How It's Done: Remote Phys Ed

remote phys ed
(Image credit: Derek Blyzwick)

Just because your school went remote doesn’t mean students need to ditch their phys ed momentum. If anything, during times of stress within the family and community, getting up and moving is critical to both body and mind. Even before coronavirus reared its ugly head, one PE educator knew how to get tech into his teaching game for remote phys ed classes.

Who: Derek Blyzwick, Elementary Physical Education Teacher

Where: Brooks/McCormick Elementary (Moon Area School District), PA

What: Using tech to enhance PE, in the classroom and at home.

I have always loved technology. Students now are consumed with tech, so showing them how tech and movement work together helps find common ground in creating a new generation of movers. Some of the ways I have incorporated tech into my classes are by using pedometers (students have to get so many steps to each class), projectors (for PowerPoint lessons on new sports and activities as well as Dance Videos), iPad to use Plickers (easy assessment app), and iMovie/KineMaster (for video editing).

I have a Dance Club in school and we record our dances. I then project them on the wall and use it as a station for students to dance too. Another really cool thing I use is barcode scanners. I use them for my running club. Each student gets a card with a barcode. They get their card scanned every time they complete a lap. I upload the stats onto an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of miles for each students. The students receive little tokens when they reach certain milestones (2 mile, 5k, 5 mile, etc.) I find tech and movement are so intertwined now that students gravitate toward technology that gets them moving.

Positive Results

Using the projector, I can go over a skill and then put a video up on the projector repeating that skill. I can then go around and either asses my students or help make corrections while everyone is still actively engaged. It is kind of like having another teacher in my class.

The pedometers have been a huge success. Students work so hard to get steps in my class to get the best possible grade. The students will even jog in place if they are waiting to perform a skill, keeping them active. They would have less of a tendency to move at that time without the tech motivation.

Biggest Challenge

One big obstacle is tech is not perfect. Things break down. Items need new parts. The big thing is staying ahead of it, with grants and self funding.

remote phys ed

(Image credit: Derek Blyzwick)

Pro Tips

Implement slowly. Adding an app to your phone, projecting a video on the wall, or playing around with iPads is a good start. Being completely dependent on tech for every part of your lesson can make it difficult when it doesn’t work. Striking a balance between traditional and tech is what I think works best.

I think the more you use tech, you develop a comfort with it which will make it easier to teach remotely.  There is a real strong physical education presence on Twitter and YouTube where amazing teachers provide free resources. 

Finding Funding

I have received a grant from Highmark High Five to purchase equipment for my schools, as well as funding from PTC at both of my schools. 

I have also self-funded by selling apparel for my running club to purchase barcode scanners and charms.

Tech Tools

iPad apps

   - iMovie, kinemaster (video editing) 

   - Interval Timer (timer for stations)

   - PowerPoint 

   - Team Shake (make teams, randomizes teams)

Barcode Scanners - Opticon opn -2001

PE Central—online resource

Twitter/YouTube - great for finding the most recent and up-to-date physical education lessons.

Derek and his fellow Physical Education teacher-wife, Jolene, (and a certain mini-dance pro) offered some movement dance tutorials to keep students and their families moving during the district’s face-to-face instruction shut down due to the coronavirus. 

Share these engaging lessons with your students: 

High Hopes Dance

Boom Dance

Tightrope Dance

Entertainment's Here Dance

Sascha Zuger

Sascha has nearly two decades of experience as a freelance journalist writing for national magazines, including The Washington Post, LA Times, Christian Science Monitor, National Geographic Traveler, and others. She writes about education, travel and culinary topics.