Kiley Wattenbarger, PE Specialist, distributing PE equipment to support distance learning

MUSD is Tackling PE During Distance Learning


By Jaime Brown, PEP Grant Coordinator, TSA PE Health Nutrition

THIS SCHOOL YEAR might look vastly different than years before, but Madera Unified School District’s (MUSD) Physical Education (PE) department continues to tackle challenges and push forward. PE teachers continue to empower ALL students to live healthy futures through the promotion of physical activities, healthy nutritional choices, and positive social development no matter what learning model is being implemented. As a unified team, MUSD’s PE department “huddled up” in August and created an action plan to ensure an amazing start to this school year for Madera’s students… and PE teachers continue to “huddle up” on a weekly basis.

Prior to students returning to school, elementary and middle school PE teachers reviewed and revised our Board Adopted curriculum, Dairy Council of California; and, high school teachers reviewed and revised an online partner curriculum called EAT FRESH. Both curricula provide instructional materials supporting nutrition education so students can prove mastery of health and PE standards simultaneously. Lessons focus on food groups, serving sizes, nutrients, health benefits, and food accessibility via digital interactive worksheets, online presentations, and google suite applications, in order to support synchronous and asynchronous learning. 

The Varsity Brands — Believe in You Video Series, provided by the Online Physical Education Network, is being utilized at MUSD middle schools and high schools. According to the Believe in You program, “[It] is designed to educate students about the incredible power of believing in yourself, despite the challenges and trials that life may present.” The mission of the program is “for every student in America to have someone who believes in them.” The curriculum supports social-emotional learning and California PE standards specific to the affective learning domain. The affective learning domain involves learning how to deal with feelings, emotions, and attitudes. A focus is placed on appreciation, enthusiasm, motivation, and values, as well as character traits necessary to work positively with others. 

Over 9,000 MUSD elementary students will receive jump ropes, speed stacks, bean bags, soft-touch balls, and juggling scarves to take home in order to support distance and hybrid learning. Having equipment at home will provide students with the opportunity to master physical literacy throughout the pandemic. According to the Society of Health and Physical Educators, “physical literacy is the ability to move with competence and confidence in a wide variety of physical activities in multiple environments that benefit the healthy development of the whole person.” MUSD’s PE department is prepared to make the environment of focus, the home.

Activities like jump roping, cup-stacking, tossing, catching, dribbling, volleying, juggling, and accuracy will be practiced during distance and hybrid learning. The Board adopted PE curricula, SPARK, will support the process to maintain quality PE programming. SPARK is research-based, evidence-based, and includes lessons utilizing the desired equipment in a 1:1 equipment to student format. These lessons provide elementary students with opportunities to enhance their intellectual, emotional, and physical abilities while they remain indoors, are in small spaces, and are learning in a remote setting with district-issued equipment. SPARK continues to be reviewed and discussed in weekly PE professional learning communities, along with supplemental curriculums and resources listed on the MUSD PE website.

As PE teachers continue to tackle distance learning, elementary PE teachers provide PE instruction to students in grades 1+ via one 30-minute synchronous lesson per week, supported by daily asynchronous mini-lessons. And, secondary PE teachers provide PE instruction to students in middle school and high school via two 90-minute synchronous lessons per week, supported by 40-minutes of weekly asynchronous instruction. MUSD PE teachers continuously look forward to seeing students during synchronous instruction, appreciate students’ dedication to remain physically active during asynchronous time, and encourage everyone in MUSD and the community to keep moving.

“The game of life is a lot like football. You have to tackle your problems, block your fears, and score your points when you get the opportunity.” – Lewis Grizzard

Rachel Noia, PE Specialist, Teaching PE

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