Printer Friendly

Six Easy Breezy Apps for Amateurs: An Easy to Follow Guide for Integrating Apps into your Physical and Health Education Program.

Technology surrounds students in their daily lives. Physical and health educators report that technology is increasing the prevalence of sedentary lifestyles and adding fuel to the flames of the childhood obesity epidemic, while also reporting that technology offers an opportunity to increase student motivation to be physically active and healthy (Cummiskey, 2011; Lambert, 2017; Martin, Melnyk, & Zimmerman, 2015; Mears, Sibley, & McKethan, 2012). Apps are shown to have many educational benefits, from offering classroom management protocols and support (Kharbach, 2013; TeachThought, 2012), to integrating the sport education model into instructional planning and execution (Sinelnikov, 2012). The integration of technology, including apps, has become so popular that a new form of teaching knowledge has developed called technological pedagogical content knowledge (Juniu, 2011).

For some, the thought of using technology can seem time consuming, difficult, and intimidating (Lambert, 2017). There are many research articles that highlight great apps that can be integrated into physical and health education, and that offer tips and tools that help teachers learn to integrate apps in a seamless and user-friendly manner (Cummiskey, 2011; Lambert, 2017; Mears, Sibley, & McKethan, 2012; Philips, Rodenbeck, & Clegg, 2014). As these articles get older, technology advances, and app developers are responsible for keeping up with updates so that these apps remain great tools. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. With the most recent iOS 11 update, many apps in the articles cited in this paper are not up to date, or no longer exist. Thus, the purpose of this manuscript is to highlight six outstanding apps, including features and examples of best practice use, to offer physical and health education teachers an easy breezy path to begin to use technology to increase student motivation and enhance student learning. For a brief overview of the six easy breezy apps, see Table 1. These apps are user friendly, and are great starter apps for physical and health educators who are interested in moving forward in the digital age.

App 1: ClassDojo

ClassDojo is a popular classroom management app that allows a teacher to reward points throughout class for positive behavior (Kharbach, 2013; TeachThought, 2012). It is a great tool for providing effective and motivating feedback to students. This feedback can be given in real time to one or more students through audio-visual cues. This app is a consistent way to provide students with positive reinforcement that has been known to influence future behavior and ultimately promotes learning.

A teacher can easily start using this app by creating a free account. Once that initial access is granted, the teacher can add all of their classes. As a teacher inputs the students' names, the app will randomly assign them a unique avatar. A teacher can create groups within their class for different tables of students or groups for projects. This app comes with six standard positive feedback options including helping others, on task, participating, persistence, teamwork, and working hard. This list can be expanded and customized to include behaviors that are relevant to each class. There is the option to add behaviors that need work, including the option to deduct points within ClassDojo. Another great feature of this app is the ability to connect with parents and students. A teacher can invite parents to the class page. The teacher can then post updates about what students are doing in class. Parents can observe their students feedback for themselves and message the teacher to follow-up. This is a great way to motivate students and get parents involved. For an example simulation of this app see Table 2. Overall this app is a great starter app that demonstrates how technology can enhance classroom management and behavior management protocols. It is user friendly and it has an aesthetically pleasing design.

App 2: Sworkit

Sworkit is a workout prescription app that is customizable, motivating, and excellent for physical education (Atkins, 2015). Users have the option of selecting one of the many preloaded workouts or creating their own. This app is a great tool for teaching students about fitness planning and different types of physical activities. There are a variety of free features that can be taken advantages of, including seven free preloaded starter workouts and four different categories of additional preloaded workouts. A children's version is also free to download.

The customization this app has to offer is the best feature. The user can create their own workout by selecting the custom star on the tool bar at the bottom of the screen. The user can then select a variety of filters to find the exercises that best fits what they are looking for. If there is an exercise that they are unfamiliar with they can select the image of the person doing the exercise for a quick demonstration. Once the user selects their desired number of exercises they can save and name their workout, and revisit it anytime. They can also customize the duration of their workout by tapping the number in the center of the circle and typing in their desired time. Each workout has verbal cues and demonstrations for each exercise. When the number on the screen is blue, the user will prepare to exercise, and then when it changes color, it prompts the user to begin doing that exercise. There is the option to connect this app to Apple Music or Spotify accounts to personalize the music being played while exercising. Once the workout is complete the app will calculate the number of calories the user burned. With the free version of this app, the user has the ability to create three different workouts. Once the user has created three workouts they will have to delete one or upgrade to premium version to create a new workout. For instructions on how to create a workout using this app see Table 3.

