Physical Education’s Superheroes – Part 2

Powerful Preparation

Long ago, on a school ground far, far away…There was a physical educator who wanted to be fantastic for her students. She went to school for a LONG time, then continued to attend conferences and online professional development opportunities to learn new ideas. She applied those ideas while she practiced her trade daily. She learned how to make her physical education lessons more inclusive, active, differentiated, and enjoyable.

Before and during every lesson, she thought about her content (the “what to teach”) and her instruction (the “how to teach it”). While she was becoming a superhero to her students, she discovered that the real superheroes of her profession were Content and Instruction (C&I); because almost everything she had learned or ever would learn could be categorized in these two ways.

More importantly, C&I were two things within her locus of control. She knew she faced many impactful obstacles outside her daily, direct control. Barriers to PE quantity and quality such as colleagues with varying philosophies, lack of administrative support, insufficient facilities and/or equipment, too large class sizes, students having PE too infrequently, and many more. So she learned to focus on what she COULD control, C&I.

Last time we talked about why Instruction should be our professional growth target because while WHAT you plan to teach is so important, HOW you go about teaching it (and adjusting on the fly) can make the difference between a bad lesson/learning experience and a GREAT one. So, I introduced the concept of Powerful Preparation.

Many years ago when I was coaching I remember hearing that practice design and time allocation should reflect what is done in the game. E.g., if you spend 10% of your time transitioning from offense to defense then dedicate that % of time to it and practice it as close to game speed/pressure as possible. When thinking about Powerful Preparation for teaching, think about what you do during your class to achieve the goal of student learning and achieving outcomes.

I’m a HUGE advocate for attending conferences, taking courses, listening to podcasts, participating in online learning opportunities, etc. Yet, let’s major in the majors here. To benefit from Powerful Preparation, to improve your Instruction, there is nothing that beats videotape review. Nothing. All the conferences, courses, and gadgets in the world (if not applied through a filter of good Instruction) are meaningless. So, here’s my advice on videotape analysis:

Phase 1  Getting Started Going Solo.

  1. Tape segments and tape entire classes. Segments are useful because you can see if you’re (e.g.) spending too much time instructing, and if so, you can “re-teach” using fewer words. Entire classes are essential so you can time all the segments and adjust accordingly, and watch for the transitions from one activity to another then strategize on how to reduce transition time.
  2. Self-Assess using my 2-step analysis: First, ask yourself, “What was successful and why?” Take notes and write down all the good things you did from management to discipline to feedback. Then ask yourself, “If I taught this segment (or lesson) again, WOULD I do anything differently?” List any areas you think could be improved upon and HOW you would do if you had a second chance.

Phase 2 (when you feel ready) Pair Up & Repeat

  1. Recruit a Peer: Ask a peer to watch the lesson with or without you and ask for her/his feedback using the same 2-step method in #2. You give your self-assessment first; your colleague affirms and/or challenges your opinions, then supplements and fills in any gaps. Set goals to address any areas of concern (e.g., “I want to provide more individual, positive-specific feedback when students are practicing and ask for her/his feedback using the same 2-step method in #2. You give your self-assessment first; your colleague affirms and/or challenges your opinions, then supplements and fills in any gaps. Set goals to address any areas of concern (e.g., “I want to provide more individual, positive-specific feedback when students are practicing sport skills.”) and work alone or with peers to outline what you’ll do to achieve those goals and how you will know when you’ve achieved them.

Phase 3 – Get It In Writing.

  1. Add a Written Assessment Tool: Many are available online or better yet, you can create your own and align it to the actions and behaviors you feel are important. What do you want to see and hear? 50% or better MVPA? Seamless transitions with all students active? Speedy access/return of equipment? Complete the form on yourself and/or when you’re ready, ask your peer to after watching the videotape.

Powerful Preparation is best achieved by systematic videotape analysis. I truly believe every physical educator would maximize their instructional methodology if they did this systematically. The question now is, how often should you submit to being videotaped?

