Friday, December 11, 2009

December Update

Here we are into the final push for your data collection. Remember that you will need to get me all of the data --  not only the MVPA data but also the fitness testing results -- from your students by the end of January. You should be well into your collection efforts at this point.

Just as an update, the DoEd is accepting new applications for PEP this year. The deadline they have published for application submission is in late May, so there is still plenty of time for you to get me the name and number of districts you would like to suggest that we work with. Please let me know soon so I can get them added to my list soon. I am about half-way to filling it up.

I am taking the family down to Dallas during the week of Christmas, so I will be reachable only via phone. If you have any questions for me during the Holiday Break, please let me know and I will be happy to help you as I will have my laptop with me.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Monday, November 30, 2009

November Update

Alright, the last couple of weeks have been just about crazy. I will try and give the Reader's Digest version of the events.

I finished out my trainings in North Dakota the week of November 16th with a drive out to Williston from Grand Forks. For those of you who are unfamiliar with North Dakota geography, it is about five hours from the eastern to the western borders of the state. The exciting occurrence on that trip was I hit an eight point in the middle of the night on my drive back to Grand Forks. The car was alright and as a matter of fact I have not heard from the rental car agency to get the information on how much damage there was. There was no way the deer survived, but he did manage to disappear in the switch grass at the side of the road. I am positive he expired sometime that night.

I came back Thursday morning and Friday morning the family and I took off to a week's vacation to California. For the first two days we went to Legoland, which I highly recommend to you if you have children under 8. The rides are great for that age demographic and the park is economical when compared to other amusement parks in southern California. Josh had a blast, as evidenced here:

A 6 year old driving their own car? Believe it.

We stayed at the Residence Inn in Oceanside and loved the property. I highly recommend that you stay here, even when going to Disneyland. We stayed in this property for four nights and the breakfast alone was worth the stay. It must have saved us at least $25.00 per day to stay here. The Fairfield across from Disneyland was nice, but the total lack of amenities makes this property somewhat unappealing. The Residence Inn was in a quiet neighborhood, which was conducive to my running. The hills in Oceanside were challenging but fun.

On day three we went to the beach in Oceanside. I loved this time and only wish we could have spent more time there. I would love to rent a home there on the beach this summer and just relax for a month. I think that would be so much fun. I told Karen she could bring the scrapbook stuff and I would train in the a.m. and hit the beach all afternoon. Here is a pic of Josh and I playing in the surf...

So for days four and five we went to Disneyland. It was everything you would expect right before a major holiday. It was busy, but I thought manageable. We had a blast and would head back to the hotel about eight every night because all three of us were exhausted. The highlight of our time in Disneyland was when Josh decided he wanted to be "tough" and leave his hands up on one of the rollercoasters. That was supercool as a Dad.

He would tell you the Jedi Training he got was even better. Here is the photo of when he fought Darth Maul...

At the end of Day 5, the second day at Disneyland, Karen was just wiped. Everyone was to be honest, but Josh and I decided we would go on Indiana Jones later in the night. We got a couple of Fast Passes early in the day for return at 7:30. We dropped Karen off at the hotel and as tired as we both were from all day in the park, we hoofed it back to Disneyland. We went on Indiana Jones, the Car ride, the Buzz Lightyear ride, and the Jungle Cruise. Finally I think we both had enough and decided it was time to try and head back to the hotel to pass out. Amazingly enough, we started walking out just as the fireworks began and Josh was able to watch them from my shoulders while I walked out of the park. We made it back to the hotel just in time for the both of us to fall asleep.

Overall, the trip was amazing. I loved hanging out with the family without the cell phone for a couple of days. I was able to sprinkle in a couple of runs, eat some good food, and spend some time with the people who I haven't really seen in a couple of months because of travel for work. Now it is back to the grindstone and training for that little thing I have coming up May 1st!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Off to California

This week I will be in California with my wife and son. It will be really nice to hang out with them on vacation, even for just a couple of days. If you need to get in touch with me, I will have my cell phone with me the entire time and got authorization from the boss (thanks honey) to answer anytime someone calls. Please don't hesitate to call me on my cell for the entire week.

In the mean time, Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Just Finished in Mississippi...

So I just got out of the woods and onto a plane in Mississippi. I had a great time with one of my oldest friends, Spencer. We tried hard to find some turkey and failed and we did get into the deer. I found one I wanted to harvest and missed a 30 yard shot with my bow. Ouch...Regardless, we had a fantastic time, hunting, working his property, and catching up. He is a great guy.

I will be in Wisconsin for a training tomorrow and travelling on Tuesday. If you want to schedule a time to talk with me on Wednesday, I will be in the office most of the day and available to talk. There are a couple of you, my Project Directors, who I need to have a discussion with to make sure we are on course and will meet our deadlines. I am sure you are, but those deadlines have a way of creeping up on us if we don't manage them correctly.

