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Energizing the elementary Physical Education teacher preparation program through integration.

For many years, Physical Educators have worked diligently to integrate core curriculum areas into their programs to support the classroom learning environment. Physical Education teachers and Elementary Classroom teachers have created environments that are mutually supportive, informative and exciting as they "marry" the curriculum from both learning environments. Can you imagine the excitement and instruction that can take place when more resources are added to the instructional team?

Several years ago, Jouett Elementary School in Louisa County began to host "Reading Fun Days." These events were held in the spring of each year and the events of the day were based on an educational theme. In order to help the theme "come to life" the Physical Education teacher would collaborate with not only the classroom teacher, but also the other resource teachers in the building. The purpose of this article is to discuss one such event and link it to current teacher preparation programs on the college and university level.

South America became the central theme for our Reading Fun Day one year. The resource teachers began to work on a collaboration that would help students understand and experience the South American culture. This activity would be the culminating event a few weeks later for the Physical Education Field Day. Each resource teacher had a role in the day's activities. The librarian read to students about the history and culture of South America; the music teacher introduced the students to the nuances of the music; the art teacher had the students make rainsticks; the physical education teacher helped the students design rhythmic activities using the rainsticks and music. The rhythmic activities were the final event for field day and a dynamic presentation was made for the teachers, parents, the community and the school division.

Building these types of learning events is a very important part of educational programming. Ideas such as these are needed for the Physical Education major and the Classroom Education major teacher preparation programs. Integrating music, movement, art, history, and culture into a lesson such as this provides the framework necessary to create the ultimate learning experience. For example, the following rainstick activity was completed at Longwood University in the "Teaching Health and Physical Education for Classroom Teachers" learning environment.

A local vendor was contacted and his carpet business was willing to donate the cardboard center dowels. These dowels were cut into 24 inch sections and holes were pre-drilled for the insertion of finishing nails. After one end was closed with packing tape, dry noodles were added to the center of the tube and the other end caped off. Students covered the dowels with construction paper and used markers to decorate the rainsticks. They were then given the opportunity to plan small group rhythm activities using their new rainsticks. To coordinate the skills learned during the semester, students were asked to use non-locomotor movements in their presentation. One Longwood student stated--"In performing our rain stick dance routine, we were using our non-locomotor skills because we were standing in place bending, shaking and spinning our rainsticks, among other movements." This activity allowed students the opportunity to experience and apply non-locomotor skills in a non-traditional learning venue.

In addition, this culminating event allowed the students to see the importance of community and group collaboration, as well as movement and culture in making the curriculum come to life. Students used music, art, cultural exploration and movement to foster the learning environment. After viewing a video tape of the Jouett Field Day rainstick presentation, another student noted:

"I learned this year that a school's faculty must be in full collaboration so the students are provided the best education. When the rain sticks project was implemented in your school, the classroom teacher, physical education teacher, art teacher, music teacher, and librarians had to mesh to make that field day possible. I thought that the video perfectly exemplified the power a school can have when the teaching staff works as one team."

Having experienced the diversity of this educational tool, it is likely that Longwood University education students will continue to think "out of the box" in order to help students master the diversity of today's culture and curriculum. As mentioned by one of Longwood's students"

"When Ms. Kanary first told us that we were going to make rain sticks, our class, mainly juniors, was so excited. To think about how excited we got, it makes me smile when I think of a classroom full of students getting ten times more excited. Seeing kids smile, laugh, and have fun while they are learning essential information really reassures me that I want to be a teacher and teach them everything I can."

The power of this lesson and other multi curriculum lessons lies in research, commitment and partnership. All participants need to review, study and evaluate the diversity of the culture highlighted by the event. This information must be presented to the students through an integrated format. Some examples include:

* Have the physical education teacher introduce physical activities from the area studied.

* Introduce local cuisine, farming practices and partner with the Child Nutrition Program for food sampling.

* Have the art teacher introduce local art and have students make artifacts from the area studied

* Have the music teacher introduce locality specific music and have students practice

* Have the science teacher discuss local climate, ecosystem, animals

* Have the librarian introduce cultural nuances, attire, local writers and lore

* Introduce geography through map study

* Bring in guest speakers that have lived or traveled to the region

* These are just some examples of ways to blend these activities into a school wide event that allows the entire school to better understand cultural diversity and worldwide awareness.

Collaboration continues to be an important job for everyone. Not only do Physical Education teachers have to continue to support and revitalize their own curriculum, they must also help the classroom teacher establish and promote the link between movement and learning. Lessons such as these highlight the learning styles of the kinesthetic, auditory, analytical and visual learner as well as bring the curriculum to life for students and educators. It is an excellent partnership that can revitalize the curriculum and reinforce educational practice in today's eclectic learning environment. By extending this type of teacher training to students in the college and university setting, we will further enhance the quality of multicultural education and diversity awareness in our local schools.

Please visit our Youtube link-Longwood University Rainsticks

Rainstick materials and directions:

24 inch hollow dowel (diameter may vary) with pre-drilled holes

Nails-approx. 50 per dowel

Dry noodles-approx. 3 lbs. per dowel

Packing tape


Construction paper, markers

Have students insert nails into predrilled holes, if needed, tape over holes to hold nails in place. After a baggie is taped over one end of the dowel, add beads or rocks to tube and close other end. Use construction paper or packing paper to cover dowels and have students decorate. Students may then develop rhythm activities using their rainsticks with partners or small groups.

Donna M. Kanary, Ed.S., Instructor, Longwood College, Instructor, Germanna Community College Health, Athletic Training, Recreation and Kinesiology Department, Farmville, VA
COPYRIGHT 2012 Virginia Association for Health, Physical Education and Dance
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Kanary, Donna M.
Publication:VAHPERD Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2012
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