MS All Star 2010

Jean Cuevas

Teaching Philosophy, Program and Activities

Jean Cuevas' Teaching Philosophy


RunningWest Hancock Elementary is a rural school, created after Hurricane Katrina caused a shift in the population away from the devastated coast line.  I had been at our mother school for 27 years as it grew, divided, and grew again. This time I decided it was time for a change and went with the new school.  I am truly glad I did.  We have a beautiful building with a multi-purpose gym, a classroom for health classes and outdoor areas for recess and P.E. Our outdoor PFA unit is located conveniently close to the gym with enough space for the students to work on the Smile Mile.   I was excited when we learned we had received the Project Fit America grant.  I had realized my students were lacking in upper body strength and knew this would be a great way to encourage and help them improve their fitness levels.


I have always believed the purpose of Physical Education should be to provide students with the skills and knowledge needed for them to enjoy a physically active life outside of the school setting.  It is our job to teach them how to be healthy in a way that is enjoyable, so the desire to be healthy will stay with them when they leave us and influence the choices they make in the future.  I look for new ways to make P.E. both fun and beneficial for my students.  When our school was first formed we purchased both the SPARK P.E. and Healthy Lifestyles Choices Health curriculums. Now having Project Fit America is the icing on the cake.  It all works so well together.  Also, the combination of the PFA outdoor unit, curriculum and equipment has added a new dimension to what I am able to do for my students.  I have always encouraged my students to do their individual best at everything.  They quickly learn that if they want to know the score in a game, they usually have to keep up with it themselves; I am more concerned with their effort, skill usage and sportsmanship, as well as their enjoyment of the activity.  No one has to prove that they are better than anyone else; they just have to work at improving what they can do.  I never get over the thrill of hearing a child say, “Mrs. Jean, I did it!” 

Fitness Equipment Fitness Equipment Fitness Equipment
Fitness Equipment Fitness Equipment Fitness Equipment

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Using PFA and lessons

We start the year with an introduction to the equipment and practice time to get ready for the pre-test.  After the students have been instructed in the proper usage of the equipment and have been given their pre-test, I try to take them out to the unit for a few minutes at the start of each class, weather permitting.  Also, as often as possible, I will incorporate a cup building activity when we are indoors.  In both of these situations the students can also work on Heavy Hoops, jump rope and Smile Mile.  I keep clipboard in hand and observe and record results at students’ requests.  From time to time I will have one or more PTO parents come help, and we will devote the entire class period to recording scores.  We have charts for all the stations of the outdoor unit as well as for Heavy Hoops, jump rope and Smile Mile on the wall outside the gym. K – 2nd also do cup building activities and practice the heavy hoops, jogging and jump rope.  Because of time constraints, (classes come one day a week for 50 minutes for P.E.), I take and post scores for just the 3rd – 5th grades.    

Chart chart chart

 My students are always excited to do any of the PFA activities I choose.  They really enjoy playing $10.00 & a Bone.  This year we tried the new game, $10.00 and a Meal, which we learned about at the conference in November.  It was perfect timing to go along with our nutrition unit in health.  The students really enjoyed it also.  Cup building activities are always a hit.  Just add cup building to any fitness or sport-specific skill station work and it’s a hit.  An example of this would be practicing basketball skills.  I set up stations around the gym for shooting baskets, stationary dribbling, pivoting, passes with a partner, dribbling around obstacles, guarding, etc.  The students work with a partner, traveling to and performing the skill at each station and then getting 3 cups each to build together.  They can travel to the stations in any order but must work all of them before repeating any.  Jogging is required while traveling to and from stations except within the cup-building area itself..  They get skill practice without having to wait in long lines, experience the benefit of teamwork, get an aerobic workout and have fun.  Also, discipline problems are practically nonexistent.

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Lesson Plans

Basketball Skills Cup Build

After teaching basic basketball skills, I like to give the students more practice using a station course. The students work with a partner. A different skill is used at each station, and the students perform a set number of repetitions. 

Skills included:  Shooting baskets, dribbling in place right handed, left-handed, and around traffic cones, various passes with a partner, and one-on-one defense.

 After completing a station, the students travel to the cup stacks, get a set number of cups and build with their partners.  All travel between stations and the cup building area is done by jogging.  Travel within the area is walking.  

Cup Building
Cup Building
Cup Building
Cup BuildingCup Building

Creative Games Writing Lesson

This is an activity I have used in the past, and think it could work with the PFA unit and equipment now. I just have not had the opportunity to try it yet. The students create games/activities that the class can play. They must provide a description, rules, procedure and list of equipment.  They then teach the game to the class and everyone gets to play it. The writing part can be done as a homework assignment for P.E. or as a special project in conjunction with the classroom teacher.    


When it comes to support, my husband, Clint, has always been my biggest source of encouragement.  He believes I can do anything I put my mind to and is always there for me. Mrs. Katie Warren, my principal is great! She strongly supports my program and always encourages me to try new things.  When we moved into our new building, Mrs. Warren, along with our former assistant principal Mr. James Morgan, made sure I had the facilities, equipment and curriculums that would help me do the best job I could for our students. Mr. Morgan introduced me to Project Fit America, wrote the grant with me and helped in any way he could. Several of our PTO parents have spent hours spreading mulch under the unit, helping with testing, creating the wall charts and recording results.  Their help has definitely made things easier.   .

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