Friday, November 14, 2008
There are several rules you should follow when putting a contest together. We have found that when you follow these rules, your contest will promote the behavior you are looking to improve and create healthy competition. Those rules are:
1. Easily measured behavior. Whatever you are measuring, be it MVPA minutes per week, steps, performance in fitness test items, make the indicator easy for your students to measure. Try and select criteria that do not require specialized equipment to measure. One example is a teacher who has students report their physical activity minutes as part of a fitness journal. The students then sum up their minutes for the week and report back to the teacher.
2. Group competition instead of individual competition. While you can reward individuals as part of a group competition, the best approach to create a supportive environment and cooperative behavior is to put your students into groups. Organize them according to fair criteria and have them compete against other groups of similar ability. You should post results according to groups and not single out any individuals. Encourage groups to support each other throughout the competition.
3. Set clear criteria. One of the best competitions is to measure the percentage of students in a group who achieve a particular goal. The winner of the contest would be the group with the highest percentage. Make sure your students understand how they will be measured and what is acceptable. Consider posting the rules of the contest where they are accessible.
4. Reward positive behavior. Set your reward before you start your contest and try to spread the wealth around. While your budgets may be small, there are ways to increase the reach of your dollar. Talk with current suppliers to have them help you through discounts or free product. Talk with area merchants so they extend you discounts and possibly provide product at cost.
5. Constantly remind and promote. Have your entire school get involved. Involve classroom teachers and the administration. Have reminders placed in daily announcements. Speak with the staff of the entire school before your contest begins to get their buy-in and support. When you see your students, provide encouragement, especially to those students and groups that are lagging behind.
There are several contests that we have see run effectively. They have made significant improvements in the performance criteria that are being measured. You know your students and what motivates them. A well run contest doesn’t have to include high dollar prizes as a reward. Your attitude and the support you receive from the rest of your school can make a contest wildly successful.
Monday, November 10, 2008
You may look at a district that has successfully implemented their grant and think, “Wow, they must know something I don’t,” or “They must have access to tools that I don’t.” In both cases, you would be wrong. Their personnel are no more talented, skilled, or committed to proper grant implementation that you are. They most likely do not have access to armies of personnel to help them in their efforts. What they do have that you may not is a detailed strategy for implementation of their project.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I think I may have the answer. What you need to do is sit down and decide where you are in the process and what you need to do to complete your implementation and subsequently, your evaluation. Then bite off what you can. Remember that the one requirement you have with the DoEd is to submit your MVPA data. The rest of the implementation can wait.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
MVPA is defined a Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity. Most experts agree that a person is demonstrating MVPA when they are expending more energy than is required to walk at a normal pace. The difference between moderate and vigorous is demonstrated by an individual who is engaged in exercise and their ability to carry on a conversation. If a person is in the category of “vigorous”, then they should not be able to carry on a normal conversation.
Dr. McKenzie of San Diego State University developed an evaluation tool called SOFIT to determine through classroom observation what level of activity students are engaged in. While many districts use this tool to determine the change of the level of activity in PE classes and the impact of the introduction of their PEP programs, this alone is not acceptable to the Department of Education as evidence of MVPA minutes in students. Classroom observation alone is inadequate for MVPA reporting. As a PEP recipient, you have to be more aggressive than that.
You need a log for your students to utilize to record their minutes of physical activity in a given week. Self-reporting has been shown to not be the most effective strategy, especially in younger students. However, it seems from my experience to be exactly what the Department of Education wants you to use. Our districts have been using self-reporting for about five years now and we have never had a problem with the submitted data.
Which platform should you use for student self-reporting? In studies I have reviewed, the closer to the incident, the more accurate the data that is reported. Some of my districts use online tools for their students. Others have technology grants to provide laptops for all of their students and they use supporting software. Most districts I work with end up using a Fitness Journal of sorts to help students plan physical activity sessions and to track MVPA.
As a Project Director, you have the flexibility to create a Fitness Journal for your students. The profile of the typical Project Director is a PE Instructor who cares deeply about their students and their craft. Most do not have the time to create a tool from scratch, collect the data from students, and report that data back to the Department of Education.
