Flipped Physical Education Helps Students and Families Get Fit and Have Fun

Guest post by PE teacher Judson Sickler.

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The flipped classroom is a buzzword that has been aggressively circulating throughout the education community over the past couple years. Teachers in many subjects, including math, science and foreign languages, are all using technology to switch up the way students learn. However, one area that hasn’t recently been in the spotlight is physical education (PE), where it’s assumed students just run around playing soccer or basketball. I’m here to tell you that PE can benefit from the flipped classroom model just as much as any other subject and it has been making quite the impact in my class!

I’m a sixth grade PE teacher at the Cupertino Middle School in California. Two years ago I took a 21st century technology learning seminar and was introduced to several growing educational technology trends, including screencasting. This seminar was more than a typical professional development day for me and after digesting what I learned, I instantly saw a logical fit for technology in physical education. I almost immediately began incorporating instructional videos into my classes, which taught students a variety of skills and rules. While I didn’t realize I was doing so at the time, I later discovered that I was flipping my class.

As part of my new flipped curriculum, I make two or three screencasts per month using Camtasia. Each lesson, ranging from line dancing to tumbling, begins with an overview video, then using screencasting, I add in links to supplemental videos that are more skill-based. I assign these screencasts to my students 10 days before each lesson so they can come to class prepared and ready to partake in the activities and so the limited class time we have is spent being active.

Introduction to Jump Roping Unit Screen Cast from Judson Sickler on Vimeo.

Let’s use one of my recent lessons on jump roping as an example. Since my students had watched the videos in advance, they came to class on the first day with all the necessary knowledge on jump roping (there’s a lot more to learn than you’d imagine!) Instead of beginning the class with more than 30 minutes of lecture, the discussion was reduced to 11 minutes and the students were jumping like pros shortly after the class began!

As evident from my new class structure, the flipped model keeps students moving for nearly the entire class period. Even more importantly, it also keeps them moving while at home. Since they began watching instructional videos, the time spent practicing for each lesson outside of class increased dramatically. Out of my 200 students, 60-80 watch outside video for extra credit. Some even watch the instructional videos 20 times! This demonstrates what the students are gaining from each video; in addition to learning something new, there’s a level of excitement and engagement that did not previously exist.

Although I instantly knew that technology could be very beneficial for my class, I’m just beginning to see how large that impact can be. Since implementing these videos, students have demonstrated dramatic change in skills and ability- and parents are seeing a change as well. Students have shown the desire to be more active at home and are getting their family to participate in the activities too.

Physical education is gaining momentum again and its value in schools is more important than ever. With the flipped class model, students learn new skills and get exercise in the process. By sending students home with the ability to learn and practice their skills, they can get their entire family involved in what they are learning while working up a sweat!  Instead of gathering in front of a TV after school and work, families can now learn how to dance, tumble or jump rope together. So go out there and flip your PE class – everyone will benefit as a result.

  • Joe S

    Judson,
    This is creative and certainly engaging. I am a technology integration specialist and would love to connect with you to hear more about what you are doing in your classroom with technology.