Unified Physical Education at Illing Middle School is a course designed to provide regular education students with a firm grasp on basic sports skills, and strong leadership skills an opportunity to work with students’ with special needs.
Students enrolled in Unified PE are paired with students with intellectual and/or physical disabilities that are of similar age and/or matched by sport skill ability. As a pair, students develop skills in various sports and finish each unit with a culminating activity. The program helps to build confidence and improve on important social skills, all while giving students a chance to create a new friendships and feelings of self-worth.
The most recent lesson taught in the unified physical education class had students working on hand eye coordination while striking objects with a handled implement. The skills the students learned can be applied in games such as tennis, badminton, table tennis, and softball/baseball. Through the use of safe equipment including foam paddles from S&S Worldwide, the students were able to engage in a modified game of table tennis as their culminating activity. During game play, the main rules of the game are modified but the skills used are highly encouraged to be implemented. The students start the game with a serve and then continue to hit the ball back and forth to their partner (allowing numerous bounces and hits per side). There is a student who is blind in the class and he is a full participant by using a ball with bells inside so that he can use his other senses to locate the ball and continue putting the ball in play. Simple modifications to equipment and rules is the easiest way to help all students have success and fun in class. See the video below of the students playing ping pong.
Author: Ms. Samantha Greco, Health and Physical Education Teacher & Unified Sports/Softball Coach at Illing Middle School in Manchester, CT 06040