After teaching for more than 11 years (you could call me a veteran) I began working on the original SPARK research project (1990-1993) and taught/re-wrote/added new units and lessons) that curriculum for 3 years. During that time I was videotaped weekly. Every two weeks my tapes were reviewed/critiqued by peers and a mentor. While camera shy at first, soon I became used to seeing/hearing myself on film and really enjoyed the learning process. It made me a MUCH better physical educator. When I began teaching future teachers how to teach physical education at University of California, San DIego and Cal State San Marcos, I used videtape extensively. When I observed and supported veteran teachers in the fields while working on other research grants and projects, I again made videotape analysis our go-to method for improving instruction.

In closing, wherever you are in your teaching journey, I hope you’ll begin a systematic program of videotape review, and consider using my suggested methods. Not only will your videos help make you the best teacher you can be, you’ll have EVIDENCE of your great work. What better way to impress your administrator, parents, and colleagues than with videotape examples of your effective instruction and subsequent proof of student achievement? Think of your annual review, your Master’s degree, and your back to school night? You’ll find many ways to use these tapes to make you, your students, and your program shine!

I want to thank my friends at Leapstart ( and @LeapStartIndia) for sponsoring this blog; and my colleagues at SPARK ( and @Sportime_SPARK) for partnering with Leapstart to bring evidence-based physical education content and instruction to students around the world.

Here is Part I of the article physical-educations-superheroes, in case you missed it.


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


What Now U.S.A?

With the news that Donald J. Trump will become the 45th President of the United States, many are prognosticating on how his policies might impact foreign affairs, the world economy, climate change, and more.

As a physical educator and public health advocate, I’m also thinking in a different, far more narrow lane. How might a Trump presidency impact our futures as professionals?

While the data support that physical activity delivered in schools by trained, physical educators positively impacts a young person’s ability to learn and be healthy, physical education (PE) continues a long fight to justify its existence. Even in 2016, when we KNOW active PE is essential for kids, the frequency and duration of PE classes is constantly challenged. 

The world supports the recommendation that young people should engage in 60 minutes of physical activity a day, nearly every day of the week. Yet PE is NOT a daily routine at every K-12 school in the world. in fact, if you speak with physical educators who teach in different countries, you’ll hear the same commonalities: 

-Insufficient time allocated for PE

-Lack of administrative support

-Budget concerns that threaten to reduce the number of PE teachers, classes, equipment, and more. 

The U.S. is losing one of its best PE supporters in their current First Lady, Michelle Obama. During her tenure, she brought worldwide attention to the issue of childhood obesity, and passionately supported healthy eating and physical activity programs, policies, and initiatives. Her efforts influenced private enterprise too, prompting changes in food labeling, more healthy choices on fast food menus, and changes in dietary guidelines for schools and districts.

President Obama set a good example too; maintaining an optimal weight and exercising consistently (his preferences are basketball and golf but he’s been known to jog and lift weights too). 

Does Donald Trump exercise regularly? Will he be a positive role model like his predecessors? Will he or his wife continue the obesity prevention emphasis of the current administration; an effort that resonated around the world? 

During the Obama administration, there was also funding to support National Institutes of Health grants that study root causes of obesity and test viable solutions. Under a Trump presidency, will this emphasis on scientific knowledge acquisition and prevention continue? 

We can lament the loss of the Obama’s and their emphasis on public health and prevention, or we can outreach to the next President and First Lady and encourage them to take up the cause. I strongly suggest the latter. Let’s begin to speak up on social media and educate President Trump. I’m going to ask our professional organizations to do this as well. This is an opportunity to recruit a new advocate! I hope you’ll join me by tweeting, posting, emailing, writing a letter, whatever medium you’re comfortable with. Now is the time to start this process. I hope you’re with me! 

