Gym class is the one class that most high school students look forward to, so it is up to the gym teacher to make sure that each unit is fun and exciting. It's important to include different activities related to sports like baseball, basketball, and even swimming, with different phases included for each unit.

About Physical Education Activities for High School

Gym class should involve multiple sports over hte course of a year.
Gym class should involve multiple sports over hte course of a year.

Physical Education--a.k.a. gym class or PE--is the one class that most high school students look forward to. It is where they can kick back and just have a good time. It is only fun, however, if you choose activities that students will enjoy.

PE teachers, no pressure. You are the one in charge of making that block of time enjoyable for high school students.

Planning a Unit

PE teachers should plan their units in advance in order to create order in the gymnasium. A unit plan has up to six phases:

  1. Unit name is the content area for which the activity relates in terms of health and activity, the start and end date, and what purpose the unit serves.

  2. Objectives focus on what the students will get out of the unit in terms of psychomotor (i.e. throwing and catching a ball), cognitive (thought process) and affective (overall behavior).

  3. Scope and sequence provides a day-by-day scope of what students will do each day of the unit. For example, on day one, there will be introduction to the unit. On day five, students will play modified games and on day 10, they will play game and the teacher will conduct a final assessment.

  4. Assessment refers to how you will measure whether or not the students met the unit's objectives.

  5. Emergency lesson plans create a backup in case of inclement weather, lack of appropriate space, or any other external factor prevents you from going through with any given day.

  6. Materials requires that a teacher make of list of what will be needed for the unit (i.e. baseballs, baseball bats and gloves).

Students may be involved in different activities in PE than their peers, depending on the time of the year. For those who have gym class year-round, the number of activities is limited. For example, most high schools in Pennsylvania are on block scheduling, which means half of a ninth grade class will have PE from the beginning of school up until winter break, and the other half will have PE starting after winter break up until the end of school.

Warm-up

Before jumping into any activity, be sure that students warm-up to loosen their muscles and avoid injury. Have them run at least three laps around the gymnasium, split them into four or five lines (give or take a few depending on the class size), and perform warm-up exercises across the gymnasium (width). Skills like high kicks, heel-to-butt kicks, sideways lunges, high knees and spider crawls really wake up the muscles.

Indoor Activities

Indoor activities are the easiest to plan, especially if your school has a gymnasium that is used for this sole purpose, because you do not have to worry so much about the ever-changing weather. For high school students, the activity ideas are limitless.

Basketball is a great co-ed activity, with numerous games that breakdown the real game to focus on specific areas. Zone ball teaches students the fundamentals of zone defense using six hula hoops at each end of the court. Students must stand inside the hula hoop, chest passing the ball to one another; no dribbling is allowed. Another good basketball-related activity is basketball golf, where students learn various ranges to shoot the ball. Using index cards with the hole number written on them (hole one, hole two and so on), write a cue for shooting on the back, and tape each card to the floor. Working clockwise, each student must make a basket at hole one before moving on.

Aerobics and dance is another great indoor activity to get students working in groups and use their creativity to come up with a routine. All you need is a CD/tape player and anything the groups (three to five students) need. Give them up to three days to come up with a routine. They will perform the routine to the rest of the class, then ask their peers to join by teaching them the moves.

For girls, a great unit to incorporate is self-defense (boys could partake in an activity like wrestling during this unit). It not only helps with hand-eye coordination, but also offers balance, flexibility and strength techniques that can be incorporated into real-world experiences.

Dodge ball is and always will be a classic, just like Capture the Flag. Both activities promote teamwork, agility, quick thinking and hand-eye coordination.

Outdoor Activities

Track and field involves the most basic of athletic movements.
Track and field involves the most basic of athletic movements.

Four obvious activities come to mind when thinking of outdoor PE units, including tennis, soccer, baseball (for boys) and softball (for girls). Quick serve tennis is fast-paced and introduces the fundamentals of tennis, especially on the pace and placement of players. Switch soccer teaches students how to work the soccer field, but the objective is to play keep away as opposed to getting a goal. Once they get the concept down, focus them on kicking one soccer ball into another, then have them switch sides of the field. Track and field is the most basic outdoor activity in play. Students learn each event involved (high jump, javelin, shot-put, hurdles and sprints). Some PE teachers blend all of the events, while others specify an individual day for each event. Students are generally assessed not by how well they perform the event, but rather how hard they try and how many reps are attempted.

Aquatic Activities

Aquatics are a fun way to mix things up during the unit if you have easy access to a pool. Things as simple as swimming freestyle laps can be put into play, followed by timed lengths of the pool, then closing out with races. It is also good to incorporate instruction of each different stroke so students can learn the proper technique for each (breast, butterfly, back and freestyle). Games like water polo, water volleyball and water basketball are fun ways to incorporate dry land activities into the water. This is a great alternative to the dry land activity because there is less impact to the bodies and less of an opportunity for injuries to arise. CPR is a good three-day unit to incorporate into any aquatics session, but it can also serve as an emergency unit.