Episode 30 – Listener Stories of Success #1

In this episode of The PE Geek Podcast I’m excited to complete our first ever interview with superstar Physical Educator Jo Bailey. In the episode we explore how Jo got started using Tech in PE, the success she has had as well as the opportunities she sees going forward.  The episode is jam-packed with ideas to take your classes and efficiency to the next level.

Resources shared in the episode include

a. Google Forms
b. Google Classroom
Other apps:

Press Play below to listen or visit the podcast page. Alternatively download a full episode transcript here


00:28 Jarrod Robinson: Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of the PE Geek Podcast, and as always thanks for tuning in. And I’m really excited today, because we actually have our first ever Phys Ed guest, and I’ve sort been mentioning that this is going to be happening. And it is going to be happening every five episodes, as we sort of share things that other people are doing related to tech in PE. And it was my absolute pleasure to get Jo Bailey and connect with her and get her onto the podcast, so welcome Jo.

00:56 Jo Bailey: Thank you very much.

00:58 JR: You’re welcome. So, for those people that maybe don’t know you, which I’d be surprised if they don’t, where do you teach? And how did you get started down this track of technology in PE?

01:12 JB: Right now I’m teaching in a… It’s a relatively small town called Wausau, Wisconsin, it’s kind of north central Wisconsin. From the accent you might be able to tell that that’s not where I’m from, I’m actually British. I spent a lot of time in Hong Kong, and I’ve taught in both England and Hong Kong. So, I’ve kinda hopped around a bit, but I’ve been based here at a high school for the last 10 years. And I guess my journey with tech has always been driven by, there has to be an easier way to do this. You’re faced with a task, you’re trying to do paperwork, you’re trying to figure out the best way to teach something, and I’m always driven by that thought that there’s gotta be an easier way. I guess I started out [01:58] ____, I think it was back in Hong Kong and I was starting out with heart rate monitors in some of the Polar watches. And kind of wowed by what you could learn with those and do with those, and just kind of went from there.

02:09 JR: Yeah. And I think you touched on a really good point, that the attraction for me as well is sort of three fold. That if technology supports me as the teacher to be more efficient and affective, then I definitely sort of pursue that and value it. Because I think that definitely then gets up… By ferrying you up almost to work on things that you can push learning forward. And the other thing for me is, if I think it actually engages or improves learning then I value it. And the final sort of thing that makes tech exciting for me is if I think it improves my own learning. So, I think we’re on the same path there, that if it makes us more efficient then I think it frees us up to be even more powerful when it comes to teaching. So what are the things for you that you think make you more efficient right at the moment related to tech?

03:00 JB: I guess there are quite a few things on the front-end, like actually direct teaching, and there’s quite a lot on the backend as well with preparation and keeping assessments sorted, reporting, and that sort of stuff. I guess a really big aha for me on the front-end was I was teaching adventure Ed, and in our climbing unit the students have to learn how to tie knots. And it’s really hard for you as a teacher to try and be in 20 places or more at once, trying to help…

03:25 JR: Absolutely.

03:26 JB: It just doesn’t happen. So, I found some knot apps and I made QR codes and linked them to some videos, so they had me, they had the videos, they had some other app resources as well, and it just blew me away. From sort of spending three days and a lot of frustration on the kids part as they were trying to learn this new skill and this new motor pattern, to some of them got it really quickly and then were helping others. So, it went from having one teacher, to me being able to sort of really help those that were struggling beyond belief. And yeah, we… I think we cut down the amount of time it would have taken by a third, so that was like, “Wow, this is a game changer.”

04:06 JR: Yeah.

04:07 JB: And not only that, I was able to push the information out to them ahead of time using… I think I used Reminder, it was certainly some sort of web based thing that said, “Hey, if you got a chance, have a look at this before class.” So, some of them came in already knowing what they were gonna be looking at, so that was huge in itself. And from then on in, I’ve always tried to look at how can I be in more than one place at once, so the students have access to me or information they need, but I don’t necessarily have to be directly with them all the time. On the backend, definitely admin tasks. From simply getting roll call lists organised, to collecting data to assessments. I’m a bit of a Google convert, in the fact that I just love… I love the ease of their stuff, I love that I can get it anywhere, I love Google Forms and I love the add-ons that you can use with Google Forms because that’s… To me that’s my easy button, that’s the thing that does all the… It just takes the work away from you, which is huge.

