Presidents Challenge

       The Events                                            
Sit-Reach (V-Reach)
Endurance (Mile Walk/Run)
Pull-Ups (Arm Hang)
Shuttle Run

How can my students improve if they cannot even do 1 rep?         
Data Tracking

Presidents Challenge as an Assessment Tool

     Personally, I use the Presidents Challenge as a major assessment tool in my Physical Education class.  I give the test 2 times during the school year. Once in the Fall, and then again in the Spring.  I use the data from the Fall test, to help determine the areas in which my students are lacking, both individually and as a whole.  For example, the past several years, my students are lacking in upper body strength and endurance.  Therefore, I continually add upper body and endurance skills, drills, and equipment, to my curriculum.  Furthermore, I can track the data of each student and monitor their progress during the school year.
     The Presidents Challenge is comprised of 5 events: Curl-ups (partial curl-ups), Sit Reach (V-Reach), Endurance walk/run, Pull-ups (Arm-Hang, Push-ups), Shuttle-Run. 

     My Personal preference.
     Personally, I use this test as an assessment tool, so I make so modifications to the actual test, as written.  First, due to time and test control issues, I use Curl-Ups, Sit Reach, Mile walk/run, Pull-Ups (Arm Hang), and Shuttle Run.  In my humble opinion, I feel that push-ups and the partial curl-ups are difficult to monitor and therefore may skew my test results.  Furthermore, I can test the same area with pull-ups (arm-hang), and curl-ups.  Following are how I run each event and the modifications that I use, if any.

The Events

Curl-Ups - This event measures abdominal strength and endurance.
     Have student lie on cushioned, clean surface with knees flexed and feet about 12 inches from buttocks. Partner holds feet. Arms are crossed with hands placed on opposite shoulders and elbows held close to chest. Keeping this arm position, student raises the trunk curling up to touch elbows to thighs and then lowers the back to the floor so that the scapulas (shoulder blades) touch the floor, for one curl-up. To start, a timer calls out the signal "Ready? Go!" and begins timing student for one minute. The student stops on the word "stop."
My Preferences: Personally, place my students in groups of 4.  1 person performs the curl-up, the 2nd holds their feet, the 3rd and 4th are counters.  With this set-up, I have 4 counters for each person performing the curl-up, so there is less chance for getting a wrong count.  
     Also, I have some students who cannot do a curl-up, so these students will do crunches, or I may let them grab their pant legs to help pull themselves up.  Of course, they cannot earn a presidential or National Fitness Award, but it gives the student and me a number on which we can work to improve.  (By the way, I take time at the beginning of this unit to discuss feelings and not "putting down others".  When a student uses a modification, the other students are very supportive.  Furthermore, the student can now work on the exercise with success.

     Sit-Reach - This event measures flexibility of the lower back and hamstrings.
     Sit and Reach A specially constructed box (see below) with a measuring scale marked in centimeters, with 23 centimeters at the level of the feet. Student removes shoes and sits on floor with knees fully extended, feet shoulder-width apart and soles of the feet held flat against the end of the box. With hands on top of each other, palms down, and legs held flat, student reaches along the measuring line as far as possible. After three practice reaches, the fourth reach is held while the distance is recorded.
V-Reach - This event measures flexibility of the lower back and hamstrings.
     Mark a straight line two feet long on the floor as the baseline. Draw a measuring line perpendicular to the midpoint of the baseline extending two feet on each side and marked off in half-inches. The point where the baseline and measuring line intersect is the "0" point. Student removes shoes and sits on floor with measuring line between legs and soles of feet placed immediately behind baseline, heels 8-12" apart. Student clasps thumbs so that hands are together, palms down and places them on measuring line. With the legs held flat by a partner, student slowly reaches forward as far as possible, keeping fingers on baseline and feet flexed. After three practice tries, the student holds the fourth reach for three seconds while that distance is recorded.
My Preferences: I have students perform a variety of lower back and hamstring stretches before we actually test.  Personally, I use a homemade box, and use the Sit-Reach test.  However, that is my personal preference, and I cannot say that it has a huge advantage over the v-reach.  However, considering the increments of the Sit-Reach (cm) compared to 1/2 inch increments (V-Reach), I feel I can be more accurate with the Sit-Reach.  By the way, having students remove their shoes will help improve their score (slightly).

     Mile Walk/Run - This event measures heart/lung endurance.
     On a safe, one-mile distance, students begin running on the count "Ready? Go!" Walking may be interspersed with running. However, the students should be encouraged to cover the distance in as short a time as possible.
     My Preferences: Personally, I have my students pair up for the run.  One will run, while their partner will help count their laps.  I also, tally the laps for each runner.  I have each runner say their last name and their lap, each time they go by me (at the finish line).  This way, not only can I count laps, but this helps me check for any problems with the runners (ex: if they are having trouble talking, breathing).
     I have learned to prepare students for this event by having them do a timed jog, at the beginning of class, once a week. ( I use a large timer so they can see how long they jogged before having to walk, they will then try to best their time. 5min. max).  I help motivated kids by publishing the students who can jog 5 min. without stopping, in the Joggers Guild.  My guild is on the internet, but also placed on our bulletin board.
     By the way, I use the mile because I feel it gives me a better measure of the endurance of my students.  Stress, that while we know some kids are competing for an award, each student is competing only against him/herself!  The goal is to personally improve upon your own score.

