Thursday, December 18, 2008

Analysis and Discussion

After reviewing the data collected, I was able to infer that a majority of the data was supported by existing literature. Student 1 was a boy that was good at physical education and enjoyed it. He appeared athletic and confident. He felt safe in his class all the time and was proud of his progress on the fitness testing. His mention of his name on the wall was a clue to just how proud he was of his progression. Having his name posted on the wall was a constant reminder to him and anyone else who saw it that he had done something of value.
Student 2 was a boy who also enjoyed it. He did not seem as athletic as student 1, but seemed content with his abilities. He stated that he did not always feel safe in his class. There were times that he felt that it was easier for him to not participate in order for him not to have someone “after him because of (PE) class.” This is an issue that teachers must be conscious of in urban areas. Students must be able to feel as thought they are in a safe environment at all times in order to maximize their potential. Like this student, if students do not feel safe, they will not participate to the fullest extent of their abilities. Having students go through the motions does not help to promote life skills. It is only when students are fully engaged and participating do they begin to use and develop these skills.
Student 2 also spoke about how much he enjoyed team activities. He mentioned how his team had to work together in order to accomplish their task. An important thing that he mentioned was how over time, his team was able to get better because they became more familiar with each other and learned to work together based on each individual’s strengths. This is a terrific example of the development and practice of life skills through physical education. Students are much more engaged in activities if they feel as though they can improve upon their past performances. According to Knop, “they [students] need to see signs of progress towards their personal goals” (Knop). The teacher must hold the students and himself/herself responsible for continued progress. “Three guidelines can help us in these decisions: we should aim to (1) create trust through content and delivery, (2) create a sense of community, and (3) create multiple ways for students to demonstrate progress” (Knop). Creating multiple ways for students to demonstrate progress is necessary for an inclusive classroom. Student’s strengths and weaknesses differ and one method of measuring progress may unfairly favor one student’s skills over another. Multiple ways to measure progress likely increases the number of students making significant progress and feeling successful. “Students demonstrated the greatest buy-in once they saw themselves making physical progress in the class. When students perceived that they were getting stronger, feeling fitter and better, and looking leaner, they gained trust and belief in the class and in the teacher” (Knop).
Student 3 was a girl who enjoyed PE; she appeared to be athletic. She felt safe in her PE class and liked to participate in the games and events. She mentioned that she was appointed captain for some of the relays. The fact that she mentioned this leads me to believe that this was important to her. Teaching leadership through physical education presents students with hands on leadership experience and decision making capabilities.
Student 3 also mentioned that she liked how one team was not “better at everything than the others.” They always were willing to try because they never knew who was going to be the best at different events. This balance of teams is crucial for student participation and enjoyment level. Students are much more likely to have an invested interest in games and events if they are close and competitive rather than one team dominating the others.
Lastly, Student 4 did not enjoy her PE class. She did not like participating, most likely because she did not feel as though she was in a safe environment. By creating a “safe place” for everyone, students can connect with others and know that their emotions and sense of self will be protected (Ennis). “This information reinforces the importance of trust and ability of the teacher to be able to relate to their students in order to provide them with a positive physical education experience and necessary life skills” (Ennis). The relationship between students and teachers in urban areas depend on the teachers’ ability to connect to their students. Understanding and connecting with students is vital in order to have a successful PE curriculum in urban schools.
In addition to providing a safe environment, the pedagogy should be culturally relevant so students feel as though they can relate to the task they are performing. If students are able to connect social concepts to disciplinary content, it will enhance their willingness to achieve (Ennis). According to McCaughtry, teachers expressed concern about providing culturally and contextually relevant teaching for their diverse students. One teacher McCaughtry observed in his study of urban educators stated that she decided to “spend time on traditional sports skills due to the social implications. Baseball, jump rope, football, and basketball are sports that have been with [the community] forever” (McCaughtry). Teaching students how to play sports that they will see often gives them a chance to know how to play them when they are out in the community. However, other teachers felt it was important to expose their students to non-traditional activities in the urban environment. This can be difficult because the majority of students will never have seen the sport introduced, causing them to have a lack of interest and be reluctant to participate.
According to the students I spoke with, all five of them had never played lacrosse or field hockey nor did they have the slightest interest in learning about or playing either sport. They answered quickly and assured me they had no interest in learning such sports. They seemed to be fine with the sports they knew and played, and there was little interest in learning a sport they have never seen. Furthermore, both of these sports require resources that many urban physical education classes lack, such as the equipment needed to play. Lacrosse sticks, goggles, padding, and balls are expensive; field hockey equipment is costly as well.
Despite differences in how to cultivate life skills, there is sufficient evidence supporting the idea that students need to feel as though they are in a safe environment, have a culturally relevant pedagogy they can relate to, and have a method for tracking their progress. In order to provide students with these skills, urban teachers must create an atmosphere in which students readily participate, are challenged, can measure their achievements. The existing literature and research both support the findings that by implementing these elements into their classroom, physical education teachers can play a significant role in instilling urban students with necessary life skills.

