PS/IS 686 | Brooklyn, NY

Phys Ed, Grades 4-8: Fitnessgram, Handball and Hulaball


Greetings from the gym in BSI. Hope that all is well with your families and that you are all ready to enjoy a great holiday break. We all have much to be thankful for!

4th grade is where many of our classes move away from standalone activity games, and go into my extensive sport based units. Also, 4th grade is where students start to partake in the NYC Fitnessgram Assessments. 

Our 4th and 5th graders are working hard to get used to performing the NYC Fitnessgram tests (pushups, sit ups, pacer test, trunk flexibility, hamstring flexibility). The students are learning how to gain an appreciation for lifelong fitness while challenging themselves to do better than they think they are capable of. 

In grades 6-8, we have recently completed our “Handball” tournament that is the foundational game for many of our early units. Handball fosters an understanding and utilization of spacing, teamwork, cooperative play and strategic maneuvers.  As handball has ended in many classes, we have begun a game called “HulaBall” that requires a different scoring technique, therefore changing the entire strategic approach both offensively and defensively each game. 

In all of our SportEd model tournaments, each class will be divided into 5 teams (Blue, Yellow, Green, Orange and Purple) and they stay with their teams for the duration of the tournament. Working with the same team every class allows our students to really work on building camaraderie and chemistry among their classmates, figure out each other’s strengths and weaknesses and work together to develop strategies to be successful in the game.  

While 2 teams are playing at the time and the music was blasting in the gym, bringing the energy, the other 3 teams have various tasks they were assigned to perform during each game. Each game, one team is responsible for officiating the game (enforcing the rules of the game, keeping the continuity of the game flowing, ensuring fair play, etc). The other two teams are stationed at each end of the gym as (goal monitors/scorekeepers). 

Having each of the students engaged in various roles is beneficial for many reasons.

1. It calls for the students to take ownership of each game/their class in general. Students quickly learn that the quality of the games, efficiency of time management between games, overall tone of the class became largely dependent on their level of engagement in their jobs during each respective game. As students learn this, the games began running a lot more smoothly, and we were able to get more games played with every passing class.

2. Having students engaged in a task during every game, even when they were not playing, forces the students to WATCH THE GAME. This allowed them to better learn/understand the rules, to learn the tendencies/strengths and weaknesses of opposing teams thus enhancing their strategies, forced students to advocate for their knowledge of a rule or interpretation of a play, communicate with one another and so much more.