In closing, I’m proud to be associated with organizations that are doing the grassroots work to provide quality PE, physical activity, and sport programs for youth in India, the United States, and China. The three largest countries in the world. In India, Leapstart (  and SPARK work together to deliver world class PE curriculum to the next generation of Indians. LeapStart strongly advocates the need to be Physically Literate and Active, from a very early age. In the U.S., SPARK (, email: focuses on innovation, integrating technology into its curriculum and pedagogy programs. In China, Edutech has translated SPARK to mandarin and is in the process of sharing SPARK content and instructional strategies with physicalWhat

Paul Rosengard (@paulrosengard) -Consultant/Advisor to Leapstart 

Science of Sport- Curling

Understanding The Science behind Curling 

Curling stones are thick stone disks made of heavy and polished granite along with a handle attached to the top. The maximum mass of a curling stone is 20 kilograms. Why does a curling stone curve (curl) on the ice? Players “sweep” the ice right in front of the stone to decrease the friction of the stone with the ice. This affects the degree of curl of the stone as it slides down the rink, towards the target.

To understand why a curling stone curls we must analyze the physics of curling. The figure below shows a schematic of the curling physics, for a curling stone rotating clockwise. 

Curling_1 Where: G is the acceleration due to gravity. NF is the resultant normal force exerted on the bottom front half of the curling stone, due to contact with the ice .NB is the resultant normal force exerted on the bottom back half of the curling stone, due to contact with the ice. Since the curling stone is in rotational equilibrium in the plane of the page, the sum of the moments about G in this plane must sum to zero. This means that the normal force NR must exert a momentum in the opposite direction to the momentum caused by R. This is only possible if the line of action of NR is to the left of G (on the bottom front half of the curling stone). Consequently, most of the normal force is acting on the bottom front half, and NF > NB.

It is a known fact that contact pressure with ice melts a very thin layer of water on the surface of the ice. This in turn decreases friction. Thus, the friction is inversely proportional to the amount of contact pressure with the ice. So, as a result of NF > NB, the friction force exerted on the (bottom) front half of the curling stone (due to contact with the ice) is less than the friction force exerted on the (bottom) back half of the curling stone (due to contact with the ice).The figure below illustrates this.

Curling_2Where:  FF is the resultant component of friction force exerted on the (bottom) front half of the curling stone, opposing the direction of rotation FB is the resultant component of friction force exerted on the (bottom) back half of the curling stone, opposing the direction of rotation

As stated previously, FF < FB. As a result, the clockwise rotation of the curling stone causes it to move to the right due to the greater friction force FB. If the curling stone is rotated counterclockwise then FF and FB will be pointing in opposite directions and the stone will instead curl to the left. By imparting spin on the curling stone, friction is induced which steers the stone away from its initial straight line trajectory.

The challenge for curlers is to control the level of curl of the stone, in order to get it where they want in the target area. They do this by controlling the level of friction of the stone with the ice.

Image courtesy : wikipedia

150000 wish a few hundred who represent a Billion !

Rio bound Indian Olympic Contingent Receives wishes from 150,000 children

Spirit of Sports Campaign initiated by LeapStart brought together 150,000 children from across the country to convey best wishes to the Indian Olympic and Paralympic Contingent of 2016

 LeapStart, in partnership with Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ), JSW Sports and GoSports Foundation, recently unfolded a nation-wide campaign in 130 schools, covering 45 cities and over 150,000 children to bid farewell and offer encouragement to the Indian athletes who will be leaving for the 2016 Olympic and Paralymic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Johnson Grammar School Habsiguda
Johnson Grammar School Habsiguda


The campaign offered school children from across the country an opportunity of a lifetime to send their wishes to the Indian Olympic contingent by writing personalised messages to their favorite athlete on a piece of cloth that was provided to all schools. The campaign reached out to children not only in major metro cities but also in tier 2 and 3 cities like Rohtak, Rajpura, Hosur, Managlore, Erode, Irungattukottai, Rajahmundry and Kurnool.