Methodology/Data Collection

Methodology/Data Collection

Interviewer: Do you enjoy your PE class?
Student 1-3: Yeah
Student 4” No
Interviewer: Why do you enjoy or not enjoy your PE class?
Student 1: It’s a time I can do what I like to do, I don’t want to sit in a class all day and have someone talk at me. I want to be able to do what I like. Gym is what I like.
Student 2: It’s the one class I’m not that bad at.
Student 3: We have fun…I like the games we play and stuff.
Student 4: “I don’t know anyone in my class and I don’t really like sports.
Interviewer: Do you feel safe and comfortable in your PE class?
Student 1: Yeah.
Student 2: Most of the time.
Student 3: Yeah.
Student 4: No.
Interviewer: Why do you not feel safe (at all or sometimes)?
Student 2: Sometimes you don’t want to mess with some people in class if they having a bad day. It’s just better not to get in their way. I don’t need anyone after me for class”
Student 4: I don’t want to be made fun of if I am not any good at stuff.”
Interviewer: Does this ever make you not want to participate?
Student 2: Yeah, sometimes it’s just easier not to.
Student 4: Yes.
Interviewer: If you could choose any activity to do in PE class, what would you choose?
Student 1: Basketball
Student 2: Football
Student 3: Jump Rope
Student 4: Dance
Interviewer: Do you have lacrosse or field hockey at your school or have you ever played lacrosse or field hockey in PE class?
Students 1-4: No.
Interviewer: Do you have an interest in either of those sports?
Students 1-4: No.
Have you done fitness testing and/or activities in which you can monitor your individual or team progress?
Student 1-3: Yeah.
Student 4: No.
Have you improved over time?
Student 1-3: Yeah
Interviewer: Can you give my an example and tell me how this made you feel?
Student 1: We did fitness testing in the beginning of the year and did the tests over after working out for a few weeks. I improved in every category except one, the flexibility one. I felt good (about myself), like I got a good grade or something. My teacher put us up on the wall if we improved and I did.
Student 2: We did team stuff for a couple of weeks. We stayed in the same teams and got to play all kinds of different games and sports and stuff. My team did pretty good. By the end we got better, we got used to working together and figured each other out like who was good at what things. It was a good time.
Student 3: We did competitions where we got to see what groups were the best at different relays and events. We won a couple. I got to be captain for some events. No one team did really better than the other. That’s what I like, the teams were fair and you had a chance to win them all. It wasn’t like ‘Oh, his teams gonna win so we don’t need to try.’ We all were close.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pedagogy of Poverty vs Schultz's Pedagogy

The pedagogy used by Schultz in "Spectacular Things Happen Along the Way" varies greatly from the Pedagogy of Poverty introduced by Martin Haberman. The "Pedagogy of Poverty" does not allow for creative thinking. Students are given directives in which they are expected to follow and teachers are more concerned with maintaining classroom order and behavior than with developing the critical thinking abilities in their students. On the contrary, Schultz was able to implement a system in which the students develop their own curriculum. Schultz's pedagogy constantly allows his students to think critically and develop new ideas.

The Pedagogy of Poverty, mostly present in urban school systems, includes:
giving information,
asking questions,
giving directions,
making assignments,
monitoring work,
reviewing assignments,
giving tests,
reviewing tests,
assigning homework,
reviewing homework,
settling disputes,
punishing noncompliance,
marking papers, and
giving grades."

None of these activities allow for students to engage in the learning process and take ownership over their education. Overall, critical thinking and application is not developed. Students are given cues in which they are to respond.

Schultz's pedagogy is vastly different from the Pedagogy of Poverty. By instituting a curriculum in which the students feel as though they are doing something worth wile and have a direct impact on their lives and community, they take great pride in their work. The students were willing to work harder than they had ever worked before because they were interested in the material.

