A Final Thought – Tech in the PE Classroom

To have tech or not to have tech in the PE classroom? That is the question. And like anything in life it should be a balance. After researching the effects of video analysis in skill development and it being successful for student learning, I believe there is a place for tech in the PE classroom.

Admittedly I was very skeptical prior to implementing iPad use during our badminton unit in high school PE mostly due to the time it would take away from physical activity. Initially it did take a chunk of time to teach the students how to use the Ubersense app for video analysis but after the first time they practiced it only took minimal time to record and analyze the skill being taught. The students today are very tech savvy and not only learn new apps quickly but become very proficient at them as well. Check out this student analyzing his smash shot and how he uses lines to draw on his body when comparing himself to how he previously executed the shot.

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I also considered what would the students think about using iPads during PE. Would they think it was a waste of time, helpful in learning the skills, or would rather be playing than using another tech device? Watch what one student had to say.

Next I wanted to think about if using iPads in the PE classroom made learning transformative. Did it change the way kids learn and could they learn the same thing as well without the iPads? According to the research Luke LaBaw, Liz Halina, and I did using iPads we believe it was transformative; in other words redefined how kids learn. According to the SAMR Model using iPads fits the definition of redefinition in that “tech allows for creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable.” Prior to iPads video analysis was only done with athletes at the college and professional levels. The tools used were bulky cameras and large computers which all cost an arm and an leg. The iPad opened doors for school aged kids in a regular classroom to see themselves executing a skill and making the necessary adjustments for change and improvement as you saw in the video above. Liz Halina and I believe the use of iPads in PE was, pedagogically, a step in the right direction.

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After all these considerations I believe using tech, specifically iPads due to portability, in the PE classroom is an advantage to kids learning and skill development. Although every PE unit does not need to be analyzed I do plan on implementing the use of iPads and video analysis into more units next year. I also plan to use them in my Personal Fitness class so that students can analyze their form while lifting weights, running on the treadmill, riding the stationary bikes, and rowing (this one is a biggie). I believe the time it takes on the front end is worth the benefits it provides in the long run. If I take the time at the beginning of the semester to teach the Ubersense app then they have the skills to use it in any unit throughout the school year and into the following years. Also if this app or any other video analysis app is taught in middle school or earlier that knowledge would help in saving time during class in the future. I have seen first hand a less skilled student become a skilled one in just a few class meetings and the joy of success on just one kids face is worth the time it takes to teach and use tech in PE.


Partner Reflection #2 – Personal Learning Network

The world of technology is changing and growing so fast it is bewildering to me how anyone can keep up with new ways to use what is out there in a productive, rewarding, and thoughtful manner. Just when I feel comfortable using one app or starting a project integrating technology something else is brought to my attention that claims to be better or has more options. I understand many people find this exciting in the world of education; I find it can be overwhelming and detrimental to one’s self confidence/esteem. Social networking IS the way people connect now both personally and professionally, however there is more and more research showing that it can lead to lowered self esteem and depression. According to and article in Psychology Today it depends on “who you are and what you are doing online.”


I am affected negatively, both physically and mentally, by too much social networking, be it personal or professional, and too much screen time on the computer. Physically my vision blurs substantially, even after 30 minutes, and I frequently get cricks in my neck from the position a body takes when keyboarding. When I began the CoeTail series of courses I was an email and Facebook user only. Due to the nature of the courses I was asked to broaden my professional network and digital footprint by using/exploring sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn as well as sites to aid in slide sharing and video sharing. So I signed up for these social networking sites. I barely use them. I check them when an assignment requires it such as building a learning network and even then I find I have to force myself to sign in. I even have to look up my password because I forget what I used. I am old fashioned in my beliefs about how to communicate and that would be face to face.

My professional partner and fellow Coetailer, Liz Halina, whom I have worked with on our final presentation for course #5 in the Coetail series of courses was helpful in teaching me ways to build my personal learning network. She sat down with me and showed me how to navigate Twitter; creating hash tags, following people or groups, and how to respond to tweets. Unfortunately it didn’t take. Not because of her, she is awesome in this realm, but because I don’t believe it is healthy mentally (especially) or physically, to be so incredibly tied to an inanimate object; computers. The more sites we go to and the larger our networks become the more time it requires to be in front of a computer. Having said this I did manage to put a Google Hangout video of Luke LaBaw, Liz Halina, and myself presenting our research project for our Master’s degree onto my Twitter page.

