Literacy Education’s New Frontier: Gym Class

There has been a shift in education – a shift that has changed an American tradition in education. Students must now read in gym class. “Spurred by an intensifying focus on student test scores in math and English as well as a desire to incorporate more health and fitness information,” school districts and physical education teachers have had to recreate the American gym class in a way that no longer resembles the nostalgic view of gym class most Americans hold (Rich, 2013).</p

Computers can hold a huge relative advantage for p.e. teachers looking to increase literacy activities into gym class. Khun (2001) explains that “computers can be extremely helpful in providing learners with opportunities to explore information across the curriculum in a highly motivating manner.” The National Physcial Education Standardsf have moved their focus from sports education to health literacy, “the capacity of individuals to obtain, interpret, and understand basic health information along with the competence to use such information to enhance health” (Roblyer and Doering, 2013).

Introductory activities or homework assignments that include reading, researching, and writing, about sports and health related topics online are only a few of the ways that technology can be integrated into the gym curriculum. There are a multitude of programs out there including calorie trackers or exercise and fitness programs that students can be asked to use to track and understand their own fitness levels. “The interactive nature of these sites has the potential to engage students with their research to a greater degree than would usually be the case with more traditional methods” found in gym class like pen and paper journals or exercise check lists (Khun, 2001).

This shift in physical education curriculum is an effort to extend literacy objectives and skills into non-core classrooms. The relative advantage technology brings to the table cannot be overlooked.

For additional resources on using technology in gym class, check out this site:


Kuhn, M. (2001, April). Taking computers out of the corner: Making technology work in the classroom. Reading Online, 4(9). Retreived April 13, 2013. Available:

Rich, M. (2013, February 18). Gym Class Isn’t Just Fun and Games Anymore – Retrieved April 13, 2013, from

Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2013). Integrating educational technology into teaching. Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon Publishers.


3 thoughts on “Literacy Education’s New Frontier: Gym Class

  1. Jenny,
    Nice post and an interesting take. Reading and writing is definitely being incorporated into P.E. classes as I see it in our school. Like your post where you mention calorie trackers and counters, now P.E. and science can overlap. Do some sort of activity in gym class and take the information to the science class to interpret the data.

    Nice post.

  2. Hi Jenny,
    I really liked your research on using technology PE class! I am an elementary PE teacher and I find it difficult sometimes to incorporate technology (and integrating core subjects) while still trying to teach my content. It really comes down to school budget in my community. If there was another laptop cart in the building or if they put a Promethean board in the gym, the technology ideas become endless! I love the idea of simulated games to increase movement and motivation. Hopefully one day I will have access to the great tech. out there!

  3. Great post and interesting perspective on the use of technology in phys. ed. classes. I’ve seen the shift to more literacy in gym class happening in a few of the schools in my area that I have worked in. There’s more focus on health information as well. It must be tough to incorporate all of these changes, especially when schools lack funding in the phys. ed. area. Integrating gaming consoles like the Wii or Xbox Kinect are another way to use technology in this area to get students moving, especially because our 21st century students are very familiar with gaming systems. However, many schools lack the budget to incorporate these technologies. Also, equipment and programs that enable students to track their own fitness levels may be hard to obtain due to budget constraints, but these programs are extremely beneficial in the sense that they promote physical fitness and health awareness. Great job!


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