Why we need to teach kids to balance screen-time and green-time – Part 2

// Mind-wandering mode

Time unplugged and in nature allows our students’ brains to enter what neuroscientists call ‘mind wandering mode’ which is also considered the ‘default mode’ of thinking. When our students are outdoors, they’re away from their screens (hopefully) and therefore they’re not processing the multitude of sensory input that screens offer (sounds, animations, graphics, text). This allows their prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain that’s responsible for their higher-order thinking) to switch off. As a result, their mind can wander. During this mode of thinking, they can come up with creative solutions to problems, develop new ideas and be creative. (This is also the exact same reason why we often have our best ideas in the shower, after a run, or after a holiday.)

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Why we must teach kids to balance their screen-time and green-time by Dr Kristy Goodwin

Our kids are experiencing digitalised childhoods. Their plugged-in childhoods are impacting their health, development and even the ways that they want and expect to learn. Technology is changing so many things about childhood and adolescence.

For example, we now know that today’s kids are leading more sedentary lives and one of the reasons (it’s certainly not the only reason) is because of their screen infatuation. Teachers throughout Australia are anecdotally reporting changes to students’ fine motor skills and research now confirms that many children learn to tap, swipe and pinch before they’ve learnt to ride a bike, grip a pencil or tie their shoelaces. There are also mounting concerns that young students’ gross motor skill development is also being impacted because of excessive time spent with screens (fundamental movement skills like crawling, hanging off monkey bars and rolling and swinging to develop their vestibular systems are being displaced by screen activities).

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ACHPER NSW and the PDHPE TA are seeking your feedback on the draft PDHPE syllabus

Last month saw the release of the draft K-10 PDHPE syllabus for consultation. The release provides an exciting opportunity for teachers to have input into the future directions of the PDHPE learning area.

ACHPER NSW and the PDHPE Teachers’ Association will be submitting formal feedback based on input from their members. You can provide feedback to be included in the submissions through the following channels:

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ACHPER NSW is hiring!

Professional Learning Officer role (Part-time)

ACHPER NSW is looking for an energetic person, with excellent leadership, communication and professional learning skills to join a vibrant team culture.

The Professional Learning Officer will build the capacity of educators, schools and community agencies to support healthy and active living in NSW. Maintaining strong links between the needs of the practicing teacher and evidence-based best practice professional learning to support the delivery of high quality, relevant and accessible professional learning to encourage optimal teacher and student outcomes across PDHPE in NSW.

The successful candidate will be responsible for the delivery, development and recruitment of ACHPER consultancy services across the education, health and sport sectors. As well as supporting the design, development and implementation of ACHPER NSW Branch’s professional learning services and resources.

ACHPER NSW currently provides ongoing support and professional development activities for teachers, students and academics in Personal Development, Health and Physical Education throughout NSW. This includes currently offering close to 40 workshops, five K-6 Conferences, an Annual Stage 6 Conference, HSC Enrichment Days, webinars and resources to support subjects under the PDHPE KLA.

A full role description and position criteria can be viewed and downloaded below

Download (PDF, Unknown)


How SAAFE are your PE lessons?

Although the health benefits of participating in regular physical activity are extensive, the majority of young Australians are not sufficiently active. The pandemic of ‘physical inactivity’ is not only influencing our health, but also our hip pocket, with global estimates suggesting in excess of US$50 billion is being spent on health care related to inactivity. So how do we encourage our kids to become more active now and provide them with motivation, knowledge, skills and confidence to be active for life?

In February this year, the Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition at the University of Newcastle, in collaboration with the Institute for Positive Psychology and Education at Australian Catholic University and the Psychology of Exercise, Health and Physical Activity Laboratory at the University of British Columbia, published a research article (which can be found online here) describing the SAAFE (Supportive, Autonomous, Active, Fair, and Enjoyable) teaching principles.

The principles were designed to provide specialist and non-specialist PE teachers with an easy-to-follow framework for delivering high quality learning experiences in the physical domain. They are not ‘rocket science’, but they are based on international research that has explored strategies to increase young people’s motivation and activity levels in PE, community sport and after school programs.

The principles were originally developed for use in the SCORES (Supporting Children’s Outcomes using Rewards, Exercise and Skills) physical activity intervention for primary school children. The SCORES intervention successfully increased children’s physical activity, fitness and fundamental movement skills over a 12-month period. The SAAFE principles are now being used in the iPLAY program, which builds on the success of SCORES.

