Much Ado About Remote Learning in Health and Physical Education

We are in unprecedented times as we work to figure out how to educate our youth during this global pandemic. Despite any struggles we are facing, however, we are working hard to deliver remote learning in health and physical education to our students.

On March 24, members of SHAPE America’s Physical Activity, Physical Education, and Health Education Councils held a Twitter Chat on this critical topic of remote learning. I worked with Jim Hambel and Melanie Levenberg, as well as SHAPE America staff members Michelle Carter and Joey Martelli, to secure an all-star group of panelists including Kyle Bragg, Megaera Regan, Brendan Rubenstein, and Kristian Ellingsen.

This #SHAPEatHome chat had tremendous participation from teachers throughout the world. Here are some of the great ideas, tips and resources that were shared by our panelists and participants on the topic of remote learning in health and physical education:

Q1: How are you doing? What are you doing to handle the current situation?

  • First, trying to take care of my mental health — limiting the amount of news I listen to, trying to responsibly go out and exercise, sleeping and eating well, and BREATHING! I have been in almost constant contact with PE peers, school colleagues, administrators, and union leaders to help navigate these waters. Everything changes so quickly, so I need to be in the know!
  • I’m a person who struggles with social isolation. I was ok for a while, but I have to change the routine now in order to continue to stay positive. It’s been great to see the profession come together during this difficult time.
  • Simply making the best out of a “less than ideal” situation. I’m excited to get to connect and communicate with all of my students again. In the remote learning capacity, this is all new for me, but I know my students need me, so I will make it as exciting and productive as possible!
  • Trying to get into a routine has been an issue, but with online learning starting this week for us, designated time for daily tasks will occur naturally.
  • With the recent chaos, I’m focusing on what I can control and not worrying about the rest. Taking care of myself and staying positive will allow me to best serve my students.

Q2: Poll — Are you currently being asked to:

A. Teach Online (48.4%)

B. Provide Offline Materials Only (5.5%)

C. Combination of A and B (46.2%)

  • Currently I’m prepared to be doing all instruction online, but student participation is technically offline, since it’s their physical activity! So, my PE version of getting them an offline handout is when I tell them to do 15 pushups!
  • We are responsible for online instruction. A combination of video, journal, quizzes, reflection, and parent verified activity will be some deliverables/requirements for me and the students.
  • We are being asked to produce 2-3 PE lessons per week through See Saw and Google Classroom formats. Lessons are for grades K-2/3-5 and ability-level specific.
  • Our school is only teaching online via Google Classroom, which is pretty user friendly. I post brief intro videos and provide handouts/links of challenges for students to complete, record, and reflect.
HPE teaching method poll results Infographic

Q3: What system or online programs (if any) are you using? What are your experiences?

  • Using Google Classroom, Flipgrid, Kahoot and SHAPE America resources currently. Most of the kids have done pretty good with these. Started using Zoom today and will have my first online class tomorrow.
  • Google Classroom, with Google Meet/Forms/Docs are the communication and meeting methods we are using. Those seem to be pretty user friendly, although I’m new to it so I’m interested to see how my K-5 students. As for resources, I have been receiving a number of links, many from OPEN (online PE Network), with documents meant to enrich students’ at-home activity.
  • SHAPE America’s health. moves. minds. Elementary Mind and Body calendar is something that we have on our program’s Facebook page as it contains many at-home activities. I plan on doing some of those on video as part of my lessons.
  • Using Schoology for students with internet access. Paper copies of lessons/assessments are delivered to the students without internet on a school bus — along with lunch!
  • We’re on a regular bell schedule with Zoom, which has been amazing for middle school — direct instruction/discussion and then students work on their own. Using Schoology and Google Classroom as well!

Q4: Which strategies or technologies have you found to be most useful and effective for remote learning?

  • I think stick with things you have used in class before and what the kids are familiar with. This is not a time to introduce something new. It’s hard enough doing this remotely.
  • In Zoom, use the “waiting room” function so you don’t get random people joining or doing inappropriate things. Anyone can join if they have the link, so the “waiting room” allows you to check names/faces before entering them into a group conference.
  • Keep it simple, make it easy for students to respond, make it manageable, and provide feedback to all in follow-up lessons (I have 400+ students).
  • Keep it simple. I love tech and fancy tools, but you need all your students to be successful. When I first started teaching hybrid online classes for health ed, I integrated many tools, but some struggled to complete assignment due to limitations on their device.
  • We had two days of planning before launching our online learning. I would say using Google Meet and Zoom has been tremendously helpful with our collaboration!
  • Messaging through GroupMe with classmates it quick and easy. And class is offered through Zoom.
  • Online methodologies sometimes dictate no timelines for assignments, as long as it’s done by the end of the course. With freedom to choose how you run your course, a ++ strategy = benchmarks or short-cycled timelines for when tasks should be completed. This way students stay on task more and teachers won’t be slammed with assessing way too much at the last second. Encouraging use of discussion boards or video submission to your platform helps with community and task clarification.
Remote HPE Tech Tips Infographic

Q5: What methods are you using to engage your students, parents and community?

