The National Association for Sport and Physical Education wants PE teachers to create a wellness or fitness center in their schools. The organization is also encouraging individual activities based on ability. Those are all good ideas that have been used by Nacogdoches PE teacher Sarah Ferrell for years.
On a brisk, sunny morning Coach Ferrell is encouraging a class of third graders. " Come on, run!, " she yells. Coach Ferrell sees that all her kids are moving it. " Keep your arms moving. Keep your arms open, " she advised as the youngsters ran around the Carpenter Elementary's dirt track.
It's not that Ferrell wants everyone performing at the same level. Quite the contrary. Ferrell said, " I let them work at their own pace. Sometimes I let the children work with each other. The ones with the higher abilities, I let them work with those with low abilities. And I enjoy doing that because it helps the ones that know it well to do it even better. "
Ferrel knows each child has their own individual capabilities. She wants her students to recognize it as well. Brooke is barely tall enough to come to her classmate, Kari's shoulder. " I'm much taller," said Kari. " And I'm much shorter," said Brooke. Kari explained, " If we are playing basketball, I can shoot it from the half court. She can shoot it from the middle court."
Coach Ferrel allows exercises to be adapted to meet the child's height, weight and endurance. A step bench is one example of a tool that can level the playing field. Ferrell explained while demonstrating the stair step height bench. " I encourage them by telling them I know it's hard, but if you work hard you're gonna be tough. Some of my bigger kids are doing more pushups than anybody else right now. "
Students don't get jealous to the individualized move it activities. Brooke wouldn't like it if she couldn't play basketball. With a grin on her face she said, " I wouldn't be able to do anything and I wouldn't have fun because PE is all about having fun. "