Workshop gives students, educators a leg up on physical education
Scores of colored balls scurried in various directions across the Peters Hall gymnasium floor. A group of individuals hurriedly chased the balls, attempting to trap them in little orange cones and return them to their blue, mesh box.
Others, also happy participants in the game, gleefully kicked the balls away, sending disappointed chasers off in a different direction.
It was a perfect display of physical education fun… being played by adults.
The active heroes on this day were participants in the Virginia Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (VAHPERD) regional workshop, held at Radford University on Sept. 26.
More than 110 health and physical education professionals from K-12 schools around Virginia and a group of RU physical and health education teaching majors participated in the workshop, co-hosted by RU's Department of Health and Human Performance (HHP) and VAHPERD; the professional organization for health, physical education, recreation, dance and sport educators.
"It's quality professional development," said Eric Martin, a pre-K-5 physical education teacher at Bedford County Public Schools and a 2010 RU graduate. "The workshop re-energizes you to keep going and learn something new. It gets you excited about new games the kids haven't seen before."
David Wright, a physical education teacher at Critzer Elementary School in Pulaski, said he was eager to get back to his students and incorporate the new cooperative games he learned at the workshop. He also spoke of the importance of physical education for kids, for their health and academics.
"If kids get a good start on being active at an early age, there's a good chance they will remain active throughout their lives," Wright said. "And active kids seem to make better grades in the school."
Teaching VAHPERD participants this year was J. D. Hughes, a physical education teacher for more than 20 years and the 2004-05 Georgia Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year. Throughout the day-long workshop, Hughes instructed the workshop group on numerous activity-based lessons, including many from his popular book, "No Standing Around in My Gym."
RU Health and Human Performance faculty members J.P. Barfield and Jon Poole also led breakout sessions at the workshop, touching on such topics as teaching functional fitness and implementing the Sport Education curricular model in physical education.
In addition, Mark Manross, executive editor of the popular website, PE Central, informed participants about how the website can be used as an effective resource for teachers to enhance their programs.
Tameka Dickinson was one of the many RU physical and health education majors who participated in the workshop. The junior from Wytheville, an aspiring middle school teacher, said she attended the VAHPERD lessons to learn games to take to her future physical education students and to "learn ways to keep students moving and active and to get them interested in their health and physical education."
RU has hosted the VAHPERD workshop since 2007, and many of the attendees from Southwest Virginia expressed gratitude to RU for providing the professional development workshop so close to home.
"It's great that it is so close," said Chad Owen, a 1998 RU graduate and physical education teacher at Riverlawn Elementary School. "We're 10 minutes away, and we can come to RU and get a quality program that gives fresh and new ideas from a national presenter.
The annual VAHPERD convention is held in Virginia Beach, a long distance to travel for many educators in the southwest portion of the Commonwealth, Barfield said.
"This workshop is a good way for our students and physical educators in our region to continue their education and get teaching ideas and lesson ideas without having to travel across the state," Barfield said. "It's a great service to this region, and we are happy to host the event."
Shelton, workshop director for the second consecutive year, concluded by saying, "We appreciate the partnership with VAHPERD that establishes RU as the home base for professional development opportunities for the hard working health and physical educators of southwestern Virginia and beyond. It is also rewarding to have our undergraduate students so involved at this stage of their development as aspiring teachers. I am grateful for the tremendous amount of help received from my HHP colleagues and thrilled the workshop was so successful."