05:12 JR: Yeah, I think you’re definitely right there. And that whole Google sort of explosion of tools and things is definitely gonna continue. And if people are listening and you haven’t really explored the whole use of Google and the apps and so forth that are available in their classroom, then there’s massive scope for you to really propel that administrative stuff in behind the scenes. I also liked what you mentioned about being able to clone yourself. And I think that’s one of the powerful things that technology provides. I mean for me, using tools that enhance the classroom and allow students to pick and differentiate the tasks that that they’re choosing is a really big focus. And I always use the example of my students asking me to teach yoga.

06:01 JR: I don’t know if you can think about that, but I could never do anything remotely close to Yoga. I can participate in it, but I couldn’t teach it. And just the wealth of material that’s online of people who know what they’re doing teaching a skill and that we can put that in the hands of our students. And then we become doubly valuable, I think, ’cause then we get to participate or walk around. So that knot-tying example is perfect. I must admit, I’m a bit of a knot dyslexic. I’m horrible at any sort of knot tying, so I think I should go back to the lesson that you described there and maybe advance my skills. But on the backend, what sort of add-ons do you find at the moment that you’re using the most? So, related to the Google tools?

06:48 JB: I think my number one favourite right now is docAppender. I’m still at the point where, when I’m collecting pedometer data, heart rate data, all that sort of stuff, the fact that I can use that to send that data to, effectively, a student portfolio and keep adding to it and keep adding to it as we work through is magical. And not only can I push set up, but I can push basically anything from a form to the same document, and just have it build up this evidence of learning for the students to see as I’m using that through Google Classroom. I love Google Classroom as well. I know it’s [07:30] ____ being used since August so I know it’s only going to keep getting better. Addition to that, Autocrat’s has been another huge one. I was president of our state organization, and, like you know we have organised conferences and collate presentation proposals, all those sorts of things.

07:47 JB: And I’ve used Autocrat to streamline nearly every single one of the processes that we have. So if someone submits a proposal, everyone, the person who’s submitting gets a copy, us as the state organization gets a copy, the people who are gonna review the proposals, they get a copy. So from that perspective, oh it’s so easy. And sharing factor is great as well. So those two are definitely my two favourites. I’ve played around with Doctopus and, oh gosh, Choice Eliminator is a great one for… I’ve use it in the last couple days for a field trip to figure out who had signed up for the field trip and who hadn’t. So it all depends on you needs, but definitely I’d say docAppender is probably number one right now for me.

08:35 JR: Yeah, definitely. And the Google tools are just an explosion of sort of really high end stuff that’s coming out. And that’s just sort of Google’s way of just keeping that innovation going by handing it over to the people who are just coding these amazing things. And it’s just the start really, it’s really just the start of this plethora of new tools. And Google Classroom is really simplistic, isn’t it? But it does exactly what it needs to. And there’s lots of tools out there that allow you to do learning management and that sort of stuff, but we’re having massive traction with it at our school at the moment with the average teacher. Because they’re able to use it instantly and, we’re getting a lot of buy-in from teachers who’ve never used digital tools and they’re using Google Classroom connected with Google Drive and having lots of success. So there’s something to be said about simplicity, and I reckon Google definitely… It does follow that mantra of sometimes simple is best, and the simplest things are often the most powerful, which is really exciting, definitely.

09:42 JB: Now… My five classes in a space of about five minutes in September, and that’s huge. Because I know there’s loads of other LMS, learning management assistance out there, but when you can set something up that quickly it’s wonderful.

09:57 JR: Yeah, it’s a game changer, definitely. Now my other question is sort of in line with that in many ways. Obviously over the course of the years that you’ve been using tech in PE, you’ve come across things that have good promise but maybe don’t work quite as well. And then you get them into a real setting and you realize that they definitely don’t work well. Have you made any sort of mistakes or, I wouldn’t say they’re mistakes because everything’s a learning sort of path. But things that you look back and go “Wow, did I actually do that?” ‘Cause my teaching history is full of moments like that and I did a podcast episode just last fortnight that was all about these mistakes that I’ve made. I’m interested to see if you’ve got any that come to mind?

