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School Stories

Physical Education Innovation and Inspiration

Sports and movement have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My parents inspired me and my siblings by originating novel games and activities that ensured we experienced success within our varied abilities. 
They believed that we would each find our individual niche, and they celebrated our accomplishments! 

Growing up I observed many a student endure humiliation via the “kids choose their own teams” style of leading physical education. I found this to be demeaning for the students and counterproductive to the potential lessons of individual value, success, imagination, life skills and joy in sports and activity. There had to be a better way!
 

Thankfully, Graland is a supportive institution where I am enabled and encouraged to pursue experiential teaching methods where students flourish. Investigating inventive ways to intertwine MESH classwork and PE, I thrive in preparing lessons where students solve math problems, increase their vocabulary, learn basic anatomy and physiology, and incorporate the history of sports and movement through a variety of imaginative games and activities. My daily ambition is to merit individual accomplishment.
 
 
To employ instructional processes that are fun, educational, progressive, integrational, ingenuous and that build self-esteem, my colleagues and I designed themed activities to engage bodies and minds.

Celebrating Heart Month in February, we launched a Heart Adventure circuit where students explored the importance of, and relationship between, science and physical activity. As they sped through “veins,” “arteries” and “atria,” they delved into ventures fostering movement patterns, agility, manipulative skills, science, math, vocabulary and sports history. Even an unplanned episode when one of the mats fell over and impeded the course was treated as a teachable moment: “There’s a blockage in the artery!” 

As you can see, our innovative methods are not without their challenges. During the recent Winter Olympics, we commemorated this special occurrence by offering a first-hand experience where students could display their power, agility, endurance and finesse at Olympic-like challenges. While most events were emulated with relative ease, we were temporarily stumped by the curling event. How could we closely simulate the weight of a curling stone delicately sliding on the ice? 

An innovation came to mind to use Bocci balls with a milk jug. Upon successfully testing this invention, it was exciting to include this challenging and unfamiliar event into our games, and it was enjoyed by both students and adults! 

Providing a physically and emotionally safe environment, focusing on differentiation, encouraging the connection and experience of joy, learning and success, sparking creativity, and witnessing that “light up” moment in each student continue to fulfill me. A quote about education by tennis legend Andre Agassi is kept near and dear to my heart: “When a person wins a match, the person wins. When a team wins a game, the team wins. When one instills self-esteem and confidence in a child, the world wins.” 
 
A physical education teacher at Graland since 2008, Ann also coaches lacrosse, basketball and volleyball. She holds a degree in physical education with minors in English literature and coaching and a master’s degree in education and physiology. Outside of teaching, Ann enjoys activities like skiing, cycling, hiking, dancing and riding horses and hobbies like woodworking, traveling and reading. 
 
 
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Graland Country Day School

Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.