Friday, March 30, 2012

Coaching Philosophy

Coaching is a complex and demanding profession that involves far more than just training athletes to compete. It is about mentoring your athletes toward becoming successful athletes and successful human beings. Most of the notable coaches in today’s society are not only focused on their player’s success on the field, but also in the real-world. Coaches have such an impact on the lives of the athletes that they prepare, it is important that they display quality characteristics.  Coaches should go above and beyond and talk to their players one-on-one as much as possible. Finding out the most about them outside the sports will allow you to connect with them and gain their respect.  By showing them that you care about them as a person, and not just a player will lead to less discipline problems. If disciplinary measures must be set forth, it is important to enforce the rules fairly and consistently. I will provide my players with situations where they must make decisions. It is my job to analyze their results and provide feedback and try to assist them in learning from their past experiences so that in the future they might make the best decisions available to them. A successful team is a group of individuals driven by a common goal. In order to be an effective coach you must be true to yourself and your beliefs. Deemphasizing winning and emphasizing the journey will allow for the life lessons athletics can teach and the benefits of being a part of a team.
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Not on the Test

I came across a fun video on youtube that shines a light on some of the devastating problems that exist in today’s education. The song highlight’s the fact that schools are so pressured by budget cuts and meeting standards, that they lose focus of what really matters. All that they care about is students’ standardized test scores and how this reflects them and the teachers that are employed. While doing good on standardized tests is not bad, it should not be the only thing that is stressed. This over-emphasis on tests, and only tests, will cause a loss of student creativity and self-expression. Whether this be through music, art, or sports and physical education, it should not make a difference whether the experiences in these classes are not “on the test.” These are the first programs cut when schools are faced with harsh budget cuts. This not only eliminates so many beneficial aspects of education, but also causes teachers to stray from their own beliefs and strategies in order to meet outside demands. This could be very detrimental to the future education of today’s youth. This is why we, as teachers, need to advocate for our programs and garner an audience to make people listen.  A well-rounded educated person can not be made without the use of physical education, music, and the arts.
Visit Tom Chapin's website in order to act now.
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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hardcore Parkour

Parkour (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A very unique method of movement, parkour will be a very new and fun discipline that can be implemented into the physical education program. Parkour is a beneficial activity for kids of all ages and if taught correctly it can safely teach children how to further control their body and it’s movements. Because there is no defined movement, or specific rules or guidelines to traversing obstacles, every obstacle you face is going to be different so you are going to traverse each obstacle differently. You may have to vault, jump, leap, climb, or scale the object, but each time it will be different. So, if this were to be incorporated into a physical education program, it would be harder to assess. It would be similar to a gymnastics unit where students learn to safety roll and do different vaults while emphasizing having more control of their movements in situations that they can’t control. Little kids are always falling and getting hurt and learning how to control their movements can be very beneficial. Parkour requires an individual to develop their own styles using creativity and self expression, which is why it would be beneficial to have students create their own routines that could be assessed using a rubric. It is important to stress to students the difference between parkour and free running, which involves flipping and rotating, where Parkour does not because they are not efficient movements. I hope to see parkour in future physical education programs.
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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Build Our Kids' Success (BOKS)

It is no secret that many who view physical education from an outsider’s perspective view it as a joke. As a future physical educator it is my responsibility and duty to prove these people wrong and advocate for my future profession. I am pleased to have been introduced to the idea of Paul Zientarski’s ‘learning readiness’ as a solid foundation to support the importance of physical education. After researching on the computer, I found an interesting example of programs that are pushing this idea and who firmly believe in learning through the physical. One mother from Natick, Massachusetts, inspired by Dr. John Ratey’s book SPARK, established a before-school exercise program for students at a local elementary school. The program, called Build Our Kids’ Success (BOKS), has since expanded to 25 schools in the Boston area. Dr. Ratey laid out a compelling argument for the positive correlation between exercise, academic performance, and behavior issues. This particular mom garnered support from superintendents, physical education teachers, and fellow parents to create a non-profit corporation, which would later be sponsored by Reebok. Their goals are to promote the profound impact of physical activity on a child's mind, body and community. The premise of the program is Active Kids = Active Minds and therefore, it is important to have the kids moving in the morning before school starts or during the first few periods of the day because the effects of the physical activity are most impactful during this time. The curriculum can certainly be used in part during as a fun change to a PE curriculum or after the school day.
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Nutritional Myths

