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An activity must have an educational purpose , this is not recess
   Games don't teach skills
   Games reinforce skills and teach children how and when to use them
   Games should include a thorough unit
   Part of games can result in more learning than full scale ones
What skills are being reinforced
Safety considerations
Is the game enjoyable for all levels
Any eleimination activities
Any social skills that the game reinforces
Remember that certain games have alot in common
   Tennis , volleyball and badminton require ball striking skills
   Invasion games as b-ball , hockey and soccer all involve dribbling against a defender and an opponents dribble.
   Play small sided games(3 on 3)
   Students will get more time with the ball and less skilled students will understand what is required of them .
   In games with boundries make these very clear and penalize players for going out of bounds
   Set up boundries before the game and never use walls , sidewalks or trees as boundries
   STATIONS - allows students to do different activities or a single activity in parts for more practice time
   Eastyto observe and give feedback
   Easy to spot competent bystanders and horseplay
   Have few rules to get the game started
   Add  more rules later as the game goes along
   Master the skills before starting play
   Give plenty of practice and performance cues
   State corrections instead of what is wrong
   Effective demonstrations - avoid showing the wrong way first
   Show correct way then the errors to avoid
   Appropriate encouragement
   Always make appropriate boundries with cones or safety devices
   Never run to a wall or an object(stage , door , etc.)
   Keep ice packs handy along with bandaids , gauze and tape
   Br really great friends with the Nurse and Custodian
   Don't move entire groups into different formations when engaging in new activities that require basic commands.
   Always have your back to the wall for full class vision
   Use a stop and start device that the students recognize
   When in doubt have the class sit down during instructions- this keeps you at a high level of management
   Develop an effective class management model and post a limited number of rules on a bulletin board .
What are the benefits of gymnastics?
1. Gymnastics is an anaerobic sport.
Anaerobic means "without oxygen." Gymnasts tend to have middling levels of aerobic (with oxygen) capacity (13). However, gymnasts are among the strongest and most flexible of all athletes (27, 38). Gymnastics performances usually last under 90 seconds. The level of intensity of the activities is too high for long-term performance such as seen in endurance sport long duration events like the marathon.
2. Gymnasts are among the strongest, pound for pound, of all the Olympic athletes.

