How I Teach: Patty Kestell

The more I teach, the more I realize how lucky I am to be a part of the #physed community. Every day, I find myself being inspired and wowed by this group of amazing teachers from around the world. That’s why I’ve decided to take a second each week and highlight one of these incredible educators. This week’s post is from an award-winning teacher from Wisconsin:

Name: Patty Kestell
Where Are You From: Jackson, Wisconsin USA
Where Do You Teach: Thorson Elementary School – Cedarburg, WI
One word that best describes how you teach:

What apps/tools/resources can’t you live without?

Without a doubt, I would be lost without my iPad in PE, since I use it daily for assessments, music, teaching, video analysis, email, timers, etc.

From a professional standpoint, the apps and resources I use most for presentations and teaching are Keynote (Powerpoint for iPad), Educreations, Music Workout, Google Drive, Google Chrome, WordFoto, iMuscle2, Virtual Heart, Comic Life, CoachMyVideo, BAM Video Delay (Thanks, Penny!) and Prezi. I love using for making differentiated, color coded QR codes. I rely on my Notes and Priority Matrix to help keep me organized!

My students use Qrafter and QR Reader to scan QR codes in PE, use Virtual Heart and Cardiograph to learn about the heart and measure their heart rate, and use CoachMyVideo and Explain Everything for a student directed video analysis project. I also have a variety of kid apps on my iPad for my SDPE students to work on at the end of great SDPE sessions.

What do your #physed classes look like?

My classroom is a dynamic, active, challenging, fun, and creative learning environment. Students move and learn from the minute they get to the gym, and are active and engaged as much as possible throughout the class.

Each class has some component of the health related fitness components, life-time wellness, nutrition, and/or muscle anatomy weaved throughout, and I use word walls/WordFoto, my whiteboard, iPad and posters to teach and review PE concepts throughout each unit. Students are exposed to a wide variety of physical activities, ranging from movement concepts and manipulative skills at the younger levels to team building, small-sided tactical games/sport activities, health related fitness activities (pedometers and heart rate monitors) and lifetime wellness activities (snowshoeing, biking, traverse climbing wall, skating) with the upper elementary students.

Students see and learn about the PE National Standards and What are We Learning in PE Today? magnets throughout each unit. They also see a banner on the PE wall, Thorson Elementary School: Building a Healthy, Strong, and Fit School Community, which helps to remind students that physical education/physical activity is an integral part of their health and wellness and that it is a goal of our whole school community.

Each class ends with words of encouragement for great learning that took place during class or praise for students who went out of their way to help other classmates, as well as checking in on their understanding of that days emphasis in PE. Whew…half an hour sure goes fast when students are learning new PE skills, doesn’t it?!

What’s the most unique thing about your teaching?

In any way that is appropriate, I strive to implement technology into the learning environment within my physical education classes. I started with just one iPad in my classroom last year, which I used primarily as a teaching iPad, but was so sold on the value of students using iPads for video analysis, QR codes, and other learning purposes, that I wrote and received a grant for 4 new student iPads this year.

Having these iPads has opened up the world for my students and myself with endless opportunities for learning and new growth. Whether it has been the use of QR codes for differentiated health related fitness activities or cooperative challenges, Keynote/Educreations/Explain Everything and Apple TV to share new concepts with my students, checking out iMuscle2, WhackaBone, or Virtual Heart to learn more about the human anatomy, or the use of video analysis for student directed peer teaching, students are taking their learning in PE to a new level.

Students are experiencing 21st century learning in PE, and making great strides on their skillwork, cognitive understanding, and affective awareness because of it. The student directed video analysis learning experiences have made a tremendous difference in the kinesthetic awareness of my students!

What I love most about the video analysis apps is that I can continue to modify activities to make them more developmentally appropriate for students, but the learning curve goes much quicker when they can “see” and “feel” what their skills look like. There are many more tools that I have begun to use with the iPads, but my next goal is to utilize Socrative or Google Forms more for quick formative assessments of my students, so that I can use the results to continue to guide my teaching for my students.

What’s the best teaching advice you’ve ever received?

Never underestimate the difference you can make in a student’s life…you DO make a difference! Capture kids’ hearts…connect with them…and then they will be ready to learn. We do not always know which students we impact most or how much impact our teaching has on them, but know that what we do as physical educators has the ability to make a huge difference in the health and well-being of students well beyond the years that we have them in our PE classrooms.

Where can people find you online?

Twitter: @pk_lv2teachpe
My PE Blog:
My PE Website:
Google Plus: +Patty Kestell


Joey Feith is the founder of He currently teaches elementary physical education at St. George’s School of Montreal in Quebec, Canada.

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