Remember when the PE teacher just threw balls out onto the gym floor, sent you outside to play, or had you running endless laps? Jasmine Stiles, the PE coordinator in Encinitas, CA, is out to change that.

Stiles stresses student engagement to teach physical literacy.

According to the SHAPE America national PE standards, physical literacy is “the ability to move with competence and confidence in a wide variety of physical activities in multiple environments that benefit the health development of the whole person.”

So, how do you know every student is learning? Rather than just sending the kids out to play a game, the game itself is broken up into skill learning. The students use three-to five-point rubrics for each skill.

Stiles has developed rubrics for every sport, as well as for conditioning exercises such as curl-ups and push-ups.

Students work the skills on their own using the rubrics, guiding and giving each other feedback, like “get your dominant hand lower.” Students evaluate and rate themselves and others, sometimes using video to study their forms.

“We teach technique to the nth degree,” said Stiles, adding that students never leave a unit without learning the essential skills that will help them be successful at the game or activity.

In PE class, the goal is to get moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) 60 percent of the class time as well as for students to recognize the value of physical activity for health, enjoyment, challenge, self-expression and/or social interaction.

Students take PE three times a week, starting each class with flexibility and ballistic stretches, strength and conditioning exercises, and cardiovascular conditioning to get their heart rates up and challenge their lungs. At least once a month they do a 1,500-meter timed run and in May, every student runs a 5K!

One day a week is a shorter class and they focus on a health and wellness. They have done a self-defense unit, learned about nutrition, focused on drug prevention, studied trends like vaping, and done social emotional learning activities on friendships and relationships.

The activity units range from yoga to lacrosse to pickleball. Stiles said while they could choose to devote longer to each activity or sport, she wants to expose them to as many things as she can so they have options when they are older.

“The ultimate goal is lifelong fitness. The more options they have, the less afraid they will be to try something as an adult.”

Students might not like every activity but overcoming obstacles and challenges only makes them stronger both physically and mentally.

“You have one body and lifelong fitness changes your life. The most valuable asset you’ll ever have is your health.”

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