responsible and embracing learning.  The following step is to actually teach them the concept of responsibility.  It is important that “an informational, rather than controlling,” (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010) method should be used in expecting responsibility.  The next step to getting your students to their destination of becoming self-regulated learners is to model responsibility yourself, “practice what you preach!”  The fifth step is to “provide a concrete mechanism (ex-use a chart) to help students monitor goal achievement.” (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010)  The sixth, and final, step is to develop an initial rewards system for students to meet these goals. 
                The second variable associated with a learning based classroom is teacher characteristics (things that you aspire towards).  It is important that you have a high personal teaching efficacy- the belief that student learning is significantly influenced by your teaching abilities.  Low achievement by students should not be dismissed as a function of bad parenting, poor intellect, or bad students.  It is important that you be enthusiastic; you should model a genuine interest in your material.  Never let your students know if there is something in particular that you don’t enjoy teaching (ex- science).  Always show that you care by demonstrating respect, spending time with your students, using “we” and “our” often (creates more connection), learn names, smile, greet, use warm body language, and occasionally show personal interest.  Demonstrate positive experiences, meaning that you want to show confidence in a student’s abilities, show high standards, and be encouraging, as well as supportive.  It is important that your students know that you are one hundred percent invested in their interests and well-being.
                The third variable associated with a learning based classroom is climate variables (environment).  As a teacher, you want to make sure that you are creating a motivating environment.  It is important that, first, you establish safety and order.  Next, you want to establish a climate of success.   Begin class with open-ended questions that assess the learner’s current understanding and then invite participation.  Provide scaffolding while students practice before placing them on they own (ex- if having trouble shooting a basket, lower the hoop).  Minimize competition and maximize cooperation.  An example of this might be putting on a class play where everyone is given a part or some responsibility in the play production.  Next, you want to establish an environment where students are challenged.  It is important that students feel that they have mastered material that is challenging because it helps increase their self-efficacy.  Lastly, you want to make sure that students feel the material is relevant.  If they feel that there was no purpose to what they just taught, or are being taught, they may become frustrated and learning will not occur. 
                The fourth, and final, variable associated with a learning based classroom is instructional variables, which are those variables that develop an interest in learning activities.  It is important that you develop a good introductory focus because this increases attention and curiosity.  Present the students with a unique problem, ask a paradoxical (question that has a riddle in it) question, or provide a demonstration that is eye-catching.  Next, make sure that you personalize the topic; link the subject to students’ lives to help draw them in.  The third thing you want to do in order to develop an interest in learning activities is to create an active involvement; have the students themselves be participants in the lesson.  The last thing that you want to remember to do is to get feedback from your students on how you’re doing.  In order to be a good teacher, it is necessary that you are always open to change if needed, “feedback also contributes to self-regulation.  It gives us information about progress towards goals, and when they’re met, our self-efficacy increases.  If they’re not met, we can then increase our effort or change strategies.”  (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010) 
                One can see the importance of good classroom management and what elements, exactly, it consists of.  It is obvious as to why classroom management can be intimidating and difficult, but one can see that it is not impossible to do so effectively.  There are several different ways to manage a classroom effectively, each way emphasizing the importance of coming to class fully prepared, this referring to both you (as the teacher) and your lesson.  When it comes to motivation in the classroom, a learner based classroom is more effective than a performance based one.  There are four different variables associated with a successful learning based classroom, each variable consisting of several parts that aid in helping to insure that learning does, in fact, occur. 

Eggen, P. and Kauchak, D. (2010).  Educational Psychology.  New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc.

