Teacher of the Year Jennifer Coursey 2017

I have initiated a Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program and by doing this it is apparent throughout the school building that I am serving as a role model to the student body through my commitment and belief in the importance of health and fitness. The students are able to see my personal investment in health and fitness from fitness hotspots throughout the school to the incentives that I have developed for classroom teachers to increase physical activity and brain breaks throughout the day. My personal background also provides a role model for my students. As a high school athlete, I not only generated local press, I also earned a scholarship to college in more than one sport. Also advancing beyond college and into semi-professional basketball as a woman provides a positive role model to my students.

My commitment to a diverse assortment of physical activity opportunities for elementary students showcases my belief in the enjoyment of a healthy lifestyle. I have initiated opportunities outside of school for students to be involved in meet-up walks, soccer shots, karate and jazzercise at field day, basketball and other activities before the school day and a wide variety of movement opportunities within their classrooms. Students are also able to see my commitment to being sensitive to the needs of all students. This includes accommodations in both the classroom and field day for students with physical differences and my daily commitment to all students being active and engaged during class regardless of their current level of health and fitness. Students are taught and urged to use conflict resolution skills to solve situations with peers during gaming or activity. Sportsmanship is taught on the daily basis as students engage in a lesson and interact.

I have also organized several exercise, fitness, and weight competitions/programs for teachers and school staff. These events encourage teachers and staff to become healthier and we allow students to be involved and cheer and route for their teachers. Students are able to see that fitness and health is a lifestyle and is something they should commit to for a lifetime.
List and briefly describe how you utilize various teaching methodologies and plan innovative learning experiences:

My teaching method is child-centered teaching. In this methodology, I regularly utilize Games For Understanding, and Inquiry Based Learning teaching strategies.

Teaching Games for Understanding scaffolds skills from simple forms into games and then into more complex games or sports based on standards and outcomes. This allows all students to find purpose in the initial activities and to be able to identify where their current skill level falls and how to advance. The students gain background knowledge, skill understanding, and strategies that can be applied at different levels and often between contents. This approach also allows students to appreciate the pursuit of their own physical literacy. The skills they are learning will give them the fundamental movement skills to pursue a healthy lifestyle regardless if they engage in a specific sport over their lifetime.

Inquiry Based Learning gives students a little more freedom with some activities to come up with the ‘how’ and ‘why’. This is still based on standards and outcomes but gives students more input.

I plan innovative learning experiences through the purposeful use of technology. Technology can enhance lessons, differentiate instruction, and keep students motivated. I have implemented iDoceo as a gradebook, Plickers and Google forms for assessment, iPad use for skill development and fitness, qr codes, video hooks at the start of lessons to foster engagement and model skills, alternative methods for striking moving objects, and the use of the green screen for students to create brain boosts (breaks) that were recorded and distributed to the entire school.

I also keep lessons, content and activities relevant by conducting lessons surrounding current events such as the Olympics or the NCAA basketball tournament. I have also created lessons, activities, or brain breaks around popular kids gaming apps such as Pokemon, Angry Birds, and Fruit Ninja. I have taken Pokémon and created a moving target Powerpoint that I have shared through Twitter with my PLN and with district Physical Education staff.

I begin the year with units, lessons, and activities that will create a basis for upcoming learning. All of the learning is standards based and the sequence is developed using Delaware Physical Education Standards, Delaware’s Scope and Sequence, and SHAPE America standards. Starting the year with routines, expectations, and cooperative learning promotes a safe and comfortable environment where students are familiar with the structure and at ease with classmates. Students will continue throughout the year to learn and be aware of their social responsibilities through teamwork, sportsmanship, competition, and conflict resolution. Once the learning environment is established then I unpack the standards to address movement and skills. Students work on fundamental movements and skills they can build on throughout the year. Students will work on skill development followed by an activity that allows them to apply the skill and then to a sport or game that involves the skill. When unpacking standards to create lessons I like to put the manipulative and movement skills together to support a unit ending with a complex game or sport. Usually this is done according to season in order for students to get the opportunity to use the skills in their own pursuit of physical activity outside of school or to allow them to actively be engaged while watching or discussing any sports in that season. Fitness activities are used as instant activities and fitness units are conducted between skill and game/sport units. Fitness education is continuously happening as students are working on skill, sport, or fitness. All classes build on previous learning experiences. Recreational and leisure games are also taught during the year in order to prepare students for life outside of school and traditional sports. Students’ quest for enhancing their personal level of physical fitness is ongoing and is visited routinely by setting goals and self assessment. Students are assessed based on standards and grade level expectations. Students are also polled at the beginning of the year regarding personal physical activity interests. This information is used when planning to ensure student interest is met.

I have demonstrated an ongoing commitment to professional growth. In 2010, I completed a graduate certificate in School Leadership after completing my Master’s Degree in the early 2000s. I have continued my graduate education and completed an Applied Technology certificate program in 2016. I attended the National Physical Education Institute in Asheville, North Carolina over a week in the summer of 2015. I also attend the Safe Routes to School and Bike Rodeo training in 2015.

