Top 10 Learning Visuals for Physical Education
by Joey Feith
With a printer, a laminator, and some space on your walls, you can create some straight-up magic in your gym.
I’m a big believer in the power of visuals when it comes to creating an environment that supports thinking and learning in physical education. That’s why I’ve invested so much time into crafting hundreds of posters, badges, and graphics over the years. These visuals have all served a purpose in my teaching and many have become a core part of my program.
Here are (in no particular order) the ten most important visuals that I’ve made for my P.E. program:
The Yeti Poster
My friend Larry “Mac” Mcdonald once told me that the most important word in the English language is “yet”.
- I can’t do this… yet!
- I don’t know that… yet!
- I don’t get this… yet!
I created the Yeti Poster to remind my students to “never forget your yet!” and be YETis in class. When Mac passed away last year, I decided to revamp the Yeti poster and have all of its proceeds go towards his memorial fund at Western Carolina University.
The What/Why/How Graphics
My lessons start with answering 3 questions:
- WHAT are we learning?
- WHY are we learning it?
- HOW will we know we have learned it?
This helps introduce the content, provides a meaningful rationale for the learning and sets clear learning targets.
The What/Why/How Graphics live on my whiteboard and are a part of every lesson. To avoid wasting time writing out WWH statements for each class (which actually led to me not being consistent with this practice), I started using pocket sleeves that I placed on the whiteboard underneath each graphic and held there via magnets. This way, I could print out/reuse WWH statements and have all of the printouts for the day in the pocket sleeves (so I just had to rotate the sheets at the start of each lesson).
Student-Friendly National Standards Graphics
Physical education is an academic subject with its own set of standards and outcomes.
However, not everybody knows or remembers that.
I created this set of badges based on SHAPE America’s student-friendly versions of their National Standards for K-12 Physical Education. I wanted to have the standards live in my gym so that I could link my lessons to the five standards we work towards and help educate my school’s community on what physically literate individuals know, do, and understand.
Habits of Successful Learners Mural
At the start of the school year, I worked with students to unpack what makes successful learners successful.
Based on their answers, I created a set of graphics that highlight the different habits of successful learners. I then put these graphics on display as a mural in my gym
When learning gets tough, we take time to review the different habits of successful learners and decided which of these could be applied to help us overcome challenges in class.
The Adventure Pyramid Poster
The purpose of my physical education program is to empower students with skills, knowledge, and understandings that will support their lifelong physical literacy development.
That being said, that’s a mouthful for kids to make sense of. Instead, I just tell my students that the purpose of P.E. is to help them live a life that is full of adventure.
I break this mission statement down into a three-part pyramid:
- At the top is adventure. We want to be able to get the most out of every day and adventures inspire us to do so.
- Underneath adventure is physical literacy. Physical literacy means that we have the competence and confidence to take on any adventure that life throws at us. In P.E. class, we focus on developing the skills and know-how that support physical literacy.
- Finally, the foundation of all of this is health. Health is our ticket to ride all of life’s adventures. It’s our greatest wealth, which is why every lesson, discussion, and activity that takes place in my physical education program has health infused into it.
To help remind students of this mission statement, I created the Adventure Pyramid Poster and always have it on display in my gym.
The Intentional SEL Tools
Schools are responsible for the development of the whole child, and that includes social and emotional development.
Using the RULER approach to guide my work, I created this series of visuals and resources to help bake social and emotional learning into my physical education program. This includes:
- The Mood Meter Poster
- The Breather Space Poster
- The Blueprint Poster & Self-Reflection Sheet
- The Classroom Charter Template
The “Life Is An Adventure” Poster
One thing that I realized in my teaching is that many people have no idea what quality physical education is.
I made the “Life Is An Adventure” poster to help educate my school community on the differences between:
- Physical Literacy
- Physical Education
- Physical Activity
- Physical Fitness
Although these four pieces are related, they are also distinct from each other. It’s important to help stakeholders (e.g. colleagues, administrators, parents, and students) understand this.
Weekly Quotes Graphics
There was a pillar in the hallway outside of my office that I claimed as the “P.E. Pillar”. On it, I would post advocacy pieces, intramural schedules and scores, interscholastic sports rosters and results, and a weekly quote.
I made a set of 40 quote graphics that I would rotate through throughout the school year. Each quote was related to some of the learning we would engage in during physical education class, and we would discuss these links (and how they transferred outside of P.E.) during our class discussions.
The FMS Skill Poster Series
As an elementary school physical education teacher, FMS skills play an important role in my curriculum.
To help students learn and master these skills, I created this series of FMS Skill Posters to be used as learning visuals in those lessons.
Each poster focuses on one FMS skill and features:
- The skill’s name
- A graphic representing the skill in action
- The important keys of the skill (i.e. critical elements)
- A QR code that links to a video breakdown of the skill
Using these posters regularly in my teaching has helped create learning routines for my students, provided consistent language, and made learning more visual for our English Language Learners (ELLs).
SMART Goals Fitness Visuals
When I was redesigning my grade six SMART Goals Fitness unit, I decided that I needed a set of visuals that would support and complement the learning happening in class.
The end result was a massive set of fitness-related visuals that students could refer to throughout the year. These visuals include:
- FITT Principle Poster
- Exertion Scale Poster
- SMART Goals Poster
- Warm Up & Cool Down Posters
- Fitness Analysis Sheets
- Workout Design Sheets
- SMART Goal Reflection Sheets
- Daily Exercise Journal Sheets
- SMART Goal Action Plan Sheets
These visuals helped my students better understand the different concepts that we explored throughout the unit and gave them something that they could refer back to at any time throughout the year.
So there are my top 10 favourite learning visuals that I’ve created for my physical education program over the years.
If you’d like to find more visuals – including a variety of ones that are available as a free download – head on over to The #PhysEd Shop!
Thanks for reading and happy teaching!
August 16, 2021
May 16, 2021