Read our interview with Tim Lunquist, PE teacher at Salmon Bay K-8 and 2nd year Erg Ed instructor. Thank you for your insightful teaching philosophy – we’re glad to have you as part of our team!
- Why is physical education important for kids?
I believe physical education is important for kids to get them moving, to understand how to test their own limits and push themselves further, to set and attain goals, to learn to play and work together, and – foremost – to have fun.
Another aspect I think is critical – the health and nutrition instruction. The topics are very real-life – what we do, think, and eat. By incorporating these factors into fun activities and combing them with turn and talks, and our circle (like a classroom meeting) we hear a lot of interesting thoughts and stories and while we learn from each other.
- What are your top 3 favorite physical education units to teach?
Obviously, the erg unit is a favorite. I like it because I find it a great unit for introducing intensity. Also, I notice that kids who are not great runners or throwers often excel with the ergs and get respect from their peers for their strength and stamina with the muscular strength aspect of rowing. Plus, the machines themselves add a level of urgency – the kids see them in the gym and get excited, parents see the gym set up with the ergs and wish they had PE.
Another unit I love is Volleyball. I played the sport in college so I have a high level of confidence in my expertise. It is a great coed sport and often the girls get to shine since it’s a middle school sport and they have a lot of experience.
Another fav is my sustained running unit. I like it because for the final the kids partner up and time each others’ mile. This gives the kids the independence to do the activity with their partner, not in the big herd where they feel left behind if they are slow. Plus I notice kids like to have the clipboard, exit slip, and stop watches – makes them feel grown-up.
I must add CPR. I am very pro-active at Salmon Bay regarding safety. To be able to help someone in crisis is good for the victim and teaches that you can help if you know how rather than standing back and waiting for someone else to help.
- What do you value most about physical education?
I value physical education because it is a great content area to work on our social-emotional safety skills.
In our Salmon Bay program we start the year with WORD – our word wall. We start with vocabulary such as integrity, persistence, teamwork, trust… and tuck those concepts into our first days so kids have an understanding and appreciation for our social-emotional expectations.
Also, I love being outdoors and I highly value the opportunity to teach both in the kinesthetic realm and outdoors where we get that fresh air out of the building time.
Additionally, I love to workout on my own and enjoy encouraging kids to do the same – learn to love to exercise and appreciate the good things it does for muscle tone, stamina and happiness. It’s fun!
- What are some strategies you use to get kids moving in your class?
- I believe in quick moving starts. We have our Super-Five: push-ups, sit-ups, mountain climbers, star jumps, and jumping jacks. We use the Super-Five about every other day. It’s a routine so it’s easy to get started with them. After a quick warm up kids are more ready to sit and listen. I like to be organized.
- Depending on the unit I may use a skill such as catching and throwing footballs as a rolling warm up – running clockwise around the gym while four throwers in the center toss to receivers, receivers become throwers.
- Another strategy I use is to teach my transitions early so we don’t waste time going from point A to point B, or getting/collecting materials. Also, I make sure my activities have enough materials for everyone so there is very little wait time.
- I also front-load as much as I can, like having my squads figured out before day 1, and mixing the kids so each squad has an even distribution of high needs, athletes, boys/girls and grade levels – we do looping7/8’s.
- Most of my activities are no longer than eight minutes and I pack the plan with more than I can do so there is no down-time.
- We keep our units tight, into one week sequences so the kids don’t get complacent with materials or activities.
- On Fun Fridays we have stations – fast tempo. One station will always be from that week’s unit such as an erg station, or football targeting station.
- I will ask kids to find partners or groups as we transition so that does not become a separate move and adds urgency to the transition.
- I do partners when we are on the track so kids are motivated to challenge each other or celebrate their hard work. For example, having one partner run one way the other partner the other way around so they pass by in the middle and meet at the start, then reverse it for the second lap – this takes a lot of trust that kids won’t crash or try and trip…each other – so we teach trust, that you will be safe and free from harassment.
- I use humor over demands as much as I can.
- I try and remember to ask myself – “are the kids having fun?”
- How do you incorporate cross-curricular work in your class?
One example of integrating across the curriculum is combining math with the erg unit. I use a math lesson and collaborate with the building math teacher when I teach intensity so the kids learn to figure their own personal level 4 intensity – 65% – 85% of their MHR. Another example is WORD – our word wall.
Often I will ask the kids what’s going on in science so I can incorporate those concepts into PE such as simple machines translating into leverage, or concepts like open and closed circuits which can feed into activities like running games.
With my younger kids I do a lot of counting up and count downs such as my back and forths – running from 18 to 18 on the soccer field, I will call out,“we did three, our goal is ten, how many are left?”
I like to toss-in creative movement and will ask prompts like, “how do spiders move? – move a like a spider!” then ask, “so how do humans move?” which brings us to our locomotors.
- Anything else you want to share?
We have a saying in Salmon Bay PE – a guiding principle, overall we want our kids to exercise, learn, and most of all have fun!
Thank you Tim!