Together with the partners, LeapStart arranged for interactive sessions between the athletes and the children at their respective training centers where children presented the pieces of cloth with the wishes.

Babita Kumari _Indian Wrestler presented with the wishes
Babita Kumari – Indian Wrestler presented with the wishes

Speaking on behalf of the female wrestling team, Vinesh Phogat said , “ It was a brilliant gesture from everyone at LeapStart to present all these messages of support.
They keep pepping us up. It was wonderful to receive the signed clothes and I think I speak for Sakshi and Babita when I say that it has already become one of our prized possessions”

The campaig
n saw messages presented to ace shooter Heena Sidhu, shuttler Kidambi Srikanth, Para-swimmer Suyash Jadhav,  boxer Vikas Krishnan and the three marathon runners – Nitendra Singh Rawat, T Gopi and Kheta Ram.

Boxer Vikas Krishan said, “Meeting the kids, sharing a few stories and feeling their enthusiasm really gave me a big lift. It was really heartening to see the children being so interested in Olympics. I am sure all the good wishes will help in motivating me to achieve glory for the nation at Rio.”

“All the athletes have worked tirelessly and made huge sacrifices to reach the Olympics and it is important that they know that the country stands with them. It is also important to make children aware of the spirit of the Olympics, what it stands for, and hear stories first hand from the athletes themselves”, said Dhruv Nagarkatti, CEO, LeapStart.

The signed piece of cloth was also presented to the men’s Indian National Hockey Team just before they left for Rio from Bangalore.

Indian Hockey Team with the collated wishes from students across Bangalore
Indian Hockey Team with the collated wishes from students across Bangalore
Suyash Jadhav_Paralympic swimmer with students and Dhruv Nagarkatti, CEO, Leapstart
Suyash Jadhav_Paralympic swimmer with students and Dhruv Nagarkatti, CEO, Leapstart







Subedar Major Vijay Kumar _Poster

Subedar Major Vijay Kumar AVSM, SM (born 19 August 1985) is a sport shooter from India. He won the silver medal in the individual 25 metre rapid fire pistol event at the 2012 Summer Olympics. Vijay Kumar is supported by the Olympic Gold Quest initiative.


Karnam Malleswari_PosterKarnam Malleswari won the bronze medal at the 2000 Olympics, becoming the first Indian woman to win an Olympic medal. Her golden achievement paved the way to create enthusiasm for new generations and enthusiasm among women.


Vijender Singh Beniwal_PosterVijender Singh Beniwal also known as Vijender Singh  At the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, he defeated Carlos Góngora of Ecuador 9–4 in the quarterfinals which guaranteed him a bronze medal—the first ever Olympic medal for an Indian boxer.

Leander Adrian Paes_PosterLeander Adrian Paes is an Indian professional tennis player who is considered to be one of the best doubles and mixed doubles players of all time. He won a bronze medal for India in singles in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. He competed in consecutive Olympic appearances from 1992 to 2012 making him the first Indian and only tennis player to compete at six #Olympic Games.

KNOW THE STAR_Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore

Lieutenant-Colonel Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore is a Veteran Indian shooter and union minister, who rose to fame after winning the Silver Medal in Men’s Double Trap at the 2004 Summer #Olympics in Athens. He is the first sportsperson to win an individual Silver for India since Norman Pritchard, who won two Silver Medals at the 1900 Paris Olympics.

KNOW THE STAR_Abhinav Singh Bindra

Abhinav Singh Bindra is an Indian shooter and is a World and Olympic champion in the 10 m Air Rifle event. By winning the gold in the 10 m Air Rifle event at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, he became the first Indian to win an individual gold medal at the Olympic Games. It was also India’s first gold medal since 1980, when the Men’s Field Hockey Team won the gold

KNOW THE STAR_Norman Pritchard copy

Norman Pritchard was the first Indian-born athlete to participate in the #Olympic Games. He was also the first athlete from India and first athlete representing an Asian nation to win an Olympic medal He won two silver medals at the 1900 Summer Olympics in Paris, coming second in the 200 metres and in the 200 metres hurdles



The Science of Sport- Part I

Leapstart_ new addresspannel

Science Of Archery — Archer’s Paradox

Archer’s paradox is a very interesting physical phenomenon in archery. When the arrow is released to the left (or right) of a bow and is Arch 1deliberately aimed off target, it will straighten out during release and hit the target. This paradoxical situation is known as Archer’s paradox. The figure below illustrates this.

