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Name of Activity:

Lesson Plan Guide for Middle/High School PE

Purpose of Activity:

To share a possible guide with folks who are responsible for delivering developmentally appropriate PE lessons to middle/high students.

Suggested Grade Level:


Description of Idea

August 30, 1998
Copyright © 1998, PE Central

Typically, middle/high school teachers have students sit in squad lines after dressing for PE. This format makes it convenient to take roll and organize students into teams, etc. Unfortunately, this practice can eat up time in which students could be active, warming up, or mentally preparing for a lesson. The following is a suggested outline for a middle or high school lesson that may be helpful to those in certain teaching situations or conditions. It is understood that this may not work in all situations and environments.

Lesson Plan Suggestions

Students will often times straggle in from changing in the locker rooms, therefore a traditional instant activity at this time may be highly ineffective. Have some simple tasks for the students to do that may be interesting to them, and can be done alone or in twos or threes. You can take roll as students straggle in, and be ready for a traditional instant activity when the bell rings as all students are supposed to be in the gym by a certain time or by the bell.

Example: Volleyball Warm-up

Have volleyballs out and ready to go. Put instructions on the wall that go something like this:

Please take a ball and practice your forearm bump to yourself. Focus on the cues: elbows locked, hands together, and thumbs pointed at the floor. They are posted on the wall just in case you forget. Find a spot on the wall and see how many consecutive bumps you can get to hit this spot (may want to put targets up). If you feel successful with this find one or two other people and go for a record bumping back and forth. Use only bumps, any other kind of hit and you must start over on your record.

You can now do a group instant activity that is fun and gets the students communicating and engaged in your lesson.

Example: Instant Activity: Partner pull-up

Sit down facing a partner quickly. Clasp wrists and see if you can pull each other up at the same time. Find another pair and see if you can pull 4 up at one time. If you get 4, go to 8, etc.

You will notice that this activity has nothing to do with volleyball. This part of the lesson may or may not relate to the lesson focus which is coming up next. These activities tend to motivate and energize the class, and usually take 2-3 minutes.

You have your students where you want them now. Thus, it is time for a set induction to engage their minds in your lesson.

Example: Set induction for spiking (your lesson focus).

Do you remember watching volleyball in the Olympics this summer. What is one of the most exciting ways that players scored points in the Olympic Volleyball games? That's right, spiking! Today we are going to learn how to spike the volleyball so that we too can score this way.

The next part of your lesson is: The lesson focus!

Planning the lesson focus is very much like developing an elementary lesson plan. You have a skill that you would like to focus on and teach for the day. Teach one cue at a time and keep a brisk pace so that students do not become bored. A bored middle school student can become your worst nightmare in a hurry. Take this into account by having numerous application tasks, refinement cues, and extensions of tasks. Shoot for middle of the road, and vary the tasks to meet the needs of the more and less skilled.

On the next page you will find an example of this in a format that should look very familiar to you. It is by no means complete, but gives you an idea of how this might be approached at this level. A highly skilled student might go through these 5 in 2-3 minutes, whereas a less skilled individual may continue to work their way up to application #2 in 5 minutes.

**It is extremely important during this part of the lesson to focus on individual skill development by using the cues for feedback. Students will improve if they focus on their own individual skill development versus comparing themselves to their peers. Middle and high school students are heavily into social comparisons at this time, and we should not compound this problem by magnifying it by the design of our lessons.

Example: Spiking lesson focus




Stand facing the wall with a volleyball between both palms. Lift both arms up at the same time and toss the ball just overhead. With an open hand hit the ball to the wall.

Toss overhead and hit with an open hand.

Can you get the ball to bounce off the wall straight back to you?

Stand facing the wall with a volleyball between both palms. Lift both arms up at the same time and toss the ball overhead. Take your hitting hand back by bending at the elbow and swing forward and hit the ball to the wall.

Open hand hit with hitting elbow high.

How many times can you toss and hit in a row?

Toss the ball up and as you hit break your wrist, bringing your hand down over the ball.

Break your wrist over the ball.

How close to the floor can you hit the wall with the ball?

Same task except jump a few inches off the ground before you make contact with the ball.

Jump straight up.

Can you jump higher and meet the ball higher in the air?

Toss the ball high into the air, bring your arms down and use them to help you jump higher.

Both arms up.

Can you jump high and hit the ball to the wall (close to the floor)?

