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Name: Rita Runyard
Innovative learning experiences drive my methodologies; I want my students to have fun as they learn within the curriculum. I have developed many unique ways to "play." I have developed a "Sensitivity to Disabilities" lesson in which students are physically put in a disabled situation, while they attempt everyday tasks. For example, the students wear gloves and try to thread a needle to simulate arthritis, place their tongue behind the front teeth to simulate a lisp, use a "grabber" to pick up things (coins to soup cans) to simulate prosthesis, and use a mechanism to simulate asthma, glass to show blurred vision, and even bands around legs or arms to simulate physical disabilities. After completing these activities students write a personal reflection on their experience. The student's expression of true emotional feelings creates a positive environment and understanding. This unit encourages students who are more sensitive to individuals with disabilities.
Since "Survivor" has topped the ratings for television and student's conversations, I incorporated it into a swimming unit as closure to the unit. Classes are divided into groups and provided with team colored "buffs"(blindfold and/or penni) to give the groups unity. Each group has to work together to accomplish a list of activities. The group's goal was to set up their camp at one end of the pool. The camp needed to include a shelter (made of kickboards), fire (a tea-light candle), army men set up, and a phrase completed. The activities included: diving for Army men (matching their team color), immunity necklaces (Mardi Gras Beads), hauling colored water across the pool in plastic cups (to represent drinking water), eating worms and bugs (candied gummies), hauling a group of letters and figuring out the message, swimming the distance with matches and keeping them dry to light their fire and finally building a shelter out of kickboards. Each team member was able to choose what challenge they would participate in, this way the students with a lower level of swimming were still able to achieve a task for the team. The level of competition and enthusiasm was priceless.
One particular aspect that drew me to Wheeling High School's Physical Education program was the fact that it was a structured fitness-based curriculum. I feel very strongly about fitness. The students participate in cardiovascular workouts every other day. It is a simple system, freshmen workout on odd calendar days, upperclassmen workout on the even calendar days. Furthermore, all workouts incorporate students reaching target heart rates, monitoring their levels of exertion. This practice enforces the important health related concepts on a daily basis. The workouts include running, swimming, aerobics and stationary bikes or ellipticals. We also fitness test our students, and monitor their improvements. Wheeling High School truly builds a solid foundation of knowledge of fitness to build a life long understanding of health related concepts once they graduate.
As a student I heard my instructor say " always be fair and consistent" I felt strongly about the statement, therefore, I have adopted it to my philosophy of teaching. My philosophy is to always provide a safe, positive environment, present knowledge with a creative fun twist, and connect with as many students as possible. The environment I teach is so important. I take responsibility for my students and make sure safety is first. Safe from any equipment or mechanical danger to their own personal social or emotional well being. I also have a policy that eliminates the " I can't" statements or any derogatory remarks towards another student. Furthermore, it is my philosophy to present the content knowledge in such a way that the students learn while having fun. Developing drills that are game-like, this creates a learning environment where student comprehend the material, and they do not even know it because they are having fun. Finally connecting with the students is so important. Sometimes it only takes acknowledging them, by saying hello, while others need one-on-one interactions. Taking the time to get to know my students makes them feel more like a person rather then a student.
Being named Illinois High School Physical Education Teacher of the Year was an honor, and now additionally named as Midwest District only validates my beliefs and goals for my educational goals. As a student attending the National Conference in St. Louis (1997), I attended the banquet and watched as the Physical education teachers receive their awards. At that time, I never dreamed it would be me someday. It is a lot of hard work, but when you believe in what you do everyday it makes it easier, and when I see the smiles on the faces of my students, I feel blessed for what I have accomplished. Plus, the people I have met is so exciting. It gives me the opportunity to continue to network across America. I just want to keep making a difference in a few lives, one at a time.
Teaching is an art: part process, part knowledge, and part creativity. Being able to share what I use and what has been successful for me, gives me confidence in my career. I truly enjoy coming up with a concept and creatively make it come alive. This past fall I presented at the Illinois State PE convention in the mega center and the room was over whelming, but I said I teach everyday; today my audience is my peers! To have over 250 spectators listening intently to my 'Old Favorites Remix,' was so exciting, and rewarding. I still receive emails asking for more ideas! This validates my career choice. I am still thankful to my college professors who pushed me into teaching, and who have been incredible mentors along the way!
"Mrs. Runyard is always making us work hard, but she somehow makes us laugh in the end." Josh S, senior.
"Run…She never stops but I have a whole new respect for P.E. not Gym class!" Chris S. Senior.
"I was not a very good swimmer, but now after taking Mrs. Runyard, I can swim more efficiently!" Jessica W. Senior.
Old Favorites Remixed - Love kickball? Try this 3-team version that is a BLAST. How about Soccer? Here is a crazy way to play one of the Nation's favorite activities. Both of these activities develop skills, multi-tasking, agility, and focus! In addition, they accommodate large numbers and limited space! Great for middle school or high school levels.
"Survivor" h20 Style - The famous television show has hit the pools. Here is an activity that cumulates a swim unit, with student team challenges. From building a shelter, diving for immunity necklaces, and eating worms (gummy…of' course). Teams works together to accomplish 9 different tasks all of which incorporate swimming! This lesson is great for middle school or high school levels.
Sensitivity to disabilities - Today's students need to be more aware of those who have a disability. All it takes is one day to set up a variety of stations to have your students participate in this challenge. One would be amazed at the equipment you already have and how easy it is to put to good use! Best part of all, incorporating a short writing assignment for students to express themselves at a new level. The results are amazing.