This app can be a great tool for individualizing and differentiating instruction within the physical education setting. Teachers can use this app for instant activities, stations, exit activities, or homework challenges. A teacher can even have each student create their own account to promote the use of this app outside of school. As previously mentioned, there is an elementary version of this app called Sworkit Kids that is great for younger learners.

App 3: GIF Maker

GIF Maker is a video and image editing tool that allows the user to create their own graphics interchange format (gifs). Gifs are widely used, very popular, and can be entertaining while providing critical skill feedback. Connecting a popular social media and texting trend to an educational practice in health and physical education is a great way to connect pop culture and crucial content. Using the camera on a phone or tablet, the user takes a video or picture, and then edits this media within the app to create a gif that will play on a loop. The user can adjust the speed or length of the gif, apply filters, and add stickers or text. Once the gif has been created, it can be saved and shared. Each gif created using this app will have a watermark unless the user upgrades to the pro version. For an example of how to create a gif using this app see Table 4.

This app can be a great instructional or assessment tool for physical and health educators. Teachers can record themselves doing a skill and put it on display for students to view. For example, if a teacher is teaching new jump rope moves during an instant activity, they can record themselves doing the move prior to class, and then the students can watch and learn to know what to do. GIF Maker can be used to create digital station cards to be displayed at each station using tablets. The teacher can also use it to create a resource file on whole routines for activities like Tai chi. The students can watch each move, and practice at home. For assessments, the teacher can record a student's performance and isolate the skills. The teacher can then use this to provide feedback to the student about areas of improvement. This could also be done as a peer or self-assessment. Another option is having students create a digital playbook for units like football or basketball. They can record themselves doing the play, create a gif, and it will play on a loop. There are so many possibilities with this app!

App 4: Zombies, Run!

Zombies, Run! is a running app that uses the most recent surge in zombie popularity to motivate runners (Martin, Melnyk, & Zimmerman, 2015). Users can sign-up for free and begin their post-apocalyptic running journey. This app tracks the user's heart rate, distance, time, and pace. It contains over 40 different missions that require the user to pick up their pace to the audio story and outrun approaching zombies. New missions are added regularly for free.

When the user selects a mission, there is the option to add music from their device to play in the background which makes the workout more personalized. The app syncs to GPS and will show the user the route they took post-run. Each mission has a set duration that will keep the runner moving for the whole mission. This app adds imagery to the user's workout. With the purchase of the premium option, more features and missions can be unlocked including training plans for a 5K all the way up to a marathon. It is important to review the episodes and content before using this app in class, however the review is well worth it, as many students love zombies!

This app can be a great tool for fitness units like walking, running, and more. The teacher can play episodes for the whole class or students can listen to them on their own devices. For outside of class assignments, this app can be downloaded on student phones to promote use outside of physical education.

App 5: Nike Training Club

Nike Training Club is a high-quality workout prescription app created by Nike (Mears, Sibley, & McKethan, 2012). Users may become members of this club by simply inputting their email and creating a password. The app will then ask for gender and activity level, and then uses the information to provide preloaded workouts that best fit the user's current activity level. This app contains over one hundred different workouts created by Nike experts and trainers. With this app the user becomes part of a fitness community made up of people all around the world. It is like having a support system and personal trainer all in the palm of the user's hand. This feature helps push the user through challenges that other users are completing as well.

One great feature this app has to offer is the ability to select a motivating workout plan. Whether the user is just getting started, or is looking to maintain their fitness level, there is something for everyone. The app will build the workout plan based on the equipment and time the user has available. It also considers the users preferences to running, their current activity level, their height, and their weight. Once the user downloads the workout they are ready to get started. Each workout contains visual demonstrations and verbal cues. There is even the option to add music from the user's personal device for additional motivation. The app will track the user's activity and progress with the option of adding other types of physical activity done outside of the app to the log.

This app can be a great tool for physical educators to use inside of the class and something that they can promote the use of outside of class. It can be used as an instant activity, for stations, or for closing activities. When teaching about fitness planning, this app is a sound resource. The individualization within the app is great for increasing student motivation to achieve goals, increase fitness capacity, and be motivated to grow as a physically literate individual.

