WAMU 88.5 : Metro Connection

Filed Under:

Goodbye Dodgeball, Hello Wii Pilates: DCPS Revamps Phys. Ed.

Play associated audio
D.C. public schools are revamping their physical education programs.
D.C. public schools are revamping their physical education programs.

D.C. Public Schools began the new school year with more than 450 new teachers and dozens of new principals. Nearly 90,000 new textbooks have arrived, and a lot of talk is expected in the year ahead about students' scores in reading and math. But improving test scores isn't the only thing DCPS is focusing on. This year, they're also trying to improve the way they teach physical education.

The most basic change has to do with the types of games children play.

"Physical education of the past would involve elimination games, dodge ball, human target games and unless you're a person on the other end of the ball who's very successful in dodging and getting other people out, it's not really a game for anybody else," says Heather Holliday, who's in charge of physical education for DCPS. "And those games exclude the kids that really the class is for: overweight and obese."

So instead of dodgeball, for example, students are asked to compete against themselves. Each child has an individualized plan and goals. For instance, in running, they're trying to beat their previous scores. Students also have individual heart monitors or pedometers so they can track how they are doing.

Schools will still offer sports, such as volleyball and basketball, but teachers may modify games. So, for example, on a volleyball court teachers may use half the number of players so students are forced to move around a lot more.

Physical activity not only affects the body, but also how children do in school.

"Studies have shown obese children have less academic performance," says Dr. Yolandra Hancock. "Some researchers believe there's something in the system physiologically itself that's affecting the child's ability to learn."

DCPS is also focusing on nutrition education in health classes. Students now have to learn how to create a meal plan for themselves and their families. As Holliday points out, they learn how to advocate in their families for healthier choices, such as low-fat milk. Some schools also have a family activity night where they teach families how to cook a nutritious meal or exercise together.

"We teach skills like reading a food label, we teach refusal skills, we practice these things in class," says Holliday. "We can't just say these are the five steps in the decision making process and send you out into the world and expect you to be successful."

[Music: "Physical (Karaoke Version)" by Glee Cast from Physical (Karaoke Version) - Single]

WAMU 88.5

Anne Tyler: "A Spool Of Blue Thread" (Rebroadcast)

In her first live radio interview ever, Pulitzer Prize winning author Anne Tyler joins Diane to talk about her 20th novel, "A Spool of Blue Thread."


Fine Brine From Appalachia: The Fancy Mountain Salt That Chefs Prize

An artisanal salt producer is processing brine from ancient ocean deposits below West Virgina's mountains. The company, J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works, ships to top chefs who value the salt's minerality.

Downed Russian Warplane Highlights Regional Divide On Syria

Hugh Pope, director of communications and outreach at the International Crisis Group in Brussels, explains the growing divide between Turkey and Russia on their priorities inside Syria.

From Takeout To Breakups: Apps Can Deliver Anything, For A Price

Convenience is at an all-time premium — and a lot of smartphone apps promise to make many of the things we do every day easier. In a time-crunch or sheer laziness, how far will the apps take us?

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.