Due to the relatively high force of the bow string acting on the arrow in the direction of the arrow shaft, it begins to oscillate (fishtail) back and forth. This is the natural vibration the arrow experiences when subjected to a brief but large force. The force acting on the arrow is equal to the draw force as the archer pulls the string back to the release position.

Thus, the physics of archery is more than just shooting an arrow at the target. One must also account for the oscillation of the arrow during the release. In the explanation that follows, more details will be given on what occurs when the arrow is released and why it straightens out. Initial set up, as the archer pulls the string back and is ready to release it.

First Stage of Archer’s Paradox

The figure below shows the arrow immediately after release.
In this first stage three things happen:

Arch 21. As he release happens the string slides off the fingers and moves left, it would be impossible for an archer to open his fingers fast enough to prevent the string from sliding off to the side a bit. For getting the arrow to fly straight it is desirable that the string initially deflects to the left a bit.

  1. The leftward motion of the string excites a mode of oscillation where the arrow begins to vibrate in the plane of the page. The string force F1contributes to the deflection of the arrow δ beyond that due to the leftward motion of the string by itself. Note that F1acts in the direction of the arrow shaft.3. The arrow is contacting the bow at point P due to a clockwise moment, which can be taken about the center of mass G (of the arrow) at the instant shown. This moment is equal to F1r1, where r1 is the moment arm F1makes with G.Second Stage of Archer’s Paradox

During this second stage, two things happen:

1. The string moves right, as it restores its original position with the median plane of the bow. As a result, the string “pulls” on the arrow with a force F2.  Arch 42. The tip of the arrow T moves slightly to the left. This is due to a counter-clockwise moment taken about the center of mass G at the instant shown. This moment is equal to (F1r1 + F2r2), where r2 is the moment arm F2 makes with G.

In the third and final stage illustrated , the arrowart work-04 exits the bow completely, having completed (approx) one full oscillation. The arrow is now flying straight to the target. It will continue oscillating all the way to the target, with oscillation gradually decreasing in amplitude, but maintaining the same frequency throughout the flight.





*researched content from Google and real world physics problems

Keep it Moving!


Movement Friendly Cities: Being Active on the Go !

Humans are designed to move; and move we must to be Fit & Active. Our bodies have evolved to meet the evolving demands of human existence. And yet, research shows us that, as economies develop, our levels of physical activity have reduced to dangerous lows. Physical inactivity is a looming and dangerous threat to everyone’s health, well-being and quality of life. This should be a part of our daily existence and not be seen as a leisure activity.

Diseases linked to a lack of physical activity include coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and different cancers, which cause an estimated 500,000 deaths each year in Europe alone. 25% of adult deaths in India are attributed to heart diseases. As per an independent study, the extra costs of Medicare, estimated at €80.4 billion annually, could be avoided altogether if all Europeans exercised for 20 minutes per day on average.Copenhagen 2To make its citizens active, a conscious decision has to be taken by the governments or local authorities to make basic and affordable amenities available to the masses. The benefits of having a city designed to move are tremendous and not an expensive proposition as one would imagine. It will eventually benefit economically, socially,safety wise and health wise. 

