LUSD makes play to put fun back in fitness

By Mo Moore

Most of us remember P.E. (physical education) as a time of running laps or getting knocked in the head with a dodge ball, but for students at three elementary schools in Lindsay, P.E. has become fun again.

Washington Elementary School held a rally last Friday to introduce students to a new P.E. curriculum that consists of fun and games. During the rally students got to see examples of the Tandalay Curriculum, recited a physical education pledge and even got to watch teachers and school administrators try out one of the activities.

Jefferson Elementary, Washington Elementary and Lincoln Elementary in Lindsay, along with Sundale Union Elementary in Tulare will receive funding from the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) Grant. In order to receive funding, each applicant had to design and put in effect a program that aligns with state standards for physical education while improving student fitness levels.

The 1.2 million dollar grant is renewable up to three years and will include a new curriculum, training for teachers and staff, equipment, testing and the hiring of P.E. Specialists who will help in implementing the curriculum for during school and after school segments. The districts have partnered with Fresno State's Kinesiology Department to aid in fitness testing and educator training.

Developed by Tami Phillips, the Tandalay Curriculum model to be used by the schools emphasizes the power of positive play while adhering to California State standards for physical education. The curriculum stresses non-competitive activity using various equipment, rather than simply competitive sports, therefore helping all fitness and ability levels participate. Equipment includes music, dance, hoola-hoops, scarves, Move Your Body and Work Your Body cards and balls made of yarn called Fluffilos. Phillips named the curriculum after her daughter, whose name is derived from a short story about courage and determination.

Phillips, who teaches a Physical Education for Children class at FSU, found that she and her students saw an absence of physical education curriculum in the schools they visited.

&#8220It was apparent that teachers needed a resource. We have designed lesson plans where teachers can just point, click and then play,” said Phillips. &#8220We've taken the headache out of prep time.”

The curriculum provides physical education training for regular teachers as well. The curriculum then becomes self-sustaining. Teachers will also have help from P.E. Specialists Renee Fusco and Suzy Folley who will help teachers learn and implement the curriculum. They are currently working with teachers one grade level at a time for half-hour blocks. P.E. Specialists conduct a group warm up, demonstrate one or two lessons with the help of students, then allow time for teachers to conduct the lessons with their own classes, followed by a cool down. After school programs will also receive training based on Tandalay Curriculum, but will include more music and dance elements.

This is a model program for incorporating students in physical activity,” said Lindsay Unified's Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, Tom Rooney. &#8220The neat thing about this curriculum is that kids are 100% involved all the time. And it's all about play, not learning the rules of sports. It's through the use of games and equipment that all kids can participate in a non-competitive manor.”

As Washington Elementary kicked off the new curriculum with a rally, Jefferson students participated in pre-fitness testing with the help of Fresno State students. The testing uses the same model as the Tandalay program incorporating fun with fitness so kids actually enjoy doing the P.E. testing.

Justine McAlpine, Lecturer for Fresno State's Kinesiology Department who oversaw the testing at Jefferson Elementary said that this P.E. testing is different from the fitness testing we saw as kids.

Students are not compared to their fellow students, but to healthy fitness zone levels. Reports are available for students to print out or to access online. The fitness testing will commence twice a year and will be conducted by Fresno State students under FSU's Kinesiology Department.

For more information on Tandalay Curriculum see www.tandalay.com.

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