Even though NFL players are in the off-season, you and your class can still get in an NFL workout and learn about the science of physical activity. The American Heart Association and the National Football League, working together with Discovery Education, have created resources to help your class get moving. To see how you might use these resources, we’ve invited in a couple of educators to help.
Andy Losik, an educator at Hamilton Community Schools in Michigan and Jessica Vasquez, an educator in Maury County Public Schools in Tennessee, are going to help us Learn more about the resources, Connect us with strategies they’ve used in their own classroom and Share their favorite resources to use.
There are videos, lesson plans, digital explorations and virtual field trips found on the site. We’ll start with the videos.
How have you used the videos in your class and is there a particular one that you and/or your students like the most?
Andy: Winters in Michigan can be brutal and there are many days where the wind chill dips too far below zero and our kids can’t play outside during recess. To alleviate some of the antsy-ness the NFL PLAY 60 Challenge videos provide a great two to three-minute movement break for our kids. The videos are designed for a confined space and my elementary students really enjoy working on their touchdown dances with Washington Redskin Ryan Kerrigan
Jessica: We love the NFL PLAY 60 Challenge Cooldown video. This short video is perfect for resetting and cooling down after running around outside or even after indoor recess. It’s just an added bonus that we get to decompress with Texan defensive tackle Christian Covington. Not only does it emphasize to students the importance of cooling down after a workout but it acts as a transition for us in class.
Do you use the videos as stand-alone activities or with the lesson plans?
Jessica: I often use the videos as stand-alone activities to fit in with our standards or activities for the week. They accompany the lesson plans well though, especially when I let students analyze how their body feels before or after workouts as we did during the “Pump You Up” lessons! The challenges provided great examples of workouts.
Andy: They work great as both but can really amp up an investigation that involves tracking resting and active pulse rates.
We recently launched a digital exploration all about the science behind how regular physical activity positively impacts us physically, mentally, socially, and academically. How would you use this in your class?
Andy: Even if it doesn’t relate directly to your curriculum, the digital exploration can provide great practice for upper elementary students in reading informational texts and learning to navigate an informative digital environment. Not only are those vital skills being strengthened, the exploration is full of great content that stresses wellness and the need to actually plan out a schedule of physical activity.
Jessica: As Andy said, the digital exploration tool can be used outside in different ways! My students are younger and we used the tool for vocabulary practice, finding the main idea, reading captions, and then best of all – budgeting. Not only did my students learn a plethora of facts about physical activity, but they applied budgeting skills when budgeting time and activities to create their game plan.
The virtual experiences are awesome, with some really cool talent from the NFL. What are some ways you’ve been able to use the virtual experiences in your class?
Jessica: Even my most reluctant students are engaged during DE Virtual Field Trips! This one was especially exciting. My students said they felt like they were on the team with big football stars like Rashad Jennings and Brian Peters. They might not remember the standards we learned that day, but they’ll remember visiting with football players and learning about physical activity and healthy eating. Twitter is also huge in my district and students enjoy following along with the live virtual experiences hashtags to see what other schools are participating around the world. It really makes them feel connected in such a powerful way.
Andy: The virtual experiences are like many other videos that really make Discovery Education resources special. We can take kids places they’d never go and connect them to people they would never otherwise meet. In addition, we can share the whole virtual field trip experience or we can just focus on the clips. Dancing with the Stars champion Rashad Jennings was doing his touchdown dances in our virtual field trip as an NFL player before he was a reality tv star. Giving our students a chance to get up, move, and learn about a healthy lifestyle from a guy like Rashad is always worth the time.
Sharing best practices and strategies is a huge part of our community of educators. Are there any tips or strategies that you’d like to share around using these resources in your class?
Is there a good set-up for a classroom? Would you use an SOS with one of the videos or lessons?
Andy: Most of the video segments are designed to work in the traditional classroom but anytime a teacher can push back the tables or desks to create an area for active movement it’s usually a little easier for kids to navigate. “Pause and Play” is an essential SOS when it comes to retaining engagement and it is important for teachers to periodically pause parts of the virtual experiences to emphasize a key point or ask kids to share their thoughts on types of activities they enjoy.
Jessica: Summarizing is a big skill we work on all year long. Virtual experiences make for great practice with writing 6-word stories to summarize what we have learned so far. We also use connect the dots to really deepen the learning and make connections between past learning, ourselves, and the resources from the NFL PLAY 60 Challenge.
Finally, out of all of the resources here, which are your favorite and why?
Jessica: The digital resources are extremely engaging to the students, but I personally favor the family activities. The NFL PLAY 60 Challenge curriculum includes no-work printable resources to share with families. I want my students to appreciate healthy lifestyles outside of the classroom as well, and these resources provide easy-to-use guides for families of all activity levels. I encourage the activity tracker and we make a point to change screen time to “Pump You Up” time!
Andy: As much as I love moving with the kids as we watch clips of the field trips, I think the partnership between Discovery Education, The American Heart Association, and NFL PLAY 60 has developed useful and easy to implement lesson plans for teachers. Over the years all kinds of entities have looked to make a difference in the classroom but actually using many of their resources was tough for teachers. The lessons provided with this program really change that and are timely and useful, no matter what sport may be in-season at the time.