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Tune In and Listen

September 18, 2017

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The first few weeks of PE always include a lot of discussion about form and mechanics. This looks different across all ages but one thing they all have in common is learning to listen to what their bodies are telling them. It starts in kindergarten, where the students are practicing kinesthetic sense. They practice moving through their environment while bringing awareness to what is going on around them. In the video below students are moving in the opposite direction of some of their peers and practicing paying attention to each other.



Once students have a grasp on how their bodies move in their environment we begin to discuss pacing. We talk about pacing in terms of levels or zones. Their first level starts out easy enough that they can sing while running (you can catch a glimpse of this below). The levels increase gradually and when they reach level five they are working hard enough that they only have the breath to get out a word or two. Each student has their own set of “levels” and it takes practicing getting to know what that feels like in their own body.



By the time students reach middle school they are learning about pushing limits and taking bigger risks. One way this is demonstrated is by our time in the forest. Some students choose to run the out and back loop. They are not only navigating kinesthetic challenges (roots, rocks, etc.) but they are also navigating pacing strategies. The students in the photo below recently ran 2.5 miles in the forest at sub 7 minute mile pace!


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I’m am looking forward to finding out the many other ways I see the students listening to their bodies this year.



Field Day 2017

May 26, 2017

Field Day was full of joy… and mud this year. Thank you to all of our fabulous volunteers who made the stations so much fun. This year’s theme was “Wacky” and the stations were: Plunger Highway, Dancing, Head to Stomach Water Pass, Cheetos Head, Panty Hose Bowling, Giant Racing/Battles, Obstacle Course and Water Ball. We finished the day with parents versus kids tug of war. Enjoy the photos!


May 10, 2017

We just wrapped up an eventful two and a half weeks of biking in PE. At Sabot we talk about risk as being one of the habits of mind. Bike weeks always afford plenty of opportunities for risk. We had five first grade students willing to take off their training wheels for the first time. Six years ago there were some other first graders willing to take this risk. Those are now the 8th grade students at Sabot who took a field trip and rode 11.5 miles on the Virginia Capital Trail. They were confident, happy, and definitely could have gone a lot further had time allowed. Our preschool and kindergarten students looked on while watching the duathlons (run-bike-run), absorbing the older students’ enthusiasm and sensing their feelings of accomplishment.

I spoke with each class after their duathlon. I thanked them for being willing to take a risk. It takes a lot of courage to start something when you know up front that it will be challenging and you don’t know exactly what the outcome will be. Students demonstrated that by taking the risk, they found themselves to be a lot stronger than they initially though. My hope for each of our students who participated in bike weeks is that they learned something about their own strengths that will translate beyond their physical endeavors and into their academics and friendships.

Running Together

March 2, 2017

Each year the running challenge starts with many of the younger students focused on their individual goal of completing their running log (running 26 miles over 10 weeks). Very quickly they start to notice that their peers are in the same pursuit. Some learn to put competitiveness aside to slow down and run a friend’s pace, while others learn to push themselves a little harder to keep up with a friend. Some shout encouragement across the field or give out high fives once they have finished their laps. This provides a strong foundation for a successful running community in the middle school. By 6th grade, the idea of running with peers is well established and students provide accountability for each other as they complete their miles.

Watching all of the different ways that the students support one another as they work to achieve their individual goals reminds me that although a single child’s name is written on the running log, there are many others who helped their accomplishment become a reality.





February 3, 2017

When I look back over the pictures from the first week of the running challenge I see joy. In some images it is more apparent than others and is clearly seen on the child’s face and in their body language. In other photos their faces and bodies are focused and deeply engaged in the movement of running. The joy is still there. I see it after they are done and realize they have gone further or faster than they thought they could. I see it when the tension they brought to class fades and they are completely engaged in the moment, in tune with their body and with nature. I am excited for the students to take on this challenge over the next 10 weeks.

Bad Weather Lends Itself to Good Teamwork

September 30, 2016

The first few days and weeks of school tend to be very warm and humid (and in this year’s case… wet!). In previous years I have felt a little frustrated by this and concerned that the students were not able to get as much exercise as they could on a day where the weather is cooler. Over time I have realized this time of year lends itself to something just as important as moving your body, it sets the stage for working with others as a team. Many of the activities we have done so far this year may be lighter on fitness but they are strong on building teamwork. The transferable life skill of working with others to reach a common goal is an added bonus to exercise and living a healthy lifestyle.


“Walk in with your best dance move and give your partner a high five”


Middle school students on a campus scavenger hunt


Third grade students working on strategies for a game called Giants Wizards and Elves


First grade students make a machine

We have also just dipped our feet into this year’s umbrella project theme of research. The kindergarten and first grade students are often interested in lifting my bags of equipment. One day they had a discussion about why it was easier to hold the bag from the bottom instead of with the handles.

The middle school students had a similar conversation later that day on our forest walk. “Why is my backpack so heavy but I can lift my sister?”. These questions are a good start into inquiry for understanding complex strength training principles. Stay tuned…


April 16, 2016

If I were to pick one word for bike week it would be resiliency. Whether it was taking off training wheels for the first time, learning to make a tight u-turn around a cone,  or pushing themselves during the duathlon, I consistently saw the students showing grit and determination. Watching their faces when something finally clicked and they mastered a skill is one of my favorite parts of being their teacher.

The second word that sums up bike week is fun. Students had a whole lot of fun over the past two weeks. Check out the photos below to see the students in action.

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Getting aero!

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A focused first grade student.

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Younger students sending the 8th graders off for the start of their duathlon.

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Kindergarten students came to cheer on their reading buddies.

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Middle school students take to the road.

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Working hard and still smiling.

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Relaxing with friends after working hard in the duathlon.

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Riding on two wheels for the first time feels good!


Focused going around the hula hoop.


Paying the “toll” on the blacktop highway.

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Resting in the sun after the duathlon.

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The garden room came to cheer on their friends in 3rd grade.

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Thank you to all of the parents who came out to support and cheer on the students.

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Starting the duathlon strong.