App 6: MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal is Under Armor's free calorie counter and fitness tracker that helps create individual goals to lose, maintain, or gain weight (Philips, Rodenbeck, & Clegg, 2014). This app has great features that are ideal for teaching students about fitness planning, nutrition, and energy balance. When each user signs up they will select a goal to lose, maintain, or gain weight. The app will then ask what the user's current activity level is and other basic information like their gender, date of birth, location, height, weight, goal weight, and weekly goal. After entering an email and creating a password, the app will customize a diet plan using all of the provided information, and will set a daily calorie goal for the user.

One of the most convenient features of this app is the online nutrition database, which makes logging food intake and physical activity very easy. In order to log food, the user simply selects what meal they are logging and then they can search the database to find what they ate. In many instances, the food they ate is in the database with all the nutrition information preloaded. There is a barcode scanner that can load this information through the user's camera on their device, should it not already be in the preloaded system. If the user does not have time to search the database there is a quick add feature that will allow them to simply enter the number of calories they consumed. The user can also create new foods if they cannot find a match for what they are trying to add in the database.

This app has other valuable features such as articles, challenges, blogs, recipes, and social media connectivity. If a physical and health education teacher familiarizes himself or herself with this app, it can become a great instructional tool, and objective assessment tool. When students create their own profile, they will have access to all of the resources. The app keeps a diary of what they are inputting each day and tracks their progress. A teacher can have students screen shot or print out this data for a grade. This app can also link up to other devices commonly used in physical education like fitness trackers, heart rate monitors, and other apps. Using this app is a great way to help the user be motivated in pursuing a healthy and active lifestyle.


Students today are immersed in, and savvy about, technology. Implementing technology in the physical and health education setting offers a motivating and fun way to connect with students and entice them to use their technology to be more active. Researchers urge physical and health educators to hop on the technological wave and teach students how they can use technology to facilitate their physical activity, and monitor their personal health (Cummiskey, 2011; Lambert, 2017; Mears, Sibley, & McKethan, 2012; Philips, Rodenbeck, & Clegg, 2014). It is the responsibility of physical and health educators to be leaders in promoting the use of technology for physical activity, and preventing it from leading students into sedentary lifestyles. The six outstanding apps highlighted in this manuscript offer an easy breezy path to begin to use technology to increase student motivation and enhance student learning. These apps are user friendly, and are great starter apps for physical and health educators who are interested in moving forward in the digital age.


Atkins, M. (2015, December 1). Not Your Grandma's PhysEd: Infusing Technology Into a Quality Physical Education Program" [Webinar]. Shape America-Online Institute. Retrieved from catalog/item/id/1657640/q/t=8761&q=Technolog&c=394

Cummiskey, M. (2011). There's an App for that smartphone use in health and physical education. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 82(8), 24-30.

Juniu, S. (2011). Pedagogical Uses of Technology in Physical Education. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 82(9), 41-49.

Kharbach, M. (2013). 12 Must Have iPad Apps in Your Teaching Toolkit [Blog post]. Retrieved from ipad-apps-to-in-your.html

Lambert, C. (2016). Technology has a place in physical education. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 87(9), 58-60.

Martin, M., Jason, M., & Zimmerman, R. (2015). Fitness Apps: Motivating students to move. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 86(6), 50-54.

Phillips, A., Rodenbeck, M., & Clegg, B. (2014). Apps for Physical Education: Teacher Tested, Kid Approved!. Strategies, 27(3), 28-31.

Sibley, B. & McKethan, R. (2012). App up your physical education program. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 83(8), 9-55.

Sinelnikov, O. (2012). Using the iPad in a sport education season. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 83(1), 39-45.

TeachThought Staff (2012). Popular Classroom Management App Released On iOS [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Heather Hanks, M.A.T., is a recent graduate of the PHETE program in the Department of Kinesiology at James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and a teacher in the Stafford County Public Schools.

Cathy McKay, Ed.D., CAPE, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology at James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia
Table 1

Six Easy Breezy Apps for Amateurs

App                   Price                     Description

ClassDojo              Free          Create a positive class community
                                     and manage behavior all in the
                                     palm of your hand with ClassDojo.
                                     This app allows teachers to
                                     connect with parents instantly to
                                     communicate about what students
                                     are doing in their class.

Sworkit                Free          Sworkit allows the user access to
                (paid for options)   a variety of free pre-defined and
                                     customizable workouts for any
                                     ability level. Each workout
                                     provides a demonstration and
                                     prompts you when to transition to
                                     the next exercise.

