A colleague at Vincent Mauro School offered this fellowship opportunity to me, and I immediately thought how in the world could I write a Physical Education curriculum that integrated the craft of writing. At first, the task seemed impossible, but with some help from my team members and past fellows, the process became somewhat easier. Including myself, there are currently three members from Vincent Mauro that are taking part in this fellowship. Part of our collaborative project is to display our work in the school. Our projects also intertwine by introducing various ways to deal with students who have anger management problems. Fellow teachers will be able to view these curriculums via the Internet to utilize the activities that are included in the curriculum. The focus of my curriculum unit is to integrate various writing styles and themes into Physical Education. However, before any writing or even reading of the material can take place we must familiarize ourselves with students of Vincent E. Mauro Elementary School. The school population contains roughly five hundred highly energetic students. The majority of those students are either African-American or Hispanic. Also, there is a very small percentage of the population that contains students from various ethnic backgrounds. This presents a challenging task for teachers at Vincent Mauro. As teachers at Vincent Mauro School we are dedicated to teaching our young students not only about math, science, reading, and writing, but also enrichment areas such as Art, Music and Physical Education. The integration of all these subjects in the curriculum gives our students the opportunity to attain a well-rounded education.
There are many reasons why I wanted to integrate the craft of writing in Physical Education. First off it is going to be a tremendous challenge. There are Physical Educators who’ve integrated other subject matter into the Physical Education class, but developing a curriculum that marries the two subjects is going to be unique. Many people think of Physical Education as “play time,” or “controlled recess.” As a Physical Educator this offends me because we are here to teach the children about the science of how and why their bodies work the way they do. Also, we teach the students socialization skills, cooperative play, respect, and teamwork. These are some of the most important areas of Physical Education. The behavior of children these days is unimaginable. I can remember being an elementary student and I had the utmost respect for every teacher that I had. It was unthinkable to disrespect a teacher; these days it’s commonplace.
Some of the lessons that are presented in the curriculum incorporate teamwork, respect, and cooperation. Students need to be able to work together and set aside their differences. Many times in the classroom students would rather settle their difference by using their hands rather than their words. The problems that arise in class can almost always be avoided because part of the problem comes from what the students see at home or in the neighborhood. Parents truly need to take an active role in their child’s life. The students need to be disciplined properly at home, because if they are not disciplined at home they bring the bad behavior to school thinking they can get away with it. If there is collaboration between teachers and parents as to what discipline measures have been done, then the student will realize that their behavior must change.
Many of the activities that I teach involve cooperative play. Cooperative games require the students to work together toward a common goal. This means no one is captain and everyone on the team is of equal importance. These cooperative games also incorporate socialization skills as well as respect. I tell the students that when they get older and get a job, they might not like everyone that they work with but they have to respect them.
Students love to socialize with each other, granted it maybe at the most inappropriate time, but they love to talk. Physical Education class is completely different from any other subject. In my class students are moving immediately, in order to release that initial burst of energy. I found that trying to explain the class activity first is suicide. So a quick game is played first and then the actual lesson is explained. After the explanation of the activity then the students may socialize with each other. This is very important because students find out things about their classmates that they may not have had a chance to do in the regular classroom. Most of the time the students find out that each student has very similar likes and dislikes. For example, students may share the same favorite NBA team, or baseball team or their favorite cartoon show and not know it. In these cooperative activities the students are able to share this knowledge.
Another purpose of Physical Education is to teach students about the sports of various cultures and the impact these sports had on the world. Soccer is an example of a sport that is known worldwide. Each individual country may have adopted their own style of play through the years, but the basic rules of the sport have remained the same for centuries, and one of the most important facts about soccer, is that it still is a bona fide team sport. It’s truly amazing to me that a single sport can find its way into so many different cultures and influence the peoples’ way of life so enormously. I mention the fact that soccer is a team sport that is played worldwide because most of the activities that I plan to do with the students are team-oriented activities. I believe it is very important that students have the ability to play together.
Students must also be taught that each sport has its own set of rules that need to be followed, so it is of extreme importance that students have the ability to follow directions. The Physical Education classroom is also a place where directions need to be followed all of the time. There have been some instances in the Physical Education classroom where students thought they didn’t have to listen or follow directions. As soon as the activity started those students didn’t know what to do or where to go. It becomes aggravating when there are twenty-seven students in the class and three or four students don’t listen to the directions. That means the class is stopped so the students can be put out, because if students don’t want to listen the first time, then they can sit and watch. I try to stress that listening the first time is the best thing a student can do.
A sometimes forgotten part of Physical Education is personal health. It is especially important for young students to be taught the importance of proper nutrition and personal hygiene. Proper nutrition for these young students should be of paramount concern for parents and for teachers to a lesser degree. Too many times I’ve seen students eating potato chips, candy, and other unhealthy snacks for breakfast. Then throughout the day I always see students eating junk food. I tell them that their body is like an engine, and the engine needs good clean fuel for it to run properly. If the fuel is dirty and unhealthy then the engine is going to struggle and not work efficiently. Proper nutrition for inner city students is a tough battle. The student’s family background plays an important role in what the student eats. Many of the families just don’t have the financial means to purchase the proper food. Also, many students come from families where both parents work, or they are from single parent homes where siblings take care of them. Usually in these instances the older siblings feed their younger brothers or sisters, and what’s the easiest way? Mom or dad gives them money to get fast food. Also, have you noticed who the fast food spokesmen are lately? They are using star athletes like Shaquille O’Neal to promote these greasy, valve-clogging burgers. When the students see Shaq eating that type of food they think he got big and strong from eating Burger King, so I’m going to do that too. If the students are taught at a young age about these topics, hopefully they will practice these lifetime skills, as they grow older. The activities in my curriculum require energy and brain power; if the students aren’t getting the proper nutrition to feed their bodies and their brains, then the activities are going to be more difficult to complete. That is why I spoke about personal health and nutrition.
The curriculum that I intend to write will harmonize the craft of writing with Physical Education. The unit will include lessons on poetry, journals, fiction stories and interviewing skills. The curriculum unit will be geared toward Fifth grade students. I chose the Fifth graders because these students have a bigger base of reading and writing skills than the younger students do; hopefully teachers will be able to modify the unit in order to include younger students.