Episode 63 – Lifelong Learners & Movers with Naomi Hartl

In this episode of The PE Geek Podcast we talk with the amazing Naomi Hartl. Naomi shares how a mere QR Code took her on a journey of tech in PhysEd discovery leading her to the current role as PE development and technology specialist with SPARK. Naomi’s shares her experiences working with teachers and lessons learned along the way.

Resources for this episode include

  1. Follow Naomi on Twitter
  2. QR Code Skill Posters 
  3. AirServer, Reflector 2
  4. Bam Video Delay & Hudl Technique
  5. Plickers

Press Play to listen below. Alternatively, download a full episode transcript here


00:30 Jarrod Robinson Hello, everyone and welcome to another episode of the PE Geek Podcast. And as always, it’s an absolute pleasure to be here. Now, I’m super excited because we have a very special guest today in, Naomi Hartl. How are you, Naomi?

00:42 Naomi Hartl: I’m doing great. Thanks. Excited to be here.

00:44 JR: Awesome. Yeah, where are you joining us from today?

00:48 NH: So I am from… Well, I’m originally from Saskatchewan, Canada. But I currently live in Hood River, Oregon, so I’m in the United States.

00:55 JR: Yeah. So you’re teaching there or what are you currently involved in doing?

01:01 NH: So I’m a former teacher, but now I work with Sportime & SPARK. So I am the PE development and technology specialist with SPARK.

01:09 JR: And that sees you doing…

01:09 NH: So I work on the development team.

01:11 JR: Development and curriculum…

01:12 NH: Yeah, so I work on a… Mm-hmm. All the kind of stuff. So working on the curriculum that we push out, I work on our webinars. I am the leader of our innovation team, so kind of our think tank of people that we wanna work with. And what’s new in innovation, and what can we push forward. And I travel and do… Go to conferences, and present on how to integrate technology into PE, and just try to support teachers in ways that I wasn’t supported. So it’s a pretty cool job. I think I’ve learned more about education and myself in the year and a half that I’ve worked with SPARK than I did as a teacher in the classroom. So it’s been a pretty cool experience.

01:47 JR: It is. If you look at the impact that you’re able to have when you remove yourself by one, you’ve got a far greater impact now because you get to impact teachers that then go on and impact students themselves. So I love that leveraged approach. And it’s very similar to myself as well, obviously, not being in the classroom at the moment, being able to run workshops. And I get to see things that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to see. So I really wanted to get you on the show and talk about where this all began for you. So if you can think back to when you first started teaching, what sparked the curiosity with technology?

02:25 NH: Okay. So I always think about this, too. And people always ask me these questions, and I’m like, “Oh, it seems like that was so long ago.” When really, it wasn’t. [chuckle] So I started teaching in 2011 I believe. And I started in a school of about 2,000 students, and I taught… I went to school for high school, physical education, and my minor was science. And in my school, we didn’t have a whole bunch of technology, but my basketball girls had got me on to Twitter. And I really didn’t care about Twitter. And I was like, “This is ridiculous. Why are you getting me on here?” They’re like, “No, you gotta check it out.” So I got on and if anybody knows me, you know that if I get into something, I’m gonna put all, my all into it. So I was like “If I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna search for things that I’m interested in.”

03:08 NH: And I started searching Phys Ed. And one of the first people that I found was you actually. [chuckle] You and Joey Feith, which was really neat. And that kind of sparked my interest in how can I bring technology into my classroom. And one of the first things I started with, and it sounds ridiculous, but was a QR code t-shirt [chuckle] ’cause I think I’d read one of your blog posts. And it was talking about QR codes, and how you can integrate it. And I was just like, “Well okay, this is what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna put a QR code on my t-shirt. I’m gonna have a riddle.” So it had nothing to do with PE. But I was like, “This is awesome.” So it’s just a little gimmicky thing that I did with the kids. And then from there, it kind of just sparked into, “How can I actually use this in my classroom?” Joey Feith had some QR codes Skill Posters that I started using. And then from there, it wasn’t just QR codes, but I started adding different apps that I could use. And I created some scavenger hunts that you could scan the QR codes. So it was really neat.