3. Gymnasts are among the most flexible of all athletes.
Gymnastics emphasizes flexibility due to the need for gymnasts to adopt certain specific positions in order to perform skills. The flexibility demands of gymnastics are probably the most significant and unique aspects of gymnastics that serves to separate gymnastics from most other sports
4. Gymnasts are very good at both static and dynamic balance.
5. Gymnasts learn early to fall without injuring themselves
6. Gymnasts are among the smallest and lightest of athletes
Gymnastics is somewhat unique in that it provides competitive opportunities for the smallest and lightest athletes. Many sports are clearly biased to prefer athletes who are tall and/or big. Sports that cater to smaller athletes usually involve weight classes which limit the number of small athletes who can participate (i.e., one per team) (76). Smallness is actually beneficial for gymnasts in performing better and avoiding injury .
7. Gymnastics is a reasonably safe sport.
Although there are numerous sources of information on injury in sport, the Consumer Product Safety Commission is one of the best. Table 1 shows the number of people visiting hospital emergency rooms in 1997 (56). Note that hunting injuries are not included. In some cases, injuries caused by using equipment are separated from the activity, such as swimming.
Not only do the gymnast [sic] acquire the ability to focus on an activity while blocking out what's going on around them,gymnasts learned valuable time-management skills that carried over into all her activities and school.
Gymnastics is a terrific sport for young people. Many people have grown up in and by gymnastics to become doctors, lawyers, teachers, business people, professors, police officers, nurses, scientists, and many others. Gymnastics provides an outstanding way for young people to test their mettle against themselves and others. Gymnastics can provide opportunities for physical development, character development, and education that are hard to find anywhere else.
Detailed Plan for a Teaching/Learning Session
Actual time of the day
Activity time, changing time, travelling to the venue time
Introduction: Beginning the Activity
Introduction in the classroom.
   How are you gong to prepare the children for the lesson?
   How will you share the purpose of the lesson?
   How are you gong to relate the lesson to previous experiences?
   What health related aspects will you focus on?
   How will you ensure all pupils are actively engaged in activity?
Warm up
   What are the activities?
   How does your warm up link into the rest of the lesson?
   What techniques/skill/quality focus will you emphasise?
Development: Keeping the Activity Going/Challenging Learning
   Is the activity appropriately challenging?
   What techniques are you focussing on?
   What are your expectations of standards and quality?
   Will planned activity levels be high?
   How do the skills, techniques, relate to future applications?
   How will you organise pupils?
   What opportunities are there fore intervention/feedback?
   What demonstrations will you use?
   How will your activities progress?
   Is there challenge .... quality ... ?
   How will you consolidate learning/are there opportunities for planning and evaluating?
   How will you ensure pupils maintain high standards/correct techniques?
   How will you organise equipment/resources?
   Are there opportunities for assessment?
Conclusion: Consolidating Learning
Warm down
   How will you ensure pupils' activity levels reduce smoothly?
   What opportunities are there for pupils to reflect on their learning?
   How will you ensure pupils revise the key aspects for their learning during the session?
   What aspects of their performance will you highlight for feedback/reaction?
   What are your expectations for future teaching?
   How will you organise?
Points to Remember
   What behaviours do you expect/need to emphasise?
   What safety aspect do you need to highlight?
   What safety checks do you need to make?
   How will the equipment/apparatus be used/placed?
   What routines/procedures do you need to emphasise?
   Where will you position yourself?
   What questions will you ask?
   How will you deal with the organisation points in the lesson?
   What incentives will you use?
   Is there any special provision you need to make for any individual(s)?
   What quality aspects of movement do you need to emphasise?
   How are you going to ensure pupils are prepared for the next event in their day?
   How do you ensure all pupils experience success?
   How will you reinforce the adoption of positive attitudes towards lifelong physically active lifestyles
Does Gymnastics Enhance Reading? Yes!
By Ralph R. Barrett
As a gymnastics professional, you probably have taken for granted the exceptional achievements your students experience in school. More than likely, as most of us have done, you realized that your gymnasts success in school is a result of their dedication, time management skills, organizational abilities, and other attributes which they have likely acquired through regular participation in your gymnastics program. No doubt, this is true. However, has it ever occurred to you that there is another factor, perhaps far greater in its influence, which predisposes your gymnasts to success in school, particularly in their ability to read effectively? As a professional educator with over 20 years experience in public schools, as well as the former owner of Brown's Gymnastics Osceola in Kissimmee, Florida, my recent research is continuing to validate the direct result that gymnastics-type instruction has in developing neurological pathways in students. This enables them to be more successful in school than pupils not involved in sensory motor developmental activities comparable to those you offer.
Background Information