Character education

Although I felt very rushed trying to learn all of this information for the final, there were several things that grabbed my interest, character education being one of them.  For my Motor Development class here at SUNY Cortland, I had the opportunity to help out at the CHAMP afterschool program at JM McDonald Sports Complex here in Homer.  It was an amazing experience and I learned several things, the importance of character education being one of them.  At the programs they were constantly introducing the children to different core values.  Although it is not the best written essay that I have ever done, I believe that my question that I completed on the final for this class contained a lot of good ideas for implementing character education so I wanted to share my essay with you.  By the way- this is a big step for me- the fact that I thought about how much I wanted to make sure and put my essay on my blogspot.  Here it is: 
The path to moral education that appeals to me most is character education.  According to Wikepedia, “Character education is an umbrella term loosely used to describe the teaching of children in a manner that will help them develop variously as moral, civic, good, mannered, behaved, non-bullying, healthy, critical, successful, traditional, compliant and/ or socially acceptable beings.  I believe that it is so crucial that we help children build good character so that can become outstanding citizens.  Character is, after all, one of the three C’s that we learn here at SUNY Cortland that are crucial in a child’s education.  I think that it is so important to teach children core values such as respect, trustworthiness, fairness, team work, responsibility, caring, and good citizenship so that they can use them in their everyday lives.  As a PE teacher, I will make sure and introduce character education at a young age when children are most susceptible to change.  I will introduce these core values into the lesson that I teach them.  My plan is to introduce them to a different core value every couple of weeks, making sure to implement it into my lesson.  I will take five minutes before my lesson to have a class talk with them, introducing them to the new core value and explaining what it means.  I will make sure and give them plenty of examples and then ask them to come up with some examples of their own.  Throughout the lesson, I will look for chances to “catch” the students using that core value and verbally praise them.  Each time that I introduce a new core value to them I will make a colorful mini poster with the word on it.  By the end of the year, there will be several colorful mini-posters all around the gymnasium with the different core values on them.  I will make sure to use all of the core values that have been introduced sporadically throughout the school year to make sure that they have truly learned the meaning of the core values.  I might even devise some sort of a reward system where they child receives something if I catch them using the core value in class to encourage appropriate behaviors.  Another thing I would do is to put on a community benefit run of some sort and encourage my students to participate.  I would talk to them about what the benefit is for and how their help in the run is a demonstration of good character.  I could also have them help in organizing a food drive to help those in need or have them write letters to our men in the military overseas.  After completing my 256 and 355 observations, it is obvious to me that many children are lacking that structure in their home lives and could use some work on developing their characters for the best.  As a teacher candidate, I can hardly wait for the day that I able to implement all of this into my own classes.  Knowing that we are many kids’ mentors, It is so crucial that we help to model them into the good citizens that they should be.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Goal Setting!!!

On November 16-19, 2011, I had the privilege of attending the New York State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance’s Conference held at the Turning Stone Convention Center in Verona, New York.  It was an incredible experience and I was able to meet several amazing and inspiring teachers.  I learned many fun, interesting games and activities that I cannot wait to use when I am teaching.  I met teachers who I have already contacted and arranged times where I will be able to travel to their school and observe their classes.  I learned so many things that will help me as a future Physical Educator but the one session that had the most impact on me was presented by a young lady named Sara Reinertsen.  She was the first female leg amputee to complete the Ironman Triathlon World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.  Her talk was about “Getting to Your Finishline” and how you should go about doing that.  As a Physical Student here at SUNY Cortland, I feel as if I speak for many of us when I say that this is not an easy profession to enter.  Jobs are scarce and sometimes you can begin to feel almost hopeless.  Sara’s talk was exactly what I needed to inspire me to believe that anything is possible.  According to Sara, the first thing you have to do is to get committed- write down your goals and tell people about them.  It is crucial that you believe in yourself.  Make sure that you start your goals out small and work towards attaining bigger goals.  Remember that these milestone goals, the little goals along the way, are important and celebrate your success of them.  The next thing to do is to make a plan and schedule time to work towards these goals that you’ve set.  Never be afraid to ask for help- find mentors and supporters who you know will be there for you every step of the way.  Be adaptable and open to change.  Things will happen that you never expected and you have to be willing to adapt as necessary.  The last step is to take action.  The only way that you will ever be successful with your goals is if you put in the work.  Sara’s journey of working on her way towards completing the Iron Man was so moving that many people in the room were brought to tears, or on the verge of tears.  It took her thirteen years of hard, vigorous, every day challenges to become an Iron Man.  When I walked out of that room all I wanted to do was begin setting goals for myself and put them into action.  It made me want to strive to be the best teacher I possibly could.  Although I learned so much from attending the conference, the most paramount thing I learned was to dream big.  Anything is possible!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Philosophy of Physical Education

