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Gym Teachers Find It Hard to Keep Up With Common Core

Gym Teachers Find It Hard To Keep Up With Common Core

Gym teachers across the U.S. are finding that Common Core is making its way into gym classes as students practice and improve their math skills during physical activities. Sometimes, however, it hasn't been easy for physical education teachers to keep up with requirements of the standards.

Judy Schmid, a gym teacher at Jacobsville Elementary School in Pasadena, Maryland, “teaches her students how to bowl, she has them score games manually, even though most modern bowling alleys have automatic scoring,” said an article on Slate.com.

“Kids count fallen pins, show their calculations on worksheets, play number games, and by the end of one 30-minute gym class, they’ve done a lot more than knock down a few pins—they’ve knocked off several Common Core math skills too,” the article said. “Yes, even gym teachers are under pressure to teach to the controversial new Common Core standards, which are reshaping teaching and learning (not to mention political alliances) across America.”

The Common Core, the article said, “calls for cross-disciplinary teaching and the reinforcement of foundational English and math skills in not only core academic subjects, but in art, music, and gym as well.”

“If done well, the Common Core should inspire instructors to work in a much more collaborative and creative fashion across subject areas,” the article said. “But if done poorly, untrained and frustrated teachers can wind up feeling forced to teach skills and lessons they don’t fully understand, and students suffer. In this sense, the success—or failure—of this unprecedented expansion of academic content into gym class can be seen as a barometer for the health and well-being of the entire Common Core.”

Schmid “embraced the new expectations with gusto, spending hours studying the standards and scouring the Internet for physical-education–specific lesson ideas,” the article said. “But not all gym teachers are getting the training or taking the time to incorporate Common Core skills thoughtfully or well.”

According to the article, Martha James-Hassan, the director of physical education graduate programs at Towson University, said that “at some schools, administrators are telling gym teachers that they have to drop everything and devote certain classes to reading and writing in order to address the Common Core.”

“That’s not necessarily the instructional shift outlined by the Common Core,” she said. “That’s a less-informed Band-Aid approach.”

Peter Terbuska, a veteran phys-ed teacher in Wyoming, N.Y., “initially had mixed feelings about teaching the Common Core in his classes,” the article said.

“He wanted the best for his students academically, but he didn’t want to cut down on time they spent being active,” said the article. “Also, ‘there was no preparation for it whatsoever.’ Slowly, though, after talking with other teachers and learning what kids were doing in other subjects, Terbuska came around to the idea.”

“At first it was like pulling teeth,” he said. “Now, though, the kids are used to it and even excited about leading the group stretch.”

Read the full story and comment below. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor

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