El Paso ISD P.E. Coaches try out New, Innovative Games for Elementary Schools

Physical education teachers became students last Friday as around 200 of them gathered at Jefferson High School to learn new and innovative games designed to keep elementary kids engaged in learning as they move and get exercise.

The full-day training was part of EPISD’s efforts to improve the sports and physical-education offerings available to elementary-school students.

Coaches learned how to play “9 Square in the Air” and “Aim 4 Pie” – two activities designed to keep students moving and having fun.

“Nine Square in the Air combines the traditional four square on the ground with volleyball, so it’s a ton of fun. You’re defending your square, but it’s over your head instead of on the ground,” game designer Steve Otey said. “Today we are doing a teacher demo so they can implement the game at EPISD schools. It’s a good, fun activity for the kids to play and stay active.”

Coaches took turns learning how to play different games using the equipment, as well learning how to set it up and break it down. Wiggs Middle School coach Araceli Monarez is looking forward to adding the game into her existing curriculum.

“I like that you get to have more people in there instead of just four and that anyone can play it,” Monarez said. “You don’t have to be athletic and you can modify it to accommodate any student.”

Nine Square in the Air will be available for all secondary EPISD campuses for implementation. Elementary students won’t get to play 9 Square in the Air, but they will get to try their hand at Aim 4 Pie – a game combining, physical activity with literacy.

Students work in teams to spell out words, finding individual letters on plastic balls strewn across the floor. Once they spell out the word, the balls are tossed into a center target, which continuously rolls the balls back to the floor.

“These words can come directly from the classroom, such as sight words, science vocabulary or even math,” Aim 4 Pie creator Carol Cranford said. “I wanted a way to help the teachers reinforce what is going on in the classroom.”

Every time students complete a word, they receive a “slice of pie” to keep track of the score.

“This game is fun and educational. It works across the curriculum, so we can even implement our dual language words and language arts,” EPISD coordinator Danny Paniagua said. “With this activity we can work with the class teacher. If students have a spelling test at the end of the week, we can use the spelling words in conjunction with the game and reinforce that vocabulary for them.”

Coldwell Elementary School coach Art Dominguez enjoyed learning different ways to use the game in his physical education classes.

“It’s great learning about new games we can apply at our schools,” Dominguez said. “This game is great because they are practicing their spelling, as well as learning to work together as a group. The kids are going to take to it because they all have a chance to participate. I can’t wait to get it at Coldwell.”