What is your play personality?

At the end of November, Andy Milne and Justin Schleider organized the #slowchatgiftx, a holiday gift exchange for health and physical educators in the US. Approximately 30 teachers signed up and agreed to send a surprise gift (with a $20 limit) to another educator. I received the book, Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul by Dr. Stuart Brown, from Terri Drain.

According to Brown, “people have a dominant mode of play that falls into one of eight types,” which he calls play personalities. No one is a perfect example of a single play personality type. Most of us are a mix of them. At different times and in different situations, people might find themselves playing in a mode that is different than their dominant type” (Brown 65).

While I read the section about play personalities, my mind was racing. I started to identify my own play personality and realized it had changed since I was younger. I tried to guess which personalities best fit my friends. I wondered how they could be used in my middle school physical education classes to help me develop a culture of play (my big focus this quarter). I looked at a few resources, including this article from the University of Michigan, and put together a document for my 8th-grade students that would allow them to identify their own play personalities.

On Monday, they read the descriptions and answered three questions on a slip of paper:

  1. Which play personalities best describe you?
  2. Explain why you chose those personalities.
  3. Which activities in P.E. are you most drawn to based on your play personality?

That night, I read each slip. Sixty-four students completed the assignment. Within my three 8th-grade classes, there are forty-two Competitors, thirty Explorers, twenty-four Kinesthetes, twenty-one Artists/Creators, twenty Jokers, eighteen Storytellers, ten Collectors, and six Directors. I looked over my quarterly plan and made a few adjustments based on my students’ play personalities.

On Tuesday, I posted the results and asked each group, “What does this information tell us about our class?” We dug into the data and shared our thoughts. My students noticed that many of them are competitive, many of them like to explore, and very few students like to take charge (the Directors). Then, I said, “Based on the play personalities in this class, I chose a variety of activities for you to experience. Many of you are competitive, love to try new things, and love to think creatively. Some of you just love to move and others enjoy telling stories. I guarantee that at least one thing this quarter will totally be your jam.” I read through the list and didn’t hear any groans! (…until I reminded them the quarter ends with the human sexuality unit.)

I would like to encourage you to try three things:

  1. Determine how you can use play personalities within your #PhysEd program. What can the information tell you about your classes?
  2. Give your students the opportunity to identify their play personalities. Feel free to make a copy of my document and modify it for your use.
  3. Take some time to read Dr. Stuart Brown’s book, Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.





Critical #PhysEdFriends

In 2013, Sarah completely overhauled her grading practices by switching from traditional, old-school grading to standards-based instruction and assessment. Prior to making the switch, her students’ grades were based on whether or not they changed their clothes for class and participated in every activity. Now, when everything’s going according to plan, her lessons are tied to clear learning goals and objectives, and her students’ grades are based on what they know, understand, and can do. Read More

Hurricane Harvey

“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” -Carl Jung

Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas on Friday, August 25, 2017, as a category 4 storm with winds of 130 mph.  For the next several days the storm pounded the Texas coast and dropped an estimated 11 trillion tons of water on Texas.  The result, according to AccuWeather.com, was about 51 inches of rain in some places, fifty-eight counties have been declared disaster areas, there have been at least 3,400 water rescues, 30,000 people are displaced, and more than 215,000 students are out of school.  

I have lived in Houston for 20 years and have been through several hurricanes, tropical storms and the floods that follow, but I have never seen devastation like this.  It’s heartbreaking, to say the least, to see families helplessly watch as the flood waters quickly rise and eventually overtake their homes to leave them with nothing.  We all work very hard for our “things,” but sometime we are forced to prioritize our lives, whether we are ready for it or not.  The devastation is horrific, but in the midst of the darkness, we are also able to see what humanity really looks like.  Story after story of strangers helping strangers, neighbors coming together to offer assistance, and people from all over the country coming to Houston, sometimes driving all night, just to help.  The response has been overwhelming and has helped me to realize that we are going to be OK.

On a personal note, I have had many people via social media ask me about my family’s well-being.  I can’t express enough how much that means to me.  I am so grateful to be a part of such a loving network of educators.  My family and I are safe and dry.  We had a little damage to our roof, but that’s about it.  We have been fortunate enough to have been able to help out at our church and around the community.  

But the recovery is just beginning and many families will be looking to their local schools as a safe haven for their community.  The start date for students in Houston ISD has been postponed until Monday, September 11, and they are still assessing the more than 285 schools in the district.  Houston ISD is the 7th largest district in the country. The district has more than 285 schools and serves over 200,000 students.  In the next few days, we will have a better understanding about the overall damage to our schools.  

So, what can we do to help?  I have received many messages from teachers around the country asking what they can do for the Houston area.  I have highlighted a few options below,  and also included a link to a more comprehensive list from NPR.

“Here’s How You Can Help People Affected By Harvey” from NPR

    1. The Greater Houston Community Foundation established by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner
    2. J.J. Watt is an NFL  football player for the Houston Texans.  He decided to raise more for Houston and set a goal of $200,000.  The response has been amazing.  The current total is more that 18 million dollars from about 170,000 donors.  Click here to donate to J.J. Watt’s  You Caring campaign.
    3. Houston ISD is collecting school supplies.  Click here if you would like to donate school supplies,  Houston ISD
    4. Adopt-a-Gym is a grassroots program founded by Kevin McGrath,  that will help match up school in need with schools willing to help.  You can read more about this option below.
    5. I am also willing to personally deliver gift cards, supplies and offer any other assistance if needed.  Please email me, physednow@gmail.com





Listen to the Global PhysEd Voxcast featuring Kevin McGrath, Founder of Adopt-a-Gym by clicking on the link below.

Link to Adopt-a-Gym podcast

This summer, I was fortunate enough to meet Kevin McGrath at the PE Institute.  He was talking about Adopt-a-Gym and I was very interested in the potential.  Kevin describes the program as a fundraiser by kids and for kids, where a school raises funds to purchase physical education equipment for another school that is short on resources to purchase adequate equipment.  Funds are raised through a fun fitness event such as fun runs, dance-a-thons and other creative active events.  A school can register as a donor school, pledging to run an event, or as a recipient school in need of equipment.  Here is the website for more details, https://adoptagym.wordpress.com/

Take these 3 easy steps if you would like to Adopt-a-Gym:

  1. Sign-up as a donor school at https://adoptagym.wordpress.com/.
  2. You will receive an email from Kevin McGrath with more details and examples of events.
  3. Talk to your principal, PTA, and colleagues about the prospect of running an Adopt-a-Gym event at your school.

We are also setting up an Adopt-a-Gym Voxer chat if you’d like to connect with other potential donors and recipients.  This will also be a great way to ask questions and share ideas.  Join the chat by clicking here.  

For the next few weeks, we will be signing up schools in the Houston area to be a part of this program.  If you would like to help, please consider Adopt-a-Gym.  This is a decentralized program that allows teachers and schools to directly help those in need.  The #PhysEd community is amazing and I truly feel blessed to be a part of it.  As we all know, PE is not always on the top of the priority list at some schools.  Adopt-a-Gym makes sure that these vital programs are not left out.  Our kids need us and together we can make sure that every student has the equipment needed for a quality physical education experience.  

Hurricane Harvey has forced us to prioritize our lives, but it will not define us.  We are down, but together we will become stronger!