Physical activity is critical to the development and maintenance of good health. The goal of physical education in the Ann Arbor Public Schools (AAPS) is to develop physically educated individuals who have the knowledge, skills, and confidence to enjoy and maintain a lifetime of healthful physical activity.
The following National Physical Education Standards have provided the framework for the development and assessment of the AAPS curriculum. (NASPE, 2004)
Standard 1: Demonstrates competency in motor skills and movement patterns needed to perform a variety of physical activities.
Standard 2: Demonstrates understanding of movement concepts, principles, strategies, and tactics as they apply to the learning and performance of physical activities.
Standard 3: Participates regularly in physical activity.
Standard 4: Achieves and maintains a health-enhancing level of physical fitness.
Standard 5: Exhibits responsible personal and social behavior that respects self and others in physical activity settings.
Standard 6: Values physical activity for health, enjoyment, challenge, self-expression, and/or social interaction.
Experts urge that children need minimally one hour of moderate to vigorous exercise throughout each day. Eating healthier diets and being more physically active are important in achieving and maintaining a normal weight and helping reduce chronic diseases. For elementary children, the emphasis is on an awareness of fitness components and having fun while participating in health-enhancing activities that promote physical fitness. Health-related fitness components include cardio-respiratory endurance, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, and body composition.
Physical Education can stand alone with the mission to develop physically educated individuals who have the knowledge, skills, and confidence to enjoy a lifetime of healthful physical activity. This by itself is an incredibly important charge. Creative lesson planning can influence and support academic standardized testing. Three examples in which Physical Education can play a critical role in improving test scores include:
- Exercise increases cognitive abilities. (MacArthur, 2004)
- Physically fit students perform better on standardized tests. (Colcombe, 2004)
- Integrating movement with academics. (Hannaford, 1995)
Brain research supports that movement can positively effect academic achievement. There are infinite possibilities for Physical Education lessons to extend concepts in all academic areas.
- Physical education has natural/authentic instructional connections to the district's force and motion unit in science as well as understanding the various systems in the human body i.e. skeletal and muscular studies in fifth grade
- Physical education teachers reinforce concepts in mathematics i.e. counting, fractional representation, part/whole, statistics and functional representation
- Learning about teaming, cooperation, problem resolution, and inclusion is a thematic thread that runs throughout the physical education curriculum
The reverse is also true. Good classroom teachers know that movement in the academic classroom is essential to keeping kids focused, excited, enthusiastic, and ready to learn.
- Music and movement is an important teaching/learning strategy employed by staff during the district's summer learning institute
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