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What virtual physical education classes look like in metro Detroit schools

Posted at 4:40 AM, Sep 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-17 06:23:19-04

(WXYZ) — Reading, writing and arithmetic are the basics of education, and as challenging as it may be, they can be taught online. The same can't be said for other subjects, which are more difficult to teach remotely. Perhaps none more than physical education.

But the COVID-19 pandemic has forced PE teachers to be innovative in how they get kids moving and reaching state benchmarks.

For the Braun family in Birmingham, being active is important. From swimming to skiing, this family is on the move.

Joslyn Braun, who is in 3rd grade, is trying to adapt to virtual learning and trying to stay active at home.

"We have scooters, we got bikes, we have a swing set," she said.

Her mom, Jennifer, feels physical education is falling short in the transition to virtual learning.

"That's probably one of the harder classes to do in the virtual environment. You miss that whole team aspect, working with the other kids, working with your teacher," Jennifer said.

Those are challenges schools across metro Detroit are trying to solve. And while they may be difficult, those challenges are not impossible.

Jennifer McClorey, who teaches physical education at MacArthur K-8 in Southfield, said you have to think out of the box.

She said teaching during the pandemic has forced her and other PE instructors to get creative, adapting gym class activity for home while still being held to state standards.

"I did a scavenger hunt with the kids in the house," she said. "Go skip to the kitchen and skip back."

That meets standard one for locomotion.

Then, she had the kids go find something blue and touch it, and then do ten jumping jacks. That meets standard three of getting the heart pumping.

The goal is to show the students the value of movement and having fun – which is standard five.

You also don't need expensive equipment.

"o they can make a sockball. They can practice throwing it up and catching it. Even the little kids, you know, they can start small and catch it," McClorey said.

Older kids can add a twist like clapping to make it a little more challenging. Is it working? McClorey said she heard from a coworker with a daughter in first grade.

"She texted me, 'Oh, my God. Dora said that was the best class ever!' And I was like OK, thumbs up, yeah!” she said.

Jennifer Braun says Joslyn's PE teacher is doing something similar, but their experience was different.

"They were constantly moving the equipment and trying to do jumping jacks and putting their laptop or their device down. So it was definitely challenging," she said.

Virtual PE, just like the rest of virtual learning, is a 100% replacement for in-person learning.

Doing it well clearly requires innovation. The same goes for music and art classes.

It can be done, but it requires both flexible and patience for everyone involved.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

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