Kinesiology professor aims to ensure every turkey tangos

In early 2019, Kinesiology Associate Professor Dr. Jean Chen and two physical education (PE) specialists from Lincoln Parish, published two articles based on their work creating resources for PE teachers that connect class activities to holidays.

Chen, Tammy Schilling, and Jeanie Rowland wanted to broaden the experience students have in PE. Their collaboration has brought exciting and creative ideas to engage students in the classroom, while ensuring all students succeed at being physically active in and out of school settings.

While this is the first time they have published a series in a journal, in the past, they have presented their work at the annual Louisiana Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (LAHPERD) Convention, where they have established a reputation for providing practical and effective resources for physical educators throughout the state.

 “We’re all about helping these kids become active, so we’re going to support teachers as much as possible,” Schilling said.

Chen and her colleagues have a wealth of experience helping teachers and students connect through fun physical activity. Chen has been teaching at Louisiana Tech University for seven years. Schilling is a former faculty member in the Department of Kinesiology and is currently a PE specialist at Hillcrest Elementary School. Rowland is an adapted PE specialist and teaches children with special needs at multiple schools throughout the parish.

Using a variety of innovative, fun activities increases the motivation of both students and teachers, according to the team. It also helps students learn and use many skills over time.

“We should be doing enough with our students and providing enough activities where they have success in something,” Schilling said. “While the activities they gather in the lesson-plan series are “designed for all kids at any level with any interest to be successful,” they will also provide students with the opportunity to find the type of movement they enjoy best.

Some of the lessons focus on well-known holidays, but others center on events like National Popcorn Day, International Jugglers’ Day, Chocolate Milkshake Day, International Talk Like a Pirate Day, and National Comic Book Day. In the past, Chen, Schilling, and Rowland have developed activities around traditional holidays, Motown music, and the use of technology, but they’ve observed the celebration of holidays in general encourages a festive environment the children are highly motivated by. 

A couple of the unique songs and dances the children learn in celebration of the holidays they’ll remember as they grow into adulthood.

“My own children were the guinea pigs for all of these,” Rowland said. “My kids are grown – one is 23 and one is 21 – and they still ask, ‘Are we going to do that Turkey Tango?’ So we still do the Turkey Tango every Thanksgiving because they just love the music.”

For next year’s LAHPERD Convention, Chen said they plan on doing a series based on music with inspirational lyrics. Some songs are heard by the children over and over again, and Schilling said the more the students are exposed to the messages within the songs, the more important it is for lyrics to be positive.

Access Holicraze Days online on the Taylor and Francis Online website or by contacting Dr. Jean Chen.