Strategies for Teaching in the Gym

A Successful Activity in the gym is on that has most students engaged and their mood is lifted by music, physical activity, and positive relationships with their classmates.

Music: Music has the ability to change the mood of a class. It has untapped potential in assisting with management in the classroom too. When you want students to put everything away and be ready for transition, use a 30 second song. Then the song is running your class and not the teacher. Also, it’s a good stress manager for the teacher if you like the music too!

Tag Games: Make sure all tag games have a way for students to get back in the game after the tag. This is essential for creating a fun atmosphere, because students aren’t just getting each other out, they are getting them back in the game. Partner tag games may have the highest level of participation and many require no equipment. Also, if you have old stuffed animals, they make for very popular taggers.

Gym Homes and Color Teams: If you teach or student teach P.E. to a classroom of students for whom you are also the classroom teacher, you would be wise to create gym homes and color teams for them. If you go to this much trouble, you might also consider organizing your classroom with the same format. I’m attaching a grid that can be used in a gym or classroom. I do mix up the classes with an equal number of boy and girls whenever. I do also try to spread out the students that have more athletic experience or skill, so that when we break into teams they are more evenly matched.
Here’s the color scheme that we use in the gym, It is also used by the major P.E. suppliers, so you can often have equipment that is the same color as the teams, which makes for much easier transitions.
Blue     Orange     Yellow     Green     Purple     Red

When You’re teaching: Connecting to previous experiences improves the pace of understanding:
When teaching in the gym it is helpful to connect a new activity to a previous one. It makes for quicker understanding. For example you might say, “You remember when we held a parachute in a circle in the center of the gym. Let’s make a circle about the same size”.

Demonstrating: When teachers have small group of students come up and do a physical demonstration, it much more inclusive to the diverse learners in the class.

Classroom and P.E. Nonverbals: If you find yourself repeated a verbal directive, look for a way to change it to a nonverbal. For example if you excuse students from class by saying the name of a group. Put up the group names on the wall and use a laser pointer instead. It’s quieter and kids respond more quickly to visual information and something that is unique, like a laser pointer.

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