Skipping meals can help lose weight
Many people think that by skipping a meal, they eat less food and therefore it's effective in helping them lose weight. However they fail to recognize that our bodies do not operate this way. If we skip a meal, our body will think that we are in starvation mode and therefore slow down the metabolism to compensate. We then tend to overeat at the next meal. Often times, skipping a meal results in an increase in total caloric intake than if we just ate more frequently throughout the day. A better approach is to eat smaller frequent healthy meals to keep our blood sugar balanced.
 Avoiding carbohydrate to lose weight
Many low-carb diets actually do not provide sufficient carbohydrates to your body for daily maintenance. Therefore your body will begin to burn stored carbohydrates (glycogen) for energy. When your body starts burning glycogen, water is released. Therefore the drastic initial drop of weight at the beginning is mostly the water that you lose as a result of burning glycogen.  It doesn't matter if you eat a high or low carb diet, you will lose weight if you decrease your caloric intake to less than that is needed to maintain your weight.
Avoiding seafood to lower blood cholesterol
Cholesterol found in seafood and other meats has little effect on blood cholesterol in most people. Saturated fats and trans fatty acids are the most important factors that raise blood cholesterol, not dietary cholesterol! Saturated fats are found in some pre-packaged and processed foods containing shortening or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Trans fatty acids, on the other hand, are also found in packaged snack foods, deep-fried foods or firm margarine containing hydrogenated oil.
 Sugar Causes Diabetes
If you do not have diabetes, sugar intake will not cause diabetes. So far, a diet high in calories, being overweight, and an inactive lifestyle are the main risk factors for type 2 diabetes.
 All Fats are bad
The fact is we all need fats. Fats help nutrient absorption, nerve transmission and maintain cell membrane integrity just to name a few functions. The key is to replace bad fats (saturated fats and trans fats) with good fats (monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats) in our diet.
 Brown Sugar is better than White Sugar
The brown sugar sold at the stores is actually white granulated sugar with added molasses. Yes, brown sugar contains small amounts of minerals. But unless you eat a gigantic portion of brown sugar everyday, the mineral content difference between
brown sugar and white sugar is absolutely insignificant.  

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Peak into Student Teaching

Interview with Timothy Crockett, currently student teaching this Spring semester.
Q- Where were your two placements for student teaching and what was their socioeconomic status?
A- My first placement was Beverely J Martin Elementary School in Ithaca, New York. Here the school was an inner-city school with very diverse racial background and a high-needs school. My second placement where I currently am now is Marathon High School. Here it is predominantly Caucasian, but also a high-needs school.
Q- How did the different grade levels of your student teaching placements affect the way you instructed class?
A-The elementary students needed a lot more instruction with the skills involved in the various activities. In the high school it was a lot more game play and less instruction. It involved more feedback and managing the class. More time was spent on explaining the tasks with the elementary students.
Q- How useful is your Cortland Education in student teaching?
A-I feel that SUNY Cortland over prepares their students for the real world, which is not a bad thing because I will always be ready for any obstacle thrown at me. For example, one day I was restricted to utilizing half of the gymnasium and was to implement a lesson including all the students in half of the space. I was planning on teaching a lesson on volleyball, but instead improvised and created a lesson using my background knowledge from my activity courses at Cortland.
Q- How does your attitude now different from your attitude during first days of student teaching?
A-  At first I was very nervous, as most people are before student teaching, I did not feel I had the confidence to instruct 30 students at once. Now I am extremely confident in myself and teaching the students almost comes naturally. I find myself even enjoying my time spent at the schools.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Confidence is Key

