The Great Unpacking: Preface (Part I)

Last summer, I was catching up on some tweets when I came across a video that Ken Dyar (@KENetic_PE) had shared called “How to Design a Standards Based Lesson”

The video was created by Terri Drain, an elementary school physical education teacher, National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT), and California and South-West District Teacher of the Year (TOY).

Terri’s video has had probably the biggest impact on my teaching than any other resource I have been exposed to online.


In the video, Terri goes over the definition of physical literacy and how the SHAPE America National Standards for Physical Education are now aligned with the idea of helping our students develop into physically literate individuals. Furthermore, Terri shows us how each standard can be “unpacked” (i.e. broken down into smaller, more manageable chunks) and be used as the foundation of our physical education teaching and curriculum design.

A lot of what Terri demonstrates in her video is very much so aligned with the “Purposeful #PhysEd” approach that I have used in my teaching for the past couple of years. However, the simplicity with which she explains the process of designing standards-based lessons goes above and beyond anything I was able to put together on my own.

That being said, I decided to give the method for designing a standards-based lesson that Terri shared in her video a try. This being my first year at St. George’s School of Montreal, I was looking for a way to reinvent my teaching and, after using Terri’s method for a couple of months, I can say that I’m blown away by how much more solid I find my teaching and planning to be this year.

Here’s what I want you to know: this blog post is going to be the first in what will be a very long series of blog posts. But before we get into that, let’s go over how to design a standards-based lesson à la Terri Drain.

Physical Literacy, Standards, Grade-Level Outcomes, and Beyond

Alright, let’s start at the start.

According to SHAPE America, the goal of physical education is to develop physically literate individuals who have the knowledge, skills and confidence to enjoy a lifetime of healthful physical activity. Physical literacy is defined by PHE Canada as the capacity to move with competence and confidence in a wide variety of physical activities in multiple environments that benefit the healthy development of the whole person. PHE Canada goes on to say that:

  • Physically literate individuals consistently develop the motivation and ability to understand, communicate, apply, and analyze different forms of movement.
  • They are able to demonstrate a variety of movements confidently, competently, creatively and strategically across a wide range of health-related physical activities.
  • These skills enable individuals to make healthy, active choices that are both beneficial to and respectful of their whole self, others, and their environment.

To add to this, SHAPE America has stated that, in order to pursue a lifetime of healthful physical activity, a physically literate individual:

  • Has learned the skills necessary to participate in a variety of physical activities.
  • Knows the implications and the benefits of involvement in various types of physical activities.
  • Participates regularly in physical activity.
  • Is physically fit.
  • Values physical activity and its contributions to a healthful lifestyle.

Want to learn more about physical literacy?

Knowing these indicators of physical literacy that SHAPE America has outlined, it makes sense that the national standards for physical education are:
Standard One
Standard Two

Standard Three
Standard Four
Standard Five

There are a lot of factors/agents that will play into the development of one’s physical literacy throughout their lifetime. I’m not going to try to list them all here because, quite frankly, I don’t know them all… yet (that one is for you, Mac). However, when it comes to physical education, SHAPE America believes that the development of these five standards are key to the overall development of one’s physical literacy. To be honest, I’m with them on this. This is why this crazy Canadian has decided to adopt the SHAPE America standards and align them to my curriculum here in Quebec (but that is a whole other blog post).


So if SHAPE America’s national standards are our main tool to help us, as physical educators, make sure our students are on the right track in terms of developing into physically literate individuals, then how do we make sure that our lessons and units are based on and aligned with each of these standards? This is the answer Terri Drain provides us with in her video and which I will walk you through now (with a few variations in the process/language that Terri uses).

Click here to read part 2 of the preface for our new blog post series: The Great Unpacking. Be sure not to miss out on this post series, or any of’s future posts, by connecting with us via RSS, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Email.

Joey Feith is a physical education teacher from Canada and the founder of


Joey Feith is the founder of Having taught elementary physical education for 10 years, Joey is now focused on helping physical educators grow their confidence and competence as teachers.