A Few ways to keep a city moving:

  • OPEN UP SCHOOL RUNNING TRACKS AND FIELDS TO THE PUBLIC:       With urbanization everyone doesn’t have access to public grounds. Let’s try and get schools to keep their courts and grounds open for public during non- school hours. 
  • TURN THE LIGHTS ON AND KEEP PARKS AND SPORT SPACES OPEN LATE: Corporate life doesn’t allow to run, exercise or move at favourable hours. Keep your local parks bright & lit even at nights to keep them safe.
    City leaders can encourage citizens to be active. Beunos AiresTake efforts to ensure walking or biking is promoted. Widen your pathways to walk and cycle. Many cities offer information about walking, running and cycling routes on their websites. Public access to bikes on rent by subscription or by the day or our can boost active transport opportunities for all.
  • KEEP STAIRS IN PUBLIC BUILDINGS TO BE OPEN FOR PUBLIC USE: Stairs can be more than a fire escape. They’re a great, healthy way to get from one floor to another, but many buildings don’t require them to be opened up for daily use. Studies show that consistent stair use can be linked to a 12-20 percent reduction in all-cause mortality, including cardiovascular diseases.
  • EASY STREET-CLOSING PERMITS FOR NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAY EVENTS : Active cities are often fun cities and street-play events are one more way to make physical activity enjoyable. Adelaide 2For example, Bristol (UK) has a system in place to allow ordinary citizens to apply for a “Temporary Play Street Order” that closes streets to play on a one-time or regular basis. Families love the option and it’s helped to strengthen the city’s reputation as a playable city. 

ALSO READ : Physically Active Lifestyle in the City

  • MOTOR-FREE STREET: Open the streets to non-motorized transport exclusively. These streets can be heavy traffic zones where everyone is encouraged to cycle or take a walk to reach their destination. 
  • FITNESS IN PUBLIC PARKS & DEVELOPING POCKET PARKS:Providing public spaces to work out can be inexpensive, fun and accessible to all. These can be state run training where access to facilities can be for free. Small,unused pieces of land in urban areas can make ideal recreational spaces in urban environments.

ls 2


Content courtesy designedtomove[dot]org

Getting sports and physical education right

One question I am often asked is “given we are a country of a billion people, save for cricket, how is it that we struggle to produce world champions and Olympic medallists more consistently?” Some go on to probe further, asking whether there is a rise of a sporting culture in India with so many new sports leagues & events and the increase in awareness of sports and the benefits of being fit.

While it is true that we have the world’s second largest population, that alone does not allow for a sporting culture to prevail in the country. For too long, the culture of sports in India has been one of using sports for other means – a failsafe mechanism for college admission, for a job, for a plot of land, etc. A practice of spotting talent early enough to nurture and grow it from strength to strength so that it delivers when it counts has never been in existence. We are not even talking of modern approaches to coaching, physical training, sports medicine, etc. Some of these issues are being addressed at various levels – but perhaps the momentum of these changes could be a lot faster and the changes themselves more effective. One other issue is that usually the rewards that come in are post the athlete’s achievements and not at the opportune time when the athlete requires the funding for training requirements.

But more fundamentally, to develop this culture of sports in India, we have to go back to our grass roots, to our schools, where our children are exposed to the concept of being physically active. Today, amongst adults beyond the age of 26, only 3% of people use sports or team sports to remain physically active! This is usually because many adults don’t know how to play sports or were not taught the right skills to pick up sports. Nurturing a sporting culture, requires us, as educationalists, as teachers and as parents to understand the benefits of being active, what being active actually means and encouraging the thought of being active as a natural extension of our lives. If we get this right, we can then be on a path of creating the next world champion.

Individual Equipment for each Kid

How is your physical education class structured?

So how is your physical education class structured? What is taught during PE? Is it one ball for 30 children with limited guidance? Do the children know what is being taught and why it is being taught? Are development of social skills integrated into the class? Too often a physical education class is unstructured, disorganized and lacks the understanding of the learning outcomes necessary to the development of the child. In a research paper that was published in 2011 by Dowda and Sallis, they have shown that with right intervention and physical education specialist, the amount of movement and physical activity in a PE class can increase by 18%, without increasing the frequency or the duration of the lesson. That begs the question – how much does your child move in the 30/40min PE class?

