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Showcasing Meg Greiner and "All-School Assemblies"

"One year, during National Physical Education and Sport Week, I conducted several all-school assemblies at which we moved and danced together for 15 minutes," recalled Oregon physical education teacher Meg Greiner. "The teachers at my school liked the concept so much -- especially how they felt afterwards and how it affected the children's behavior -- they presented me with the idea of starting out each school day with an all-school assembly to get our blood pumping and brains ready to learn. That was seven years ago, and we still are going strong!"

Meg Greiner leads daily physical education activities at Oregon's Independence Elementary School.

Each morning, when the doors open at Independence Elementary School, all children and staff members come to the gym. There, they participate in TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More) Time, a variety of movement exercises, dances, and stretches led by Greiner. Parents and community members are invited to join in the event, which also features team-building activities, music, a flag salute, morning announcements, and more. Greiner plans and orchestrates different activities for every session; her students now know more than 50 dances and five sign language songs.

The fun doesn't end with TEAM Time, however. Greiner takes an entertaining and active approach to her physical education classes as well. "I create an inviting, warm and caring environment for learning that is both physically and emotionally safe for all students, a place where students can be successful and feel safe enough to take risks," Greiner said of her phys ed program. "Students are taught a variety of movement and manipulative skills, concepts, and strategies that foster physical activity for a lifetime. They also learn self-management and social behavior skills like respect, problem solving, team building, and responsibility."

At Independence Elementary, students receive physical education instruction nearly every school day. Greiner feels that the frequent classes instill in the children the importance of being active and encourage them to remain active for a lifetime. She uses unusual equipment to pique her students' interest. They learn to juggle, ride a unicycle, and perform circus arts. When the students use pedometers, Greiner is amazed at how eager they are to move, just to get in one more step.

"By meeting with my students more frequently, I am able to offer a rounded physical education program that includes movement skills, sport skills, health-related physical fitness skills and concepts, dance, educational gymnastics, team building, and more," explained Greiner. "Students learn the skills and concepts they need to be physically educated movers and, hopefully, will get hooked and continue to be active forever.

"The unconventional and unique equipment is eye candy and hooks the learner," she added. The students say, 'Wow! That looks cool. What do you do with that?' They get really excited by brightly colored equipment and things they don't know. Equipment must not drive the program, however. There must be an educational purpose for everything, a focus, and a goal."

Greiner believes that elementary students should be introduced to a variety of activities -- throwing and catching, individual jump rope, long jump rope, juggling, rhythms, dance, and so on. She also thinks that most students love to move and play, and her students enjoy moving because they feel successful. To motivate the kids, Greiner chooses exciting and novel activities that are fun and active, and engage their brains.

"With the obesity epidemic, school districts need certified physical education teachers teaching physical education at all levels, kindergarten through twelfth grade," Greiner shared. "Where else will our children learn the importance of physical activity andlearn the skills in a developmentally appropriate progression? Programs should be developmentally appropriate, well rounded, promote success, and be emotionally and physically safe. Physical education should be inclusive and for everyone, not just the athletically gifted."

Photo courtesy of Meg Greiner.

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If you're a teacher who has completed an interesting or unusual activity with your class -- or if you know of a teacher who has -- please let us know about it. E-mail a brief description of the activity, along with your contact information, to [email protected]

Article by Cara Bafile
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