To this end, AFS has published My Fitness Journal, a self-reporting platform for students in grades 4-12. This tool takes your students through a progression, which starts with a fitness assessment and pre-test. From there they set specific goals to improve their performance in the tests, plan physical activities that will make the required improvements, track their activity sessions, and conduct a fitness post-test using the same evaluation criteria. After gathering their results, they are able to conduct an analysis of why they met or did not meet their goals. Students track all of this data in the Appendix of the book.
My Fitness Journal was developed to be an economical platform for teachers who have received a PEP grant. AFS also provides staff development sessions, an Instructor Manual, and evaluation follow-up to your district. We will hold your hand through the entire process if that is what you want and or need.
There are very few options for tracking MVPA that meet the expectations of the Department of Education. To see a pdf of the first several pages of the manual, please email us and we will send you a pdf immediately. Remember that your evaluation is due mid April, so don’t procrastinate. Make sure you receive approval for the continuation of your funding by submitting quality data to the Department of Education on time.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
- Curriculum -- The more successful PEP programs will implement or work with a well established PE curriculum. There are several to choose from, but the best PE curriculums will be research-based. If you have not selected a specific curriculum to work from, examine your Project Goals and search for a curriculum that will meet those needs. If you are totally lost, email me and I will provide you with information on several programs and will guide you through the proccess.
- Equipment -- If you do not know what type of curriculum you will be using, stop right here. Do not order curriculum before you know what type of equipment the curriculum requires and will support. Work with a company that will support their equipment after the sale via warranties. Don't be afraid to ask for a discount.
- Staff Development -- Meet with your PE instructors often. Outside of the professional development sessions for your curriculum, talk with your personnel about implementation and involve them in the rollout if you have not done so yet. Make sure you solicit their input and more importantly, USE IT!
- Evaluation -- If there were four pillars of a successful PEP grant, the evaluation would be the fourth pillar. Work with an outside partner on your evaluation. This component will take the majority of your time. Review your Project Objectives and meet with potential evaluators. Clearly outline your expectations and when you decide who to use, sign a contract with specific measures and deadlines. I find that most projects can be evaluated for under $25,000.00 per year. If you need suggestions in this area, email me and I will put you in contact with some of the better candidates.
Without fail, every year I see districts that for whatever reason are unable to implement the program that they proposed as part of their PEP grant package and they need to change direction. While the ethics of this can be debated ad nauseum, it is reality. Contact me if you would like some help finding a direction and hitting the ground running.
Monday, October 27, 2008
AFS has developed a program that is designed to help students grades 4-12 to track their minutes of MVPA for four weeks during the school year. Our program is designed to provide students with the structure to track not only their MVPA minutes, but it also helps them do much more.
The program starts with the student recording their results from a fitness pre-test. We suggest you use the Presidential Fitness Test protocol. You then walk your students through a process that helps them set goals for improvement, outline weekly activities to help students make improvements, and track their progress in meeting their goals. Students track all of their data in their Fitness Journal, a book that can be provided by AFS.
Our staff can also train your teachers in the delivery of the curriculum. We can also take the time to align the curriculum to your State Standards in PE. Finally, our staff can tabulate the data provided by your teachers. We will also help you in the preparation of your reports to the DoEd.
Advanced Fitness Solutions (AFS) has worked with districts across the country to develop their grant package, implement the package once it is awarded, and assist in the evaluation of the resulting changes. We have been in business since 2001 and have helped more than 75 districts through the process. Our company has worked with some of the largest and smallest districts around -- our skill set covers any size of district.
We suggest you subscribe to this blog as we will regularly post tips to help you on your path. This blog will feature insight on things like dealing with vendors, scheduling staff devleopment sessions, curriculum and equipment suggestions, and evaluation assistance. This is a free resource and there is no quid pro quo expected. So, enjoy what we present!
If you would like some assistance in any of the areas listed, please email or call us and we will be happy to help you work through some of the challenges.