Philosophy of Physical Education
A pragmatist believes that Physical Education systems should be based on the needs and interests of the students.  So do I.  I think that the educator should tailor their lessons they teach to each individual’s level, or learning capacity.  As an educator, I want to teach my student’s a variety of activities that will provide them with multiple experiences.  I want to teach the students exercises that will make them work with their intellects, as well as their bodies.  I believe that having a healthy body is just as important as having a healthy mind.  I want to be able to motivate my students; to encourage them to strive to be better in whatever they do, to teach them to live their lives the best they can.  I want to help them think for themselves.  I believe that all of these qualities are crucial in an educator if they wish to help students be successful in whatever path they choose.  As a future physical educator, I believe that it is important to stress the importance of playing sports (team) or activities (lifetime) outside of Physical Education class.  I believe that it gives the student added motivation to do well in school, as well as, working to attain goals that can be tied to goals in life.  For example, in sports, the athlete works on strategies to avoid losing or, if they do lose, to prevent it from happening again.  This is teaching them to use their minds to think of ways to get around barriers or obstacles that may obstruct them in their lives.  Being on a sports team, or even in a physical education class, stresses the importance of teamwork too.  I believe that teamwork is crucial to one’s success, whether on a sports team or in the working world.  As a future educator, I will repeatedly stress this.  If one does not how to work with their team towards the accomplishments of a particular goal, that goal will never be reached.  As a physical educator, I will try to inspire all of my students to live an active and healthy lifestyle.  I will make sure to encourage this by setting my own examples in the way that I live.  My lessons will always be constructed so that they stimulate students to live healthy lives and become self-motivated individuals with the desire to succeed, mentally and physically.  I will make sure to provide my students with the necessary skills and techniques they need to be good movers, thus enhancing their physical well-being.  Although my main goal is to develop the physical well-being of my students, I will not neglect to bring other subject areas into the classroom.  I will communicate with my colleagues, making sure to link content from their classes whenever possible.  This is an excellent way to give my students the multiple experiences that will make them work with their intellects, as well as their bodies.  I will constantly challenge my students, through my lessons, to help them grow as individuals, remembering to keep in mind that not all students are alike, remembering to tailor my lessons so that they are beneficial to everyone in the classroom.  As a physical educator, I believe that it is imperative for me to ensure that every child exits my classroom inspired to continue a healthy lifestyle and with a strong sense of self-efficacy.  I want them to know that anything is possible, as long as they are willing to put forth the effort.  I hope that they will have learned, from my teaching, that they can overcome any obstacles; nothing is impossible.  When my students leave my classroom, I want to be confident that they have grown, both physically and mentally, and are on the path towards success.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Adirondack Extreme!!!!

This past weekend, my friends Mackenzie and Pete, went with me on a little road trip that was WELL worth it.  We decided to take a car ride up to the Adirondacks, about an 1 1/2 hrs.north of Albany, to a lovely place called Adirondack Extreme.  For all you PE majors: I HIGHLY recommend taking a day and going there to try it out.  Adirondack Extreme is the largest aerial tree top adventure course in the United States!  It consists of numerous different challenges and many fun zip line opportunities as well.  As much fun as it is, it is very challenging.  There are several different obstacles, some being cargo nets to climb up and across, rock walls to climb, bridge activities to defeat, and monkey bars to traverse across.  The course consists of five different levels, with each level getting progressively more difficult and higher in the trees.  By the last course (the black course) you are 50-60 feet up in the trees!!  The course is extremely challenging, requiring you to have a good deal of upper body strength, as well as core strength.  It is an amazing workout and you WILL be sore the next day.  In  my opinion, the most challenging part of the course is called "the Leap of Faith", which is where you have to walk off a platform that is a good 50 feet up in the hair with just a rope to hold on to (you are harnessed in).  The rope does not catch any slack until you approach the ground, where it suddenly throws you into a giant cargo net, which you have to grab onto and climb up until you reach the saftely of the platform.  The toughest part of this is the feeling that you are free-falling, until (all of sudden when it seems you are about to hit the ground) the rope pulls taunt and catches slack.  The course costs $40 and takes anywhere from 3-4 hours to complete.  If you google "Adirondack Extreme" it will take you right to their website, where you can check them out.  I highly recommend taking the time to get a group together and do this!  You will not regret it.  It is in a beautiful location and the course is set up very creatively.  I cannot begin to emphasize how much FUN this is!  One of the gentlemen that works there (whom I happen to know) informed me that they have people travel from all over the state to come complete this course.  So- take the time and go complete the entire course!- And- if you do so, make sure and tell me all about it!!!!! 