03:58 NH: And then I’d move to a new school. It was about a tiny little school, 93 kids, K through 12. And this school in the school division had a lot of technology. And I had a lot of access to the technology. So we had 93 kids in the school, and we had about 70 devices from computers, to Chromebooks to iPads. Every teacher had an iPad. So I was really able to kind of play with different tools, and figure out what could work for me. But then I was also teaching a lot of curriculums and subject areas. So I had a lot of split classes. I was teaching grades three through 12 physical education. I was teaching Math 9 and Math 10. I had Career Guidance 6, 7, 8, 9, and Health 6, 7, 8, 9. And at one point, I was teaching cooking and sewing. [chuckle] So I had a lot of curriculum that I was looking at. So it was a little overwhelming especially being in my second year of teaching.

04:47 NH: And I was like, “Okay, so how can I utilize technology to make my life a little bit easier, to kind of streamline my work, put me in places that I couldn’t be in before, so kind of clone myself, and support my kids in the best way that I can with the tools that I had.” ‘Cause I had a few tools that I could use. So I guess your question was, “Where did I start with things?” And I guess that’s kind of how I got into it. Was really… I was struggling with portions of my teaching and kind of keeping up and trying to survive, and technology supported me in that process.

05:18 JR: Yeah, yeah. It’s very similar to my own story. So there’s a lot to be said about small schools and having a bit of freedom. And you mentioned that you’re working in different curriculum areas. It’s very similar to me, I’m phys ed teacher with an IT minor. But I’ve taught maths. I’ve taught geography because of a small school need to find people who can take these things. And I was the same like, “How can I use the thing that I know how to do well, which was tech, and use it to support me in these other areas that I wasn’t as confident in?” So very similar stories here. And what sort of… What do you notice about schools and the take up of technology? Is there any patterns about school sizes or have you noticed that schools who more readily do it are thinking differently or is it monetary reasons? What are some things that you’ve observed across the time that you’ve been helping teachers?

06:14 NH: That’s an interesting question. You know what, I don’t know if there’s really been much of a pattern in regards to… Well, I guess what I’ve seen, it really, I think comes down to the people that are part of the building.

06:29 JR: For sure.

06:30 NH: And it’s really about the people that kinda see things in a new light and say, “Hey, we can utilize this, we can make this work if we only have these tools.” ‘Cause I know when I go out and I do my workshops, ’cause I can do my six hour, my day workshops, and I get to visit a bunch of different schools, and lots of times it comes down to, “We don’t have access to that. We teach outside; we don’t have WiFi.” It’s like, “Okay, that’s true, but there are tools that you can use to support you.” So a lot of it is the thinking that teachers have; maybe it’s a little bit of fear about the unknown and getting out of their comfort zone and feeling, “Our kids are on their devices all the time; why would I wanna support that?” My counter to that is, “You’re right, they are on their devices all the time, but how can we show them how to use it to be life long learners but also life long movers? How can we show them that technology isn’t there just to move your thumbs but to actually move your body.” So yeah, I don’t know that, I didn’t really answer your question, but I think it’s about the thinking that people have and the support that the administrators have when it comes to technology. And when it comes to technology in PE, that’s a tough one too because lots of people don’t think technology is made for PE.

07:46 NH: When I tell people that, when I was teaching and I used technology, in my phys ed classes, I would get raised eyebrows and weird looks, like, “What? Why would you be using, how would you use that? What does that look like?” And then I would explain what that looked like. Video analysis or different ways that I could help station work or different things like that and then they kind of, “Oh okay, I guess it does work”. And it’s like learning happens in PE and this is how learning happens. This is how I support that. Yeah I don’t know, it’s a lot about thinking I think and a support that teachers…

08:16 S1: It’s stereotypes too. So like you’ve said, they’ve changed a lot in all the years that I’ve been involved in running workshops. So back in 2008, it was a really hard fight to run presentations on tech and phys ed, but you have to show people on this long term journey of skilling them up and so on. But I was gonna say the only real thing I’ve noticed from 30 plus countries, everyone’s got similar stories. There is no way where it’s unique, I think teachers are doing the best they can in most situations. We got struggles with resources, but the only real common ground I see is that the schools that use it well, have good teaching at the heart of it and I think you’ve basically pointed that out.

09:00 NH: It’s a good point.

09:00 JR: It’s… That’s the only thing that I have seen that is the indicator. I’ve worked in schools where resources are boundless. They’ve got endless resources and capacity to purchase things but bad practice, they’re not using them really well; they might have a class set of iPads just sitting in the corner.

