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Name: Jennifer Higgins
At Smallwood Drive Elementary School students receive physical education instruction in the gymnasium as well as in our Wellness Center. Students attend physical education in the gymnasium two times a week for 80 minutes. Students attend Wellness once a week for 40 minutes. In the Wellness Center students participate in hands-on activities that provide them the knowledge and attitudes necessary to attain healthful living throughout their lives. The curriculum in the Wellness Center centers around the Physical Best Program with an emphasis on the components of Health-related Fitness.
I enrich higher level thinking skills by providing opportunities that integrate content areas across the curriculum with physical education without compromising the integrity of my program. For example, my program "Fit-Story" is an empowering educational learning experience that integrates curriculum and addresses the students' academic, physical and emotional needs. Students have the opportunity to apply first-hand the fitness skills they have developed in the Wellness Center, and the academic concepts they learned in the classroom as they walk 35 miles across Western New York over the course of one week. Students strap on heart rate monitors and clip on pedometers as they have the opportunity to experience the diverse cultural and historic resources of our area. In their "Fit-Story" logs, students record fitness goals and reflections including, average daily heart rate, total exercise time, distance walked and nutritional information. Day four's itinerary is listed below. Starting Point: Front Park
Ending Point: Commercial Slip
Distance: 7 miles
Learning Checkpoint: Front Park, Pumping Station Tour, Erie Canal, LaSalle Park, Erie Basin Marina Observation Tower, Commercial Slip, Grain Elevators, Buffalo River, 1833 Lighthouse-Coast Guard Station, Outer harbor
Lunch at: Erie Basin Marina (pizza)
Snack at: While walking after pumping stations
Curriculum Component: Social Studies (Local History, Olmstead's Park System, Erie Canal Commercial Slip, Canal District, Grain Elevators) & Wellness and Fitness (Heart Rate Monitors, Interval Training, Pedometers)
Over the last five years I have taken a genuine interest in the development of my students' fitness knowledge and skills. I enjoy teaching lifetime recreational activities as well as individual fitness skills. After securing our first PEP Grant, Physical Education: Making an Impression for Life, I developed a Wellness Center in each of our district's buildings. I also created a daily school-wide morning exercise program that reinforces the skills and concepts learned in both the gymnasium and Wellness Center. This program is done in partnership with the classroom teacher making it a whole school community experience. The lessons are designed to motivate and stimulate the students as they "start their day the healthy way!" By introducing students to a wide variety of activities in the early years, I hope that each will find one or two that they will continue to enjoy and learn as they head to the middle school and beyond.
I believe that all children can learn. Physical education at my school enhances all aspects of a child's development including health, physical fitness, academic success, social skills, self-esteem and emotional wellness. The focus of the program is to prepare and motivate all students to participate in activities which promote lifelong physical activity. In order to make a difference in the physical lives of children I also believe that it is imperative to develop a home-school connection. This connection can make a lasting impression on both the parents and students encouraging them to adopt fitness as a lifelong skill. Whether it is communicating through my monthly newsletter, The Heartbeat or organizing a family wellness evening, parents are an integral part of my program.
What does being a TOY mean
Being named the 2009 EDA Elementary Teacher of the Year is an amazing honor. I am thrilled to be a part of the NASPE family. As I travel and present at various conferences I come in contact with many wonderful and talented physical educators. It is my hope that together we can advocate for change so that every child can experience a high quality physical education program.
What do I do to help others
The experienced teacher should serve as a model, an innovator and a resource for pre-service, novice and veteran colleagues. For the past 12 years I have been accepting both student teachers and junior participants to help ensure the continuation of quality physical education programs well into the future. I have also been an active member of the NYS AHPERD Western Zone. For the past 6 years I have been the Western Zone Newsletter Editor and Mini-Conference Chairperson. I also enjoy sharing with colleagues as a contributor to the NYS AHPERD Elementary Section Newsletter. Since 1993, I have contributed to the profession by presenting at over 30 various local, state, regional and national conferences.
"My favorite thing about PE and Wellness is when we learned how to cross country ski. I love skiing because it's fun and something I normally would not have tried. My school is lucky to have this program." Emily C., Miss Nicholson's 5th grade
"Mrs. Higgins always has really fun games for us to play that teach us about food and exercise. " Natalie Z.-Mrs. Diodate's 2nd Grade
"In PE we learn lots of new stuff! I never knew that you had to take 4 steps to bowl!" Lindsay G.-Mrs. Withee's 2nd Grade
List your "favorite" sessions:
Let's Move It! Seasonal Fitness Activities
This session will provide participants with the opportunity to be actively engaged in games and activities that build fitness for each month of the school year. Kick-off the school year with cooperative fitness BINGO, dance through Halloween, chase down those turkeys, and don't leave out winter fitness. Continue your moving celebration with heart month, the 100th day of school, St. Patrick's Day, National Nutrition Month and World wide ACES Day!
"Using Portfolios in the Elementary School Setting"
Assessment is a key component of our physical education program. It produces information to help gage student learning, allows me to take a closer look at my teaching and can be used as a communication tool to parents. Students in grades 1 and 2 take all assessments home with them throughout the year. Students in grades 3-5 document their learning through the use of a working portfolio. Students take responsibility for their own learning when being taught to self assess, peer assess and reflect on a groups accomplishments.
"Of all the subjects taught in school, Physical Education is the only subject which, by the very nature of it's content, has the potential to affect how a person will feel every moment of every day for the rest of his or her life" - Allen Russell