Brain research over the past 50 years, particularly during the last 10 years, has demonstrated a direct mind-body connection. Of particular interest is the research by Dr. James Fadigan, who holds a dual doctorate in neuroscience and psychology. Especially noteworthy to those in the gymnastics community is the fact that Dr. Fadigan was a world class trampolinist in his day. During his numerous years of research, he has worked with stroke victims who have lost function of one of the hemispheres of their brain yet have reached 75-80% recovery in as little as one year's time. Fadigan has spent an immeasurable amount of time reviewing the research of such educational, neuroscience, and psychology gurus as Piaget, Gardner, Guilford, Gagne, and Bruner. In a nutshell, Fadigan's research revealed that the brain develops its ability to process information as such:
From conception to two years, various sensory motor skills are developed;
Thereafter, 26 identifiable cognitive skills (or multiple intelligences) are acquired; and,
After further enhancement of these two areas, content assimilation occurs.
The most interesting manifestation regarding this process is that most public and private schools teach exclusively at the third level. Furthermore, when students in schools exhibit problems with assimilating content, remediation is given in the form of additional content: generally either one-on-one tutoring or small group instruction. Thus, America's public education system does not adequately address the need to get to the root of the children's problems by providing sensory motor training. Albeit, millions of dollars are spent annually for occupation therapists, physical therapists, and other specialists who work sporadically with exceptional education students exhibiting underdeveloped sensory motor skills. Dr. Fadigan has developed and markets a highly successful program to address development of both sensory motor and cognitive skills. As a physical education instructor with limited funds, minimal facilities, and an exceedingly high student to teacher ratio, I utilized my vast gymnastics coaching experiences, as well as my public education teaching experiences, to develop a SMILE Lab (Sensory Motor Intensive Learning Environment) to enhance the sensory motor skills of the students at our school. The results have been excellent!
SMILE Lab Development and Implementation
When you started your gymnastics business, very likely you ran into financial challenges. As a physical education teacher, in order to develop new and innovative programs, monetary constraints are likewise a major obstacle. In order to purchase necessary materials to begin implementation of the SMILE Lab, I was fortunate enough to write two $500 grant proposals which were funded by the Osceola Education Foundation, as well as being granted an additional $1,000 from the Ross E. Jeffries Parent-Teacher Organization. Activity mats which help children develop such skills as cross laterality, visual acuity, and both dynamic and static balance were purchased. Over the past two years, the lab has been tweaked so that presently we can facilitate anywhere from one to 36 students at any given time.
The lab consists of a series of stations, each of which works on one or more motor skills. Students ranging in age from 3 to 18 have effectively used the lab. The concept is similar to many pre-school gymnastics programs across America, which emphasize movement, movement, movement. Safety is of utmost importance, as balance activities are done on either the floor or balance beams which are only a couple inches off the ground. Students receive training and guidance on the expected movement activity at each station. Nevertheless, as students master each station, they are encouraged to engage in "higher order activities." For example, in lieu of merely walking forward touching heel-to-toe on the balance beam, students walk backwards touching toe-to-heel with each step. Furthermore, with each step, students recite this simple poem as they perform the related movement: "Heel to toe, nice and slow; bend my knee and count to three; one, two, three." Even pre-schoolers can quickly master both this poem and its accompanying movements. For more specific information on the stations of the SMILE Lab, contact Ralph Barrett via Internet at
Validating Results
In the two years the SMILE Lab has been operating, numerous positive results are revealing a direct correlation between gymnastics related movement activities and enhanced reading scores. The initial research involved kindergarten and first grade classes from Ross E. Jeffries Elementary and another elementary school in St. Cloud, Florida. Students from Jeffries visited the SMILE Lab twice weekly for 12 weeks, while the students from the other school were not involved in special sensory motor activities. The research served as the main component of a doctoral dissertation, with positive results being generated by the Jeffries students. The Gates-McGinite Reading-Readiness Test was given prior to the beginning of the research project and after the project concluded. The test generated "statistically significant" increases in the reading-readiness levels of the students who regularly visited the sensory motor lab.
During the 1998/99 school year, we continued to monitor the progress of this particular group of students at Jeffries Elementary. When administered the SAT for reading and math, the group demonstrated higher average test scores than their classmates who did not regularly visit the SMILE Lab.
Graph 1 displays these results, as the first two columns show the average Normal Curve Equivalency (NCI) scores for the kindergarten students who were now first graders. For both reading and math, this group scored nearly 10% higher than comparable first graders from the school. Columns five and six reveal the average NCE for a selected group of "at-risk" students who regularly visited the SMILE Lab during the last semester of the 1998/99 school year, as opposed to columns seven and eight, which indicate the average NCE of comparable at-risk students who did not participate in special sensory motor activities. The last two columns on the right side of the graph disclose the test results of at-risk students who attended the school's annex in a rural setting, nearly 30 miles to the closest town.

