By Susan Riddell
How many calories do cats typically consume in a day?
When Audra Deli-Hoofnagle found out that one of her students had asked about cat calories, she knew she was on the right track as a health and physical education (PE) teacher.
Deli-Hoofnagle, who has taught health and PE at Elkhorn Middle School (Franklin County) for five years, received an e-mail from a parent who had been asked that question by her son.
“She was telling me how excited she was that her son suddenly was interested in nutrition and how physical activity and just moving around are so important,” Deli-Hoofnagle said. “It just made my day.”
Deli-Hoofnagle has other ways to know she is getting through to her students, too.
Last August, Jamie Sparks and Stephanie Bunge, both with Kentucky Department of Education’s Coordinated School Health (CSH), were recently certified to offer PECAT and HECAT trainings to Kentucky teachers.
“The PECAT and HECAT are great Center for Disease Control tools identified in the recently released Practical Living/Career Studies Program Review,” Sparks said. “Each tool is based on the national standards for health education and physical education and has been around since 2006. Now, we can offer the trainings on a statewide level which should provide an excellent resource for identifying Program Review evidence.”
The PECAT and HECAT, described by Deli-Hoofnagle as a tally system-type model, helps teachers know how well their curriculum aligns with health and physical education national standards.
“It can be a time-consuming process, but the using these tools is worth it,” Deli-Hoofnagle said.
Deli-Hoofnagle uses the SPARK Curriculum when she teaches, and she said the HECAT and PECAT helped confirm to her that she was using sequential curriculum that keeps students highly engaged.
After she received training on using the tools, Deli-Hoofnagle shared her training with other teachers in the district, and they have since worked together to align the health and physical education curriculum across the entire district.
She also noted that using the HECAT and PECAT is a good way to present data to district administrators when it’s needed.
“It’s important for us to make a difference in the lives of our students and to stay on top of the newest curriculum,” Deli-Hoofnagle said. “These tools help. “Obesity rates are off the charts these days, and while I may not see kids lose the weight they need to over the course of a year, hopefully I’m giving them early essentials and skills to live a healthy lifestyle for years to come,” she added. “I do see a lot more excitement in their faces, so hopefully they’ll be incorporating what they learn into their lifestyle.”
Since Sparks and Bunge are certified to train teachers on use of the PECAT and HECAT, several districts, like Grayson, Marshall and Clinton County school districts, already have had them visit teachers.
Sherry Vincent, health and PE teacher at Grayson County High School, said the trainings were informative, and gave her the chance to see strengths and weaknesses in both classes.
“We gained greater awareness of the assessment tools through hands-on tasks and in-depth investigation of content and an overview of what a high quality program looks like from curriculum to teaching practices,” Vincent said.
Marshall County High School health and PE teacher Leigh Gideon said the trainings reinforced to her and other district staff the importance of aligned curriculum.
“We seemed to be all over the place here in our county with what to teach in terms of state standards,” Gideon said. “I can only imagine what other counties are doing.
“The (trainings) helped our county to see how we can become vertically and horizontally aligned in regard to curriculum, which in turn will help our students at all levels,” she added.
Jamie Sparks, firstname.lastname@example.org, (502) 564-2706
Leigh Gideon, email@example.com, (270) 527-1453
Audra Deli-Hoofnagle, firstname.lastname@example.org, (502)695-6740
Sherry Vincent, email@example.com, (270) 259-4078