Taking the Dread Out of Phys Ed

Sue Shellenbarger:

For many middle school students, the words “Phys Ed” are enough to provoke fear–fear of getting dressed in the locker room, of wearing a nerdy uniform, of looking clumsy, of being picked last.
Tammy Brant, a gym teacher at Selma Middle School, in Selma, Ind., is rethinking the way schools have taught girls and boys about fitness. Instead of group calisthenics and contests that favor the most athletic kids, Ms. Brant, like many other teachers nationwide, devotes class time to fitness instruction and to games structured so that more kids can play and enjoy.
Instead of pushing everyone to hit specific performance targets, she urges them to progress toward individualized “fitness zones.” She teaches the stages of a workout–warm-up, training, cool-down–and straps a heart monitor on each child. The goal is to instill healthy habits for life.