PE Geeks – All Geeked Out at the National PE Institute

I just returned from attending the National PE Institute in Asheville, North Carolina. This conference was one of the best conferences that I have ever attended. Artie Kamiya is the founder of the conference and is a visionary in the world of health and physical education. I was lucky enough to share my experience here with two of my best friends, Jo Bailey and Patty Kestell. We all teach PE in Wisconsin.

PE Geeks – all geeked out at the National PE Institute

Networking – Face to Face

Before I get further into the details of the conference sessions, let me explain some of the amazing networking experiences I was able to have there (you can see my three main takeaways in this post.) I use Twitter as my PLN (Professional Learning Network) and have been able to network with so many smart, inspiring, and passionate PE teachers on the social platform. If you are new to twitter, you can reference this post by Erik Myer called Using twitter for Professional Development.

There are so many PE professionals on here, including my two best friends mentioned earlier, Jo and Patty (whom you have to follow if you’re not already! I’ve included a list of people mentioned throughout this post and their twitter names at the below at the bottom.)   I knew that so many of the people that I follow on Twitter would be attending this conference. This would be the first time that I was going to be able to meet face to face with these teachers, instead of using 140 characters to talk to them.

On Sunday, July 26th I arrived at the conference. As I walked into the hotel lobby, it was a who’s who of Twitter. Everywhere you turned you saw people’s faces light up because they were meeting each other in person for the first time. What was so great was the fact that we all knew each other so well, but had never had the chance to talk face to face. Every time the door to the hotel opened it was another one of our Twitter friends. The room was electric with each new person who walked through the front door. It felt like the Academy Awards. Everyone was cheering, taking pictures, and talking like old friends. My first night there was already an amazing night of smiling, happy faces.

This was special. To be with such an inspiring group of physical educators that share the same vision of teaching high quality physical education.

I was also able to finally meet Lynn Hefele, a PE teacher from Long Island, NY.  I had heard through Twitter that Lynn was doing a virtual pedometer tour of the United States and I wanted to be part of her school’s tour. I contacted Lynn and she invited me to be part of the project. Our students were going to walk to each others schools as part of their tour. It was so great to meet Lynn and to celebrate all of the things that our students got to do as part of their virtual pedometer tour. Is there an idea you have for a project or want to be part of one, but don’t know anyone to collaborate with? Well this network of physical educators on Twitter is here for you to explore and to find someone to partner with.

PE Geeks – all geeked out at the National PE Institute

Patty and I were planning on going to the Biltmore the day before the conference, as our luck would have it, we ran into some more Twitter friends in the lobby Lynn Burrows, Daniel Inman and Sarah Gietschier-Hartman. Here is a picture of us in front of the Biltmore. We had so much fun going on the tour and getting to know each other.

PE Geeks – all geeked out at the National PE Institute

These sunflowers were amazing!

PE Geeks – all geeked out at the National PE Institute

Picture from the left: me, Jo Bailey, Patty Kestell, Lynn Burrows and Lynn Hefele

The Conference

The five keynote speakers are the top “PE Geeks” from around the world! They were Andy Vasily from China, Nathan Horne from Singapore, Dr. Ash Casey from England, Jarrod Robinson from Australia, and Joey Feith from Canada.

All five keynoters were so warm and inviting when we met them, and their break out sessions were beyond my expectations. You can watch their keynotes on You Tube, here. I would highly recommend it.

Neila Steele from Nanjing International School in China was doing a session on mindfulness, which I was very interested in learning more about. Her session gave several ideas about not only including mindfulness in my life, but also introducing it to my students. The main idea that I took away from her session is the fact that you need to live in the moment and have balance in your life.  

PE Geeks – all geeked out at the National PE Institute

Picture: Left to right – Patty Kestell, Adam Llevo, Neila Steele, and me.

A big highlight for me from the conference was the “Ed Camp” that was hosted by The Physedagogy team. The Physedagogy team is comprised of the following physical educators: Collin Brooks, Sarah Gietschier-Hartman, Naomi Hartl, Adam Howell and Jonathan Jones. I had never attended an “Ed Camp” before and was so excited to attend my first one.

What is Ed Camp? Here is my abbreviated description: an Edcamp is a form of unconference designed specifically for teachers and their needs. What the Physedagogy team did was to provided dry erase boards for people to write down topics that they would be willing to present. After the topics were written down, each person who wrote down a topic had a couple of minutes to describe what they wanted to share in a “Pitch”. There were two sessions with a short break in between and everyone who wanted to attend the “Ed Camp” could choose what he or she wanted to learn about.

I could have attended all of the sessions as the topics were very interesting, but I had to choose, so my first sessions was about designing obstacle courses for your classes, hosted by Eddie Kovel from GA. Everyone in this session worked together to design our own obstacle course with the equipment that was in that room. We used chairs, mats, small cones, and even parallel bars. Then we all went through the course to experience what it would be like for our students. Everyone was cheering for each other and there were modifications that could be used (just like we would have modification choices for our students).

My second session was on using the app Keynote and was hosted by Nathan Horne. Nathan shared so many tips on how to use the tools that are available to you in Keynote. We had all marveled at the keynote presentation that Nathan had done using keynote. So much so he even shared with us how he used the tool to build it. I couldn’t wait to start using all of the tips that Nathan shared with me.

I’ll share a few:

  • Master slide – go to slide layout, add image then select choose and make this your background for all of your slides. Example a gymnasium floor.
  • Animate an object – select animate it, then select build order – build in to appear first
  • Instant alpha will let you make things transparent.

This conference was such a wonderful experience for myself and my friends I attended with. If you are a PE teacher, please hop on to Twitter and become part of our growing PLN. We hope to see you next year at the conference!

Join us on Twitter!

Artie Kamiya
Jo Bailey
@LovePhyEdPatty Kestell
@pk_lv2teachpeCollin Brooks

Sarah Gietschier-Hartman

Naomi Hartl

Adam Howell

Jonathan Jones

Neila Steele

Andy Vasily

Nathan Horne

Dr. Ash Casey

Jarrod Robinson

Matthew Pomeroy

Joey Feith

Eddie Kovel
[email protected]

About the Author: Crystal Gorwitz is a Physical Education/Health Education Teacher at Hortonville Middle School in Hortonville, Wisconsin.

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