The Issue: For several years we have been inundated with messages regarding our students’ physically inactive and unhealthy lifestyle choices. Although it’s one thing to talk about this issue; it’s an entirely different thing to do something about it! There have been many creative strategies, programs and resources suggested and implemented in schools to help students become more physically active and capable of making healthy lifestyle choices. While students have been provided with effective learning opportunities during the school day, I believe we need to continue asking, “If students are obtaining the knowledge, skills and attitudes in physical education and health education during the school day, then why are alarming numbers of sedentary and other unhealthy lifestyle choices still being found?”
The Question: In what ways can we, as school teachers, help educate school communities on issues related to physically active and healthy lifestyle choices so that what our students are learning during the school day is being extended into their homes and throughout their communities? This article aims to share a teaching tool that may help lead to physically active and healthy lifestyle choices becoming a primary foundation in school communities.
The Teaching Strategy: A school community includes students, school staff members, parents/guardians and local community members. Therefore, to educate school communities on what is undeniably a significant topic in today’s society, I would like to introduce the concept of a “Physical and Health Education Fair” (PHE Fair). A PHE Fair can offer innovative and advanced educational opportunities for entire school communities.
I have outlined below how school communities can organize and implement a PHE Fair to enhance their knowledge, skills and attitudes toward physically active and healthy lifestyle choices. It is hoped that, as you read, you begin to develop your own ideas as to how your school community’s learning needs can be met through a PHE Fair.
B. Active School’s Physical and Health Education Fair
Date: near the beginning of the school year and/or near the beginning of the New Year
Time: 2 evening hours (so the majority of the school community is available to participate)
Special Guests: school division superintendent, school division physical education and health education consultants, university professors, local politicians, local professional/amateur athletes, etc.)
Participants: students, all staff members who play a part in student learning, parents/guardians and any other interested family members, school community members (occupational therapists, school nurses, etc.)
Possible Schedule (120 minutes)
- Initial Gathering and Introductions of the PHE Fair Committee Members
- Speakers School Administration Team
- Overview and Purpose of the Evening’s Schedule
- Speakers PHE Fair Committee Members
- Keynote Address
- Speaker Special Guest (e.g., local politician, local professional/amateur athlete)
- Distribution of PHE Fair Passports
- Distributors PHE Fair Committee Members
- Each participant will receive a passport. When a participant goes to a station, he/she will get one stamp on his/her passport.
- Physical and Health Education Stations (approximately 10 to 15 stations, see next section for possible station ideas)
- Participants will travel between stations of interest with their family members to gain a deeper understanding of a variety of topics related to physical and health education.
- Closing Discussion and Final Remarks
- Speakers School Administration Team, PHE Fair Committee Members, and/or Special Guests
Possible Station Ideas with Potential Descriptions and Presenters
- Body Image A Topic That We Must Not Ignore!
Having a positive body image is a starting point for a lifetime of self-acceptance. We are all exposed to tremendous pressures today to look a certain way. While most of us would like to reject these pressures and prefer to be defined and accepted for more than just our physical features, we often remain self-conscious about how we look. Our students are particularly vulnerable to these pressures. It’s important to develop an understanding of how to steer them down the bumpy road to prevent negative body image issues. There are several things that you, as parents/ guardians, can do to make this happen. To learn more, come hear Mrs. B. Healthy (Eating Disorder Prevention Specialist) present her important material at B. Active School’s PHE Fair in Station C. (Note Body Image Kits are effective Teaching Tools!)
- Cardio-Shake Let’s Get Moving!
Mr. I. Jog from the Fitness Club will lead you through a motivating and enjoyable fitness experience that he calls “Cardio-Shake. Cardio-Shake involves upbeat music and aerobic movement! Join the Cardio-Shake for 10 to 15 minutes. Maybe you and your family will become inspired to join his upcoming classes!
- Strong Bones, Strong You
Led by a Registered Dietician, this presentation will provide practical information to help you learn how to build your bones with good nutrition. In this interactive session, you will
• Learn about your bones and the risk factors of osteoporosis
• Gain an understanding of calcium, vitamin D and other bone-building partners
• Hear about exciting new research on weight loss and chronic disease
• Take home nutrition information to help you set goals for strong bones and a strong you
- Let’s Raise Internet Intelligent School Children
Learn to identify risks associated with the Internet and develop skills to help your children learn Internet safety. During your time at this station, feel free to ask questions about social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter).