This past week I started teaching for the entire class period in my EDU 355 class. I teach the sixth graders at Dryden Middle School. My first couple of weeks I was nervous as to what to expect and stressing over “winning” my host teacher over. What if she doesn’t like me, What if the students don’t take me seriously? were the thoughts that were running through my head. It is amazing to see how different my attitude is now than it was those first couple of weeks. I find myself actually excited when Tuesday and Thursday come around because I feel I have got such a better swing of things now that I have so much more confidence. My host teacher, Mrs. Bennett, is an excellent role model for my partner and me. She is an alumni of SUNY Cortland and is even in the hall of fame. She makes what I try really hard at doing seem so easy, which she tells me will come over time. This week my partner and me started teaching the very first day of badminton with a pre-assessment, as part of our curriculum project. There was virtually no teaching involved, just a collection of data on the different skills levels of the students’ various badminton hits. It was the very first time for most of the students to ever even pick up a badminton racket, so they were in the very early stages of developing the necessary skills. What my partner and I observed in our pre-assessment was the basis of our first lesson that was taught the following day. We taught the overhand and underhand clear using various hula-hoops and creative lesson activities that kept the students engaged. I was surprised to see so many of them enjoying it and how many questions they asked us about the sport. I really enjoyed this experience and will use the confidence that was gained in my future endeavors.


Inclusion in the classroom has been an ongoing issue in history. There is a big historical background of inclusion dating back to the Supreme Court case Brown vs. Board of Education, which made it apparent intellectually disabled students were discriminated against. John F. Kennedy made the issue of “mental retardation” known to the public during his presidency. Laws were soon passed to make inclusion in the classroom a fair thing to the intellectually disabled. These laws included the IDEA. Some important terms that are useful to know with the issue of inclusion are mainstreaming, IEP’s, and inclusion itself. There was a time when students with disabilities were not allowed in regular schools. There was no law in America saying that a student with intellectually disabilities had to be taught. In time, students with disabilities were only confined to a special classroom. People had thought that even just the presence of a child with a disability was a threat to a “normal child.” They would be confined to a special education classroom since others had thought they would be a detriment in general classrooms. Inclusion is viewed as a good thing to some since it allows the students to learn and be a part of their peers. A big argument in this is that separate is not equal. It allows the students with disabilities to gain communication skills with their fellow peers. It provides a sense of belonging and an appropriate modeling of social, behavioral, and academic skills. Some individuals do argue that inclusion is not a good thing. One thing people argue is that the students with the disabilities aren’t getting the right care they need inside a general classroom. I believe the need of the student should first be analyzed and considered before any decisions must be made.
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Stressed Out

A lot of people are always trying to get in shape and lose a few pounds, which they should, but why not add stress reduction to the list? Chronic stress not only causes mental strain, but also higher concentrations of stress hormones such as cortisol that are associated with increases in visceral fat. Part of that reason, unfortunately, may be because eating sweet and fatty foods is one of the preferred choices of Americans for managing chronic stress. Both visceral fat and stress are also linked to raising the risk of chronic disease. If you know how to properly deal with stress, you will be able to calm yourself down when you start to feel yourself getting upset. Deep breathing is an exercise that you can do behind closed doors or even open ones if you have no choice. No one has to know you're doing it and it will help you to calm down almost instantly. You take one deep breath in and hold it for four to five seconds. Then, let your breath out and hold it for another four or five seconds. You may want to take up yoga as another stress reduction method you can practice on a weekly basis. The practice of yoga involves stretching the body and forming different poses, while keeping breathing slow and controlled. The body becomes relaxed and energized at the same time. These stress reduction exercises will not only allow you to deal with the built-up stress that has already taken up residence in your mind and body, but they can also help prevent it from happening again. 
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Monday, March 19, 2012