Schultz's was able to organize the students ideas and encourage them to act on their ideas. He was constantly assessing his pedagogy, making sure the students were developing and learning. His pedagogy, unlike the Pedagogy of Poverty, continuously caused the students to formulate their own ideas. Their curriculum encourages group and individual thinking, developing strategies, collecting data, setting plans into action and analyzing results. Furthermore, the students are able to see their hard work pay off and not just on a test grade. They were able to see the effect they were having on their community and the response they were generating. This payoff was a motivation to them. Receiving a test grade on information they are forced to learn in a certain way has little appeal to them. Working on a project in which they feel worthwhile and invested in caused Schultz's students to learn invaluable skills without even realizing they were learning them.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What matters most to Urban students?

While reading Schultz's, Spectacular Things Happen Along the Way, it was obvious that his students cared about issues that were important to them. Their school building was of very much importance to them, and they were willing to work harder than they had ever before in order advance their ultimate goal: a new school. Schultz states that the teacher must embrace intelligence and allow students to leverage what they know and what they can successfully accomplish (Schultz, 4).

Instead of using standard textbooks in which these students could not form a connection with, they researched information relevant to them and their community. Their interest in there work took them to texts beyond their reading level; books they would have never attempted to look at before. But because of their vested interest in the subject matter, they worked hard to understand the material. It was the students as a whole who became the ones dictating their curriculum. They planned out what they should do and they had to act on their own demands.

Rather than having a classroom revolving around teaching for the test and implementing a standards that do not reflect what the students really need, Schultz was able to create a thriving learning environment by having the students interact with their learning and problem solve. During a brain storming session, a teacher passing by commented on the students level of excitement towards their schoolwork. One student responded by stating this isn't schoolwork, this is important. Standard schoolwork is not valued because it does not have real meaning in these students lives. The students in Schultz's class were aware of the problems with their school and community. In comparison with their typical schoolwork, these problems were much more important to them. As a result, allowing them to come up with ideas for solutions for their problems as a part of their schoolwork made it of value to them. In fact, they did not perceive it as "schoolwork" because it had such meaning and value to them.

Schultz also discusses how a variety of students were able to be successful at different tasks throughout the process. Students who were not particularly good at expressing themselves in writing were able to thrive through vocalizing their ideas, and vice verse. The multidimensional approach to problem solving called for application of many different skills throughout the process. Therefore, different students were able to thrive at different times. Allowing everyone to have an active role in problem solving enabled all students to be successful together. Giving them a reason to excel made the students want to come to school; it made them even want to come in early or stay late if they had to.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Community Inquiry Project- Annotated Bibliography

Tentative Research Question: Problems facing teachers and students in urban PE classrooms and solutions devised; what role does a teachers’ ability to relate to their students play in minimizing these problems and creating solutions (in order to improve their PE programs)?

Annotated Bibliography

Mary Henninger, Margo Coleman. (2008). De-escalation: How to take back control in
your urban physical education classes. Strategies, 21(3), 11-14. Retrieved November 5, 2008, from ProQuest Education Journals database. (Document ID: 1419863501).

Henninger and Coleman demonstrate useful ways to provide urban physical educators with a set of tools/behaviors that can be used to establish and maintain order in their classrooms. It stresses maintaining order through de-escalation. De-escalation consists of two skill sets, proactive and reactive. These techniques are designed to minimize the effect disruptive situations have in the classroom. Proactive techniques refer to skills used to gain and maintain mutual respect between teachers and students. Reactive techniques refer to skills used to deal with minor behavior disruptions once they've occurred in an effort to minimize the disruption and prevent it from escalating. A teacher knowing their students is the first step to successfully using both proactive and reactive techniques.

Nancy D Brener, Sherry Everett Jones, Laura Kann, Tim McManus. (2003). Variation
in school health policies and programs by demographic characteristics of US schools. The Journal of School Health, 73(4), 143-9. Retrieved November 5, 2008, from ProQuest Education Journals database. (Document ID: 327510551).

Data collected from school faculty and staff waslinked with current data on school characteristics. The findings showed no one type of school to be more likely than another to have all key aspects of a school health/PE program; regardless of school characteristics, all schools were found to be capable of implementing quality school health programs. While providing certain useful information, this article lacks an in depth look into the demographic characteristics of urban areas that cause difficulties on their PE programs such as a lack of adequate resources, student motivation, culture of poverty, etc.