     Pull-Ups - This event measures upper body strength and endurance.
Student hangs from a horizontal bar at a height the student can hang from with arms fully extended and feet free from floor, using either an overhand grasp (palms facing away from body) or underhand grip (palms facing toward body). Small students may be lifted to starting position. Student raises body until chin clears the bar and then lowers body to full-hang starting position. Student performs as many correct pull-ups as possible.
     Arm-Hang - Using either an overhand grasp (palms facing away from body) or underhand grip (palms facing toward body), student assumes flexed-arm hang position with chin clearing the bar. Students may be lifted to this position. Student holds this position as long as possible.
     My Preferences: When testing for an award, if a student does not qualify National on the pull-ups, I will let them do the arm hang.  According to the Presidents Challenge, a person can only do the arm-hang if they cannot do 1 pull-up.  I feel this is unfair to the students who can do 1 pull-up but not qualify for National.  In short, you are penalizing a student because he can do a pull-up.  This is why I allow all non-qualifying students to test for an award with the arm-hang.
     On the arm-hang, will lift (or let them use a chair) to start with their chin above the bar.  This way they are not wasting energy to start.

     Shuttle Run - This event measures speed, quickness and agility.
     Mark two parallel lines 30 feet apart and place two blocks of wood or similar object behind one of the lines. Students start behind opposite line. On the signal "Ready? Go!" the student runs to the blocks, picks one up, runs back to the starting line, places block behind the line, runs back and picks up the second block and runs back across starting line.
     My Preferences: I have found that the scores are substantially lower when I set this up on the blacktop.  In the gymnasium, the students tend to slide, which will increase their times. 
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How to help students improve.

     First, it is important to have a variety of levels of most, if not all, exercises, skills etc, to insure that the students have an opportunity to succeed.  The Presidents Challenge is no different.  While I hold true to the criteria for earning awards, I have optional modifications for students who will not qualify for a National or Presidential Award, to succeed.  Remember, this is an assessment tool, so students only need be concerned about their own personal improvement.  With this in mind, I will give you a handful of modification ideas, then you will see that your creativity is key to insuring success.  For students who cannot do, or have trouble doing 1:
     Curl-Up - Students can improve in this area by practicing 
- similar to the curl-up, but only raise upper body as high as possible (lower back on the ground, face toward the ceiling).
          Modified Curl-up- Similar to a curl-up, but allow the student to grasp their pant legs to help themselves up.
          Partner Curl-Up - Allow the help of a partner to support their shoulders to assist them up, or allow them to join hands to assist.
     Sit-reach - Students can improve in this are by practicing any number of stretches designed for the lower back and hamstrings.  Make sure that you demonstrate proper stretching and breathing technique.
     Mile Walk/Run - Students can improve in this are by practicing proper endurance and pacing technique.  Practice timed jogs (as described in the Mile section above), keep it interesting with (Music, Games, Motivators,).
     Pull-Ups - Students can improve in this area by practicing:
          Partner Pull-Up - I have my students work in pairs by similar size.  One person will perform the pull-up, while the other holds their waist (Hands only on the belt line) and helps lift them through each rep.
          Slant Pull-Up - Lower the bar so the student can keep their feet on the ground (body and legs stay straight, but are slanted away from the bar, while chest is directly under the bar).  Perform modified pull-ups.
          Push-Ups - you know how this is done.  Arms directly under shoulders, feet together, legs straight.
          Modified Push-up #1 - Same as a push-up, but knees are on the floor instead of toes. (bottoms of feet toward the ceiling).
          Modified Push-up #2 - Lay flat on the floor, and just do the push-up cycle (knees or regular).
          Modified Push-Up #3 - Perform push-up slanted against a wall, instead of the floor.  The steeper the slant, the more difficult the push-up.
          Partner Push-up - Have a partner help lift at the hips.
     Shuttle-Run - Students can improve in this area by practicing games, skills, and activities that encourage quickness and agility.    
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     Now, lets discuss the gathering and tracking of data.  First, I give all of my students sheets in which they will track their own data (3-5 grades, younger grades may be less independent).  Students tracking their own score has many perks.  First, they can see the areas in which they need to improve.  Secondly, they can monitor their progress.  Finally, they can make sure that my tracking is accurate.  So, as stated earlier, I will test in the Fall and then again in the spring.  The fall test lets the students and me know in what areas we need to improve, while the Spring test will give us feedback on how effective we were during the year.
     Until last year, I collected and crunched this data by hand.  In fact, I made a mini unit where the students would help crunch the data and come to their own conclusions.  While this was a great idea, it was very time consuming.  Now I have a program called Fitness Pro, that is a lifesaver in analyzing all the data.  Yes, I still have to collect and enter the data (I have high school aides.  Bet you have parents or student aides who could help), but the rewards are great.  I can analyze any student, group of students, class, school etc.  It can give me average scores, high scores, low scores etc.  I will not go into all the details of the program, but it will do virtually anything, including creating your own tests (The Presidents Challenge is preloaded, however, I had to make a few corrections).
     To help with motivation, I always have my all-time high scores posted (by gender and grade for each event).  And now that I have Fitness Pro, I post the top-ten scores (by gender and grade) for the year.
     In short, by collecting and analyzing this data, I can modify my curriculum to improve on our weak areas.  Furthermore, each students can see and improve on their own weaker areas.    
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