Integrating Common Core Standards
into Physical Education
written by Ryan
Sheehy, Tassajara Hills Elementary, Danville, CA (home
The Common Core is a national movement to adopt common standards
and assessments for English language arts and mathematics.
These standards aim to create assessments that will not vary
among states and will determine whether students are meeting
those standards. Common learning goals provide a clear direction
for what educators and parents should aim for. It creates
a level playing field for all students independent of the
state they reside in. Common Core Standards are designed to
make the student college and career ready. The goal is to
have the students succeed in a global economy and society.
Students are provided with rigorous content that creates an
environment in which they have a deeper level of understanding.
A common response when physical education teachers are told
that they need to incorporate English Language Arts and Mathematics
into our curriculum is frustration. We've become accustomed
to doing things that work well for our students, and us and
heard the call to keep our students moving as much as possible.
Then about the time we get comfortable with what we're doing,
it seems that learning standards change or a new curriculum
is adopted and we're expected to do something different. The
adoption of the common core standards has brought a huge paradigm
shift in education. Teachers are being asked to get their
students to think in different ways and to demonstrate a deeper
level of understanding. With the common core's primary focus
on English Language Arts and Mathematics, physical educators,
not unexpectedly, are concerned about how this is going to
affect their teaching.
As states and school districts deliberate ways in which they
can effectively integrate common core standards into instruction,
it's vital for physical educators to be part of the discussion.
Something we should have learned from the introduction of
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) more than a decade ago is that
we put the future of our profession in a precarious state
if we allow ourselves to be excluded from educational reform
Below, I've made a list of ten easy ways physical educators
can incorporate common core teaching into their programs.
The change in the classroom has begun. Use these tips and
ensure that you aren't left out of the conversation.
10 easy ways to incorporate common core:
- Introduce vocabulary words to your class on a daily/ weekly
basis. Use a bone or muscle each day instead of saying the
word "go". This allows students to learn parts of their
body, increase their vocabulary, and work on their spelling.
Incorporating vocabulary into the class gives the teacher
another avenue for assessment. Teachers then can administer
quick writes, allowing students to demonstrate knowledge
in those areas.
- When using any kind of counting
in your class, have the class count using multiples. Students
can also use a call and response method of counting by spelling
out different words that you have chosen which relate to
- Create a word wall. This wall
can be the ball wall or PE shed. This a great tool to utilize
and introduce students to different words for their vocabulary.
Allow the students to join the process of determining which
words make it onto the ball wall. In the primary grades,
classroom spelling words can make an appearance on the wall.
- Provide students with informational
texts on different physical education disciplines. A perfect
way to introduce this to the class is to give the students
informational texts on a game that will be played during
the class that day. Have students read the information and
then, using their reading comprehension skills, play that
game without further instruction from the teacher.
- Have students apply physical education
vocabulary through writing exercises unique to each discipline.
This could be as easy as writing a reflection on how moderate-vigorous
physical activity can affect the body. It also can be utilized
by having students do a longer project with research and
- Have students read information
on certain skills or activities and then discuss as a class
the meaning of the information. For example: Have students
read the definitions of offense and defense and discuss
the meaning and how it can be implemented in a game like
- When students are playing games
where scores are kept, have each point be worth a different
value than one. For example in elementary school, in a game
of soccer, each goal can be worth six points. This will
make students count using multiples of 6, creating a deeper
level of thinking.
- Have students create a personal
workout program to achieve optimal level of health related
physical fitness. Students are trying to create a written,
organized, and well-developed program.
- Create a math station using a
dry erase board. This station can be part of many different
PE activities. For example set up an adventure race where
students are running distances to each obstacle and they
cannot move forward until figuring different problems. Using
word problems related to physical education will create
a deeper level of thinking in physical education.
- Give students Fitnessgram results
and have students in groups create different ways to increase
the scores at your school. Think/Pair/ Share your ideas
with the class as a whole and brainstorm solutions and possibilities.
Ryan Sheehy currently teachs at Tassajara Hills in Danville
CA. Before coming to Tassajara Hills he taught 4 years of
elementary physical education and 1 year of PE at a middle
school. Ryan graduated from CSU East Bay with a B.S. in Kinesiology
and this past summer he earned his M.A. in Kinesiology from
Saint Mary's. Ryan is married to the love of his life, Barbara,
and they have three beautiful boys, and a beautiful daughter.
When he is not teaching Ryan enjoys hiking, running, biking,
and spending time with his family.
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