When I was home for spring break I discovered my brothers obsessed with these new protein bars from isagenix called Islean Bars. I did some research and some interesting information on protein bars in general. Meal-replacement bars have gained popularity as a convenient way to assist in weight management. The health-food bar market reached $5 billion in 2010 and retail sales are predicted to increase 10 percent per year over the next five years. IsaLean Bars represent a convenient, high-protein meal replacement designed to meet weight management and nutrition goals.  Looking at the isagenix website, their Chief Science Officer states that, “the bars are high in whey protein, offer a balanced amount of fats and carbohydrates, and provide daily requirements of vitamins and minerals. The combination of carbohydrates doesn’t lead to elevated blood glucose levels.” The high-protein bars also provide multiple benefits because of their impact on satiety as well as muscle protein synthesis, which aid weight management and help to maintain or increase muscle mass with age. Unlike other bars in the marketplace, they contain a blend of açai fruit extract and wolfberry extract, which help consumers adapt to stresses of everyday life. They are also all-natural, containing no artificial flavors or colors. The products of Isagenix are marketed today in Asia, Australsia and North America. There are many health products available, but the two that are the most popular are the 9 Day Cleansing Program and the 30 Day Cleansing Program. The cleansing programs do not focus on weight loss, but rather on the detoxification of the body. The weight loss that occurs is simply a bonus side-effect. There are a variety of products in cleansing, rejuvity, nutrition, skin care, recipes for health, personal coaching programs and business starter packs.

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Friday, March 16, 2012

Brick 26

What is Brick 26?

It is a nonprofit organization that raises funds to aid and assist all Long Island Veterans with various needs, especially those Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. As part of its fundraising efforts, BRICK 26 is planning an August 4th 10K race in Eisenhower Park. Each participant will carry at least one brick as a symbolic weight for all that our soldiers have carried for us through their service. At the conclusion of the race, the bricks will be collected with a plan to build a monument to Veterans at a Long Island college.
As the sister of a Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps, who has done two tours in Iraq, I think this is an excellent way to not only bring the school community together to make a difference, but to encourage students to be active. My brother is responsible for going around to the several schools and collecting the money at an assembly where he presents to the students. One school in Long Island in particular, Sunrise Drive Elementary School in Sayville, has done great efforts in supporting the cause through their Project 26. To raise awareness among children for this worthy cause, Sunrise Drive’s Student Council asked the fellow students to bring in $0.26 each. The students found ways to fund their donations for this project by holding bake sales, recycling bottles and cans, digging in their couches, piggy banks, and earning money through chores. After collecting $916.82, the Sunrise Drive students presented their donation to my brother, Veteran Marine, Sgt. Jeffery Matassa. Sunrise Drive collected the most per student of all participating schools. As a result, the school’s name will appear both on one of the bricks being carried as well as on the back of the event t-shirt.
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On a scale of 1-10...

I recently read an article about publicly releasing teacher’s ratings for anyone to see.  When I think about the consequences of this action, there are negative and positive aspects that come to mind. For one, publicly releasing a teacher’s rating will allow the community to know if there hard-earned money is keeping poor-performing teachers with a job or rewarding those who are performing above and beyond. With that being said, it is questionable how exactly teachers are being rated. To put a major weight on standardized testing results to evaluate teachers can undermine advancements in the field of education. We presently live in a society where changing technologies require more diversified approaches to curriculum and assessment. To elevate teachers in such a way will be a step backwards because it will disengage and alienated students. Standardized test scores do not fully capture student learning, and measures of student growth do not represent many aspects of a teacher’s effectiveness. Some advocates argue that parents have a right to know if their child is in the class of a teacher who has been identified as ineffective. Similarly, parents might want to know if their child has been placed in the class of a particularly effective teacher. Teachers need to be treated as professionals, which means their privacy should be protected. Publicly releasing teachers’ evaluations with names attached has the potential to antagonize teachers and make them less willing to collaborate with districts and states in future reform efforts. Parents and the public have a right to know information about teachers, but teachers’ privacy needs to be protected.
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Friday, March 9, 2012

My Coaching Experience

Three years ago I coached a 5th and 6th grade soccer team in Cortland, NY for about 8 weeks.  During this experience I learned many things.  My coaching experience was both challenging and rewarding.  Volunteering my time to give these kids a physical activity to do after school was probably the most rewarding part.  Three days a week after school the kids would come dressed and ready to play some soccer.  Each practice I brought in a practice plan and worked on a variety of basic soccer skills with the players.  Throughout the eight weeks of coaching I noticed significant improvement in many of the kids.  This was very inspirational to me that these kids came to learn and listen and were excited to play.  It was a very rewarding experience for me to know that I had an impact on these kids.  We had games once a week and this was also learning experience for me.  Coaching this team was the first team of any sport I have ever coached so I had to learn on my own as the season went on how to coach.  It was challenging at first to figure out which kids played what position and making sure they all got equal playing time.  It was difficult sometimes because the kids would complain if they had to play a position that they didn't want to.  But most kids after playing a position they were not comfortable with, told me they ended up enjoying it regardless.  Overall I enjoyed my experience as a coach.  The kids I worked with were great kids and I would like to do some sort of coaching in the future.  