A recent study found that adopting an evidence-based physical education programme is hindered by the number and quality of physical education specialists, budget limitations and unwillingness to allocate time for physical education (Lounsbery, McKenzie, Trost, & Smith, 2011). This study was conducted in the US, however, the realities aren’t very far in the Indian education context. Barriers such as these directly hinder PE from playing a major role in contributing to educational goals, providing physical activity, and making a public health contribution. (McKenzie & Lounsbery, 2009).

To approach this correctly, requires a recognition and belief that good physical education has not only health benefits but also academic benefits as well. There is a whole body of research working on how to design and deliver a quality PE class. How can a simple activity like throwing and catching be broken down into small fragments so that a child learns these basic skills in an age-appropriate manner without being overwhelmed. How do you use different size balls (e.g. size 2,3,4) to allow a natural progression in learning dribbling skills in basketball?

Progression of Skill

Designing a curriculum and why it is important to map to standards

The goal of any research-based physical education program is to develop physically literate individuals who have the knowledge, skills and confidence to enjoy a lifetime of physical activity. To do this, the curriculum has to be designed in such a way as to ensure every child is taught skills in an age-appropriate manner to enable physical literacy. Questions one must ask are: Has the child learned the skills necessary to participate in a variety of physical activities? Does the child know the implications and the benefits of involvement in various types of physical activities? Does the child participate regularly in physical activity?

By mapping a curriculum to standards, you essentially test the efficacy of the outcomes of the programs. There are many standards that the curricula can be mapped to. At LeapStart we use the The National Association of Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) standards. Therefore, all our activities and classes tests whether a child :

  • Demonstrates competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns.
  • Applies knowledge of concepts, principles, strategies and tactics related to movement and performance.
  • Demonstrates the knowledge and skills to achieve and maintain a health-enhancing level of physical activity and fitness.
  • Exhibits responsible personal and social behavior that respects self and others.
  • Recognizes the value of physical activity for health, enjoyment, challenge, self-expression and/or social interaction

To integrate the above outcomes, the curriculum needs to be broken down to map each of the activities into learning outcomes. Each trained physical education specialist needs to understand what the objective of the class is and ensure concepts and learnings are reinforced at the end of each class. And finally, at the end of each unit/sport that is being taught, there needs to be a carefully designed rubrics-based assessment tool to objectively assess the progress of the child. Much like a ‘regular’ academic subject is taught with defined syllabus, books and assessed in schools, Physical Education should not be any different.

Choosing the right intervention program

Essentially the focus of any good physical education program should be on developing skills, as opposed to drills in children; beginning with the pre-school years all the way through to the 12th standard. A major downside to rapid urbanization is that while a couple of decades ago, children had access to open spaces such as playgrounds or parks, these are now places that are at a premium. For a sporting culture to develop in the country, sports and physical fitness have to be part of the overall curriculum followed in school from the youngest possible age.

What is needed is an intervention program that is research-driven to develop, instil and inculcate essential sporting activities needed for the holistic development of the child. The central idea is for the child to participate inan activity where he/she Hula Hooplearns a skill; that will stand them in good stead as they grow, more so, if they are desirous later on of
Hula Hoop pursuing the sport with even more dedication.

Equally important is that each and every child participates in the various skill development programmes – implying that there is equipment for everyone in the session and that children of all abilities are included in the class. We understand that innovative pedagogy combined with excellence in delivery will result in children excelling not just in academics but also in sports and together this will prepare them in facing life’s challenges. Because ultimately in sports, as in other facets of life, it is all about a test of character.

The public health goal of physical education is to prepare children for a lifetime of regular physical activity. This is not new but getting this right is a fundamental duty we have towards our children.

Dhruv Nagarkatti
CEO Leapstart

< This article was published in the April issue of the The Mentor>