Fun Halloween Activity for Elementary Students

This week at my 355 observations I was able to help participate in a class where the teacher set up stations for the children, each one having a Halloween theme.  I thought that it was such a cool idea and the kids seemed to love it so I wanted to share it with the rest of you to keep in mind for future themed teaching ideas.  The stations focused on many different locomotor skills, but in creative, fun ways.  He had Halloween music playing in the background the entire time and each time he stopped the music the students had to rotate to the next station.  Here are the instructions:
Split up students into teams of 2 students if possible.  You may have a few teams of 3

Station 1- Ghost bowling: Students have to knock over as many pins (out of 7) as they can by rolling a ball.   Children should stand from the spot designated with an “X” when rolling the ball.  Have them see what is the most pins they can knock down before rotating on to the next station. 

Variations: If they wish to challenge themselves, they can try it using blindfolds or take a few steps backwards when rolling the ball.
 -However, remember the importance of safety.
( activity works on balance and coordination.  also works on children's ability to roll a ball towards an intended target- control)

Station 2- Flying ghosts: Students will have to swing from one small pile of mats to another using a rope swing.  If they fall in between the mats, they will land on a pit of flames (have a picture of flames on the floor)!  Make sure to remember and place mats on the floor in between the piles of mats for safety purposes.  Students can either swing from one side to another or swing to and back, landing on the same mat they took off from.

Variations- you could challenge students by making the piles of mat farther away from eachother and increasing the height of the pile, or make it easier by moving the piles of mats closer and decreasing the height of the pile.
(activity works on balance, coordination, muscular strength, and some agility)

Station 3-   Ghost Tic Tac Toe: Students will have six bean bags of one color and six of another color.  There is a tic tac toe board made on the gym floor with pictures of ghosts in each square., for a total of nine squares.  Students will have to try and win Ghost tic tac toe by tossing their bean bags in the squares.  A childs ability to properly toss an object (bean bag) while aiming for a smaller target is the main focus in this game.   

Variations: To challenge students, have them stand farther back when tossing bean bags
 (works on some balance as well as their underhand tosses- control)

Station 4- Broom ball- Students will have to knock over as many pins (out of 7) as possible, using a “witches broom” (hockey stick) to hit a large foam ball in an attempt to knock the pins over.  Students will challenge themselves by trying to beat their previous scores. 

Variations: to challenge students, have them stand farther back
(works on coordination and control)

Station 5- Navigating through the cemetery: Student will have to climb the rock walls/cargo nets, seeing how far up they can go.  Make sure there are safety mats underneath rocks walls/cargo nets. 

Variations: to challenge the students, have them try to use different pathways when climbing the rock walls/cargo net.
(works on muscular strength, coordination, and balance)

Station 6: Running Frankensteins: Students will have to run from point A to point B as fast as possible, doing “Frankensteins” (arms out in front, high knees) along the way.

Variations: Have them try to beat their previous time
(works on cardiovascular endurance, coordination, and speed)

Station 7: Throwing Station (using halloween decorations to aim at): Students will have to throw foam ball at different Halloween themed targets on the wall.  Have the targets be different sizes.  Each student gets five throws before it is the next students turn. 

Variations: Have them keep track of their scores, trying to beat their previous scores each time. To challenge students- have them stand a little farther back, or choose the smaller targets to aim for
(works on coordination, balance, control, students ability to throw using proper technique while aiming at a target)

This was an extremely fun activity to help with and I especially enjoyed being able to observe the children performing a variety of tasks using a variety of different locomotor skills.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The importance of really getting to know your students