In other news, word on the street is that the DoEd will be accepting new applications this spring. What does this mean to you? You know that AFS works solely on a referral basis, and I would love to talk with potential Project Directors in other districts that you would feel comfortable referring over to us. So, please take a couple of minutes and get me one or two names that I can contact and email them over to me when you get a moment.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

In Mississippi this Week

So Hawai'i was a huge success, and you can check out my reports from the island at my personal blog here. This week I am in Mississippi to work with Choctaw County Schools. I will be in the backwoods in the northwest corner of the state looking for whitetail deer and turkey with a good friend of mine. So, if you need to get in touch with me this week, know that it will most likely be Monday when I will be able to get back to you.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Clairton City Schools Report

I just finished my training at Clairton City Schools. Clairton is in Year III of their implementation and is doing a good job at making sure they meet the goals they set through the Objectives that were originally proposed to the DoEd. Through a significant amount of support at the administrative level and leadership from within the PE Department, the district is well on its way to meet their stated expected outcomes.

This district is in a high poverty area. Perhaps when I say high poverty, you think that a lot of their students come from low income households. Outside of Chicago Public Schools, Clairton may have the highest percentage of students who come from this type of household. Student motivation is a challenge within this district. Motivating students to collect their MVPA data is a challenge here more than anywhere else I work with.

But the PE instructors may be near experts in student motivation. The district administration is committed to supporting the efforts of the PE instructors not only financially, but with the time and energy they require. Clairton rewards all students who submit their MVPA data during the scheduled weeks by hosting a huge pizza party at the end of the term.

Now I know, Coordinated School Health states you should not use food as a reward or punishment. In this case, this strategy may be the most cost efficient and effective way to get their students to submit their data on time. All students who attend the party are also provided with an entry into a drawing. For the drawing the district provides enough gift cards to local merchants that about half of the students walk away from the party with something in their hands.

Many of the ideas we use and strategies we recommend come from Clairton. We appreciate their efforts in making sure that their students are able to walk away from their program with an understanding of how to achieve and maintain a health-enhancing level of fitness.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Week of 10.05 Schedule

So this week I will be in Clairton, PA at the front of the week for training. Then Wednesday I leave to head to Maui, HI for a training there on Friday. My business partner, Bruce Sorensen, and I will be in Hawaii for a couple of days for a Board Meeting and other fun stuff.

I know, my life is tough. If you need to get in touch with me this week, please make sure you email me and leave me a voicemail. I will most likely get back to you via email because of the time differences.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

New Announcements

So I heard from one of my school districts that I submitted in March 2009 that they had received a phone call from one of their Senate Offices that they were are recipient of the PEP grant. So wait a minute, they did not fund in the first round of funding, so could this be possible?

I actually started calling around and one of the other grant development people that I know and one of them had a district that had heard the same thing. So does that mean there is another round of funding? Could be. Stay tuned, especially if you submitted an application that did not fund...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Upcoming Professional Development

It is time to start making your plans for the professional development sessions that are budgeted for this summer. The sessions were initially budgeted for the SPARK Summer Institute, which is always fantastic. However, I have gotten some feedback from some of you that you would prefer to keep the SPARK training sessions that are scheduled during the school year and use the summer training money for another function.

Sportime hosts a Technology Conference every summer that will instruct you in the optimal use of your Suunto Heart Rate Monitor systems. The conference has been in the Atlanta area in the past, and I believe it will be in the same spot this coming summer. The conference instructors will include individuals who have used the product the same way that you are -- in a classroom setting. You will also receive training on the HeartZones curriculum. That in and of itself is worth the registration cost.

The costs are real close between the two conferences and there would be no additional district money that would be required for the Technology Conference. Please let me know if you would like additional information regarding this particular event.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Back in the Saddle

I just got back from the national AAHPERD meeting and had a fantastic time. I got to spend time with most of you while I was there...I did miss seeing a couple of you and wish I could have gotten in touch with you while we were both in town. For those of you who I did get to meet, thanks for taking time out of your conference and beach (just kidding project directors) schedules to meet with me. Howl at the Moon in Tampa is one of the best dueling piano bars in the country. I will tell you this about that night, South Dakota PE teachers know how to rip up the town. Texas A&M associate professors are way too cute, way too fun.

So a couple of deadlines that you need to be aware of:
May 15th - For those of you who did not get the data for the Progress Report completed (and you know who you are), please make sure you work with me to get the right data in my hands so I can get the reports completed in a timely fashion.
May 21st - The is the deadline for you to request your funding from the Federal Government. The real deadline is May 30th, but we need to make sure we get the funding requested a little early just in case.
June 1st - The date we can cut PO's for the 2009-10 school year implementation. I will be on the road for most of April and May, so make sure I contact you to get a date to sit down to plan your implementation for next year. Let's be more aggressive with the evaluation calendar so we can get most of the data turned in during January 2010.

