Tuesday, February 24, 2009


On February 19, 2009, our Motor Development class had the privilege of having Aaron Hart, a physical educator and founder of the MyStationPE website, as a guest lecturer.  Aaron completed his undergraduate work at Penn State and taught PE at a public school in Brooklyn following graduation.  After a few years of teaching, he earned his Master's Degree from SUNY Cortland and founded the MyStationPE website.  During our 50 minute class, Aaron shared many of his past experiences, offered advice to use in the future, and gave us a tour of his website.

MyStationPE is a valuable tool for any Physical Educator.  The website has a number of developmentally-appropriate games and activities that PE teachers can bring into the learning environment.  Each game includes a diagram and demonstration video, instructional aids that can be printed out, assessments in pdf, visual cues, skill extensions, instructional hints, modifications for large classes and students of different abilities, and much more.  I think it's safe to say that our teaching group will be bringing many of the games from the website to St. Mary's.  

Sunday, February 15, 2009

First Day at St. Mary's

On Monday, February 9, 2009, I had my first learning experience at St. Mary's after school program with my lab group, Jumping Jack and the Jive Five. Walking into the building, I was anxious and unsure of what to expect. Participating in the after school program are students ranging from pre-K to 4th grade. Although I love interacting with young children, I've never had the opportunity to do so in a professional setting before.

Soon after we arrived, we were introduced to our group's Lab TA, Matt. He informed us that we would be spending the entire two hours with the pre-K children - the first hour and a half in their classrooms and the last half hour in the gymnasium. Since there were two pre-K classrooms, we broke up into groups of three and spent about 45 minutes in each. As I was walking through the door with what was probably a deer in headlights expression on my face, I scanned the classroom and noticed the two through five year olds scattered about. I did the best I could to meet and talk to each of the kids and participate in whatever activity they felt like playing. During the first hour and a half, I found myself playing with legos and dinosaurs, eating make-believe food at a picnic, drawing and coloring, and reading aloud children's books. In terms of social behavior, I noticed that there were some gender differences between the boys and girls. Most of the children had a tendency to socialize with others of the same gender. In addition, while coloring and reading were popular with both genders, playing with legos and dinosaurs were more attractive to the boys, whereas playing with dolls and kitchen toys were more attractive to the girls. Inside the classroom, I observed the pre-K children perform fine motor activities such as coloring and handling small objects. In doing so, I noticed that the older children were significantly more skilled in these activities than were the younger ones.

Being that we're in the midst of Cortland's cold, snowy winter season, the children don't spend recess outside on the playground. Thus, they had a tremendous amount of bottled up energy that seemed to be unleashed as soon as we step foot in the gymnasium. Because our class didn't have any formal games or activities planned, our group just sort of made things up as we went along, and the kids really loved it. I spent some time dribbling and passing kickballs with a few of the kids and also held up a hoola hoop for them to shoot the balls through. Our group set up a small obstacle course with the hoola hoops that the children also seemed to enjoy. However, I think the biggest hit was a tag game in which anywhere from 1 to 4 kids ran around the gym while inside of a hoola hoop one of us were holding. They imagined that hoola hoops were cars, so we made car noises as they "drove" around each other. While inside the gym, I noticed a large difference in motor behavior between kids of different ages, but relatively no difference between the two genders. The older children were more advanced in terms of maintaing static and dynamic balance, as well as performing locomotor activities such as running.

All-in-all, I think that our first lab was a success. We were afforded the opportunity to meet and interact with the pre-K kids in both the classroom and gym settings. I am really looking forward to our next lab so we can meet some of the older kids and actually plan games for them to play ahead of time.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Should Dodgeball Be a Part of a Physical Education Curriculum?

In our last Motor Development class, we had a discussion on different games and activities that were integrated into our PE classes growing up that are nowadays not part of a typical PE curriculum. Dodgeball in particular was a very hot button topic. Just about every student in the class, myself included, agreed that playing dodgeball was an enjoyable experience growing up. However, we also agreed that we were all very good at dodgeball whereas our former classmates who weren't as skilled in throwing, catching, and dodging probably did not have nearly as an enjoyable experience as we did.

As a future physical educator, I look at the game of Dodgeball much differently than I did when I played the game in elementary school. After 4th grade, my school district did not allow dodgeball to be played in PE classes and I remember being upset because of how much I loved playing. Now, I find myself defending the stance that Dodgeball should not be part of a Physical Education curriculum. Proponents of Dodgeball argue that it helps develop motor skills such as agility, throwing, and catching, but aren't there a hundred other games that can be played that do the same exact thing without making students human targets? I am lucky that I had the necessary motor development skills to allow me to succeed in Dodgeball back when I played in class because I can't imagine that being pelted with rubber balls is a positive experience. Bullying definitely exists in Dodgeball and since one of the goals of Physical Education is to get all students to enjoy physical activity, I don't see how Dodgeball is a good fit.

Generally speaking, the kids who don't like Dodgeball are usually less skilled movers and often, these are the students who don't participate in regular physical activity as they grow older into adulthood. Instead of forcing them to play an elimination game with questionable motives, why not integrate games that a larger percentage of students enjoy that maximize activity time and assist in developing motor skills equally as effective as Dodgeball?