“I wish I were a 5 year old at Highland Park Elementary School in Autstin, Texas so that I could have Jim DeLine as a physical education teacher!” – Lynn Hefele
I just attended the #National PE Institute in Asheville, NC where I had the opportunity to witness my vision of Elementary P.E. perfection! Jim DeLine’s first session, Go Green, Go Lean, Assessment Routines was supposed to focus on ways to assess cognitive knowledge without a paper and pencil; but it was very clear that there was much more to learn from this session than assessments.
Cast of Characters
Jim’s classroom is filled with imaginary, evil, wellness robbing, villains like; Sherriff Lazy Bones, Sinister Supersizer, the Fat Cats, and Couch Potato Au Gratin. Through the use of these amazing characters, complete with accents, Jim is able to weave wellness, anatomy, and nutrition concepts into any skill centered lesson. For example, in the football unit, his team, the Scotties, are trying to conquer the Fat Cats by using plays that require pantomiming fitness activities.
P.E. Power Words
Classroom management in Jim’s world is clearly defined and hysterically funny. Expectations are scripted with a teacher statement and a student response. For example, instead of a whistle or a freeze, Jim says “Hey team!” and the students respond with “Hey Coach!” and then turn and face the teacher. Granted, Jim has a football coach/military/comedian way of saying things to grab your attention; but the premise is simple, have the students show that they have heard the command with a verbal and/or physical response that draws the attention of all the students in the gym. Brilliant!
Teaching in Levels
Jim’s lessons are broken up into levels. He has obviously chosen an outcome and broken it down into small, attainable learning objectives. Teaching this way has many advantages. First, students start at the very basic skill and attain success before moving on. Second, the amount of time spent on instruction is small which keeps students focused on the objective and well behaved. Finally, at the end of each round there’s a dance! “I’m done, I’m done, I’m done with Level 1!”-“I’m through, I’m through, I’m though with Level 2!”
Holding Students Responsible
The feeling in Jim’s gym is that you are part of a team and you have an important role in it. If you’re sitting out, you will be asked to do the wave, be a coach, or gather equipment. You got the impression that your individual presence made a difference to the team. The pace of the class was quick and expectations were high.
Making Students Feel Good
The reason you felt that you were part of the team was that your individual contribution did not go unnoticed. Positive reinforcement was both verbal and demonstratively physical! A great pass during his “Think Outside the Ball- What’s in Your W.A.L.L.E.T” session would not only get you a heartfelt “Great Pass!” but also a class wide Cha-Cha Dance.
Sending a Message to Parents
The final activity of his last session was called the William Tell Overture. I’ll be using it as the opening ceremony to my field day this year. This activity is a full class concert of rhythmic movement with a message. Jugglers represented the juggling of priorities and the importance of Physical Education. The ball handlers represented the importance of children’s health/well-being and our determination to not to drop the ball. Ribbon dancers represented the need to wave the flag in support of quality Physical Education and the stretch bands represented the need to stretch the budget to include P.E.
The List Goes On
I could go on and on with best practice ideas, assessments, interdisciplinary concepts and Brain, Academic, Movement Activities but I try to keep these blogs under two pages! I promise to blog about him again after he presents at our local APHERD conference. Here is his webpage: http://www.gym-solutions.com/. I don’t know what he costs but he is worth every single penny.