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Strategies for Connecting Activities in Physical Education and the Classroom

Brenna Cosgrove and Jessica Richards

Strategies Cover November December 2019

In recent years there has been growing evidence of a link between engagement in physical activity and learning in children (Eveland-Sayers, Farley, Fuller, Morgan, & Caputo, 2009; Jensen, 2000). That is, higher math scores were associated with faster 1-mile times and greater scores on muscular fitness assessments in third- through fifth-grade students (Eveland-Sayers et al., 2009). Because of this connection, it would seem obvious that physical education would be a valued part of the whole school program, given that classroom learning is often sedentary in nature. However, with the increasing emphasis being placed on students’ performance on standardized test scores, non-tested subjects such as physical education are being relegated to secondary status in many schools. This is often characterized by cuts in curricular time and funding, both of which impact the quality of physical education students receive.

In order to preserve the quality of their physical education programs and improve their status within a school, physical education teachers must advocate for themselves and the field. Lux (2010) has described five strategies that serve to improve physical education’s status, with one of these being to “extend the olive branch.” In this case, Lux suggested that physical education teachers proactively offer help to and build alliances with classroom teachers in order to promote the entire school mission.

The purpose of this article is to present teachers with a series of strategies they can utilize in physical education that help to integrate and reinforce classroom content in mathematics, English language arts, science, and social studies, but without compromising physical education’s mission of the development of competent and enthusiastic movers. The key lies in designing tasks that stay true to the discipline of physical education but make intellectual and practical sense to incorporate content from other disciplines.

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