4 Strategies for Integrating Classroom Content Into Physical Education

With an increased emphasis on standardized test scores, non-tested subjects — such as physical education — experience cuts in both class time and budget. Now more than ever, it is important for us physical educators to advocate for ourselves, the field, and most importantly, our students.

Establishing collaborative relationships and integrating classroom content into physical education is a great way to advocate. Collaboration not only strengthens the relationships between teachers, but it also helps students make meaningful connections between content across subject areas.

Physical education is an excellent setting to integrate concepts from the classroom, whether the subject is English, language arts, math, science, or social studies. For starters, movement is exciting and fun for the students. Further, research has found a link between physical activity and improved learning.

Activity Templates for Integrating Classroom Content

Because we are not experts in classroom content, knowing where to start can present a challenge. That’s where this article comes in!

We created four activity templates to help integrate any classroom content into physical education. The templates are versatile in that they can be used as warm-ups, as reviews of previous knowledge (in either subject), or as the focus of a complete lesson.

The four templates have been named If – Then, Knowledge Tag, Out and Back, and Dice Roll and Solve.

  1. The If – Then activity template integrates classroom content without much explanation, so you can get your class moving quickly. The “If” part relates to the classroom content, while the “Then” is the physical education movement response.

    For example, If the teacher displays an odd number (on a card, with their fingers, or projected on the wall), then the students bounce pass the ball to a partner. If the teacher shows an even number, then the students chest pass the ball to a partner.

  2. Knowledge Tag takes your basic tag concept and adds an exciting classroom content challenge. The student who gets tagged must correctly complete the task on the index card before resuming play. Successful completion of the task can result in the student being freed/unfrozen or the student becoming the tagger.

    Spelling words, math problems, state capitals, countries and their continents, shapes, formulas, and body parts are examples of content you can put on the index cards.

  3. Out and Back is a relay-style activity aimed at pairing locomotor or ball skills with problem solving tasks. Small teams of students perform designated tasks (e.g. run, skip, dribble) across the gym to collect a card from the team pile. Once all cards are collected, each team works together to complete the classroom content task.

    For example, students can dribble a soccer ball down, pick up a card with a word on it, and then dribble the ball back to their next teammate in line. Students then sort the words into piles based on their part of speech (noun, verb, adjective, adverb, etc.).

  4. The integrated activity of Dice Roll and Solve allows teachers to connect math with physical education, and it is fairly easy to instruct. You need insertable or write-on foam dice for this activity. One die has the math problem on it, and the other die represents the movement task.

    The teacher or the students roll the dice and then solve the math problem. The answer to the math problem represents the number of repetitions the students complete the movement task. A great way to use this activity is with warm-up exercises.
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The purpose of these activities and our article is to provide physical education teachers with simple advocacy strategies to support the school mission by reinforcing classroom content.

Through these strategies, it is our hope that physical education teachers create positive relationships with their teaching colleagues, improve their status within the school, and further contribute to student learning.

To learn more about these four strategies, read our article titled “Strategies for Connecting Activities in Physical Education and the Classroom” in the November/December 2019 issue of Strategies.

Additional Resources

Brenna Cosgrove

Brenna Cosgrove is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Kinesiology at Auburn University, studying physical education. She earned her B.S. in health and physical education from Edinboro University, taught physical education in a middle school, and completed her M.S. in exercise physiology at James Madison University. Brenna can be contacted at bmc0053@auburn.edu.

Jessica Richards

Jessica Richards is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Kinesiology at Auburn University. She earned her B.S. in physical education and her M.S. in sport and fitness management from Troy University. At Auburn, Jessica is concentrating her doctoral studies in physical education. Jessica can be contacted at jmr0101@auburn.edu.