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Teacher: Michele Sampsell who teaches at OCM BOCES Career Academy in Liverpool, NY. Michele Sampsell can be contacted at

Name of Best Practice: Classroom in the Community!

Rationale/Purpose of Event: To engage my under-served population of alternative high school students in opportunities to explore lifetime fitness options within the community.

Suggested Grade Level: 9-12, other

Materials Needed: A good grasp of recreational opportunities in your community,businesses willing to participate, and a supportive school family. Lots of patience!

Classroom in the Community!

I teach all students (150) in grades 9-12 physical education in an alternative high school. Our school is located within an adult learning center where limited space is provided for physical education. My “gym space” consists of a classroom with some fitness equipment and very little floor space for group activities. Outdoor space is a busy parking lot.

Alternative high school students are the kids who are not successful in a traditional school setting. As you might imagine, these are kids who rarely attended physical education in the first place. I always tell my students from the beginning that my goal is for them to find one activity that they enjoyed this year and perform that activity outside of school. Since we do not have a gym, I like to take my students off campus so they can see what opportunities are in the community for them to participate in. These are not field trips rather they are extended learning opportunities that are scheduled during their regular P.E. classes. Students do not miss any academic classroom time as a result. This year, I was able to take my students bowling for three weeks. Students were able to learn bowling skills, how to keep score and bowling etiquette. This unit came complete with bowling trophies which were rewarded during a school assembly. We also spent 2 weeks in the fall and 2 weeks in the spring utilizing a local park and a vendor for rollerblading and biking where all equipment and safety gear were provided. Unique Equipment was available including, tandem bikes, conference bikes for 3-7 people and Surrey Quadricycles. This provided students with new experiences along with peer and team building opportunities.

I also implemented a walking challenge where the reward was skating at a local ice-skating rink. Last year I set up a unit for 5 weeks at a local fitness facility which also had a pool, track and tennis courts. They graciously offered my students a free summer membership in exchange for good grades for the school year.

I have seen the most participation, motivation, and excitement from my students during these learning opportunities. Many of these teens have never had the chance to do any of these activities in the past. Once introduced to this concept, most students were eager and willing participants.

As we do not have access to regular transportation, the entire school, faculty and staff cooperated to help drive vans of students to our various locations. Businesses offered pricing and accessibility based on my budget and schedule.


Use your imagination and various recreational opportunities such as golf, cross-country skiing,snowshoeing,kayaking, canoeing etc.

Teaching Suggestions/Tips:

Schedule and plan in advance,remember these are not field trips, but scheduled teaching units. Make sure your transportation is lined up. Let students suggest ideas and help with the planning. Ask school staff for suggestions.

Adaptations for Students with Disabilities:

Using peer mentors, use of provided equipment such as bowling ramps, bumpers, 3-wheeled bikes etc.

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Posted on PEC: 7/19/2011 and has received 74 votes.

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