The main reason I go to the national AAHPERD conference is to meet with you, my clients. I did take the chance to meander through the trade show and attend some sessions that I think may be of value to you. I did find some new resources for equipment. The more I look around, the more I like SPARK, StationPE, and FitnessWise as the curriculum platforms to be used for the implementation of PEP programs. The curriculum for each of the programs is good, but the people behind the programs are also fantastic. I am still in awe at how well they know their jobs and the programs. I love working with the vendors that I have.

If you have any feedback on the show or ideas that have come up, please email me and let me do some research before I come out to your site this spring. I would love to talk them through with you to see if they fit within the scope and sequence of your program. I prefer to stick to the plan that was originally proposed, but small deviations in equipment, for example, are alright as long as they fit within the plan.

I am looking forward to meeting with all of you soon!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Taking a Small Break

The 2009 PEP submission process is now over and after working for about six weeks straight (weekends, etc.), I am taking a couple of days off. I know the annual Progress Reports are due anywhere between March 16th and April 1st, so I will start work back up on Monday. My people and I both need a couple of days off!

Enjoy your weekend -- I know I will.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Great Suggestions from Teachers Like You...

One feature I love about this blog is that PE Instructors from across the country are able to share the different approaches that make their PEP projects successful. They also take the time to share with me some of the shortcuts that they use to save themselves time and energy in the evaluation of their projects.

So, I am going to start publishing those suggestions each week. Make sure you create an RSS feed for this site so you know when it is updated. I hope you find the information informative. If there are topics you would like to see additional discussion about, please email me and I will publish an article regarding the area you suggest.

  1. Save Time in Data Transfer: One PE Instructor in Kenosha WI suggested that instead of writing all of the student names into the data tracking sheets, you cut and paste the names onto the appropriate sheets instead. That will save you from having to write in all of the names yourself.
  2. When Timelines are Out of Order: When you have already conducted your fitness pre-test and you now need your students to note their performance data to assist in goal setting, copy the sheet you noted their data on and cut out the data for each student along with their name. This will same you significant time and effort. You will not have to meet with each student individually to help them note their data.
  3. Partner Up: Use SPARK classroom management strategies and have your students partner up for the portions of the fitness test that they can. Try and get them to accurately count for their partner and then have them switch positions. That will help you move more quickly through your evaluation piece.
  4. Work with Classroom Teachers: A classroom teacher can be your best friend when you are trying to get your students to journal the amount of time they spend each week exhibiting MVPA. As classroom teachers to give students time to record the data and they add the number of minutes up they have at the end of the week. Most classroom teachers will be happy to oblige.

If there are other tips and strategies that you would like to share, please email me and I will of course credit you and let the whole world know how smart and impressive you are!

Monday, January 12, 2009

2009 PEP Applications Being Accepted

Yep, it is true, the DoEd recently announced they will be accepting applications for new projects under the Carol M. White PEP Program. The CFDA number is 84.215F if you would like to look up the new guidelines once they are published. The guidelines are scheduled to be released sometime on or shortly after 01.15.2009.

I will take some time and publish my thoughts on the new guidelines once I have had the chance to carefully review them. I don't think they will change too much, but I do expect clearer guidance on the GRPA requirements for grant recipients. I am also hopeful that the guidance published for reviewers by the DoEd is clearer and put an emphasis on research-based programs.

It seems a larger than desired percentage of recipients that are approved are not exactly clear on what type of program they would like to implement nor the true scope and sequence of their program. It is a shame that some of the federal dollars go to these districts. Trust me, I have seen it first hand and it is a waste of this resource.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Too long between posts...excuses, excuses

Alright, it is hard to admit, but it was entirely too long between my last post and this one. The dog ate my homework, my gym shorts, and my car keys. No really, this post is all about the excuses your students give you and how you can motivate them with simple contests and strategies. Believe it or not, simple, crazy promotions will often lead students to perform a desired behavior.

For PEP projects, it seems the Student Activity Level tracking (MVPA) that is required by the DoEd is the most difficult. I have seen some electronic solutions as well as solutions that require simple paper and a pencil. Whatever your budget and level of motivation, getting your students to recall and record that data is the challenge here.

Let me remind you of the five simple strategies we advocate to help motivate your PE students to complete a desired task:
  1. Make sure the behavior is easily measured. If you students are required to spend hours a week recording and reporting data, it won't happen. If you as the teacher or Project Director are required to spend hours a week compiling data, yep, you guessed it, your data will be raw for weeks. And you know what they say about raw data -- it starts to stink after a while.
  2. Group competition instead of individual competition. Make any competitions you conduct based on group performance instead of individual performance. Embed individual performance within the competition.
  3. Set clear criteria. Your students have to know how they are being judged. Without this information, they will undoubtedly throw in the towel before the end of the competition.
  4. Reward positive behavior. Enough said.
  5. Constantly remind and promote. Your students will need gentle and clear reminders of the expected outcomes. Make sure they know deadlines and are clear on what they are required to submit.

This post may seem like a rehash of the previous information and to a certain extent it is. But this topic is one of the most difficult issues that confront PE instructors. So tell me this -- what have you used in the past to motivate your students? What has been successful and what has failed?