Health, P.E. Classes Find Ways to Use Technology

Health and Physical Education teachers in the school district are using technology in the classroom to improve instruction and increase time on the court.

“Using instructional technology allows us to meet standards and guidelines while delivering better programs by gaining instructional time and varying assessments. There’s no lost time because while students are on the sidelines, they can participate by completing assessments,” Physical Education teacher Neil Leavis told the School Board in a Jan. 20 presentation on technological integration in high school P.E. classes.

Students download applications on their smartphones or other devices that allow them to take quizzes that are immediately scored, with instant feedback sent to their email.

The application aggregates test results in a way that allows Leavis to analyze the data and determine individual students’ progress, as well as the progress of his class as a whole. And because there’s less time dedicated to grading quizzes, Leavis has more time for instruction and to assess student performance in a more sophisticated way.

“We can see when 90 percent of students got an answer on a question wrong, which may indicate that the question was poorly written,” he said, noting student performance is easily available to case managers through sharable documents.
Because students can take their quizzes anywhere using their mobile device or an iPad, they have more time on the court when they get to class.

“When they didn’t have enough nets to go around for everybody before, the kids would just sit and chat. Here, they’re actively engaged,” Superintendent Nate Greenberg said.

Board members asked if there’s ever an issue with students not having access to a device.

“The biggest issue we have had is Wi-Fi connectivity. If the connection is not great, it makes it very difficult to run these types of programs,” Leavis said. “Very few students don’t have their own device. Research has shown three-quarters of all students are accessing the internet purely through a device.”

Leavis noted the department has iPads to share with students and that there are 20 iPads in the library that students may use. Standard pen and pencil quizzes are available, but Leavis said everyone in all his classes has had access to a device.

Member John Laferriere asked what Leavis and other teachers in the department are doing differently now that they have the ability to capture data.

“There’s a lot more peer assessments,” he said. “We’re now able to get students to evaluate skills. They’re asking, ‘How can I evaluate my and others’ performance?’ And, ‘How can I use those results to change my performance?’ The evaluation piece is very good.”

Laferriere asked how the District can use the technology elsewhere.

“Google Docs is being used throughout the district to share information about students and keep track of their progress, and at the elementary level, students in the primary grades are using iPads to access reading programs. They’re looking at speaking books where the words come up and are verbalized off the iPad. It’s similar to someone reading to the kids,” Greenberg said. “To some degree, this is in the experimental stage. It may be that there are certain programs or pieces of software that work better for social studies than math, etc.”

Leavis said the program, which they built using guidelines from the Society of Health and Physical Educators, as well as information from articles in a variety of journals and from fellow P.E. teachers who have also integrated technology into their classrooms, has been very seamless.

“If students are not afraid of integrating technology, we shouldn’t be either,” he said.

“I want to thank (Leavis) for doing this. He has done a great job, and the utilization of technology to increase instructional time has really impressed me,” Greenberg said. “He has used this to create a really effective program and I’m really pleased with this.”

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