Design Thinking Challenge – Beach Obstacle Course

Last week I had the opportunity to go on a field trip with our fifth grade class to Ship Island in Gulfport, MS. We consider this their capstone adventure for the year and while there, they learn about Fort Massachusetts, tested the water, did an art project, and did a design challenge with me on the beach. The trip doesn’t always look this way and as this was my first time on the trip, I didn’t really know what to expect and I got to decide what I wanted my station to be.

Initially, I thought I would do a team building activity. Being a PE teacher, it’s something that I would naturally do. Beach Blanket Volleyball seemed like a fun idea, or even beach soccer, but I wanted my station to be a little more stimulating. I also thought about the “forts” that were being built on our playground by the students – they had asked a neighbor for his bamboo and they went to work building these forts with so much passion and energy – and then they had to take them down because wars were breaking out. I loved this because I was a kid that was always exploring and making forts and building things with legos, stuff I found in my shed, or pretending a tree was my home.

How could I let them build something to bring the thrill of creation back to them?

My idea for a Beach Obstacle Course actually came from my desire to not bring anything with me and also from recently doing an obstacle course for Tae Kwon Do. It worked out perfectly! The challenge was to find things on the beach like driftwood, shells, sand, water, and what-not and design an obstacle course with at least 8 elements.

I was blown away by the courses that the groups built. There were 4 groups using more or less the same things and they built 4 completely different courses. Some courses used balance beams, jumps, and crab walks. Others included crawling into a hole they dug and had elements that required throwing at a target. The things that my students came up with were amazing and I’m so proud of them.

I do challenges like this with my students in the gym from time to time. I give groups the same equipment and it’s up to them to create a brand new game using that equipment. The same thing happens – no group creates the exact same game. I call it Playmaker Day.

Seeing the way the students approached this challenge and worked together made my day on the beach getting eaten by sand fleas totally worth it!

Lesson Plans on the Fly

Today was the day I’ve been waiting for. With the entire middle school having PE at the me time, we all wondered how we would manage if it started raining. I’m proud to say that I took it in stride and got everyone where they needed to be.

Our middle school teams practice during PE and I also run a traditional PE class for those that are not participating in a sport. With very little time to make any real plans and knowing that my class was being put into the weight room which is very tight fit I went into action.

Today was a day that I had my 7/8th grade students so I decided to do fitness stations. It actually worked out perfectly. I managed to fit 14 stations in the weight room and then had the kids partner up and do each station fora minute. Then they rested for a minute. The timing worked out perfectly for my class time.

For the setup, I put sticky notes on our dome cones with the excerise they needed to do. With the middle schoolers, it was clear that the tiny notes wouldn’t last so I actually wrote the workouts really small so I can keep using them

This will probably be my go-to rainy day plan because it’s easy to do and I don’t need a ton of space. 

What do you do when you have a small space to work with?

I wrote the exercise small so I can use the cones for other things in class.

Being a teacher in these terrible times.

What happened yesterday during the White Supremacist Rally in Virginia is absolutely terrible. It continues to blow my mind how selfish the world can be. My friends and I speak often about the state of the world and it makes me terrified for the future.

School hasn’t started yet for me and even though it’s only a few days away, I’m already preparing myself to answer questions my kids will have about what happened yesterday. I thought back to September 11th, 2001; the day the Twin Towers were attacked. I remember walking into Mr. Chase’s class and being thoroughly confused about what was happening. He didn’t hold back but told us the truth. Explaining terrorism to a bunch of 6th graders couldn’t have been easy, but he took our questions one by one, and got us through.

As things came to light on TV in the following days and weeks, we’d come in with more questions for our social studies teacher, Mr. Greig. He’d answer everything he could and even though I couldn’t stand talking about terrorism and what it meant for our country, I’d sit and listen, holding back tears. I am a worry wart by nature so this time of my life was especially stressful.

As a teacher, I can see now that I never gave my own teachers the credit that was due for what they have to teach the next generation. We need to help these kids navigate the world today and just hope that some goodness rubs off on them.