10:43 JB: [chuckle] I could probably admit to one that’s really poor. This is really bad. I was showing a student teacher how to use… We were caught using Coach’s Eye. We had two iPads out there. And the camera was missing from my iPad and I couldn’t figure it out, and I couldn’t figure it out, and I spent all this time trying to figure out where that little camera button on my iPad had gone until I finally, the penny dropped that I was actually using an original iPad that didn’t have a camera.

11:11 JR: Wow! [chuckle]

11:12 JB: Yeah, that was a real waste of time and a failure. So little stuff like that, sometimes you overlook the obvious because you’re trying to figure out how to work. And other things like you set something up and you forget to make sure that you’ve shared it with somebody. Or the Wi-Fi disappears on you, or those sorts of things. It’s like you want to… I think one of the biggest things is, first of all to expect something to go wrong, and have a backup plan just in case it does. And use it as a learning opportunity. It’s like “Okay, this didn’t work for us right now. We’ll see if we can make it work again in the future, if it works.” Trying to figure out if it is the best use of your time or if it’s taking too much away from what you’re trying to do. But yeah, I’d say definitely check into sharing settings, Wi-Fi. I had a conference a while back and I was gonna use… I had my laptop. I had my Apple TV and couldn’t get ’em to work. In spite the Wi-Fi, nothing was connecting. And in fact it was you that told me that I could make my own personal network on my computer and use that instead. I was like, “That’s brilliant. I didn’t know that.” But little stuff like that. Like if something doesn’t work, what’s your backup plan? Because you’re gonna need one.

12:31 JR: Yeah. Definitely. And I love what you mentioned there about treating it as a learning journey because this is what we expect students to do. They come into class and they’re constantly trying something new and they’re learning something new and they make mistakes and then they try again but often as teachers, we try and avoid that particular situation as much as possible. And I think there’s a lot to be gained from making mistakes. And I know for a fact that in 2008 when I first started using tech in PE in my first year, I made so many mistakes and I was doing things sometimes just because they were cool and new. And that’s a pitfall that I’ve gone down a few times and now I’m very more conscious about ensuring that it’s value adding, that it meets those three things that I mentioned before. And I’m willing to make the occasional mistake here and there to hone it and perfect it.

13:24 JR: Okay. So what about a couple of things that you use every day? Maybe it’s an app or maybe it’s a wearable or something that you do on a daily basis that has now become part of your everyday life?

13:40 JB: I guess I cycle round with apps depending on things that I’m doing. Team Shake is one that I’m now using every single day. In fact I spent a considerable amount of time trying to figure out how to get everything set up easily. And more time than I could have spent but now that I’ve done it, I know I can do it again and make it quicker second and third time around. But that one’s been really nice for me to set up every setting or grouping that I want without the kids knowing why I’m doing what I’m doing. So that’s always a go to one.

14:15 JB: I’m working more and more with the video apps, be it the BaM Video Delay or Coach’s Eye or a [14:24] ____ or Ubersense. Again depends which one fits but I’ve just finished up a swimming unit and being able to show the students, “Okay, this is you and your group swimming. What elements of technique can you recognize here that are working? What elements do you need to change?” And then showing them the comparison video. That’s just so powerful because straight away they can see…

14:47 JR: Exactly. You raise a good point there. Sometimes there’s no way to improve something unless you actually get a chance to see it. And I think one of the hidden values for me with video analysis is that we don’t often see everything ourselves when it’s live action. When it’s right there in the moment, I don’t see everything that could potentially be a teaching moment but when you get to see it, I think it improves my feedback and then it improves the things that they see. So, yeah, video is definitely a highlight for me. Any other sort of things? Like I know you’re a big wearable fan.

