Would Block Scheduling Benefit Physical Education Students in Secondary Schools?

JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, October 2000 | Go to article overview

Would Block Scheduling Benefit Physical Education Students in Secondary Schools?


Yes! Block scheduling would allow teachers to create more effective learning experiences for students. Some classes may need to run for 90 or 75 minutes, while others can last just 30 minutes. Thus fitness days, competitive days, and lecture days could be tailored to the time allotted. Programming may become more personalized, meeting the needs of individual students, and teachers will have more time to create lessons that include adequate warm-up, cool-down, drill practice, and game play. Trips to golf courses, bowling alleys, local fitness clubs, and so forth may become more common, since travel time will no longer take up most of the class time. Also, students may be more likely to take showers following a long workout if they have a little more time.

However, it should be clear that individual teachers determine the effectiveness of a block schedule. Good, creative teachers find many ways to take advantage of the block schedule to enhance their programs. Yet some teachers won't take advantage of such a schedule, which could mean a decrease in program effectiveness. The benefits of a block schedule are determined by the effectiveness of the teachers using the schedule.

--Dennis Docheff, associate professor, Concordia University, Mequon, WI 53095.

My suspicion is that school principals and those responsible for curricular scheduling find the traditional pattern of single-lesson physical education classes much more to their liking than multiple-lesson or block sessions. Much of what we do in physical education fits reasonably well into a 30-to-40-minute class period. Certainly, the body of knowledge regarding cardiovascular fitness points to substantial health benefits resulting from vigorous physical activity carried out within that relatively short time span. Many physical education skills (e.g., underhand volleyball serve, basic badminton lob serve, gymnastics headstand, polka dance steps) fit nicely within the normal 30-to-40-minute lesson plan.

All this notwithstanding, there are considerable benefits to be gained from creatively contoured block schedules in physical education. Real-life games of football, soccer, and basketball all last more than 30 to 40 minutes, so attempting to replicate the tension, tactics, and teamwork of a game in a traditional class period can be constricting and confounding. With complex skills--the one that comes to mind most readily is swim-stroke proficiency--the ideal way to teach would be a "total immersion (no pun intended) model with a whole morning or afternoon devoted to successfully mastering the given aquatic skills. Goethe perhaps said it best: "Devote each day to the object then in time, and every evening will find something done."

--Scott A. G. M. Crawford, professor, College of Education and Professional Studies, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, I L 61920.

This is a very interesting question and should be answered in terms of our general objectives for physical education. I believe that we should promote a lifelong commitment to particular physical activities and to general fitness. A typical block schedule would not lend itself appropriately to this end. In such an elective format, students might see physical education as just another course to complete or avoid within a given semester. I would like to see physical education be a year-long requirement. A modified block where students attend physical education class three days a week might be beneficial.

Another concern with block scheduling is the fitness level of the students coming into the program; in other words, how will prolonged class periods affect their perceptions of becoming fit? I would be concerned that those students who are least fit (and need physical education the most) might shy away from a block-scheduled physical education class if it is not required.

The final decision concerning block scheduling should be left up to local school boards in light of the overall objectives for local physical education programs. …

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Would Block Scheduling Benefit Physical Education Students in Secondary Schools?
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