09:19 NH: Right. [chuckle] Drives me crazy, yeah. [chuckle]

09:20 S1: But you go to a school like my school and we only had one or two. But the good teaching practice wrapped around it meant that they got used really well. So I think that’s the only thing that I’ve noticed and it’s heartening. It’s good to know that we can have an impact in helping people think about that and get some value. So, I love the work that you’re doing. So moving into that, tech’s been great for me too. I’m really fond of it as we all know, but there have been moments where things haven’t gone to plan as I might have liked. So I’ve gotten quite excited about a tool and gone and introduced it. What about you, have you ever done something and it just hadn’t worked out quite so well?

10:04 NH: Too many things. [chuckle] I don’t know if I can think of a specific situation ’cause lots of the time… So how it would always work, so I guess I can talk about in my classroom and then what I’m doing now too, but it was always, “Okay kids, alright”… Usually, it would be, “Okay, I learned this new thing on Twitter the other night”, and the kids are like, “Oh okay, Miss Hartl, now what did you learn, what are you gonna teach us?” and it was a big learning joke but I think they respected me for trying new things and being vulnerable. So there’d be times when I’m like, “Alright bear with me, this may or may not work.” And so, it was kind of prepping the kids and being like, “Okay, if it doesn’t work, we’re gonna talk about it, we’re gonna reflect, we’re gonna go back and we’re gonna try again.” So, I think it kind of built that up for the kids too; we can make mistakes, it’s gonna be okay. So, there is tons of things. There’d be QR Codes or, I remember one time I set up a QR Code scavenger hunt and I didn’t put the codes in the right order and I think I set it up wrong, so the kids were going and… Anyways yeah, it was a big, yeah, it was awful and it didn’t work and the kids came back and I was like, “Yeah”, they’re like, “That didn’t work very well.” I was like, “Nope”. [chuckle] I was like, “But were you moving?”

11:08 NH: They’re like, “Yeah”. I was like, “Well, I guess we got your moving, we got our heart rate up, that’s a start.” So, I was like next time we’ll try and get the learning happening with it. But that’s one example in my classroom, countless times I’ll go to conferences and the WiFi won’t be working or I can’t connect or I’m trying to mirror something on to my screen and it’s blocking my airplay. So I’d be very frustrated and I get kind of excited and then I’d be like, “Okay, Naomi just put a personal hotspot on your phone, you’re good to go, it’s all right”, but yeah. So as I’ve gone through I think handling those things have gotten a lot better, like, “Don’t panic, this is what you’re gonna do, this is what happens”, and sometimes you just go to everybody and be like, “Okay, so when technology fails on you, you need to have a plan B, a plan C, a plan D to make sure that you’re ready in case that does happen.” And if all else fails and technology is not working, okay, I hate to say go old school, I don’t wanna say it like that, but then “take the technology out and don’t use it, and just teach what you wanna teach.” So yeah, there’s been many times that it just has not worked. It’s bombed completely.

12:02 JR: Yeah, I think you show a really good… You model to the students really well when you are prepared to put yourself out there, and not potentially fail, but you’re showing that you’re learning as well. And that’s what we want students to be doing as well. Be prepared to fail to some extent and learn from that. And I think that is modeling what we want them to do, and I think it’s… We sort of probably undervalue what that might show a student what they need to be doing as well. So I think there’s a massive reason why we should try new things, but it’s unfortunate that lots of people don’t think that. They…

12:42 NH: Right, they see the fails, and they say, “I’m not doing that. I’m just… “

12:44 JR: Exactly.

12:45 NH: “That kinda scared me away.” And it’s like, “No.”[chuckle]

12:47 JR: It’s the complete opposite from what…

12:48 NH: “There’s some really good things that are happening that you could do.” Yep.

12:51 JR: For sure. So what have been the successes then? So you’re looking back, and there’s been some really popular resources or things that you’ve done that you’ve just thought absolutely… I know you mentioned the QR code Skill Posters early on. They’re probably one of the best things that’s every happened. For me too.

13:06 JR: But…

13:07 NH: Yeah.

13:07 JR: Yeah, what are some things that you’ve really enjoyed, or tools that you use now that you just couldn’t imagine not having access to?