15:24 JB: Oh, yeah. [chuckle] My husband thinks I’m a gadget… Well, I am a gadget girl. I like my gadgets. But he’ll look at me ’cause I could be sitting down with my phone, computer, iPad, something else, and just [15:38] ____ I was like “Which one are you messing with?” I’m like, “All of them.” Yeah, but the FIT, that I love. I’ve always liked the idea of knowing numbers and where I’m at, so be it using a watch to time myself or, that’s kinda old school now, I guess, or GPS to track how far I’m going. But the Fitbit with the steps, that’s been a big game changer. I’ve had one for the last I think four, five years and I’ve lost several of them and had to replace them because it felt like I was missing a limb without having one on there recording what I was doing.

16:12 JB: But no, I just love that feedback that says, “Hey, you did this.” And I think it’s turned into a great motivator for me to not just to be active anyway. I’ve always been active but really look at that sedentary time in the day when you’ve done your 30 minutes or your hour of activity or whatever you’d planned to do but then for the most part, particularly I think on weekends more so than for me teaching PE because you’re always moving, I found that I could be really sedentary if I wasn’t proactive about moving. So I started being more mindful and I don’t know why I came up with this step goal for 20,000 steps but I did and it’s been kinda going for a year, year and a half now. Yeah, I think it’s really changed my mindset. I think I’m more productive so I really value the feedback that I get from that.

17:07 JB: And I’ve done it with students. I had them do a 24-hour pedometer challenge just as a baseline and immediately they start moving more. They’re like, “Can we wear it more often? Can we do this? Can we do that?” Because they are also valuing the feedback. And I’m like, “Yeah, this is telling you if I’m using… The same with heart rate monitors, it’s like this is telling you how amazing you are. That’s what it’s telling you: ‘Hey, look what you did. This is awesome.'” So it’s try and get them to think of it from that perspective is big as well but yeah, I like being told that I’ve moved enough or if I haven’t.

17:43 JR: I’m exactly the same. And you make the point about timing. I still remember being in high school and getting my first ever stopwatch. It was on my wrist and I thought I was so cool just starting the race or starting a run and being able to time it and then see just the time. That was set me in motion of this, this could’ve quantified self that we’re getting to now, where you can track and keep track of everything. And, we have an episode coming up very soon around that whole quantified self and where I think it’s sort of heading. But, it’s massive implications for the classroom, I think, as we have sort of briefly alluded to there. It’s only gonna continue. Couple of other little questions that I have at the moment. What do you see as being the thing that excites you as we sort of head forward into the future? Is there anything that, you know, you think is going to greatly increase or something that’s gonna get more cost effective? And, something that you’re looking forward to, but maybe it’s not quite there just yet?

18:49 JB: I think on the wearable technology from, particularly… Obviously, the Apple watch was announced this week with all it’s features. And just seeing where those sorts of things are going, phones and so on are great, but not always practical to carry around with you depending on what you’re doing particularly from an activity standpoint. So, I think, anything that’s really wearable that you can put it on and leave it, but still get every piece of information that you want to get, I think that’s gonna hopefully increase. I think that the really cool thing about that, it might be the turning point that we need to have that shift in public health and awareness of, “Hey, you know what? I need to sleep. I need to move. Nutrition’s important. And, this is gonna help me,” and perhaps seeing that and that becoming more commonplace is, maybe it will help a shift in public health, because we know that a lot of people don’t get the activities that they should. They don’t get enough sleep. So, all those things that contribute to, having a healthy lifestyle and feeling good about yourself.

19:53 JB: So, that’s gonna be interesting. I mean, even in the last year, you walked in to a shop and looked at the electronics department for wearables, wearable trackers and so on. There was maybe three or four. And I just remember being astounded at Christmas when there was just, oh! I cannot even say how many. There was rows upon row upon row of wearable trackers that were out there.

20:15 JR: Yeah. It’s awesome. I know one thing. If people sitting here right now and they’re wanting to find a little bit more information about you and where you sort of spend most of your time online, how can they go about doing that?