I understand my beliefs do not gel with the the direction in which education and technology has headed, or Coetail for that matter, but they are my beliefs and for my own mental and physical health I will follow them. This does not mean I will not use technology at all, for it is a necessity in this world at this time, however, it does mean I will continue to limit the time I personally use a computer or other device. I feel as a global citizen it is my responsibility to lessen my ecological footprint as well as my digital one.

I ask anyone who reads this blog to understand that each of us are different and to respect the feelings and beliefs I hold whether you agree with them or not. Thank you.


Partner Reflection #1 – Thank You to My Partners

Working with Liz Halina has been a superb experience! From planning stages through to completion Liz has been an inspiration. She was thorough and thoughtful in her ideas and implementation of our tech project in HS PE. Liz was always considerate of our contributions to the project looking at the possibilities from various angles and helping to determine what would and would not work. She and I worked well together; I was the details person and she was the ideas/creative person. She always made time to meet around my schedule and showed up on time for each meeting. She stays professional yet has an amazing sense of humor! Her patience with my impatience is greatly appreciated as is her unyielding positive attitude throughout.

Photo owned by Liz Halina CC-BY-NC-ND

Liz is an excellent teacher as well. I saw this during the implementation of our project and her rapport with the students is admirable. They respond to her instructions and her humor. I personally have learned from Liz to be more patient, positive and tolerant. Although she may not know it she has taught me to smile more often and find the humor in the little things; at least I am working on that. Liz has a way of turning work into fun!

Although Luke LaBaw is not a part of this CoeTail class he was a huge part of our project therefore I would be remiss if I did not mention him in this reflective post. Luke is one of the most laid back people I know. I have never seen him angry; perhaps a little frustrated but never angry. He worked diligently to make this project a success. He is much like Liz in the sense that they are both abstract, creative thinkers as opposed to me being concrete, sequential. Together we made a great team taking up the slack when and where our strengths were needed. I appreciate Luke’s calm demeanor and loving support when I was frustrated and stressed (I wear these things on my shirt sleeve). I also appreciate Luke’s special brand of humor! He certainly makes me laugh at just the right times. Luke’s contributions and knowledge in physical education as well as technology were a great asset to our project from development through to completion. I thank you Luke for not only being a professional colleague but also an unforgettable friend.

I would also like to thank the HS Tech department for their support during this project. Thank you to Piyush Raina and Nandini Navalan for coming to each lesson to help out. And a special thanks to Maureen Cullen for her undying love of helping teachers integrate technology into their units. Maureen you’re the best!



At the End: Results and Reflection

What did this all amount to? The implementation of tech/iPads in our high school PE badminton unit for the benefit of skill development was a success with significant improvements in all three skills.

However, in the control group, those classes that had only teacher and peer feedback, the boys skills decreased but the girls skills increased in both groups.

What did this do for the kids confidence? Our results, based on the confidence scale administered to the students pre and post unit, indicated that confidence increased overall.

The increase was seen across the board for the girls and boys for both groups.

The question still remains:  Is it worth taking the time away from physical activity to use the iPads in PE? My answer to this question is a question:  What is the goal/outcome/benchmark that is to be accomplished in a particular unit? If the benchmark is to engage the students in physical activity to increase fitness levels then I would say do not implement the use of technology as it takes away from activity time. If the benchmark is to improve motor development in a particular sport/activity then using video analysis is an excellent way to help students improve their skills and never mind the time it takes to teach the Ubersense app, video themselves, and analyze themselves compared to an exemplar. I think using this app would also be extremely beneficial to coaching in order to help athletes improve their skills. It might be a bit difficult to video under water for swim skills! But videoing swimming technique above the water is certainly viable.

