Skip to Content

When Phys Ed Becomes a Reading and Math Lesson

It's not unusual for a teacher, particularly at an urban school, to wear many hats. But through some creative lesson planning, Alastair Stevenson, the physical education teacher at Ella Grant Elementary School in Prichard, AL, has also managed to become a reading and math coach.

Stevenson, a former track star at the University of Mobile, knows firsthand the important role physical fitness plays in helping students live healthy lives. But he also wants to help Grant Elementary students continue to develop the reading and math skills they need to pass their state exams and continue their academic development. He regularly meets with other Grant teachers to see which lessons they'd like him to reinforce, and then he'll develop creative lesson plans around whatever the students are learning at the time.

Stevenson uses his physical education classes to also teach:

Multiplication: When performing exercises, such as jumping jacks, students may count by 3's, 5's, or some other number to help them learn multiplication tables. 

Spelling: Stevenson stages spelling relays, where he provides each team with a word to spell. Students take turns racing to a hula hoop and retrieving each letter of the word.

Reading comprehension: Stevenson will read stories to younger students and have them exercise by acting out the plots.

Understanding charts: Students will roll dice and add them together. Then, they will match the figure to the corresponding number on a chart to see which exercise to perform.

Stevenson says he takes great pride in showing his students how to live healthy, active lifestyles, while also helping them to develop critical academic skills.

"I believe there's a lot I can do for these children," he said. "You can have a great impact here."