How to Facilitate Deeper Connections to Physical Activity

In part one of this blog post, I discussed the importance of aligning the purpose of the physical education class to helping students form deep connections with their physical activity. Part two will discuss a system (ROAD) that a teacher can use to facilitate this process for students in PE 


The first step in the process to helping students form deeper connections to their physical activity is to have students record their daily physical activity in PE and outside of school. The practice of recording physical activity provides students a first opportunity to reflect on the activities that they are completing, creates a set of data that can be used in following steps, and becomes a formed habit associated with being active. There are some important pieces of information that students need to keep track of in order to form a deeper relationship with their activity. 

  • Activity Name
  • Active Time
  • How did you feel while doing this activity?
  • Why do you think you felt this way about this activity?

When students are actively engaged in creating this log of physical activity data, they are able to frequently revisit their journal to connect with their identity as a physically active person. This step is made easy with the miMove app, cofounded by Greg Dryer and Marcella Griso.


If a student has a robust record of physical activities completed, then they can aggregate their data sets to make larger observations about how active they are and how they are feeling about their relationship with physical activity. I ask students to answer the following questions:

  • How many physical activities did you complete last week?
  • How many total minutes of physical activity did you complete.
  • On a scale of 1 (Not Good)-10 (Great), how did you feel about your physical activities last week?
  • What factors relating to your relationship with physical activity make you feel this way?

These observation reports allow students to start the process of synthesizing their relationship to physical activity. 


Students complete a physical activity analysis three times per semester. The purpose of these assignments are to have students graph physical activity levels across the given timeframe and to deepen their understanding about what they find meaningful in physical activity. The analysis assignments are made easier for the students because of the weekly observation reports. The analysis of the quantitative and qualitative factors relating to student physical activity allow students to learn how to describe their relationship to physical activity.


The final stage of this process is learning defense at the end of the semester or year for the students. Students are given the opportunity to publicly display their learning through the presentation of artifacts that they have collected along their journey in physical education class. This is an opportunity for students to make determinations about what is authentic and deep learning for them in physical education. The public presentation and defense of the students relationship to physical activity allows students to verbalize how physical activity fits as a normal and natural part of their life, and to answer questions from an audience about their positive experiences with physical activity. 

A ROADmap to a Relationship with Physical Activity

Physical education cannot only be physical. Our opportunity as physical educators is wasted if we are not focused on developing the whole child. In PE, students can learn how to dribble a soccer ball, set a volleyball, cooperate with teammates, set personal goals, lift weights, and explore the outdoors. All of these things have intrinsic value for students, but we as educators do not get to decide what is valuable and meaningful for students. We may only begin to know and understand what is important to our individual students if we ask them what they find meaningful, help them to cultivate a strong relationship to their physical activity, and challenge them to defend their learning in our physical education classes. The ROADmap to a Relationship with Physical Activity is an intentional, purposeful attempt to promote student agency in physical education. Students deserve physical education that recognizes them as individual learners and seeks to assist them in building a strong, positive identity as a physically active person. 

This is the first part of a two-part series of microblogs from Jordan. You can find the accompanying post here.

This microblog post was a featured post in #slowchathealth’s #microblogmonth event. You can search for all of the featured posts here. Please do follow each of the outstanding contributors on social media (including Jordan Manley, the author of this post) and consider writing a microblog post of your own to be shared with the global audience of

Pair this blog post with the following:

Start With Why by Simon Sinek

The Joy of Movement by Kelly McGonigal

One thought on “How to Facilitate Deeper Connections to Physical Activity

  1. Pingback: Aligning to a Social Emotional Lens in Physical Education – #slowchathealth

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