The Play Community: A Student-Centered Model for Physical Education

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As a result of their participation in K–12 physical education, students should obtain high levels of physical activity and learn motor and/or sport skills. How to accomplish these outcomes in the context of K–12 physical education is a continuous challenge for teachers. The purpose of this article is to introduce the play community model, which addresses how to proceed in the current climate of public health demands and a continuing commitment to educational outcomes like skill/knowledge attainment. First, a theoretical foundation for the play community model is delineated. Second, practical suggestions for implementing the play community model in physical education are offered. An underlying assumption of the play community model is that students will develop skills and knowledge, and increase their activity levels and/or fitness when their aspirations to participate in an activity or sport are sufficiently strong. Under this model, a physical education teacher's primary responsibility is to create specific sport or activity play communities where students' interest in physical education content can flourish. It is proposed that the physical education outcomes teachers so highly prize in today's educational environments — skills, knowledge, and physical activity/fitness and health — will occur “organically” via student involvement and inclusion in specific activity or sport play communities.