I continue to advance my professional growth through Physical Education based podcasts, webinars, the Physed Summit Online Conference, and as a PEGeek Elite Member. I also utilize my involvement in PE twitter chats, #delachat chat, the Colonial Tech Conference, my Professional Learning Network (PLN), the Voxer community, the EdCamp Leadership Delaware Conference to advance my professional growth. Through my extensive online presence I have accumulated a bank of digital resources.

I have also taken my professional growth and shared this with other educators by conducting professional developments. I have conducted district and building professional development on: technology resources (Plickers and Twitter), Voxer, and iPad applications (including iDoceo which is an online grade book that allows you to develop and share digital portfolios with families and includes PE standards). I have also conducted professional development on utilizing Kagan teaching strategies for exploratory teachers.

I believe creating and sharing is a very important part of professional growth. The Pokémon moving target lesson has been shared nationally through my Twitter PLN. I also took an IPad application designed for Elementary Education away from the National PE Institute and its presenters and shared with the Colonial PE teachers. This application has been adopted by the majority of elementary teachers in my district.

The Delaware Physical Education Grade Cluster Expectations supplies me with a foundation for assessment. This guide informs me on what students will be able to do and what that evidence should look like. This does allow for different types of assessment and ways to assess growth and skill development. The Delaware State PE Standards and grade clusters expectations fit within the National Standards and Shape America’s Grade Level Outcomes. By using both Delaware and Shape America to guide assessment I am able to know where my focus should lie. I use a differentiated assessment approach in my classroom. Assessment and evidence may range from written exit tickets and observation checklist to Google Forms and Plickers. Students also have the ability to show what they have learned through short projects such as game creation or exercise routine development specific to a fitness component. By a variety of assessments methods I am able to gain a complete view of all students.

I am a DAHPERD member and attend the DAHPERD Conference annually. I have expressed interest to my curriculum director in Colonial School District regarding my interest in becoming a bigger part of the organization. I am part of AAHERD, SHAPE America’s online community as a Professional member and utilized the resources in the Teacher’s Toolbox. I have also promoted SHAPE’S 50 Million Strong Campaign by promoting the hashtag and pushing for more physical activity in the classroom. A representative from SHAPE America contacted me personally to request my classroom and school pictures to be shared with SHAPE America’s organization. I display posters with SHAPE’S standards in the gym. I have also implemented SHAPE’S activities throughout my school during National PE and Sport Week. I have established a committee and started a Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program using the CDC and SHAPE America framework.

The significant achievements that I have had as a Physical Education teacher are the ones that bring innovation to the classroom and that get students engaged with their own health and fitness.

The development of the Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program at Kathleen H. Wilbur Elementary is one of my significant achievements. The implementation of a school-wide meetup outside of school hours and in the community with the participation of almost 200 of Wilbur’s students and families is another of my significant achievements.
The opportunity for students to exercise over the morning announcements and the opportunity to arrive to school early and participate in physical activities resulting in a gym full of kids on various mornings is another significant achievement.
The successful collaboration of school and community members for field day with 1200 Wilbur students was a significant achievement. This was also enhanced by the job application and interviewed process completed by fifth graders to run field day stations. The response and feedback was fantastic.
Building a personal learning network (PLN) of hundreds of Physical Education teachers to collaborate and share ideas with is another significant achievement. This collaboration has given me new inspiration and further pushed my drive to learn. Through this PLN I have become a member of Physed Map and have the ability to learn from and connect with physical educators worldwide. Twitter, @CourseyJen, and Voxer have also supplied me with a new and valuable professional development experience.

Another significant accomplishment was the Google Hangout between my kindergarten students and another Delaware physical education class.

My most significant achievements are bringing a new face to our program. The Wilbur staff and students have actively used the Twitter hashtag #wilburactive to show off the physical activity going on with students and staff.

The recognition of being nominated for Teacher of the Year is also a significant achievement in my career.

I have an active record of community service involvement. I enjoy providing support to students with special needs. I have participated in the Polar Bear Plunge, and coached children in their preparation for Special Olympics. I have donated preemie and baby clothes to the neonatal intensive care unit of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, Pa. I am additionally in the process of becoming a mentor for families with babies in the unit. I have also donated new and used child items to Child Watch Delaware in preparation of the holiday season. I have also been involved with the United Way and have participated in charity runs/walks for both children with special needs and at-risk children. I have coached for community basketball programs in New Castle County Delaware. I was a mentor for newborn nurses in the division providing support to at-risk students. I was also a mentor for SODAT Delaware Inc where I supported individuals with drug and alcohol addictions. I have volunteered as a basketball summer camp counselor, and I sit on the Delaware Basketball Hall of Fame Committee. With my background in elementary education, I have provided academic support to students and donated used books to classrooms and students in need. I have also invest time in building school and community partnerships by generating community involvement in field day and community involvement in school sponsored activities outside of school time. In the community at large, I have also volunteered my time to a senate campaign, Christina River cleanup, and the Nanticoke Indian Powwow as a volunteer worker.