How to Organize Students in a Physical Activity Setting

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

In this lesson, we discuss ways to organize students in physical activity settings, including three main keys to accomplishing these goals, and the importance of communication between the teacher and the students.

Physical Education and Organizing Students

Do you remember physical education classes when you really wanted to play kickball, but it took what seemed like forever to call role, pick teams, and organize the equipment? Some physical education students spend only one-third of the time actually playing. In a forty-five minute class, this means only fifteen minutes is spent playing, while thirty minutes seems wasted.

Physical education classes can be fun and beneficial, however, if they are run correctly and coaches properly organize the students. The goal for a physical education teacher is to maximize exercise time so that at least fifty percent of class time is spent being active. In a fifty-minute class, a minimum of twenty-five minutes should be spent exercising.

Three Keys to a More Efficient Class

There are three main keys to executing this plan of increasing activity time. They include:

  • Forming groups quickly: The first fifteen minutes of class can be eaten up quickly if it takes too long to call the role or if students are allowed to chit-chat. It is imperative that the coach gets the students into groups in the first few minutes of the period. Even better, she can have prearranged groups at the start of the session.
  • Rapid transitions between activities: Once again time may be frittered away amid talking and intermingling between the students. Here, the coach can blow a whistle and have the students move rapidly to the next station or game. The goal should be only 15-30 seconds to make a complete transition.
  • Returning equipment efficiently: Some classes spend a full ten minutes at the end of the period returning equipment. This process should take no more than two to three minutes. Each week, the coach can assign two students to return the equipment, who then follow established procedures for doing this quickly and efficiently.

An inefficient gym class is one in which the students spend too much of the period standing around. Avoid allowing the students to walk, except for perhaps a brief warmup before and cool down afterwards. Have the the students jog, run, or even skip or gallop while going to and from the locker room, transitioning between activities, and retrieving or returning equipment.

Smaller Groups and Creating Stations

One increasingly popular method of running an efficient P.E. class is to divide up into smaller groups and create stations, where different activities are performed. Since students can get bored quickly and have brief attention spans, this can keep them interested. For example, at Station One, the students could jump rope. At Station Two, the students could play two square. At Station Three, the students could play Red Rover. The coach can blow a whistle or give a hand signal every ten minutes or so to signify the change. To stay more organized, the stations could be set up in a circle, and the students could always move clockwise.

The more organized a gym class is, the more time students will have to spend actually exercising.

Communicating with Students

Physical education is one subject where students are allowed to talk above a whisper to one another. This presents a problem for coaches as they try to get students' attention, stay organized, and avoid wasting time. After all, as any poor substitute teacher knows, without strong communication in the classroom, instead of organization, there will be chaos. The coach can use a whistle, a megaphone, or a microphone. Since the students still may not hear directions, the coaches can use their hands to gesture and give commands nonverbally as well.

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