  • I post “additional opportunities” that are not graded or required. These range from check-in questions to creating social distancing PSAs to songs like “Can’t Touch This.” We are also doing #ChalkYourWalk this week.
  • Many health ed lessons allow for the whole family to participate or include ways they can take part in small assignments. My wife is a dance teacher and I’ve seen parents in the dances her students are creating and submitting.
  • The biggest thing for me is keeping in mind everyday objects that can be used as equipment, such as some type of ball, rolled socks, shoes, etc. Focusing on simple, quality and purposeful activities that are achievable in most households.
  • I’m going to incorporate family as much as possible. Asking the kids to have a friend or family member complete a workout or exercise with them — and asking them to document using a device as much as possible since we know they’re on them!
  • Our initial contact was through school email, letting parents know where to find PE lessons and activities. Parents were directed to our school PE website. We added an At Home Activity page for families to access.
  • I use Class Dojo, email, and messaging in Google Classroom to quickly communicate with families. I’ve added plenty of links of #HPEatHome resources families can use to stay active and have fun.

Q6: Which strategies or technologies have you found to be challenging?

  • Every day is different, with changing requirements on how to deliver lessons. We are still, as a district, trying to figure out the potential pitfalls of using recorded lessons, platforms like Zoom, etc.
  • I find it challenging not to assess students and having assignments be optional and ungraded (state mandate). Motivating students to do the work without an attached grade is difficult.
  • When using Zoom we maxed out the room due to overwhelming response from parents for live classes.
  • Access to tech is a major concern. There is no perfect plan to attend to the needs of all families and circumstances. Personally, the unknown of whether the students are actively completing tasks before due dates is a bit unnerving.
  • I worry less about the strategies/technology and more about the students who have traditionally struggled inside the school, let alone remote learning. We’ve been using a lot of strategies to help including Zoom, Google Translate, etc.
  • Mass emails, getting all students access to tech, connecting students to Google Classroom with codes. The occasional miscommunication with messaging vs. in- person interaction. The attached pictures helped parents understand joining google classroom.
Google Classroom Screenshot

Q7: What do you wish could be different about remote learning for HPE?

  • I wish I could literally be “live” with all students during their remote PE time. However, I know this isn’t possible because some homes only have one device and students in four grade levels.
  • I wish anything written could be online and all physical activity could be in person. Obviously impossible. Having an immediate understanding of what other teachers are expecting and completing would help in terms of demands on the students. I think they will easily be overwhelmed with novice online teachers. Their SEL needs must be in consideration at this time, and stress from school demands will only amplify any SEL deficits they are feeling.
  • Ideally, I’d love to interact live with students. However, students have a lot going on (other classes/activities), and I don’t want to overwhelm them. I want students (and parents) to be happy and active, without stressing about a longer “to-do” list.
  • It would have been nice to have more time to prepare for e-learning. I’m sure many schools have issues with students not having internet/computers, etc. at home. We have to think about this now for our future.
  • I have a feeling that more teachers are going to become comfortable with e-learning through this experience and may start using this technology more in their instruction when we all return to school.
  • I admire the innovation under fire by mind-blowing leaders in physical education. I can’t imagine how much more epic remote learning could be if it was implemented without a crisis situation. (Especially options to equip students with access to tech to stay connected.)
Ready to Go Take Home Packet for Secondary HPE cover

Q8: Where can I find more information/resources on remote learning?

  • I have gotten bits and pieces of awesome ideas on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. I will be using and modifying said resources in ways that I feel will work well with my Google Classroom PE environment!
  • SHAPE America has TONS of resources! Collaborate with other PE teachers, Twitter, etc. Just keep reaching out — we are the most helpful community out there.
  • TONS of resources here, compiled by @megaeraR. Also, OPEN Phys Ed resources
  • Various activity/exercise video sets and more ideas from @foes4sports @coachfoe.
  • There seems to be a common set of resources that many people are referring to, and they’re ALL awesome! One that hasn’t been mentioned (that I know of) for adapted PE is @Fitbound for PA videos for students with special needs. @PAAmovewithUS with LOTS of options.
  • Facebook groups for HPE, @USGames, @pecentral, @SPARKPhysEd, @Flipgrid, @GoogleForEd, @GetKahoot or @SmoreNewsletter.

Many thanks to all the teachers who shared their knowledge and resources on this Twitter Chat! To learn more about future chats, log onto Twitter and follow the hashtag #SHAPEHealthEd!

Additional Resources

Chad Dauphin

Chad Dauphin is a health educator at Adlai E. Stevenson High School, where he served as associate athletic director from 2006-2017. He has presented at several state and national conferences on the topics of health education and athletics and served on the SHAPE America Health Education Council. Chad is currently chair of the #SHAPEHealthEd Twitter Chat task force. He can be reached at