As a teacher candidate, I believe that one of the most critical components to being a great teacher is getting to know your students, developmentally and personally.  From my observations thus far ,in 256 and 355, I cannot stress the different abilities of kids that I observe who are in the same grade.  Every child learns differently- some are visual learners, some are auditory, some need to do an activity before they will learn it.  Every child learns at a different pace as well.  It is so critical that we tailor our lessons in ways that can and will meet the needs of every student in the classroom.  With all of the cuts being made in the education system right now, I understand that it can be very demanding and exhausting for teachers, but these children need us.  One of the most upsetting observations I have made thus far is that a surprising number of children must either not have great home lives or their parents don’t have the time to spend with them, playing games outside.   As a PE teacher, you have to realize that the 60 minutes a week these children are receiving in physical activity, during PE class, may be the only form of physical activity they are doing all week.  With the huge emphasis on technology these days, so many children would rather sit inside in front of a tv, computer, or video game instead of play outside or participate in sports or after-school activities.  As a future educator, I realize that I have to be creative in designing ways to get children active outside of school- to get them physically active for a lifetime.  So many parents today have to work often and late hours so they aren’t spending the time with their children they should be.  I can’t tell you how many young children reply, when I ask them about what they do when they get home from school for the day, that they go home and watch tv, get on the internet, or play video games.  It’s just really sad that society has become like this.  When I was younger the first thing my friends and I did when we got home was to go outside and play games with each other- wiffle ball, kickball, flashlight tag, etc.  We hated being inside.  I was fortunate enough to have parents who, although busy, always made time to play with me outside and get me involved in sports/physical activity.  As future Physical Educators, it is crucial that we find ways to connect with the students, inside and outside of school; to use creativity to spark a child’s interests in a variety of lifetime physical activities.  We have to realize that many of these children don’t have the support at home and that we have to be their support.  It is one of the most rewarding experiences to know that you’ve made a positive difference in a child’s life.  As difficult as it can be, take the time to get to know all of your students- personally and developmentally.  Some children will be more difficult than others, but persevere in your efforts.  It will be well worth it.  This is why we get into this business- to make a difference in these children’s lives.  We are not there to simply throw the ball out and watch them play for 60 minutes a week.  We are there to find ways to help them improve and learn in any way possible- physically, cognitively, and affectively.  When I was working with the young children at the CHAMP afterschool program, I made it a point to get to know each child the best I could in what little time I had with them- their interests, dislikes, hobbies, etc.  These are the things, or outlets, you can use to get through to them.  For example, one young boy- Nick, loved learning about the United States so I can up with games to play with him that incorporated the states into them and he absolutely loved every second of it.  We had another girl, Leah, who (at first) we had extreme difficulty getting her engaged in the activities.  When we found out that she loved squirrels, we came up with games that involved squirrels in some way and she would participate during the entire activity.  Also, when we had them keep food journals, I was shocked at the lack of healthy diet in the meals these children were getting at home.  Thus, healthy eating is another area that we, as Physical Educators, should be stressing to these children.  My philosophy in life, education, and physical education is to learn by doing.  Don’t give up on something just because it doesn’t work out.  Take a different approach to it.  Keep trying new things until you find something that does work.  The important thing is to be persistent and to never accept defeat.  No one ever said that this job- teaching- was going to be easy, but it is well worth the fight.  When you can see that you’ve changed these children’s lives for the better; there is no greater feeling in the world. 