The SAAFE principles have also been used by secondary school teachers with adolescents. So far, about 200 teachers from across NSW have been provided with training to deliver the NEAT and ATLAS programs, which use the SAAFE principles to teach resistance training skills. In our next project, we will use the SAAFE principles to support the delivery of high intensity interval training (HIIT) with senior school students.

So, what is the secret to creating ‘SAAFE’ physical activity sessions? How can you ensure that every member of your class or team is active and engaged?

Image: Overview of the SAAFE teaching principles

1. Be SUPPORTIVE in your teaching. Take the perspective of the students, provide a rationale for what you are doing, create meaningful connections, use language that is not strict or controlling, and demonstrate emotional support or involvement. Examples: Provide individual skill specific feedback; provide praise on student effort and improvement.

2. Maximise opportunities for individuals to be physically ACTIVE by including high levels of physical activity and minimal transition time. Examples: Avoid elimination games; play multiple mini games to maximise student involvement.

3. Create an AUTONOMOUS environment by providing students with choice and offering graded tasks. Examples: Allow students to choose the music within the lesson; involve students in the modification of the activities/rules.

4. Design and deliver FAIR lessons by providing all students with opportunities to experience success in the physical domain. Examples: Ensure students are evenly matched in activities; encourage self-comparison rather than peer-comparison.

5. Provide an ENJOYABLE experience, as people tend to persist with activities they find intrinsically motivating. Examples: Start and conclude session with an enjoyable activity; do not use exercise as punishment.

Leading this conversation is Professor David Lubans, ARC Future Fellow and Theme Leader of the Physical Activity and Nutrition in Schools theme at the Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition at the University of Newcastle. Professor Lubans is extremely passionate about re-engaging children and teens in physical education, through the design and delivery of innovative school-based programs and teacher education initiatives. He believes that the SAAFE principles are an essential component imbedded within the interventions he creates and delivers, and that all teachers should be provided with the knowledge and training to include these principles within their lessons.

Would you like to know more about the SAAFE Teaching Principles? Search for the “Health and Fitness for Teens Workshop” on MyPL. It is a one day, BOSTES accredited professional learning workshop delivered by the Department of Education in collaboration with Professor Lubans and his research team.

Welcome to our new website

You may have noticed over previous weeks that we have been in the process of making changes to the ACHPER NSW website.

Check out the video tour below to take a look at the new features and how to find your way around the new site.


One major change that we are implementing is to make more content available to all teachers rather than restricting some content to members only. In order to do this we are replacing the members login process with member discounts that can be redeemed on all purchases through our online store.

In order to access the on-demand webinars, powerpoint presentations and teacher resources available through our online store members will need to use the discount code that will be sent to them via email when new products are advertised.

Current members will receive an email outlining the process for accessing discounts on current products as well as the discount codes to be used at checkout.

So now we need to get the word out there about all of the great teaching and professional learning resources we have available on the website. Explore the site yourself and share our new site with your friends and colleagues today and you can be in the running to win a 12-month ACHPER Membership.


Improving performance in PDHPE and CAFS

Improving performance in both PDHPE and CAFS (and any other subject area) involves adopting a variety of different strategies to support and grow student learning. These strategies can be based around learning activities, groupings, types of assessment tasks, exam techniques or even feedback provided to students.

Student feedback has been recognised as one of the greatest influences on student performance and improvement in research conducted on both the influences of student achievement (Hattie) and embedding formative assessment (Wiliam).

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Literacy in PDHPE – Dan Jackson

To some, PDHPE and literacy in the same sentence may only be used as a reference to a ticked box in a programme for compliance. To others, it may be something that has become an important focus of their professional learning and professional reading, which is clearly evident within their PDHPE classroom.

Without become confused and apprehensive about embedding literacy into your PDHPE programme, there are some very simple strategies that can be easily included and will have positive effects on your students. One of the first strategies is to know your students well; this was reinforced in one of our previous articles.


