Pandemic Inspires PE Teacher to Get Creative
Meet Justin Novosel, Park View Elementary’s superhero PE Teacher in Pueblo, Colorado. When COVID-19 impacted in-person classes, Justin pivoted immediately to ensure his kids were still active and accountable at home. How? By becoming an online sensation (to his students, at least!) with easy–to–follow videos accessible to all students via YouTube. Justin used everyday household items to encourage kids to stay active without access to the gym and even provided suggestions for affordable equipment alternatives at the Dollar Store.
Hosting fun, interactive units kept kids engaged. For example, a Hop versus Jump unit taught kids how to make hopscotch out of paper or chalk and a hopping and jumping hurdle obstacle course made out of toilet paper rolls and couch cushions. Students, like Nathalia Federico, shared their photos and videos completing each unit, ensuring their participation in critical movement during the day. Nathalia was also one student who submitted her throwing assignment video to Justin in slow motion, highlighting that social media app functionality can be used to inspire kids creatively to be active. Justin also scouted the local community to provide free recreation spaces/areas for families to use together with accompanying videos called Recreation with Coach. Justin’s tip: “Make it fun for them. Last March we held an at-home field day where I posted 20 different items they could do in the house, like a take out the trash relay. Kids and parents loved that it created a sense of normalcy.” He adds, “Just make sure all units are adaptable, flexible, and maneuverable.”
Justin believes adding activity to the school day is important outside of just PE and recess. He has incorporated social emotional learning and interactive movement where kids perform activity as part of other curriculum lessons (i.e., jump if you get the answer right). Justin used his AFHK school grant to build an outdoor learning space to better accommodate physically-distanced learning and get kids comfortable outside by providing tables, shade structures for outdoor lessons, brain breaks, and rest. He also advocates for healthy eating by providing smoothies for school celebrations to teach kids about nutritious foods. Justin’s passion for the kids in his community extends outside the school. For example, Justin and school wellness team applied for a CDOT grant which they hope they will win to add new sidewalks and bike lanes to create a pedestrian corridor between the eastside middle school, library, Park View Elementary, and local park. Justin says the best way to get started making a difference at your school and in your community is to first talk to your principal about your ideas. He credits the Park View Principal Floyd Gallegos as his biggest advocate and supporter.
View AFHK resources to implement some of Justin’s ideas at your school!