- Stress It Affects School Children Too!
While obtaining a deeper level of knowledge toward stressful situations for school children, develop strategies to support your children with age-appropriate stress-management techniques.
- Cooperative Games An Effective Learning Tool
Come discover how Cooperative Games can help your school children develop social, motor and game skills simultaneously. Learn modification strategies to ensure maximum participation and to promote equality, fun, success and trust!
- Discover How Self-Confidence Levels Affect School Children’s Lives (University Professor Child Development)
- Healthy Eating At A Low Cost It Can Be Done! (Nutritionist)
- Physical Education What Is My Child Learning and How Can I Help? (School Division Physical Education Consultant, School Teachers, Provincial Curriculum Developers)
- Childhood Obesity An Informative Session (Registered Dietician)
- Locomotor, Non-locomotor and Manipulative Skills How Can They Help My Children’s Self-Esteem/Self-Confidence Levels? (University Professor Elementary School Physical Education)
- Physical Education Homework Family Included! (School Division Physical Education Consultant, Physical Education Specialist)
- Alcohol, Drugs and Smoking Issues That Affect All Family Members (Local Police Officers, Medical Doctors, University Researchers)
- Innovative Games How They Can Increase Your Children’s Physical Activity Levels (University Professor Elementary/Secondary School Physical Education)
- Health Education What Is My Child Learning and How Can I Help? (School Division Health Education Consultant, School Teachers, Provincial Curriculum Developers)
- Canada’s Food Guide What Should I Know? (Nutritionist, Registered Dietician)
- Massage Therapy How It Can Help (Massage Therapist)
- Healthy Tweens and Teens The Importance Of Calcium (Health Canada Representative)
- Individual Activities They’re Available In Your Community e.g., Yoga, Taekwondo, Running, Throwing (Yoga Instructor, Certified Fitness Consultant, Local Professional/Amateur Athlete)
- Dance the Night Away Learn to Dance! (Professional Dance Instructor, Hip Hop Dance Group)
- Water Discover Its Importance In Our Lives (University Researcher)
- Healthy Meal Preparation Made Easy (Registered Dietician)
- Orienteering A Fun and Educational Family Activity (National Orienteering Representative, School Division Physical Education Consultant)
- Attention Teachers! Your Innovative Idea Goes Here
Following a PHE Fair, there are lots of ways for school communities to remain focused on the learning that took place. The following are merely a few ideas
- School-Wide Bulletin Boards. Students and teachers can continue to work together by developing monthly bulletin boards designed to share learning topics that took place during the PHE Fair.
- Monthly Newsletters (E-Letters). Students may take on the responsibility of writing monthly newsletter (or e-letter) information that can help ensure the school community keeps learning about the importance of physically active and healthy lifestyle choices.
- School Website’s Research Corner. School staff members may work alongside university researchers to develop a deeper level of understanding of the most recent research studies concerning physically active and healthy lifestyle issues. The information may then be summarized on the school’s website.
- Resource Links. Parents/guardians may volunteer to explore the Internet for quality websites that have been designed to educate today’s society on different topic areas, such as the ones covered during the PHE Fair. When the parents/guardians believe they have identified a quality website, they can send the link to a designated PHE Fair committee member for final approval. The links can then be listed on the school’s website.
Organizing and implementing a Physical and Health Education Fair will definitely require some extra effort from your school’s PHE committee members. However, based upon personal experiences of leading several PHE Fairs over the years, I know the rewards can be plentiful for whole school communities. Although a PHE Fair can help increase student learning, it’s the whole school community that benefits greatly, which is, after all, the ultimate purpose.
If it is physically active and healthy lifestyle choices we want for our students, it seems to make perfect sense that their learning should continue in their homes and throughout their communities. A PHE Fair could become the first step for that to happen!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brent D. Bradford
Brent D. Bradford has taught at both the Elementary and Junior High school levels. After a decade of being a school teacher, he returned to the University of Alberta to pursue graduate work and to teacher higher education. He is currently working towards a Doctor of Philosophy Degree. While doing so, Brent teaches curriculum methods courses as a Teacher Educator. In 2011, he was recognized as an award-winning Teacher Educator at the University of Alberta.
This article is from Canadian Teacher Magazine’s May/June 2013 issue.