Making PE Learner-Centered

By Beverly Blackwell, MS, CSCS
Dean of Health, Wellness & Physical Education

At GPS, we have been developing a learner-centered environment across all subjects. This applies to our physical education classes, which includes middle school physical education, high school strength classes, and high school health classes. By implementing these effective practices, we can encourage engagement, comprehension of our subject matter, and overall success in these areas.
In our middle school PE classes, we utilize the learner-centered approach through physical activity and skill development. Each GPS girl possesses different fitness and skill levels, and we work on meeting the girls where they are and helping them to improve at their own pace. Depending on a student’s ability, we give them personalized instruction, provide them with specific skills to practice, and track their progress over time. We also strive to add new activities that the girls enjoy in order to get the students moving. Adding this “fun factor” strengthens the learning environment for our girls.
In our strength classes, this approach can be tailored to cater to individual fitness goals and levels of experience. Our athletes are taught self care and the importance of individual modifications. Our certified strength coaches work to help students understand when and how to modify workouts around their practice and game schedules. Our strength coaches also offer personalized guidance, corrections, and encouragement to students as they work toward their overall objectives. Whether a student is taking strength classes to enhance her athletic ability or overall fitness level, our coaches strive to give her the tools she needs to go out on her own and continue to develop her fitness workouts that best fit her needs.
In high school health classes, the learner-centered approach can serve as a way for students to actively explore a variety of health topics as well as to help promote wellness among students. Various units cover areas such as nutrition, mental health, relationships, substance abuse prevention, and CPR/first-aid skills. Students can engage with open class discussions and interactive group projects, as well as utilize guest speakers, community resources, and peer-led discussions. All of these approaches can further enhance the learning experience, providing diverse perspectives and real-world insights into health issues affecting adolescents today.
At GPS, our approach to PE, strength classes, and high school health classes allows us to enhance student learning outcomes by offering more hands-on experiences, personalized instruction, and opportunities for active learning. We want to continue to build a supportive environment to help our students to make informed choices, continue to gain healthy habits for life, and to flourish academically and physically.