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Body and Brain: St. Charles teachers bring Common Core to gym class

Published: Tuesday, May 13, 2014 11:35 p.m. CST • Updated: Wednesday, May 14, 2014 12:01 a.m. CST
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(Sandy Bressner – sbressner@shawmedia.com)
Anderson Elementary School kindergartner Mariah Heine races to drop a token in a hoop Monday morning as their teacher read the Dr. Seuss book, "Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now," as part of an "Engage Your Body, Engage Your Brain" initiated by four St. Charles School District 303 teachers.

ST. CHARLES – Four St. Charles School District 303 teachers this year shared a successful collaboration with hundreds of teachers statewide and nationwide.

The effort, called "Engage Your Body, Engage Your Brain," details various activities that can be done in physical education classes that incorporate Common Core Standards. Teachers Erin Sabyan, Michelle Poelsterl, Julie Misner and Christie Griffin are the teachers behind the work.

The teachers had an audience of about 300 fellow educators at the Illinois Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance state convention in November at Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles. In April, the group took the presentation to the 2014 American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance National Convention in St. Louis.

The teachers were thrilled to present in front of so many people and receive positive feedback. Their audience at the national conference included teachers from Kansas, Florida, Hawaii and other states.

Sabyan already gives many presentations as part of a national honor she received in 2011, but she said the "Engage" presentation was by far her favorite.

"We're showing that through positive collaboration and communication, we can provide the total educational experience for students," said Sabyan, a PE teacher at Anderson Elementary School.

Sabyan and Poelsterl, a reading specialist at Anderson, have worked together for seven years on cross-curricular activities. Griffin was a reading specialist at Anderson, but was transferred to Norton Creek Elementary as an instructional support coach. She joined the presentation group along with Julie Misner, a Norton Creek PE teacher.

The school district's teachers have incorporated Common Core Standards for a few years already, but now it is a bigger part of teacher evaluations and at the state level. Misner hoped the presentation showed teachers that they don't have to completely redo their lesson plans, but just dig deeper into the activities they already do to include Common Core Standards.

One of Misner's biggest successes was a physical activity journal her second-grade students completed. Each week, a different student took home a stuffed animal version of Norton the eagle, the school mascot. The students were required to write about the exercises they did with the eagle and presented them to the class Friday.

"There is a huge speaking and listening component to that, but we were also able to tie in the writing piece as well," Misner said.

At Anderson Elementary, the teachers use a relay for kindergartners and first-graders that incorporates the Dr. Seuss book "Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!" Students wait to hear the word "go," to proceed in the activity, so this activity focuses on the common core skills for speaking and listening.

Rebecca Seidling is one of several PE teachers who has embraced using Dr. Seuss books in class relays.

"I hope that more teachers take the learning done in the classroom and bring it into their gyms," said Seidling, who teaches at Davis, Anderson and Fox Ridge elementary schools. "It really benefits the students."

Sabyan said teachers in other states want the group can travel next year and give their presentation in person. Even though Sabyan recently got married and plans to move to Minnesota, she still wants to keep the group together.

"It was a very fun experience, and they are great people to work with," Sabyan said. "I look forward to doing more presentationns with them."

Know more

Four St. Charles School District 303 teachers created a presentation called "Engage Your Body, Engage Your Brain," that incorporates Common Core Standards into PE activities. To see a Powerpoint and documents from their presentation, visit: http://aahperd.confex.com/aahperd/2014/webprogram/Session57477.html.

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