I believe the use of iPads for learning fits the SAMR model in that it redefines how kids learn skills in PE. Yes, video analysis has been around for awhile but only used by professional/elite athletes because of the cost of equipment. Video analysis is new to the classroom setting. Because iPads are so portable and user friendly ALL students in any setting can use them to video themselves, analyze what they see and make proper adjustments in their skills to maximize their improvements. Having the opportunity to use video analysis may in fact produce high skilled students who may then have the confidence to try out for a sport/team.

Using iPads for skill development also fits the TPACK model. Technology is being used to teach (Pedagogy) Content Knowledge. The content being the badminton skills broken down into five components for each skill and the students recognizing each of these components when analyzing their videos, making corrections, and reanalyzing pointing out the improvements they have made and those they still need to make.

I would definitely incorporate iPads in other units as well, however, I don’t think they are necessary in every unit and I would suspect any educator, physical or academic, would agree that technology has its place as does traditional styles of education.

My colleague, Luke LaBaw, implemented iPads in his Ultimate Frisbee unit with positive results once again. I give kudos to him for trying Ubersense in another sport for the benefit of skill improvement.

If you would like to read our results follow the link to our research paper. And a big THANK YOU to my fellow colleagues Luke LaBaw and Liz Halina for making this project run smoothly and discovering how technology can help in a physical education setting.


In the Middle (Implementation of iPads)

Myself and two other high school PE teachers (Luke LaBaw and Liz Halina) implemented an action research study to see if using iPads for video analysis in developing three badminton skills was more effective than traditional teacher demonstration and verbal feedback. We did this in an attempt to implement technology in the PE setting. I would speculate that most PE teachers would put an abrupt stop to having any sort of tech device in PE because we want kids to be moving and active as many minutes as possible during class and we see PE as a time to be away from a computer screen. However, Luke, Liz and I wanted to jump on the tech bandwagon in order to meet some of the 21st Century Learning Outcomes and the NETS for students



We first administered our Confidence (Likert) Scale to both groups of students; control and treatment groups. This gave us an idea of the overall level of kids confidence in PE in general and badminton specifically at the beginning of the unit. We then assigned an iPad to each student in the treatment group and instructed them to always use the same iPad so they could use their collection of videos for comparisons later in the unit. Once each student had an iPad a tutorial was given by Liz as to how to navigate the Ubersense app including creating an account, learning how to record, tag, scrub, pause, play, record comments, draw, and compare videos. The instruction took 20 minutes out of what would have been active playing time but we knew this would happen so there was no surprise.

Students were then instructed on names of lines on the court, proper grip and were allowed to practice volleying the shuttlecock over net.  Students videoed each other in pairs, shared video with each other, loaded video into app, and compared/commented on videos of each other for practice.

Once into the first week and throughout the unit students were given instructions on three skills: underhand serve, smash, and backhand. The first skill was the underhand serve. Instructors described how/where/when to serve in singles and doubles, were given a demonstration of the underhand serve and a description of 5 criteria they would be assessed on from a skills rubric that Liz, Luke and I created. The students were then asked to perform the underhand serve while a partner videoed them and while the instructor assessed them using the skill rubric. After this was done the kids compared their own video to an exemplar of Luke executing the underhand serve.

Underhand Serve Exemplar

In the middle of the unit the smash was taught using the same teaching method as above and finally the backhand. Each student had a partner who videoed them doing each of these skills and each time the student compared their performance to an exemplar. Time was given for practice of each skill and an opportunity to use these skills in game play. A second and third video was taken of each skill in order for the students to compare to their previous video and document the improvements they made throughout the unit. Watch one student analyze his smash from his first attempt to an attempt after a few classes of practice and refinement.

At the conclusion of the unit the students were given the confidence scale again to reassess their confidence in PE and badminton. They were also reassessed in each skill using the skills rubric to determine the improvements that were made. And in the final wrap up of the unit each class had a mini-tournament using the skills that they had learned and practiced through out the unit.

Look for the results of this study in the next blog post. At the end…




In the beginning…

PE seems to be the least likely place to use technology because many of us feel this is the only place where kids get a reprieve from staring at a screen. Why would we use precious minutes of activity time putting a device back in the hands of students? The kids only get PE every other day (in a good school) and each minute must be utilized in the name of movement and motor skill development. And that is where it began, with those three words:  Motor Skill Development.

