It’s not just a PE class, but a classroom full of possibilities
If you are thinking of observing the Fifth Annual Every Kid Healthy Week, you might do well to visit Mark Jungmann’s physical education class.
That’s because Jungmann, who teaches at West Elementary in North Polk Community School District, takes PE to a whole new level.
On one particular day, the gym was transformed into a camp site. Students worked in teams to complete the task of each station such as fishing, finding firewood, attacking wild animals, hiding food from a bear and a favorite…camping under the stars that included a parachute converted into a tent. The students were prompted by choreographed music when it was time to wrap up the task, reset for the station, and move to the next.
Physical education at West Elementary is based on the following formula: Cooperation + Problem Solving + Positive Communication = Team Work, which supports the 21st Century Learning Skills.
“The students were moving the entire class,” said Carrie Scheidel, Iowa Department of Education’s Team Nutrition Co-Director. “They were simply doing what kids do best, working together to solve problems, being supportive of each other and playing through movement.”
Student comments included, “Way to go, Izzy!” “We did it!,” and “This is the best day ever!”
Jungmann’s goal is to continue to grow professionally each year.
“Each year I try to one-up myself,” he said. “I am never satisfied and am always looking for ways to improve and empower the students.”
He stays connected with the Iowa Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance and has attended national conferences to stay abreast with emerging ideas and teaching techniques. Social media has been an avenue not only for him to learn from others across the country, but also for him to share his ideas with others. In addition, he welcomes student teachers and learning partnerships with the higher education.
"Mark Jungmann takes innovation to the next level in his classroom,” says Susie Bentley, professional learning and leadership consultant at Heartland Area Education Association. “Not only does he have off-the-charts creativity, he truly takes the experience of physical education, wellness and what's best for kids to amazing new heights. Mark uses his extensive understanding of best practice in teaching, data-based decision making, and knowledge of his students to make his classroom come alive.”
Jungmann recently received a grant from Action for Healthy Kids to support the initiatives not only in physical education, but the lunchroom as well. The grant provided funding for additional fitness equipment and a promotion of fruit and vegetable consumption during school meals.
There also will be a Family Fun Run during Every Kid Healthy Week, which will not be the first family fitness event at West Elementary.
“The family events are a way for families to be engaged in what students are learning in physical education which allows them to support their new skills,” Jungmann said. “In addition, parents can stay connected through social media. I want parents to see what physical education class is all about so they can take PE outside of the gym walls.”
Every Kid Healthy Week, which runs this year from April 24 through 28, is an annual observance shared by schools, families, volunteers and community organizations celebrated to mark their accomplishments in creating healthier school environments for students.
“It’s an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to improving school foods, nutrition education, physical activity, and physical education and the impact these programs have on student health and academic performance,” Scheidel said. “Events range from taste-testing healthy foods and planting school gardens to renovating school playgrounds and hosting family fitness nights, and much more.”
Schools can visit EveryKidHealthyWeek.org to find resources and learn how to host an event.