Project Fizz Ed: We Build Up - We Don't Tear Down

Article excerpt

The public school priorities of the 1990s have nudged physical education even closer to the back burner of education, leaving many physical education departments understaffed and operating in overcrowded environments with inadequate equipment. Physical educators frustrated with their working conditions often compromise their efforts to promote student education, adopting instead the stereotypical approach of simply "rolling out the ball" and supervising a modified recess.

The physical education department at Sheffield Middle/High School in Sheffield, Pennsylvania is no different from any other public school. However, its staff has developed a program to effectively deal with the understaffed and overcrowded conditions, while enhancing the education of each individual student. The program, known as Project Fizz Ed, was developed out of necessity in the fall of 1993 when an entire eighth grade, numbering 78 students, was scheduled for one 40-minute class a day, five days a week, for a two-week-on, one-week-off cycle.

The staff at Sheffield refused to resort to the roll-out-the-ball approach, opting instead to establish and meet educationally sound goals. The goals for Project Fizz Ed were (1) to enhance the self-esteem of each student, (2) to improve the efficacy of each student, (3) to allow students to enjoy friendly competition and develop good sportsmanship, (4) to promote cooperation within a group for the attainment of a common goal, (5) to encourage students to accept and be accountable for their own actions and behaviors, (6) to allow each student to recognize essential skills for leadership, (7) to improve students' overall skill development in sport activities, and (8) simply to have fun.

The philosophy of Project Fizz Ed is one of building up, not tearing down, a student's self-esteem, through participation or performance in class activities. It is essential that students be convinced to adopt this concept. Negative statements, such as "That was yours," "You're terrible," or "Oh no...Johnny is up!" are prohibited. Students in general crave positive reinforcement, be it from an instructor or from a peer; therefore, class discussion prior to, during, and at the end of daily physical education activities is a key component in reinforcing the "we build up - we don't tear down" philosophy. Students are bombarded with examples of encouraging statements to use in class, such as "good serve," "nice try," and "Hey, we'll get it next time." They are also encouraged to help one another improve skills for various class activities.

Getting Ready for Fizz Ed

Before the program begins, the class should be divided into teams - in our case, six teams of 13 individuals. Instructors must attempt to keep teams even in terms of race, gender, and skill abilities. The instructor appoints a team leader. The teams are then told to choose an additional leader and a team T-shirt color. The purpose of the team T-shirt color is threefold: (1) to eliminate scrimmage vests during activity or competitions, (2) to promote team identity, and (3) to encourage group loyalty.

The objectives, goals, and rewards are explained to the class once teams have been created. The carrot, or incentive, for the students is the promise that a pizza party will be held for the team that obtains the most points for participation and competition throughout the school year. This carrot alone promotes cooperative efforts within each team. There are other external rewards, such as gum and/or certificates, for the most improved, most enthusiastic, and most cooperative teams. These rewards also seem to lead to internal feelings of satisfaction among most students. Students who normally criticize skill practice and lead-up activities can be seen attempting to achieve the tasks at hand, and once they have succeeded, they can be seen aiding fellow teammates. Both peer coaches and students being coached exhibit body language and expressions indicating satisfaction. …