American Embassy School (AES) New Delhi is in the first year of a one-to-one iPad program in the middle school. This past fall semester the high school has been in conversation/discussion about whether to go one-to-one iPads or laptops. The decision was to go with laptops beginning school year 2013-2014. However during this decision making process and weighing the pros and cons of each device in the educational setting the faculty has been issued their own iPads and MacBook Airs this school year. There are also iPad carts and laptop carts for checkout from the tech department. With this new equipment two of my PE colleagues, Luke LaBaw and Liz Halina, and I decided to do an experiment using iPads in PE.

I learned about a free app from other PE teachers at a NESA conference this fall called Ubersense. This app allows PE teachers and coaches to compare, side by side, skill execution of the student/athlete to an exemplar video of the skill being learned.

Photo by Ubersense.

So Luke and Liz and I decided to use tech in PE to see if it was worth the time and effort for the students to learn and use Ubersense toward their skill development. Or if it was even effective compared with traditional teaching methods? We chose our Badminton unit and three skills: underhand serve, backhand, and smash as our experiment situation.

Photo by Ubersense.

We brainstormed ideas on how we would go about this experiment and decided to use Luke’s three HS PE classes and my three HS PE classes. We were fortunate enough to have Liz attend all six classes throughout this six week unit. We did a random drawing to see which three classes would be the experimental group and which three would be the control group. As it happened Luke had two classes experimental and one control and I had two control classes and one experimental. We then contacted HS tech to secure the use of an iPad cart for the duration of our unit and help from the tech department during the three experimental classes. They were more than happy to help and Maureen Cullen, our HS tech integrator, was excited about our implementation of iPads in the PE setting.

We proceeded to make daily lesson plans and a rubric for scoring skill execution at the beginning of the unit and the end to determine and compare progress between the two experimental groups. We also developed a Likert scale to assess student confidence toward PE and Badminton at the beginning of the unit and at the end to see if there was a difference in attitudes between those who used iPads and those who did not with regards to PE and Badminton. With all this preparation we were ready to being our experiment.

Keep a look out for the next post, “In the middle…”

Also see Liz Halina’s post about this endeavor.

Technology Changing Education

With the advent of asking WHY and HOW or in other words questioning what the teacher is saying, as opposed to just absorbing what she is saying, has made a huge leap in how we learn and certainly how we teach. Education as we know it has already begun to change and did so, in my opinion, when the first computers were introduced in a classroom. I can remember in high school when the math department got computers in 1980 and the course was writing programs, very crude by today’s standards however. From that initial computer to what is happening today is very profound. We have learned how important collaboration, creativity, analysis, and evaluating content is when used in the classroom. Technology is responsible for students being able to do these things at the touch of a button which leads to more inquiry, problem solving, and knowledge and understanding in general. Technology makes it easier to collaborate with other students and teachers around the world as well as classmates from one home to the other. Having access to a computer and the internet allows students (and teachers) to have some autonomy, work toward mastery, and have a purpose in what they are doing as Daniel Pink points out in the video of his talk about what motivates us. Education today, we hope,  allows students, through lessons and projects, to have some autonomy in creating their own version of what we want them to learn and understand according to our subject’s standards. As a teacher I enjoy seeing the products that students present and the various ways they go about achieving this goal. Not only would I get bored being the “sage on the stage” but kids get bored as well. Tech lends itself to creativity and inquiry. Students must be stake holders in their own education and allowing them autonomy to be creative and inquisitive puts them in this position. It also allows for mastery in a particular area. The more they practice the better they get and the more they understand. Students need to see a purpose in what they are doing and I believe autonomy gives them this purpose.

Guides such as the Integration Matrix in place we, as educators, are learning how to use technology to enhance, aide, and direct students to more in depth research and understanding of subject matter and in doing so progresses and changes the way kids learn. Although I find the SAMR model crude and hard to define, it is a tool that some educators might find helpful when designing a unit; again changing the way we look at education by using technology. I personally like the way the TPACK model is set up. I find it easy to understand and a useable guide to change teaching now and in the future. These guides help to change education by letting the student follow their interests with guidelines from the instructor so that we are more of a facilitator.

