Allowing Students to Choose Physical Education Activities: The New And Advantageous Way To Teach

Imagine, it’s 11 AM and you are in high school. You just finished your second class of the day and you are heading towards the gymnasium. During this three minute walk towards the gymnasium you stop and talk to your friends, say hi to an old teacher, and try and come up with a good excuse to get out of playing softball today. You hate softball and are even more upset because you are forced to play this game by your teacher. You arrive to class with a poor excuse and are forced to change for class. You go into the locker room, change for class, and walk into the gym dismayed at the fact that yet another day in physical education is spent doing something you don’t enjoy.

This is a thought running through many average teenager’s minds on an every day basis. Many students do not like what they are learning in physical education and refuse to participate in something they have no interest in. Many teachers are content with allowing students to sit out or just stand around during class and let it affect their grade. Is this doing any good? Is the job of a teacher really getting done? Absolutely not, the job of a teacher, specifically a Physical education teacher, is to teach students different healthy and active things they can do as a part of their lifetime fitness. Of course they are their to get their “required fitness time” in, but are they really doing anything about their fitness as they sit and watch half the class play a game they do not like? Are teachers helping fight the growing obesity rates by allowing students to not participate and let their grade suffer?

The solution to fighting the plague of students sitting out of physical education is adopting the style of Elective Physical Education. Elective Physical Education is exactly what it sounds like it is, Elective. The students get to choose which activity they want to participate in for that specific unit. The teachers get together and lay out a certain amount of different activities that the students can choose from to participate in during that time period. Then on the first day of each unit, the activities are all explained and the students choose which activity they will participate in. Now instead of students feeling forced into participating in something they do not enjoy, they have a choice of what they want to do, and what they will actively participate in.

There is a concern about how to make sure a broad variety of activities are covered by each student and to make sure they get proper exposure to different skills, athletic events, and fitness techniques. Each unit should have a specific theme such as team sports, individual sports, lifetime fitness, cardiovascular fitness, leisure activities and much more. By laying out multiple choices within each unit allows for teachers to maximize time on task. Students will be more involved in the lesson, and teachers will spend less time trying to get everyone involved.

A major emphasis should be put on allowing the student to find something he or she likes and getting them involved. This is especially important when talking about lifetime fitness activities because this is where our teaching is going to affect the student the most. If every student can attend a class that they enjoy participating in and gain a new found love for a lifetime fitness activity, then as Physical Education teachers we have done our job in helping to keep our population healthy and active.

Social figure heads, such as First Lady Michelle Obama, have taken it into their own hands to help fight obesity in the United States. The first lady conducted a fitness day in which hundreds of students joined her in participating in a physical activity to help fight obesity. It is in using Elective Physical education that this can really make an impact on fighting obesity. We want every student to learn about how to stay healthy and how activity can help burn calories and keep them in a healthy physical shape. For one specific unit each activity can focus on checking one’s heart rate, calculating calories burned per class, and measuring other health factors that are important to our physical fitness. Many students think that the only way to burn calories is to walk or run around the block. They need to be shown that while playing tennis they burn so many calories, or while they participate in expressive dance their heart rate reaches eighty percent of their maximum heart rate. Showing students that while participating in a variety of activities can be beneficial to their health is very important. Allowing the students to choose the activity is even more important because they will then have an interest in this subject area and will hopefully continue to participate int his activity outside of the gymnasium at their high school.

Now imagine its 3 PM, you are getting into your moms car on the way home from school and she asks you how your day was. You tell her about the A you got back on your math test, and the project you have due in history, then you tell her about how much fun you had in physical education. You tell her it is because you got to choose the activity you are going to do for the whole week and in doing that you learned how beneficial this activity is to your health. You tell her how you can’t wait to walk to class tomorrow at 11 AM and go right back to were you left off today.