GIF Maker              Free          GIF maker allows users to create
                (paid for options)   their own videos that will play on
                                     a loop. The user can manipulate
                                     the speed to play it on a loop.
                                     Isolate skills for assessments,
                                     demonstrations, and more. Take
                                     instruction to the next level.

Zombies, Run!          Free          Make running more exciting with
                (paid for options)   Zombies, Run! This app is an
                                     immersive running game that has
                                     the user running with zombies in
                                     40 different missions. This app
                                     pushes the user through different
                                     speed intervals without them even

Nike Training          Free          Nike Training Club offers 100+
Club                                 workouts with clear audio and
                                     demonstrations. This app is like
                                     having a personal trainer at the
                                     touch of a finger. This app will
                                     also create personalized plans
                                     that will help the users achieve
                                     their goals.

MyFitnessPal           Free          MyFitnessPal is a free calorie
                                     counter that allows the user to
                                     create individual goals to lose,
                                     maintain, or gain weight. Through
                                     this app you can log your exercise
                                     and quickly log food using its
                                     nutrition and calorie database.

Table 2

ClassDojo Simulation Example

Task: Create a class with 8 students, name them Student 1-8, and follow
the simulation below for practice.

1. All of your students came to class and started the instant activity.
   Reward all of them a point for being on task.

a. Select "Class" then select "On task."

2. Student 1 was doing a great job during the fitness activity. Give
   her a point for working hard.

a. Select "Student 1" then select "Working hard."

3. During the fitness activity Student 4 was off task. You gave him a
   verbal warning, but it continued during the second guided practice.
   Create a new needs work category to fit what he was doing and take
   away a point for today.

     a. Select "Student 4," hit "Needs work," tap on "Edit skills," and
        "Add skill" for 1 point.

4. Student 2 and Student 6 were goofing off while they should have been
   completing their task sheet. Deduct a point for both students.

     a. Select "Multiple," then check "Student 2" and "Student 6" and
        deduct the points

5. Student 8 was eager to participate during the class discussion.
   Reward him a point for "Participating."

6. Student 5 had a hard time juggling scarves today. She never gave up
   and finally got it. Award Student 5 a point for being "Persistent."

7. Student 3's parent emails you about a comment on their student's
   report card about behavior. Connect them with the class.

     a. Select the "..." in the top right corner, click "Connect
        Parents," then "Invite" Student 3's parents.

8. Student 7 was extremely mindful today and you would like to
   reinforce that behavior in all of your students. Create a new skill
   and add 2 points for Student 7.

9. Give a Random student a pick me up.

     a. Select "Random," then select "Good Work."

10. Your class is over for the day. Reset the points so the students
    can start fresh tomorrow.

      a. Select "...", hit "Select All," then "Reset."

Table 3

Sworkit Example

Task: Create your own work out and try it out for 1-2 minutes following
the steps below.

1.  Select the star labeled "Custom" at the bottom of the screen.

2.  Select "Create New Workout."

3.  Choose the filters to match what you are looking for. Be aware of
    the changing number in the bottom left corner

4.  Find 5-7 Exercises that you would like to do.

      a. If you are curious about an exercise, click on the person and
         you can watch a demo.

5.  Name your workout after you.

6.  Select your workout.

7.  Click on the number to change it to 1-2 minutes

8.  Hit "Begin Workout."

9.  When the number is blue get ready. When the number changes color
    workout with the person on the screen.

10. If time allows, explore one of the free workouts on the home

Table 4

GIF Maker Example

Task: Practice recording demos, stations, plays, and more on a loop by
following the steps below.

1. Record video using iPad Camera.

2. Go to GIF Maker app.

3. Select Videos and choose the video you just recorded.

4. Isolate the skill so it loops just right by dragging the blue

5. Adjust the speed, add a filter, text, or sticker if you like.

6. Select done.

7. Choose save.

8. Select "High Quality GIF" and it will save to your camera roll.

9. Repeat this process for one of the other categories.
COPYRIGHT 2018 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 2018 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Hanks, Heather; McKay, Cathy
Publication:VAHPERD Journal
Date:Mar 22, 2018
Previous Article:Less Talking About and More Moving in Schools.
Next Article:Inaugural Black Tie Boxing Gala: A Knockout on the Virginia State University Campus.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters