Sunday, February 8, 2009

SPARK Workshop

On Thursday morning during class and on Saturday morning I was able to attend parts of the SPARK workshop. SPARK stands for Sports, Play, and Active Recreation for Kids. During these workshops I learned a ton about ways to become a better physical educator and how to make physical fitness in schools fun. Some main objectives of the SPARK program were to help teachers use effective organization, proper class management techniques, effective instructional methods, alternative teaching styles, and strategies to responding to “real world” challenges that arise in schools today.  If physical educators tackle these objectives and master them the benefits to school physical education will sky rocket.  The truth is that today many physical education classes are on the chopping blocks due to budget cuts and what not.  Studies show that in most physical education classes, students are only moving around and participating in about 30% of the class time. This needs to change, and SPARK shows many ways of doing this.  In this workshop we learned the benefits of splitting up the class into small groups, and also cutting down instruction time.  Most of the time Physical Education teachers may dwell on explanations when they often don’t have to, which can lead to students sitting around and becoming bored.  In the workshop we worked on giving brief explanation followed by a quick visual, which will keep students on the same page and active throughout the class.

One important thing I got out of the workshop was disguising physical fitness exercises.  Such as the usual warm-ups of physical education classes usually consist of taking a few laps and doing push-ups and sit-ups, which after a while gets repetitive and boring.  Why not add a short dance routine in for a warm-up that will serve the same purpose as running laps but it can be put to music, along with working on students rhythm, balance, coordination, along with cardiovascular endurance. Instead of doing push-ups for upper-body strength, we did some different fun activities. We split up into partners, while facing are partners about a yard a part we got into a push up position with a bean bag on the floor in between us. We alternated clapping hands while music was playing, as the music stopped both partners tried to grab the beanbag. Another variation was to be in push-up position about 5-8 feet away from each other and use the bean bag like a hockey puck and try and score it between your partners arms. These activities were a lot more exciting then push-ups and kids will be getting the benefits of push-ups while having fun.

Overall I had a great experience at the workshop and I hope to one day incorporate some of the games into my own physical education classes. 

-Here is a video I found that help explains the objectives of SPARK 

video

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