DPA - Hassle or Helping Hand?
With the Ministry of Education requiring teachers to cover more and more criteria throughout the school year, it is seemingly becoming more difficult to fit all the required content into the same amount of school days between September and June. As a Teacher Candidate at Brock University, it is a growing personal concern that it will be very difficult to cover all the curriculum expectations set out by the Ministry of Education; nonetheless, that is one of our many responsibilities as teachers in Ontario. But is it a necessity to cover all expectations? Which expectations should we emphasize?
I personally believe that it is nearly impossible to meet all Ministry expectations; however, one initiative that can assist in the overall learning process is the push to include DPA. What is DPA? DPA introduces students [and teachers] to Daily Physical Activity. The Revised 2010 Interim Health and Physical Education Curriculum expectations define DPA as, “participation in sustained moderate to vigorous physical activity, with appropriate warm-up and cool-down activities, to the best of their ability for a minimum of twenty minutes each day [during instructional time]” (Publication Ontario, 2010). To some, this may not seem like an efficient use of time in a classroom environment. What type of learning is happening here? Where is the assessment? I firmly believe that the intrinsic reward of a healthy lifestyle will reflect in out student’s attitudes toward school and performance in the classroom. I disagree with people who believe that DPA is a “waste of time” or “not important”. I believe there are several benefits to introducing [and maintaining] DPA in our classrooms today, but all of these benefits stem from one main focus: keeping our students healthy. In 1984 the World Health Organization best described health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease of infirmity” (Publication Ontario, p.8, 2010). My personal belief is that this can still hold true today. Delivering DPA can primarily aim to build students physical well-being. Being regularly active can strengthen a student’s ability to be physical literate and understand the benefits of physical activity. In a safe classroom setting, Daily Physical Activity can create a community of physically literate and educationally active learners. Integration of DPA has become a new requirement for the Health and Physical Education program and it can be integrated with several other integrated subjects. It also has proven to show an increase in student’s mental well-being. An article summary posted on the Ontario’s Teacher’s Blog listed a few interesting quotes about facts [and some beliefs] discovered surrounding DPA and its effects in the classroom. Here’s the link - http://ontarioteachers.wordpress.com/2010/01/17/the-importance-of-daily-... If something as simple as a few minutes of rigorous activity can benefit student learning, then why wouldn’t teachers introduce this. Having only completed one practice teaching block with Brock University, I have quickly learned that the hours, minutes, and seconds of the school day fly by and you rarely know where the time has gone. Where are we to fit these 20 ‘required’ minutes into our already busy day? I do not have any answers based on research nor do I have all of the answers based on observation. However, I personally feel that the earlier DPA is introduced in the school day the more beneficial it will be. Why not have children energized and ready to start the school day. This would be my “Step 1” of my own philosophy regarding Daily Physical Activity. “Step 2” might direct my attention to how often we should partake in DPA. Any idealist would probably say every day of the school week. As wonderful as that sounds, this is also difficult attain with so many other criteria that need to be met throughout the week. I would hope to try and have at least three days where students would be able to partake in Daily Physical Activity (outside of Physical Education classes). Perhaps if we want to maintain healthy bodies and healthy minds we could stagger DPA in between school days where Physical Education is not taking place. This is just a personal suggestion. “Step 3” in my quest for implementing DPA is that teachers must be role models for our students. If our students understand why we should participate in DPA (and see it demonstrated whole-heartedly) then they may take it upon themselves to become lifelong active learners; learning is the most crucial part. We (as training teachers) must realise that we will be learning as we go for the rest of our career [and probably longer]. For those of us who feel uncomfortable in this domain there are thousands of resources out there to assist us in implementing these types of activities. With all subject matter, we just need to take the time to find the information and materials that we best know how to use in our classroom. Ontario’s Physical and Health Education Association (OPHEA) is a great starting point for any resources that one might need in this field. So is DPA a hassle or a helping hand? It is my firm belief that if we keep students active in our classrooms and in our schools we can guide them in the right direction to becoming healthy bodies in our classrooms, healthy minds in our learning, and healthy souls in our educational environment.