Physical Education’s Superheroes -Part 1

Physical Education’s Superheroes – Part 1

I didn’t see the movie Batman vs. Superman but it seems to me that both superheroes are great and should just cooperate and not compete. On that (tongue in cheek) note, let’s discuss two other superheroes, Content and Instruction. Which is more valuable to the physical educator? On which should we focus our time and resources?

First, let’s do a background check: Over the years I’ve authored or co-authored 16 different lesson plan books (SPARK and Nike) spanning from Pre-K through University level. So, I’ve created, modified, edited, and taught a LOT of physical education (PE) lessons during my 35+ year career.  As a researcher and university instructor of future teachers, I observed thousands of PE classes in the field taught by novices and veterans alike and countless hours of lesson plans on videotape. What have I learned?
A GREAT lesson plan in the hands of a bad teacher oftentimes
becomes a poor lesson. A poor/mediocre less
on plan in the hands of a terrific teacher can become a GREAT lesson. Let’s award our first point to the superhero, Instruction.
It’s been enlightening to watch lesson plans I’ve written implemented in so many different ways. (I’d often joke that if you gave the same lesson plan to 10 different PE teachers you’d see 10 different lessons.) Some teachers stick to theLeapstart magazine JAN- issue “script” while others modify aggressively and ad-lib. Some teachers embrace the concept of the lesson, then run it through their filters and achieve the desired outcomes via a far different process. It’s all fine as long as the lesson is aligned to standards, inclusive, highly active (50% or greater MVPA), differentiated, enjoyable, and student learning can be proven. Wait, like that’s easy? I don’t think so – another point for Instruction.
You may argue that as long as the outcomes are achieved, the process isn’t important. I say it’s a matter of using time effectively. If your process is efficient ; moves your student(s) from point a to point b quickly, then you have more time to guide their evolution to point c. If your process is slowing your students down, their learning is constrained. Score one more for instruction.

If you’re thinking my superhero of choice is Instruction- you’re right. I believe in the ability of great physical educators to make chicken salad out of chicken _____. Armed with that colorful phrase, I say we move to “Powerful Preparation.” What do I mean by Powerful Preparation? You’ll have to tune in when it’s time for Part 2…

Until then, I want to thank my friends at Leapstart ( and @LeapStartIndia) for sponsoring this blog; and colleagues at SPARK ( and @Sportime_SPARK) for partnering with Leapstart in an effort to bring great physical education content and instruction to teachers around the world.
Paul Rosengard