Lesson Differentiation: PE Filter.
February 19, 2012 1:14 AM   Subscribe

How can I differentiate PE activities for young students when they're sick?

I'm in teacher training right now and one thing I've got to do for every lesson plan I turn in is list modifications I'll make to differentiate learning and accommodate the variety of needs of my students. I've decided to do a series of lessons on balance and flexibility with my upper elementary students for Health/PE class, and want to do a first lesson on basic yoga poses to demonstrate how stretching and proper warm-ups and cool-downs are essential to good physical form and health.

Since I don't have any students with physical impairments or recent injuries (no asthma either), the only thing I usually encounter with my kids on PE days is some kids being sick. I hate leaving them out to sit on the bench when I'm working with other students, so what can I have them do instead if they can't run or do the daily activity? Obviously if they're really not up to anything I'm not going to force them, but I don't want to leave them out either. How could I modify my lesson on super basic yoga to include those students who would normally just sit out during health/pe? When you were a kid, did your PE teachers ever have anything cool for you to do if you had to sit out during class?

I thought about maybe designating those kids as special "spotters" to help me monitor the other students' breathing and posture, but I already incorporated that into the main lesson because all my kids have a workout buddy who helps with that kind of stuff. I also have modified versions of all the main poses so students who aren't as flexible yet don't injure themselves trying to stretch into poses they aren't ready for. (Am not demonstrating anything crazy. Just Child's Pose, Tree Pose, Sun Salutations, Cobra, Triangle and Warrior Pose).
posted by These Birds of a Feather to Health & Fitness (8 answers total)
We always just sat on the bench. When we were older we sometimes did some homework whilst sitting there. To be honest, teacher thinking they were coming up with some 'cool' activity so that I could have been 'involved' would have pissed me off - I'd just got out of PE, which was my most hated part of school and thus an achievement in its own right. There is NO activity you could have come up with that would have been cool enough to compensate me for losing that achievement.
posted by koahiatamadl at 1:51 AM on February 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: One thing I should mention is that all of the kids in question are obsessed with PE and never want to miss it. That's why I'm inclined to go the extra mile here and really think the modifications section of my lesson plan through so it's as realistic as possible.

I guess my real question is, given the theme of yoga, what alternative activity could I have students do if they cant participate in the main lesson?
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 2:05 AM on February 19, 2012

Where I grew up, it was often scorching hot, so rather than go and bake in the sun during PE I would play chess or carroms, which was acceptable since it still qualified as a 'game' of some sort. Maybe have a couple chessboards for the kids to play if they like? I know chess is kind of considered a nerd thing, but it's fun and really enjoyed playing, for all I was complete rubbish at it.
posted by Tamanna at 2:16 AM on February 19, 2012

Best answer: Basic skills math teacher, 7 years experience here.

How about some sort of matching/memory game where the students identify the yoga poses?

Flash cards, with a picture of the pose on one side, and the name of it on the other. You could make this with a reference sheet of yoga poses, some scissors and tape, oaktag, and a photocopier that takes thick paper.

Or, reverse it with a poster of poses with the names obscured, and students draw the name and find the pose.

Or reverse it by getting some posable dolls. Students draw the name of a yoga pose, and then contort the doll into it.

The one with the dolls could also be done with a list of the poses that includes the names to make it easier.

I find that including something kids can project their feelings onto and then empathize with in my lessons always pays off huge.
posted by alphanerd at 6:03 AM on February 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Whenever I have taken a yoga class, the instructor always tells everyone to stay within their skill level. It is okay to sit the hard ones out.

I could encourage the ill children to participate, making it clear to them that you will not scold them for sitting quietly if they get tired. If they take advantage and start goofing around, then bench them.

On a side note, yoga can sometimes make people fart, which can be super embarrassing for children. You might want to address that up front, in a funny way, so that they don't feel like it's the end of the world when air breaks free. :)
posted by myselfasme at 7:36 AM on February 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

The nicer PE teachers let us sick kids just draw or play something like backgammon.

I'm thinking it would also be possible to have the sick ones, depending on how sick they are, do a few very basic balance exercises, like walking heel toe, single leg balance, or ball around back. See here for info.. Even for basic stuff though you would need to ensure there were spotters (or they would do it near a wall or bar for support if need be for the single leg balance), exercise mats, etc..
posted by gudrun at 11:40 AM on February 19, 2012

Response by poster: These are some great options. I work with 4th-5th graders and they would definitely be up for modeling the different poses with clay so that's what I'll have them do (if there are any who can't participate). The last time I did a mini-yoga lesson, though, everyone went bonkers over it so I'm optimistic that nobody's gonna risk getting sick for this.

And yes, I will be sure to mention the farting as I'm sure that will be a riot (even I can't stifle a laugh in response to a fart).

posted by These Birds of a Feather at 4:30 PM on February 19, 2012

Best answer: Here's a clip of Johnny Knoxville deliberately farting throughout a yoga class. For educational purposes that are relevant to your question, of course.
posted by alphanerd at 6:47 PM on February 19, 2012

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