20:30 JB: I am on Twitter all the time. That’s one of my favourite places to go. My Twitter handle is @lovephyed, L-O-V-E-P-H-Y-E-D. I also blog at lovephyed.blogspot.com. And myself and another teacher from Wisconsin, we do amazing, excellent PE adventures generally about once a month, so we just kind of get together, on a Google Hangout and talk about what we’ve been doing in our classes and what’s working and what didn’t work. And, just kind of chat up everything to do with PE and so on.

21:05 JR: Excellent.

21:06 JB: Always interested in learning more, that’s for sure.

21:09 JR: And that’s on YouTube, isn’t it? You post those videos to YouTube?

21:11 JB: Yeah.

21:12 JR: Yeah, excellent. So, we’ll have a list of all the links that are being mentioned as well as links to social profiles in the episode. [email protected]/episode30 as well as a full transcript of today’s podcast as well. One last thing. What’s Voxer? What is it about?

21:32 JB: Ooh, Voxer’s like a walkie talkie. So basically, you tap a button on your phone and you speak into the microphone and it records whatever you’re saying verbally to a group or an individual person. So, on Voxer, there’s several different group’s set up. It’s not kind of like Twitter where you can kind of get in yourself. You have to say to somebody, “Hey, can you add me to a general PE group or PE technology group. So, there’s always conversations that are going on. And I bet with people who have common interest in various things. I mean, for example, there’s a PE technology. There’s a high school PE and elementary school PE. And everyone is just sharing and asking questions and inquiring. You can also share links on there as well. Put in some text messages, share photos. So, you could ask a question, and within, I don’t know, two or three minutes, you’ve got 10 answers, 10 people trying to help you, whether they have the… Some might have the answers. Some they have to point you in direction of a resource that you can use. And, it’s been astounding to…

22:36 JB: One of the things… I mean, it could be, meaning to do is actually make a list of all the things I learned in one week. I think it will be huge through Voxer and other social media. ’cause, it is everyday there’s something new. And, it can be just someone’s throwaways. Here’s a great example. Jorge Rodriguez was talking about using a drone for PE to record his field day. And, it’s stuff like that that just blows my mind. It’s something that I would not have ever thought about, had I not heard him talk about it. So, pretty amazing.

23:09 JR: Yeah, definitely. I mean, it’s become part of my everyday as well. It’s sort of like the driving to school and driving home from it, being able to catch up and listen to it. It’s pretty much like a virtual staff room. It’s like we’re all in the same staff room and we’re actually talking about it, but the difference is that we’re actually hearing each other’s voices and things. So, if you’re unfamiliar with Voxer, definitely go and sign up and download the app and get active and get in contact with any of us. And, we can put you into the right groups to sort of create that conversation. Well, thank you heaps Jo, for taking the time out to come on to episode 30. Really appreciate it and looking forward to seeing everything else that you’re doing online.

23:50 JB: Thanks. And also, thanks to you for everything that you do for PE. Because I think you help push the envelope all the time and get people thinking about, “Hey, what is possible out there.” from 3D whistles, who knows where we’re going next. It’s amazing stuff.


24:05 JR: Yeah, thank you. Alright, see yeah.

24:08 JB: Alright then, bye.

24:09 JR: Alright, I really hope you enjoyed that episode and interview with Jo Bailey. And if you want to track down any of the links and resources that were mentioned throughout the episode, and there were a ton of them, then you can head to thepegeek.com/30. And that will take you to the episode page where you’ll be able to find all the links from the show, as well as a full transcript of today’s episode. Now, I’m looking forward to diving into episode 31. It’s a solo episode, where I’m going to be talking about my volleyball unit, which I’m currently running at school, at the moment. And really excited to share with you the sort of things that I’ve been doing to introduce the iPads that our year sevens currently got access to. They’ve just moved to a one-to-one iPad, so every student in year seven has access to an iPad Mini. And it’s enabled me to do things in that particular unit that I have not been able to achieve on the same sort of scale in the past. So looking forward to diving into my volleyball unit, and exactly the sorts of things that I’ve been doing using a whole host of technology. Until next time, if you have any questions, you know where to get me at [email protected]. Or if you have a guest that you think I should interview, or if you’d like to be a guest, then also send me an email, or drop me a voice mail at thepegeek.com/voicemail. Alright, see you later.



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