In the future (5, 10, 15 years from now) my hope is to continue my professional development toward learning new technology and how to apply it to my teaching units and lessons. It is a slow process but I don’t believe educators and/or administrator expect us to make changes at warp speed. One interesting concept that is gaining popularity is gaming or “edutainment” as it is called in Moving Learning Games Forward by Eric Klopfer, Scot Osterweil, and Katie Salen. In their article they state, “Those who believe in using games in education usually start from a common set of assumptions. They observe that game player’s regularly exhibit persistence, risk-taking, attention to detail and problem solving skills, all behaviors that ideally would be regularly demonstrated in school. They also understand that game environments enable players to construct understanding actively, and at individual paces, and that well-designed games enable players to advance on different paths at different rates in response to each player’s interests and abilities, while also fostering collaboration and just-in-time learning.” These are skills we should be teaching in today’s educational environment. They are skills necessary in achieving the levels of Bloom’s New Taxonomy and reaching the NETS Standards of Critical Thinking; Problem Solving, and Decision Making; Digital Citizenship; Technology Operations and Concepts.

They are also lifelong skills necessary to obtain a job and be part of a global society. Is gaming going to be a normal part of education in the future? And what about MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course)? Will they be the wave of the future of K-12 education? Will teachers no longer be needed? We will be replaced by online, guided classes? There are international schools that resort to online classes in the event of an emergency evacuation. Many teachers in our school use online collaboration, blogs, and homework assignments posted online as part of student learning; is that not being partially an online class? The free part in offering a MOOC is astounding to me. I think it is wonderful that these courses are offered free of charge. I am currently taking my first online course so we’ll see how it goes. After completing the first lesson I can say my frustration level was escalated! Thank goodness I had people to work with in my teaching community.

In conclusion, I have no clue where I will be in the future as a teacher but I can say that although technology is developing at an alarming rate human beings don’t change that quickly so I am thinking that, at least in the next five years, I will have learned much more about how to use tech in my classroom in an effort to catapult my students learning and understanding into what their future might hold.

Integrating & Managing New Technology

The three subject areas I teach use technology, or not, very differently. I rarely use technology in PE because I believe in maximizing the amount of physical activity time during class and have yet to learn a way in which using technology would not take away from this time. The technology I use in Life Guarding is instructional video streaming from the American Red Cross Instructors site projected onto the SmartBoard. The Life Guarding Manuel for the students is accessed via a web link to an ebook format or they can download it to their own computers. Health, being a classroom course, uses technology more often. We integrate technology in the form of student presentations (mostly PPT), video, VoiceThread, research, blogging, and, for the first time this semester, making short commercials using movie maker/iMovie. My teaching partner and I use Google Docs/Drive and Google calendars to share documents and important dates with the students. I use Google sites as a location the students can go to access class information and calendars. With the integration of one-to-one program in the high school I plan to learn more about  apps on the iPads and programs on the internet that would support and enhance learning in my classroom. Part of my learning and using technology are covered in the article 23 Things About Laptops by dskmag, specifically numbers 13-Learn about Enquiry, Problem and Project Based Approaches to learning and 19- Teacher will use the same strategies as students when the going gets tough. In Health we use project based learning and this is where the computer is used to research and create presentations, blogging, and posting to VoiceThread. I, like my students, use the excuse of “I don’t know how, I don’t like to, No one has told me.” I wouldn’t admit this in class except for maybe the “I don’t know” excuse.

Integrating technology must support the standards and benchmarks of each subject area. At the end of each project in Health students should be one step closer to achieving understanding of one or more standards and by the end of the semester the goal is to have students more Health literate. The idea is that technology helps to get them there. Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) is a guideline to integrating technology in the classroom. With the advent of games based learning, mobile apps, and tablet computing (Horizon Report 2012) what works and what is a possible distraction, in my opinion, is up in the air. I believe what works for one teacher may not work for another. We must keep our options open and learn from experience or trial by error. I intend on continuing to learn, try, and implement new tech strategies for teaching and learning.

