When thinking about literacy, physical education is not generally the content area that comes to mind, but there is no reason it shouldn’t. This is an idea that is gaining momentum in physical education classrooms among practitioners and pre-service teachers. It is something I have been able to learn about in my classes and now I’m seeing it in the field as I do my pre-student teaching. The idea of “gym” class being a way of kids getting their exercise for the day is slowly fading while a new idea of creating physically literate students is fast approaching.
To be physically literate requires many different skills just as it would in any other content area. Students need to be able to perform skills, understand strategies, communicate with teammates, and also understand the importance of physical education. To me, the last piece is the most crucial. Taking the time to show students why not only being able to perform a skill is important but how it connects to the big picture, being a lifelong mover. Just as one would expect with writing, the more confidence a student has, the more willing they are to taking risks and putting forth effort. It is through experiences and opportunities that allow growth and show what is known can help them feel more confident in their knowledge and fluency in not only a situation like creating a story but also performing a skill or making connections to life after their K-12 schooling in terms of physical activity.
From all levels it can be implemented. At the elementary level, simply asking students what requirements are there for them to play their favorite game at recess. It can develop into middle school by asking students to reflect their life and what choices they can make to improve their health as well as activity levels. In high school there is an opportunity for them to show their understanding of why and how their health can affect them as they age or how they can maintain an active lifestyle. These questions could be answered in a number of creative ways that allow students to showcase their strengths in academia beyond physical movement which I appreciate.
All of these levels have numerous aspects of literacy that is geared towards physical education but could be used across all curriculum. Literacy in physical education is a concept that is gaining steam, and it is a way to help kids find a deep connection to being knowledgeable in their own health and well-being. In my pre-student teaching experiences, I am seeing my host teacher ask students how they could use the different stretches, drills, whatever it may be to enhance their life in a way other than a specific sport such as having a desire to gain strength or endurance.