October 26, 2020

2nd Graders Are Able to Have Physical Education Classes Thanks to Professor of Health Sciences & Her Teacher Candidates

2nd Graders Are Able to Have Physical Education Classes Thanks to Professor of Health Sciences & Her Teacher CandidatesTwenty second graders from Chester County Family Academy, a local elementary school, would not have physical education this fall if it were not for Professor of Health Sciences Fran Cleland and her class of 34 West Chester University (WCU) teacher candidates who are studying to be health and physical education teachers. Conducted via Zoom every Wednesday from 10:30 – 10:50 a.m., Professor Cleland talks to the children about the lesson-of-the-day before dismissing them to one-on-one virtual breakout sessions with one or two of their 34 WCU teacher candidates. All of the lessons are based on the SHAPE America Physical Education National Standards and Grade-Level Outcomes. The children’s physical education classes cover everything from jumping rope to balancing to meditating to everything in between, including being kind to one another. Professor Cleland has even been able to provide each child with a bag of “work-out” equipment, including a soft-material ball, short-handed racquet, jump rope, playground ball, hula-hoop, and more.

The WCU teacher candidates are engaged in the community service-learning portion of Professor Cleland’s course, “Health and Physical Education 300: Curriculum & Instruction for Elementary Physical Education.” She has taught the course for more than 20 years, while providing a valuable resource to the Academy, which is housed in a business center that does not have space for a gymnasium. Typically, the Chester County Family Academy children are bused to the WCU campus, but with COVID prompting the Academy to go online, Professor Cleland pivoted, too, and moved her teacher candidates to the virtual world to make sure that the children received their regular physical education lessons.

Through classroom and hands-on teaching experiences, WCU’s HPE 300 class is providing Health & Physical Education Teacher Certification majors with the skills, knowledge, and attitudes to meet the various needs of a diverse population of students.

“Our West Chester University students are getting just as much out of the virtual sessions as the children,” says Professor Cleland. “I watch all of our students’ Zoom sessions with the second graders and I can see how engaged these soon-to-be teachers are with each child. I am quite proud of all of them.”

A well-respected leader in the field of health and physical education, Professor Cleland has conducted extensive research on K-12 physical education, and is the primary author of the textbook Developmental Physical Education for All Children – Theory Into Practice (2017, 5th edition). In addition to being named the 2020 SHAPE PA University Physical Education Teacher of the Year, Professor Cleland is also the recipient of WCU’s College of Health Sciences’ Dean’s Office of Community Engagement Award, which helped to support the children’s supplies for the community service-learning portion of the course.



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