Managing the technology during class time has been relatively easy. AES has an Acceptable Use Policy stated in our HS student handbook. As Rich Kiker says in his article 5 Strategies for 1 to 1 Classroom Management “A good AUP is crit­i­cal because it will sup­port you with behav­ior con­se­quences in the event that a stu­dent inap­pro­pri­ately uses her access.” The only instances in which I have had to deal with a student is the use of headphones in class, cell phone texts in class, and looking at sites on the internet that have nothing to do with the task that was asked of the students. All of these distractions are listed in 23 Things About Classroom Laptops. Headphones are listed as #14 saying that they can be distracting or useful, especially when asked to watch YouTube or another video clip.  The University of Denver’s Office of Teaching and Learning makes arguments against and benefits for tech use but the best advice they give, in my opinion, is to “Think through your own stance on laptop/phone use in class and share this with your students.” When students hear your own opinion or see you using tech and especially asking them for help it creates respect of the tools and knowledge of both parties.

At the beginning of the school year laying the foundations of what is appropriate and what is not is a good idea. Having the students create a list of do’s and don’ts so that they will have ownership in what is happening in the classroom when technology is being used is a great way to start the school year. Post the list so all students can see it and be reminded of what is acceptable. As the instructor it is my job to follow through on the guidelines set and the consequences of infraction.

Integrating and managing new technology is changing each year with new technology emerging at an alarming rate. No one can keep up with everything. All we can do is our personal best as to how we, individually and collaboratively, use and manage tech in our own schools and classrooms.


Technology in Project Based Learning

Project Based Learning naturally lends itself to the use of technology through creativity, research, and presentations. Health and Wellness classes are based on projects in the high school to promote real-world health habits and behaviors. My colleague and I use projects so that students can research, discover, create, and present the unit content in a way that encourages inquiry, discovery, collaboration, creativity, and understanding. Technology plays an important role in putting together the projects required in this class.

Punya Mishra and Matthew Koehler, in the article “Too Cool for School? No Way!” state that “If educators are to repurpose tools and integrate them into their teaching, they require a specific kind of knowledge that we call technological pedagogical and content knowledge (TPACK).” Not only do we as educators need to know how to use technology but we also need to know how to incorporate it into the content that we teach. After reading this article and viewing the video presentation about TPACK by the same authors I will look at our projects in Health and Wellness differently. The combination of pedagogy, content, and technology must work together to aid in the creation of and the execution of PBL. If the students are to get out of a project what we want them to then we must put into the development of the project the content required and present this content in a way that boosts understanding. We can do this by using technology ourselves and expecting our students to produce work using the same.

Using TPACK hits on NETS for students such as  communication and collaboration, creativity and innovation, and digital citizenship. It also hits on NETS for teachers in the areas of digital age learning, professional growth, and student learning. I believe an example of this is a new unit (still under construction) that concerns methods of birth control. Each group (partners) will present a type of birth control. I haven’t decided how their presentations should be presented. e.g. PPT (Pecha Kucha, Presentation Zen), iMovie/MovieMaker, brochure (Publisher), etc. Just sitting here writing this blog I think how fun it might be for the kids to create a commercial for the birth control method they research.

The Technology Integration Matrix (TIM) is a very useful tool for teachers to design a project and/or reflect on projects as to how, what, and why is technology being used in this particular project. I can see from this matrix that I need to let go of some of the guidelines as to presentation styles in the projects for Health and Wellness. Reflecting on a project that has already been completed this semester in Health and Wellness and looking ahead to a project that will be introduced tomorrow I can already determine that the upcoming project lies in the adaptation section on the matrix. I already know that I will use the TIM as a guideline in creating new projects for Health and Wellness.

My brain is in over-drive thinking about the project we are creating for contraceptives….

Digital Story

I chose to create a digital story for directions to the Nutrition Project we do as a final project in Health. In creating this piece of work my goal was to make instructions more fun and interesting. I intend on using this in Health class in the next two weeks. Enjoy!