Denville: Teacher Takes on Virtual Physical Education

In the wake of the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, at the Morris County School of Technology (Vo-Tech), much effort has been put into keeping physical education alive and running.

“As a teacher whose main objective is to get students to move and find activities that they enjoy and can sustain for a lifetime to come, the thought of teaching PE [physical education] behind a computer screen was a thought that I never once had to entertain,” said Kristen Maday, who teaches physical education and health at Vo-Tech.

“Back in April and May of 2020, I was teaching live PE fitness classes via zoom as an option for students to earn PE credit at home and to help hold students accountable for showing up and getting the work done,” said Maday.

“I became very familiar with Google classroom and created a professional school Instagram page where every morning I would post a bodyweight, equipment-free workout and establish a CHOICE PE board that we are still using today. Our CHOICE assignment challenged students to use technology in documenting their ‘proof of fitness activity’ based on a specific criteria.”

“With the COVID-19 restrictions constantly changing, and our parameters in what we can use being limited, we wanted to tap into the applications that our students are currently engrossed in and make it educational,” said Maday.

“As a PE department, we are always looking into what our students’ current interests are, and how we can tap into it to make it something we can infuse in PEP. Looking further into Tik-Tok, my department and I decided to mirror a fitness challenge that was posted and see if this was a unit we could possibly explore in our classroom.”

Maday and her team soon discovered that the Tik Tok routines were student-centered, individualized, community-building, and would adhere to all COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions. A rubric was then set up where students were challenged to provide modification and had to earn a specific number of points within the class period through teaching administrators, teachers, and students their easily adaptable routine based on individuals’ needs.

“The day of our school-wide Tik Tok challenge was a day filled with excited teachers, students and laughter, something that for some time had felt lacking,” said Maday.

Maday has taught PE classes at Vo-Tech for six years and has earned a master’s degree in educational leadership. In February 2021, she received the title of NJAHPERD [New Jersey Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance] High School PE Teacher of the Year. after studying at Montclair State University seven years ago.

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