Changes to physical education curriculum tests new program


Christy Ma

A digital sketch of a basketball with the universal symbol for change (a triangle) for the new gym curriculum changes. These new changes to the curriculum hope to create a more health-conscious group of students.

The physical education curriculum at Northwest High was changed during the 2019-2020 year to focus more on learning the balance between caloric intake and expenditure. This change was modeled after professor from University of North Carolina at Greensboro Ang Chen’s ideas, which has seen success in elementary and middle schools.

UNCG received a nationally recognized grant of $7 million to implement five years of this new curriculum at high schools in North Carolina–three years are guaranteed and two years will be signed off later on. The goal of this new program is to better educate students on health and to create lifelong, sustained activity.

Some changes include shifting the curriculum more towards a biology focus and implementing physical activity in the form of unique activities rather than traditional games, like basketball or flag football.

“We play games based on carbs and proteins and fats,” freshman Canyon Rackard said. “I like that we’re changing things up; one day, we had to run to the middle of the gym and grab certain items. Some were good and some were bad, and you had to steal and swap from other teams. We then have to fill out information in a workbook.”

The grading is still mainly based off of participation. Filling out the workbook counts towards their health grade, whereas participation in class counts towards their physical education grade.

“I don’t think these changes are effective,” Rackard said. “I don’t see (a lot of people) having fun, and I (feel like) I’m doing less exercise than if I was playing basketball or something else for the period.”

These changes have trickled down around North Carolina counties, and it includes schools in Guilford, Surrey and Randolph County.

“It helps with new equipment as they provided it to us,” physical education teacher Kevin Wallace said. “Plus, it has been shown to be good at schools it’s been (tested) at, with the transfer between (all the different) activities and stuff like that.”

The increased biology and science taught is hoped to help students be more health conscious.

“(It helps with) the overall understanding of how many calories they consume,” Wallace said. “Yesterday’s activity was how many calories are in an oreo. People don’t (always) understand how to balance out nutrition and play; while society has decreased the obesity rate, we still have (some ways) to go. This (new curriculum) is hoped to help this.”

While there may be some hesitation and slight kinks, issues will hopefully be sorted out in the future.

“(One of) our issues is that we have p.e. classes with 35 to 40 students in each class, and one small gym,” Wallace said. “We can have anywhere from 75 to 120 kids doing the activities. We’d have to adapt it to make it good, but this is still the first year.”