This segment of the lesson focus should have a brisk pace. You may only want to spend 5-10 minutes in this phase of the lesson (of course this is dependent upon what you are teaching and how the students are doing).

The next part of the Lesson Focus should be more game like. The games that students play should allow for maximal practice opportunities and focus on the cues learned in the prior phase of the lesson. These may be self, partner, small, or large group activities. Remember, large group activities lend themselves more to social comparisons, and also make it more difficult to give individual feedback regarding performance. The following is an example of how we might continue our spiking lesson.

Example: Game like portion of lesson focus. Spiking dodge ball.

In the middle of the gym, you have already set up numerous standards with a slanty rope (or net) between them (4 feet up to approx. 7 feet). Have students get in groups of 3-4 and get across the net from another group of 3-4. Each person gets a low density foam ball (very light weight) the size of a volleyball. The object of the game is to practice your volleyball spike over the slanty rope and try to hit the opposing team with your spike. You may spike the ball from any point on the rope. If you get hit with a spike, run to the wall, pick up a volleyball, practice 3 spikes to the wall, put the ball back down and run back to the game.

A spike that does not go over the rope cannot get you out.

Any spike that is not hit with an open hand cannot get you out.

Depending on how this activity is going you may play it for 5-10 minutes.

Assessment: How do I know and/or show what the students have learned in this lesson?

The effectiveness of your lesson will depend on what the students have learned. You need to know what they have learned because this will guide the development of your next lesson plan. You want to meet your students where they are at. Many middle and high school programs are strictly into performance assessment (how well the students can perform the actual skill). These types of assessment are fine, but I suggest that you add a cognitive component to your assessment.

Example: Atlanta gold medal finals expert analysis.

The team that you were on for spiking dodge ball is your group for this assessment. You are the commentators for the gold medal finals of the Olympic games in Atlanta (men's or women's - your choice as a group). Create a 2-3 minute segment which will tell the viewing audience that you really know your stuff about spiking. Focus on the cues that we learned in class today (hit with open hand, hitting elbow high, break wrist down over the ball, jump straight up, etc.). You may just be a team of analysts, or you may have some footage of some Olympic players in your segment, the choice is yours. Have fun with this, but make sure to let the viewing audience know that you really know your stuff. We will video these segments at the beginning of class tomorrow.

The final phase of your lesson is closure.

Have the students help you bring in the equipment and get it set for the next class. This should be extremely quick. Bring all students together and remind them of what is happening tomorrow, or things that they need to think about from the lesson today. Ask any questions you would like of them regarding the lesson or future activity (tomorrow), and then let them go.

Example: Closure

Everyone stop what you are doing and gather all of the equipment into the bins. Please come over here when you are finished. Go!

Today we worked on spiking, and tomorrow we will learn what you have learned in class today. As I went around and watched and listened to you develop you commentator sketches I think that you have learned quite a lot today about spiking. Remember when you do these tomorrow. The first whole group in the gym tomorrow will get to go first. The rest of you can practice your sketches when you come into the gym. Have a great day, and I'll see you tomorrow.

As the class is breaking up and heading for the locker room you can have any one on one conversations with students that you think are necessary, these don't have to be negative or punitive. You may just want to get to know a student better, or you noticed something different about their behavior today (positive or negative) and just want to check to see if things are OK.

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Submitted by Ken  Bell who teaches at Boise State Univ. in Boise , ID . Thanks for contributing to PE Central! Posted on PEC: 5/5/2000.

Viewed 340889 times since 8/24/2001.

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Previous Comments:


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how about the 100 metre dash can you give me an example of detail lesson plan

Aria Sullivan

Thanks for sharing! This lesson plan is great because it challenges kids to keep getting better. I can't wait to see your other volleyball practice plans! I also found this really helpful:

Joanna Faerber

EXCELLENT lesson plan format! Wish more teachers would use this. This is a great way to engage the students immediately and they would enjoy it.

David. Parent and L.P.T.A.

Is stretching before and after activities ever a part of an A.P.E. lesson plan, especially if the eval. shows specific muscle group tightness?


oh this is good for an athletic person

ur mom

my teacher makes us do some of these and they are retarded no one in highschool cares about gym class its just an easy credit to graduate


I like such organized activities


Excellent detail on the steps throughout the lesson plan. What is the reason for trying to hit the opposite team in the Spiking dodgeball? Could they be aiming for a hoop on the floor instead?


Very organized and systematic!


this plan is ambigous..