Using Cross-Curricular Ideas to Infuse Paralympic Sport

By Tepfer, Amanda T. S.; Lieberman, Lauren J. | JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, April 2012 | Go to article overview

Using Cross-Curricular Ideas to Infuse Paralympic Sport


Tepfer, Amanda T. S., Lieberman, Lauren J., JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance


The following three articles complete this two-part feature. In the March issue, after an introduction by Feature Editor Ronald W. Davis, Karen P. DePauw gave a historical perspective of the Paralympic Games, and Joe Walsh and Mike Mushett described the organization of Paralympic sport in the United States. Next, Darlene Hunter profiled community programs, sport clubs, and clinics for adapted sports, and Mandy Goff looked at adapted sport programs for veterans. Then Rocco Aiello examined a recent government study and various state efforts to improve athletics for students with disabilities. Part one concluded with Bev Vaughn explaining the role of partnerships between several state high school interscholastic associations and the American Association of Adapted Sport Programs.--Ed.

The Paralympic Games are the second largest sport event in the world. They occur two weeks after the Olympic Games in the same geographic location and sport venues. The Paralympic Games are the equivalent of the Olympics for elite athletes with physical disabilities. These games differ from Special Olympics, which are governed by Special Olympics International and are for persons with intellectual disabilities (DePauw & Gavron, 2005). They also differ from the Deaflympics, which are governed by the United States of America Deaf Sports Federation.

Despite the longevity of this event, many Americans do not even know it exists. Information about the Paralympic Games, therefore, must be carefully and meaningfully shared with people of all ages. One way to do this is by infusing a Paralympic Games curriculum into an existing general physical education (GPE) curriculum. Doing so can be exciting, enlightening, and rewarding for everyone involved. The purpose of this article is to help construct a physical education unit with a Paralympic Games theme and to discuss ways to integrate various academic curricula in a creative way.

Cross-curricular learning--integrating several subject areas with the goal of enhancing learning in each subject--is not a new concept. It has the potential to enhance and enrich what students learn (Cone, Werner, Cone, & Woods, 1998). "Olympism" is an educational philosophy that seeks to integrate academic study, aesthetic education, moral education, and physical education (Lucas, 1981; Siedentop, Hastie, & van der Mars, 2004). These two concepts of cross-curricular learning and Olympism can be used to create a curriculum that promotes the Paralympic Games and disability sport. Such a curriculum has the potential to be rich in themes based on a variety of core academic classes and applicable to all grade levels (Davis, 2011). Introducing sports played in the Paralympics can add variety to a traditional sport unit, and physical educators can work closely with classroom teachers to develop lessons that delve into various topics that link to the Paralympic Games.

This article will give examples of integrated academic curricula using the Paralympics as the main theme and of how to pair Paralympic curriculum lessons with academic course content from subjects such as physical education, geography, mathematics, social studies, technology, art, psychology, public speaking, and more. These activities support national content standards three through six (National Association for Sport and Physical Education [NASPE], 2004).

Preparation and communication between colleagues is a must before this unit can take place. A meeting with specific core instructors should take place to establish a plan of action and to make decisions about the classes to be used, a time table, materials, who is responsible for instructional content, and length of implementation of each activity. Grading procedures should also be discussed and agreed upon (i.e., who will assign grades, criteria for graded assignment).

Cross-Curricular Learning Experiences

Cross-curricular activities do not necessarily have to take an entire class meeting. …

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