Nancy Knop, Deborah Tananehill, Mary O'Sullivan. (2001). Making a difference for
urban youths. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 72(7), 38-44. Retrieved November 5, 2008, from ProQuest Education Journals database. (Document ID: 80442323).
There are many limitations in the lives of economically disadvantaged urban youths. Violence or fear of violence in schools and communities can severely limit adolescent involvement in healthy physical activity. If an activity cannot be conducted in a controlled environment where adolescents feel physically and psychologically safe, then students do not participate. The negative impact that poverty has on healthy behaviors may partly explain urban adolescents' lack of interest in physical education. This information is important because if youths are to value such programs, they need to see signs of progress toward their personal goals. To facilitate these goals, the teacher held the students and herself responsible for continued progress. From the students' viewpoint, the teacher's genuine concern for them and for the course content was the basis for building trust and respect. Lastly, students need time and a good reason to trust and respect each other and their teacher.

Nate McCaughtry, Sara Barnard, Jeffrey Martin, Bo Shen, Pamela Hodges
Kulinna. (2006). Teachers' Perspectives on the Challenges of Teaching Physical
Education in Urban Schools: The Student Emotional Filter. Research Quarterly
for Exercise and Sport, 77(4), 486-97. Retrieved November 4, 2008, from
ProQuest Education Journals database. (Document ID: 1177656311).

Teachers perspectives were analyzed to see how the challenges of urban schools influence physical education teachers' emotional understanding and connections with their students and the implications on their teaching. Five main challenges identified significantly shaped teachers thinking about students and their careers. The challenges were: (a) insufficient instructional resources, (b) implementing culturally relevant pedagogy, (c) dealing with community violence, (d) integrating more games in curricula, and (e) teaching in a culture of basketball. In order to overcome or manage those challenges programs need to incorporate the role of culture. Too often, focus is on foundational knowledge, content and teaching generic principles, while underemphasizing the role of culture in schools. Culture should shape how we view content, understand teaching principles, and parcel out coursework preparation. Teacher educators to spend much more time dealing with political, cultural, and social issues in the teacher development process. The relationship between students and teachers in urban areas depend on the teachers’ ability to connect to their students. Understanding and connecting with students is vital in order to have a successful PE curriculum in urban schools.

Catherine D Ennis, Melinda A Solmon, Barbara Santina, Susan J Loftus, et al. (1999).
Creating a sense of family in urban schools using the "sport for peace"
curriculum. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 70(3), 273-85. Retrieved
November 5, 2008, from ProQuest Education Journals database. (Document
ID: 44975290).

“Sport for Peace” curriculum was developed in order for teachers to modify games and equipment to maximize opportunities for student success in response to concerns in a school district regarding student violence, fighting, profanity, and physical and sexual harassment. Components include strategies for conflict negotiation, the requirement that all students play during every class, and rules requiring students to rotate through every position and responsibility. The Sport for Peace curricular structures fostered shared responsibility for learning, trust, respect, and a sense of family. Students of all skill levels felt successful and responded positively, creating a class community more conducive to engagement and participation. Results found that students felt responsible to their teammates, showed them respect as individuals, and developed a sense of trust that is typically unusual in urban schools. By creating a “safe place” for everyone, students can connect with others and know that their emotions and sense of self will be protected. This information reinforces the importance of trust and ability of the teacher to be able to relate to their students in order to provide them with a positive PE experience and necessary life skills.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Community Inquiry Project- Physical Education

For my community inquiry project, I would like to examine the role and impact of physical education. In schools, I would like to look at the PE programs. Outside of school, I would like to determine what the role of sports/recreational activity plays in the lives of students. In addition, I would like research what physical fitness programs are available for students and what nutritional habits students practice. For those that are not getting enough physical activity and/or not engaging in healthy nutritional practices, I would like to discuss development strategies to improve these patterns.

According to the American Heart Association, "increased physical activity has been associated with an increased life expectancy and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. Physical activity produces overall physical, psychological and social benefits. Inactive children are likely to become inactive adults." Physical activity helps with maintaining a healthy weight, increasing levels of good cholesterol, reducing risks of some cancers and type II diabetes, reducing high blood pressure and is associated with improved psychological well-being including gaining more self-confidence and higher self-esteem (

Some facts about teens and physical activity:
-About half of American youths aged 12-21 are not vigorously active on a regular basis. About 14% of young people report no recent physical activity. Inactivity is more common among females (14%) than males (7%) and among black females (21%) than white females (12%).
-Only 19 percent of all high school students are physically active for 20 minutes or more, five days a week, in physical education classes (
Today, obesity is one of the most pressing health concerns for our children. Approximately 25 million children and teens are overweight or obese—and physical inactivity is a leading contributor to the epidemic (Active Education, 2007.
-Only 36 percent of high school students meet the current recommended levels of
physical activity (Active Education, 2007).
-Budgetary constraints and increasing pressure to improve standardized test scores have caused
school officials to question the value of PE and other physical activity programs. This has led to a reduction in the time available for PE, and the elimination of some or all physical activity programs (Active Education, 2007).

