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Catawba Students Work with Second Graders to Develop Skills during Recess

December 2, 2016

Category: Academics, Events, Students, Teacher Education

IMG_3687.JPGSome Catawba College students hoping to pursue careers as elementary school teachers had a chance to get some hands-on experience this fall by coordinating and supervising recess activities for a class of second grade students at Elizabeth Hanford-Dole Elementary School. These college students collaborated to create a five-week physical activity curriculum to teach the second graders how to volley an object.

Each lesson plan involving the elementary students was designed to meet educational standards for their grade level. The lesson plans also involved all members of a second grade class and help each student in the class improve their manipulative skills.


The Catawba students initially tried using balloons to teach the second graders the concept of volleying a ball in the first of the five recess sessions. However, Catawba sophomore Jenna Linnick, who would like to teach students in kindergarten through second grade, explained that “the balloons popped and blew around the playground” actually preventing the second graders from fully focusing on the task of learning to volley a ball.

Catawba students settled on using yarn balls beginning with their second lesson plan and the second graders began to make progress. All of the second graders had a chance for individualized instruction from one of the Catawba students during each of the recess periods and all of them were able to participate in the recess activity regardless of their skill level.


While one Catawba student, sophomore Regan Bell, who hopes to teach kindergartners, videotaped the recess activity from the side of the playground, her fellow students helped the second graders stay on task as they volleyed the balls back and forth to one of their peers or to a Catawba student.

At the end of each of the five recess periods, the second graders completed an exit survey on the day’s activity which were collected by the Catawba students. Those exit surveys, the videotape review of the teaching, and the Catawba students’ own self-analysis allowed the prospective student teachers an opportunity to assess the curriculum they had developed.

Each lesson plan developed included student objectives for using psychomotor, cognitive, and affective skills. It also included teacher objectives such as using 80% of the class time for physical activity, reviewing skills learned during prior lessons while explaining new skills to be developed, and assessing individual student’s skill levels through individual observation or conversation with each student.


Having an opportunity to work with elementary students in a real recess setting also gave the Catawba students a chance to discover early in their collegiate career if a job as an elementary school teacher would be right for them.

“I had thought while on the outside looking in [at a job as an elementary teacher] that it would be a fantastic profession, but I’ve learned that it’s hard in its own way,” explained sophomore Jacey Voris who wants to be a special education teacher.


In addition to the aforementioned Catawba students, others who worked to develop the curriculum included junior Madison Brooke Sides, who wants to teach first grade, and post-baccalaureate student Shawn Burdick who is pursuing his teacher’s certification to be an elementary school teacher.

IMG_3663.JPGAll of the Catawba students were enrolled in PER 1945 taught by Dr. Tanjian Liang, assistant professor of health and physical education. Liang had this to say about his students’ efforts to develop a physical education curriculum to be used during elementary school recess periods:

“SHAPE America initiates the Comprehensive School Physical Activity Programs (CSPAP) which focuses on combating student obesity in the United States. One of the five components of CSPAP is “staff involvement” which means that classroom teachers are counted for the promotion of physical activity. Given that, the quality of recess becomes crucial in K-12 schools in addition to regular physical education classes. Quality of the recess means that instructors should develop organized and age-appropriate activities for the promotion of student healthy lifestyles.”

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