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

EUI: Exercising Under the Influenece

It’s no secret that drinking alcohol is detrimental to a person’s health, but from a fitness aspect there are several specific effects alcohol can have on an exercise-seeking person.
Hard workouts deplete the glycogen storage, which are carbs that are stored in the liver and muscle, and creates a state of refurbishing in the muscles cells.  Putting alcohol into your system as soon as you finish stalls the process of repairing muscle tissue. High levels of alcohol consumed takes the place of the carbs in your bodies storage, which leaves your energy storage still 50 percent lower than normal even eight hours later, when it should be repairing and replenishing itself. When your body consumes alcohol, it is already dealing with a surplus of calories. It then has to prioritize metabolizing the alcohol over burning fat and carbs. Alcohol also breaks down amino acids and stores them as fat. It also increases levels of cortisol, which is a stress hormone that encourages fat storage. Alcohol consumption also hinders your muscle recovery and performance by disrupting your sleep. In a study of 93 men and women, researchers found that alcohol decreased sleep duration and increased the amount of time awake especially in women, whose sleep time was decreased by more than 30 minutes. Disrupting the sleep cycle can reduce the human growth hormone production that builds muscle as much as 70 percent. Alcohol also irritates the stomach lining, which can reduce your capability to absorb nutrients. A more obvious affect is it’s influence on your bladder causing you to go more. Every gram of ethanol that is consumed, 10 milliliters, or two beers, of urine is released. As little as 2 percent dehydration hurts endurance performance.

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Friday, March 2, 2012

Teacher's Unions

Opponents of teachers’ unions argue that they take reform power away from administrators and parents as well as drain district resources Advocates of teacher unionization, however, believe empowering educators who are in the classroom strengthens student achievement by allowing for resources to be distributed in a more eective manner and to be used more eciently. A central purpose of any labor union is to maximize the well-being of its members. In order to accomplish this goal, teachers’ unions often advocate for higher wages, fewer hours and higher benefits for teachers. If these unions are successful in advocating for such changes, then districts might redistribute resources towards teacher pay and away from other areas. The union is necessary as a protection for teachers against the unruly power by administrators. In our school systems, just like in federal governments, we need checks and balances.School reform cannot possibly succeed when teachers, who are on the frontline, are left out of the decision-making process. Administrators cannot improve what happens in the classroom by humiliating and bossing around the teachers who are in daily contact with the children. Only in an environment of mutual respect can administrators and teachers produce the kind of partnership that will benefit students. Administrators must be willing to talk with and listen to the leaders chosen by teachers to represent them.

SPEAK out!

SPARK, which provides one of the world’s most-researched physical education program and a division of School Specialty, is continueing its mission on Capitol Hill in support of more physical and health education programs for students as part of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education’s SPEAK Out! Day being held March 29, 2012. As physical education programs shrink and our nation’s childhood obesity rates continue to rise, it is imperative that organizations that care about physical fitness in schools fight for every minute and every dollar. It is with this understanding that SPARK participates in this political event. The NASPE SPEAK Out! Day is focused on showing Congress how they can support physical and health education by allowing Title I and Title II funds to be used for physical and health education programs and professional development for teachers. According to NASPE Senior Manager of Government Relations Carly Braxton, “We are thrilled that members of the broad education community will join us to advocate for enhanced quality physical education in schools. It is everyone’s responsibility to make quality physical education and physical activity a reality in every school in America.” "Because physical education is not considered a ‘core’ subject under the law, it is marginalized in the funding and decision-making process,” said Paul Rosengard, Executive Director at SPARK. “The fact is that one-third of the children in this nation are overweight or obese and that statistic is one we cannot ignore. Meeting with members of Congress and bringing this issue to the forefront of our government is the first step in ensuring that we provide the best future for our youth."

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