Columns 1 & 2: First grade students who regularly attended the SMILE Lab as kindergarten students.

Columns 3 & 4: Combined averages reading and math scores for all first grade students in the study.

Columns 5 & 6: At-risk first grade students who attended SMILE Lab.

Columns 7 & 8: At-risk students not attending SMILE Lab.

Columns 9 & 10: Students attending school's "annex." Located nearly 30 miles from the school, the annex serves predominately low income students whose parents work on ranches or are migrant workers. No SMILE Lab was available to these students.
Perhaps the most dramatic results were revealed by Graph 2. This represents second grade students from the school who participated in the school's federally funded Title I lab. The initial two columns on the left show the average increase in Grade Level Equivalency on both a control group (which did not attend the SMILE Lab anytime during the research period) and an experimental group (which attended the sensory motor lab during the last portion of the research period). While the control group remained relatively static in their average GLE scores, the group attending both the Title lab and the SMILE Lab showed remarkable increases, jumping from the mid-twenties to an over 40 percent increase. This represents "accelerated" learning; i.e., improving at a rate of nearly two years during only a one year span.

Column 1: Combined average reading and math increases in Gradel Level Equivalency (GLE) from October 1, 1998 through January 1, 1999 of at-risk second graders, as determined by computer generated results established while attending the school's federally funded Title I Lab.

Column 2: Same as Column 1; resultas for students whou would later attend the SMILE Lab in addition to the Title I Lab.

Column 3: Scores of students from Column 1 who attended only the Title I Lab; calculated from January 1, 1999 to March 1, 1999.

Column 4: Scores of students from Column 2 who attended both the Title I Lab and the SMILE Lab; calculated from January 1, 1999 to March 1, 1999.
Graph 3 represents STAR reading test results from September until December, 1999. For the school, the best results were generated by second graders, and within the second grade the best results were generated by those students who had participated in the doctoral dissertation research one and one-half years previously.

STAR Reading Test Results, measuring average percentile scores.
The first five columns denote reading levels during September, 1999, while the last five columns demonstrate these levels as of December, 1999. The highest average levels were clearly demonstrated by second graders, especially those who attended the SMILE Lab regularly as kindergarden students, whose average approached the top quartile.
Practical Application
Barrett's research, as well as over 50 years of related studies, serves as the impetus to begin promoting gymnastics, especially at the pre-school level, as a proven means to enhance students reading scores (Not to mention the increase in self-confidence, muscular development, listening skills, and all the other characteristics attributed to successful pre-school, recreational, and competitive gymnastics programs). Indeed, Barrett was recently presented with the prestigious "Special Judges Award" from the Walt Disney Teacherrific Awards judging committee. SMILE Labs are now being duplicated in school districts throughout Central Florida. The lab can easily be implemented into a pre-school gymnastics program.
What About Your Gymnasts?
If possible, please take a little time to survey your current and former students to see how well they perform in school. If you send the results to Barrett via the Internet at, you will receive a copy of the compiled results. In addition to the positive impact gymnastics has on the physical development of children, as we continue to document the direct impact gymnastics has on learning, every gym owner will have another formidable marketing tool to promote the great sport to which you are committed. And isn't it always nice to have more students in your gym?
About The Author
Ralph Barrett has spent over 20 years teaching in public schools. Additionally, Barrett has over 20 years gymnastics coaching experience. With a master's degree in educational leadership, Barrett has been recognized for his ability to take educational theory and put it into practice. His SMILE Lab (Sensory Motor Intensive Learning Environment) was recently awarded the Walt Disney Teacheriffic Special Judges Award. The Lab is generating positive results in the areas of increased reading levels and math test scores of participants. The SMILE Lab incorporates best practices of gymnastics instructors.
This article appears in the May 2000 issue of Technique, Vol. 20, No. 4.