Experiences with Elementary, Middle School, and High School: What I prefered

I just started my observations for EDU 355 two weeks ago and absolutely love it!!!  When I first came to Cortland I was positive that I wanted to work with High School students and pretty sure that I wanted to also work with Elementary students.  I was also positive that I wanted nothing to do with Middle School Students.  Well- I must say that after my EDU 256 observation and beginning my 355 observations my views have completely changed.  I was turned off of High School altogether and absolutely loved helping teach the Middle School.  I would like to observe in another school district at some point and compare schools to get a better feel for the High School.  I think that I just happened to have a very bad experience and it might not be so at a different school.  I loved working with the Middle School students because they were open to new things and full of energy.  I still don’t quite understand how these students go from this to becoming very lazy and disinterested in PE at the High School level.  As a future PE teacher, it is very important to me to think of ways that I can help run the PE program so that this doesn’t happen and children remain interested in physical activity/sports.  The one thing I did see and like from my High School Experience is that children were given the choice of choosing one activity out of four or five choices that they could participate in every five weeks.   For example, when during the five weeks that I was there, they could choose between ultimate Frisbee, team sports, tennis/kan jam, football, or track.  Having choices seemed to motivate the High School students more than just being forced to do the same, boring unit year after year.  I also decided that I absolutely LOVE working with elementary children.  During my 355 observation this semester, I have been able to observe two different classes, one being first graders and the other third graders.  Don’t get me wrong- you do get those students who test your patience- but I just love how they are all so eager to learn and participate.  I love seeing the excitement on their faces when they do something well and we compliment (positive feedback) them on it.  I love the experience that I am getting from observing two different age levels and seeing the differences in developmental levels of the children.  Some of the first graders are already at a mature stage in various skill themes, while other are still at the elementary stage.  It is the same with the third graders.  I’ve also noticed that many of the children are getting tired very quickly.  They may be able to run around really fast in short bursts, but their endurance is lacking.  Some thoughts I had on this would be to try and come up with ways to motivate children into running for longer periods of time (running club).   Another thing I noticed that the children struggle with is spatial awareness.  Both first and third graders are constantly running into each other.  I really like the way that the teacher deals with this problem.  As a student, if you run into another one of your classmates you are out of the game until the teacher tells you they can come back in.  This helped the problem a lot because none of the children ever like having to sit out from a game; thus they try harder to be aware of where they are in relation to their classmates.  A big thing that I noticed on the first day of observing in the elementary level was that there were vocabulary words written all over the gym walls.  I noticed that these words were included in the daily warm-ups that the teacher had written for each class.  When I asked the teacher about this he said that the school did very poorly last year on their ELA (English, Language, Arts) tests.  As a result, PE was being required to incorporate ELA into their daily lessons.  I was thrilled to hear this because I cannot tell you the amount of children today who cannot spell or struggle with vocabulary.  If we want our children to well- rounded and educated, that is definitely a good place to start- incorporating this words/vocabulary into their daily lives in as many ways as possible.  I look forward to the rest of this semester with all of my remaining observations in the elementary school.  I love that I learn something new every day there.  I am so grateful to have the opportunity to observe in different school settings over my time here at SUNY Cortland and cannot wait for my semester of student teaching!  Even more-so, I cannot wait to have my own classroom!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

what i hope to be as a teacher someday

First let me start out with a quote that I learned in my Educational Psychology class here at SUNY Cortland, "They don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."  I think that this is so true with teaching.  One of the most important things in teaching is you have to be able to connect with the children; to show them you care.  Thinking back on my many years as a student, whether it be college, high school, or elementary school, the teachers that stand out the most in my mind are my favorite teachers.  These are the ones who I felt a connection with; the teachers who I could tell (as a student) cared about me and wanted me to be successful.  As a youngster (before college), my favorite teacher was my third grade teacher.  He made learning fun for me by finding creative ways to teach so I would understand critical concepts.  His enthusiasm was infectious and, to this day, I know that I want to be just like him in that aspect.  I sincerely believe that it is crucial, as a teacher, to show enthusiasm and passion for what you are teaching.  It is also crucial that you stay up-to-date on your subject matter, mine being Physical Education.  I believe that, as tough as it can be, teaching is one of the most rewarding jobs that one could ever have.  Every day, one gets to go to school and have the opportunity to change studen'ts lives for the better.  I can't wait for the opportunity to work with children every day; to help better themselves.  It is also critical to know and understand the subject matter that you are teaching.  Children want to learn.  It is your job, as their teacher, to motivate, encourage, and guide them along.  It is important to remember that every child learns different.  It is your job to find ways to connect with each and every child so that they all benefit.  At this point in my life, I 've had the opportunity to observe all different types of children in different physical acitivity settings.  Every teacher that I've observed has their own style, some effective and some not.  From observing them, I've learned exactly who I am determined to be as a teacher and who I am not going to be.  Every day I am trying to come up with new ideas that I can use when I, one day, have my own classroom.  This is exactly how a teacher should be...passionate and open to endless possibilites.  My personal motto is "Learn by doing" (John Dewey).  It is important to try everything at least once and if it doesn't work try something else.  Hard work is key to success.  In order to succeed at anything you have to willing to fail.  Children are easily influenced and, as their teacher, you have to opportunity every day to do just that.  If you had asked me, at five years old, what I wanted to be when I was older I would've told you "a cowboy."; at ten I would've told you "a player for the Boston Red Sox"; and at twelve I would've said a "detective".  I never would've told you that I wanted to be a Physical Education teacher and now I can't think of anything I want to be more than that.  I can't wait for the opportunity to make a difference in these childrens' lives and to open their eyes in ways they never realized possible.  I can't wait to inspire them the way that I've been inspired by my teachers here at SUNY Cortland!!!!!  Oh..and speaking of being inspired...come on Red Sox!!!!  I know that you can do this!!!!!  All I am asking is that you make the playoffs!!!!..Please!!!!   