1. Many of us have been in meetings with reference to NAPLAN results, but very few of us know how to use NAPLAN data to inform us about our students. NAPLAN results are individualised and with access to this data you can create simple class profiles that will help you to identify exactly which aspects of literacy a particular student is struggling with, or is exceptional at. This profile can then be used to inform you practice as you seek to strengthen your students’ literacy and cater to their skill levels.
2. A reading strategy to develop literacy in PDHPE (or any subject for that matter) is called the ‘Sticky Note Summary’. This is a simple, yet effective strategy that can assist students who find it difficult to understand set readings and struggle to identify key points in information provided. Sticky summaries can be developed when students are provided with a set number of the “tab” like sticky notes, which are used to write down key points from an article/reading as they go. After finishing their reading, students write their own summary from the small sticky notes. This interaction with the text is vital as we support the development of students’ ability to read and understand.


3. To further develop literacy in PDHPE a specific writing structure that has been used extensively in Stage 6 PDHPE and other courses is PEEL. This may sometimes be known as TEEL, TEE, SEAL, SEXY or another similar acronym. The PEEL writing structure can be introduced in our K-6 PDHPE classrooms as well as in the first years of secondary school. The inclusion of this structure will mean that our students use a consistent approach throughout their literacy in PDHPE and will further develop their ability to write. Providing feedback to students on their plans and allowing them time to adjust their plans before completing the writing component is also a simple, yet effective strategy.


These are just a couple of strategies that Alex Lupton (Heathcote High School) and I will explore at our upcoming workshop Literacy in PDHPE.

Daniel Jackson
(SEDA College and Founder of pdhpe.net)

Our highlights from the ACHPER International Conference – Dan Jackson and Steven Thompson (SEDA, Redfern)

Our highlights from the 30th ACHPER International Conference 2017 held in Australia’s Capital from January 16-18 include presentations and workshops from: Phil Morgan, Kelly Bell and Hayley Dean, as well as Matthew Donaldson. There is nothing we like better than three days of professional development to kick start the year!

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Getting to know your students

At the beginning of a new school year it is timely for PDHPE teachers (and all teachers in education, including those who teach Community and Family Studies, Exploring Early Childhood and Child Studies!) to think about how they are going to create positive relationships with their students.

PDHPE teachers all know too well about the importance of building positive relationships with their students, especially because of the sensitive nature of the issues and content that is explored in PDHPE classrooms. 

There are four main areas of suggestion for teachers to get know their students:

1. Names

Learn student names quickly. This could be done by giving the students name tags or a seating plan in the first few weeks or by being more creative by playing a rhyming game or sharing characteristics of their personality or traits. For example, Kinaesthetic Kelly. This can be done as a memory game for either the class teacher or whole class. More ideas can be found here

2. Interests

Get to know what your students enjoy doing in their spare time. This allows teachers to gain information about student areas of interest which can then be incorporated into conversations and possibly classroom activities.

3. Family

Find out more about a student’s family and background. This can give teachers an insight into their family structure as well as how they might respond to aspects of the course. Be mindful that some students may not want to share too much here.

4. Goals

Have students share their short, intermediate and long term goals with the teacher and the class. This allows teachers to focus on what motivates the students and teachers can work with them on reaching some of those goals. 

It can also be worthwhile to create class expectations together, where students and their teachers get to share what they expect of each other. This allows both parties to have clear expectations of each other, rather than just having class rules set by the teacher.

The following ‘Ten Things to Know About Me’ could even be used:

1. These things interest me

2. When I have free time I like to

3. When I’m at school I would rather work independently or in cooperative learning groups

4. I learn best when

5. I can’t learn when

6. One learning experience I would like to suggest this year is

7. My favourite subject at school is

8. Words that best describe me are

9. Here are three things that are special about my family

10. One goal I have for this year is …

Teachers, departments and whole schools can also survey their students about all of these areas. This is something that has been done at Nagle College over the last few years where surveys are sent to students via email at the end of the school year and are filled in during homeroom, Pastoral Care or at home. Teachers then get a copy of all survey responses on a spreadsheet at the beginning of the following school year to get to know their students better.

We would love for you to share more of your strategies in getting to know your students via social media on Facebook and Twitter (@ACHPERNSW) using our hashtag #achpernsw

Yours in health and wellbeing,

Kelly Bell

Nagle College, Blacktown South, NSW

President of ACHPER NSW

BOSTES (now NESA) Update

The NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) replaced the Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards NSW (BOSTES) on 1 January 2017.

NESA has an increased focus on:

  • developing evidence-based policy to improve student achievement and support teachers
  • risk-based monitoring of Teacher Accreditation Authorities and schools.

NESA will set and monitor quality teaching, learning, assessment and school standards. This includes responsibility, across NSW public, Catholic and independent schools, for:

Read more about the NESA changes