I’m terrified for the kids that are growing up in this world. They have so much access to information and opinions and have a direct line to the good, the bad, and the ugly. When 9-11 happened, I could tune it out by not watching TV. These days, thanks to Twitter and Facebook, you can’t avoid it. The good news is that I’m more aware of what is happening now but it doesn’t make it easier.

I can only hope that I can be like my teachers and help my students get through the tough times just like they helped me.


PlayMakers Club

I’m new to this whole, teaching thing, but so far I’ve been lucky enough to have a great experience at my school. With our schedule everyday, we have time set aside for different things and Thursdays are “Club Days.” The club that I host is something I call PlayMakers Club.
Do you remember the show Z Games from Zoog Disney? Basically, it was a show where kids could show the backyard games they made up. Then, the kids in the studio would be given 3 or 4 random things and they had to make a game out of it.
That’s what we do in PlayMakers Club.
Week 1, students got into groups of 3 and had 20 minutes to devise a game using 2 hole hoops, 1 foam frisbee, a scooter, and a pickle ball racket. After those 20 minutes, everyone shared their games, describing the rules, scoring, and penalties. All 3 games invented were different. We talked about the things the games had in common and then voted on the game we wanted to play. The game was “Frisbee in the Hoop” which was designed by Jonathan, Kylar, and Deen. All players sit on scooters and try to get the foam frisbee into the opposing team’s hoola hoop at the other end while the goalies try to keep the frisbee from entering the hoola hoop.
After playing the game for 15 minutes or so, we reconvened and discussed any changes we wanted to make to the game. We decided that falling off of your scooter did not mean you were out of the game until the next score, but instead, you have to pass it. They also wanted to make the goalie’s box smaller in order to score more goals.
This is a great way to get students to think outside of the box and use their imagination. I’m totally going to use this idea for my actual PE classes.

August 28th. I love it.

What a week, friends.

First up this week, “New” old movies. I love it. By that I mean old movies that are new to me. For example, “The Never-ending Story.” Whether I have see it ever, I’m not sure, because I remember none of it but while I was perusing the shelves at the library, I decided it was a movie I should probably see. Not bad, not bad. I think that’s my new goal in life – see all of the movies that people get mad at me for never seeing. The list is long, people.

I love it.

Next up, good grades. I love it. Part of the program that I’m in to get my teaching license requires me to be observed 5 times this year. On Wednesday, I had my first one and despite being oh-so-very nervous, it actually went great. The notes that I got afterward said that I was very good at managing the class, giving instructions, and showing examples. That made me feel great considering she came to the class that I have the most problems with. I can’t complain, though. 4 to go!

I love it.

Finally, “TV Free Sundays.” I love it. Today has been one of those days where I didn’t turn the TV on until 6pm. I spent the hours of 9am-6pm cleaning the house and reading. Since I finished the 6th Harry Potter yesterday, today I started the first book of the Lunar Chronicles, “Cinder.” It’s a retelling of Cinderella except she lives in the future and she’s a cyborg. I thought it would be pretty lame, but I couldn’t put it down. I’m definitely going to finish it tonight.

I love it. It’s great. Everything’s great.

I love it.

August 21st. I love it.

Yay, love.

First up this week, my first week of teaching. I love it. I’ll admit that the stress of the first day hit me immediately after getting home on Wednesday and I was down for the count, but the rest of the week was great. I met all of my kids, played badminton, dodgeball, and ping pong, and went to church more in this week than I have the past three years combined.

I love it.

Next up, hanging with my friends. I love it. Yesterday Lupita and Diana came over to swim. And then in quickly started raining. We retreated inside and watched The Incredibles and played with the cats instead. We met up again today and had breakfast at my favorite place, Caffe Latte Da. I missed having Bud there, but it was nice to have company.

I love it.

Finally, cereal. I love it. I know it’s weird, but now that I live by myself, I have been eating cereal for basically every meal. I mean, there’s something to be said about Apple Jacks for dinner. It’s refreshing and light and totally worth it.

I love it. It’s great. Everything’s great.

I love it.