Sunday, September 11, 2011

First of all, since this is my first real blog of many to come, I feel that I should introduce myself.  My name is Nicole Petit and I am a PE major here at SUNY Cortland.  I come from a small town named Hartford, NY which is about 10 minutes from the border of Vermont.  I attended a school where the total number of kids, pre-k through 12, was 500.  I graduated with a fairly large class for that school, which consisted of 42 students.  I am a little hesitant to mention this, but (..since I’m being honest) my ten year class reunion was this year, which makes me a little older than the typical college student here.  I am third oldest in a family of nine children ( can almost hear you thinking ;-) ).  My up-bringing was very rigid, seeing as my parents are very traditional in their ways.  I grew up in a home where we had no internet, radio, or video games of any sort in the house.  This is specifically why I know that this class will be a struggle for me.  It isn’t that I’m opposed to technology; it just makes me very nervous because it is so unfamiliar and foreign to me.  We did have a television, but didn’t have any cable.  We were allowed to watch one movie a week on either Friday or Saturday night and it had to be rated either G or PG.  If it was PG-13, my father had to screen it first.  It is not very difficult to figure out why I spent most of my childhood outside or reading. One can now see why I fell in love with sports.  It was something that I was allowed to do, and I loved it.  Before I continue with sports, a quick fun fact that many of you may find unbelievable is that there was only one bathroom in my house growing up.  This meant that two parents and eight children (number 9 didn’t come until later on) had to use one bathroom.  It was like boot camp- we were assigned time slots when we were able to use the bathroom.  We were each were given 15 minutes in the bathroom before my father would practically break down the door.  So…those of you who sometimes think that you may have had it rough as a child..just think of me!  So…back to sports…
My favorite sport in the whole world is baseball/softball and this is in large part due to my father.  From the time I could stand my father was teaching me how to throw a ball and how to swing a bat.  As a youngster, my father had been an excellent baseball player.  He was asked (right out of high school) to go down to Fort Lauderdale for Spring training with the Philadelphia Phillies.  He said that he did go for a few weeks but it just wasn’t how he wanted to spend the rest of his life.  Baseball back then was a completely different game then it is today.  The players barely got by with what they made from their salaries.  Players were just not treated that well by their managers.  It is because of my father that I have a great passion for the “old” game of baseball.  I grew up watching videos and dvds (the only ones we were allowed to watch whenever we wanted) of Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, and Carl Yazstremski.  My father raised me on the Ted Williams approach to hitting, teaching me every aspect of hitting that he could.  I have read books and books on Ted Williams.  As a result of my father, I have to admit that I am a Boston Red Sox fan.  I know many of you are probably instantly be disappointed (I can only imagine the faces that you are making right now).  However (good news), I am not one of those obnoxious Red Sox fans- I just love the game of baseball in general and can appreciate good teams (even if it is the Yankees  Haha!).  I have to say, that as the game evolves and I grow older, I feel that true loyalty is lacking in baseball players today.  Whatever team offers them the most money, they will go play for.  I know that making a living is essential, but whatever happened to players like Cal Ripken Jr?  You could’ve offered him hundreds of millions of dollars and I’m positive he would’ve stayed with the Orioles.  Baseball players don’t have that sense of dedication and commitment anymore.  I am 100% positive that Cal Ripken’s record of 2,632 consecutive games is one record you will never see broken.  Nowadays, baseball players can’t survive without their days off.  Well…enough about baseball.  Growing up in a small school, there weren’t many options for sports to play.  We just had the basics- baseball/softball, soccer, basketball, and field hockey (which later switched to volleyball).  I realized at a young age that I was athletic and thus I was always outside playing some type of sport/activity.  My parents informed me that I could only choose two sports to play because there were simply too many of us children for them to be carting all of us around non-stop.  Thus, I chose to play softball and learn martial arts (because it went year round).  I had a lot of talent in softball, but was never allowed to play on any of the summer travel teams so I didn’t really get noticed.  I always made first team in our local newspaper but that was the extent of my recognition.  I also loved martial arts but had to stop taking it when the place I was doing it at closed down.  That was probably ten years ago and, to this day, I haven’t stopped looking for a place to take classes that is reasonably priced.  Please let me know if you know of any!!!!  Well…you now have a feel for who I am and why I love sports.  I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know a little bit about me!