I would like to develop strategies to encourage children and teens to be physically active. First, convincing administrators, teachers, parents, and students that physical activity is important and can enhance overall quality of life is vital to attaining healthy nutritional and fitness patterns. Second, access to physical activity programs in and out of school are necessary in order for students to participate in activities. Promoting physical activity programs and encouraging student involvement will provide numerous benefits for children and teens such as improvements in overall health, academic performance, and self-esteem.

Promoting PE in schools and supporting after school programs related to physical activity is a small way to greatly improve the lives of children/teens. The benefits of physical activity are plentiful. Children in inner city areas should not suffer from lack of PE and or PE programs due to budgetary constraints.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

NJRCL and Unequal Childhoods

In New Jersey, it is rather easy to make enough money to be well over the federal poverty line, yet still be struggling. The Federal Poverty Level is, nevertheless, far below what is needed to meet their families’ basic needs (NJRCL). The New Jersey Real Cost of Living provides information about how much it acutally costs to live in New Jersey. Even though Essex County is not one of the wealthiest in New Jersey, it is still located in one of the wealthiest states in the United States. Many of the families in Unequal Childhoods, by Lareau, would find it difficult to manage in this county due to the very high real cost of living.

In Essex County, transportation accounts for 6-12% of the total budget which is almost the same percentage allotted to food (NJRCL). Living in Essex County and having a child in multiple extra-curricular activities like Garrett Tallinger would prove even more costly than it already is. Garrett’s activities were estimated to cost $4,000 per year (Lareau). Instead of playing on three soccer teams, the Tallinger’s may be forced to cut down on Garrett’s involvement on multiple teams, in particular the travel teams which require them to travel far distances.

Stacey Marshall and Alexander Williams also participated in a number of extra-curricular activities. The expense of not only traveling to these events but also paying to participate in them in addition to paying for the hotel and restaurant meals can quickly add up, especially if they are traveling to different parts of New Jersey where the cost of hotel rooms and restaurants are expensive. Living in Essex would pose a challenge for even middle class families. Maintaining their current standard of living would not be easy. Focus could easily shift from extra-curricular to ensuring basic necessities are met.

Providing there is a child in the household, the cost of child care in Essex county account for a large portion of the budget in addition to housing costs. Because the cost of housing and child care are very expensive, families providing for a large extended family, such as the Brindle’s and McAllister’s could find it even more diffucult to get enough food and clothing for everyone. With high housing prices, families will not be able to afford an apartment or house the size they want. According to Lareau, speace is already an issue in the McAllister household; most nights the children sleep two to a bed.

The information provided by NJRCL and LSNJ is eye-opening. It provides a frightening sense as to how much it costs to actually live in New Jersey; the numbers are truly haunting. Seeing the numbers sensitizied me to how much it actually costs to live, and raise a family, in New Jersey in addition to the enormous difficulty and pressure involved. Families with a single parent or single income is even more daunting.

Knowing where your students come from is vital in order to be able to relate to them. Unfortunately, a family’s economic status creates class differences. Children’s activities are expensive and if a family is struggling to provide the basic necessities for their children, they are not going to spend money on an extra-curricular activity for their child. They also may not be able to spend money on new clothes or school supplies every year. They are not always going to be able to attend all parent teacher conferences or school performances because they have to work, do not have adequate means of transportation, or can not afford a babysitter. Because of these economic constraints, parents in poor and working class families are often unable to do/provide these “extras” for their children. It is easy to dismiss these parents as disinterested in their child's life. However, in most cases, their actions are not an accurate portrayal of their level of care/love for their child. It simply may be that their economic status is causing their priority to be providing basic necessities such as: food, clothing, etc.

Additionally, it is important to be conscious of and support efforts working toward bridging the gap between incomes and self-sufficiency standard. In particular, I liked the proposal of family-friendly policies in the work place. According to the NJRCL report, for those working low-wage jobs, having family-friendly policies such as paid family leave or subsidized child care would benefit the individual as well as the employer’s employee retention. This policy would benefit working class and lower income families, such as the Brindle’s and/or Taylor’s, where parents are preoccupied by the amount of work in caring for children coupled with insufficient economic resources (Lareau). Also, the call for expansion, accessibility, and overall improvement of training programs, stated in NJRCL, aimed at teaching necessary work skills, could provide low-income families with knowledge enabling them to improve their economic standing.