13:16 NH: Okay, so the ones that I always use, and for me this is more of a management and organization thing. When I was teaching… In my gym it was a smaller… So I’m thinking of the last school that I was teaching at, my small school. So I had a tiny little gym, but I had a stage. And on that stage, we had a big projector screen built kind of into the wall. We had a computer area, and the stereo system, and all that kinda stuff. So I had a neat little setup, but I would always hook up my computer, and then I would do the mirroring. So I hated being basically tethered to the computer, or connected to the computer with a cord. It drove me crazy.

13:52 NH: So one of the things that I started using was AirServer. And I use that for absolutely anything. I could walk around the gym, I could… With the… Being on WiFi. I wasn’t connected or I was connected but I wasn’t connected to the computer. So that was one of the things that I pretty much use for everything, in all my workshops, when I was teaching. It’s just great to be able to film a kid doing something and say, “Hey, check out what we just did here.” And I could pop it up on the screen. Or I could walk around and be evaluating them, and then pop something up on the screen so they could see it. Or pop my lesson notes up, or different things like that. So that’s one of the big things that I use.

14:23 NH: And I always say AirServer, ’cause that’s the one that I started with, and that’s the one that kind of has always worked for me. There’s Reflector 2, there’s Mirroring360, so there’s a ton of different ones that can do the mirroring aspect of it too. And I know some people use Apple TV, Chromecast. Like I said, there’s a ton.


14:38 JR: For sure.

14:38 NH: So people just really have to research and find out what works best for them. But that was a good one. BaM Video Delay. Any type of video analysis that you can use, or even just a video, where kids can see themselves, I find is really powerful. And that was kind of a big aha moment for students. I remember… I think we were doing badminton, I was talking about, with one of my high school students, and he was one that was… Butted heads with me a little bit on things, didn’t wanna listen to me, or didn’t think I knew what I was talking about, maybe because I was a young female teacher, just kinda out of school.

15:08 NH: And when I showed him what I was talking about, and showed him what he looked like, he couldn’t really deny it. It’s like, “I was doing it.” It’s like, “No, look. [chuckle] I’m really telling you the truth. I’m here to support you.” So that video piece was really powerful, and having students analyse themselves and watch themselves, so… Using Hudl Technique was a good one that we used, BaM Video Delay, where they can see that instant feedback. So there’s a ton of ones. And I wish, when I was teaching, I could’ve used Plickers, ’cause I think that would’ve been a really good one for teaching, but I didn’t hear about that one ’til after I was out of the classroom.

15:39 JR: Yeah, and it’s an amazing tool, isn’t it?

15:40 NH: But those are gonna be some of my top ones. There’s so many things. There’s so many things.

15:44 JR: And the important thing is that when I run the workshops that we do, it’s not about trying to do all of these things. Anyone who’s listening, you wanna find that one or two things that give value, add to your program, help you do something that you couldn’t do before.

15:57 NH: Right. Right, exactly.

16:00 JR: And that’s what tech does for us. It assists us and augments a result for us. And lots of these things do that. I love the idea of video helping show things that kids can’t see for themselves. But I remember…

16:13 NH: Right.


16:13 JR: How motivational video was for me. Not even looking at it from a performance analysis perspective, but just seeing myself…[chuckle]

16:22 JR: And thinking, “Oh my, is that me? That’s what I look like when I run? I need to go and run more.” It was motivation…

16:28 JR: I know, I thought the same thing when I saw myself too, I was like, “What? “[chuckle]

16:31 JR: Yeah, it’s… I think we forget sometimes that even if it’s just for that purpose, there’s a lot to be said about how motivating that is for activity.

16:41 NH: Absolutely. Absolutely.

16:42 JR: Yeah. So, thank you for joining us on the PE Geek podcast. Where can people find out more about you and the things that you’re doing?

16:52 NH: There are a ton of different places. I always tell people, “If you need to get a hold of me, there’s no excuse.” Or, “If you can’t get a hold of me, there’s no excuse, because there’s so many different places.” So you could find me on Twitter @misshartl. It’s M-I-S-S-H-A-R-T-L. You can find me on Voxer misshartl, same thing. I’m on Facebook, I’m on Instagram, Snapchat [chuckle] So many different places. My email, [email protected]. That’s a great place to find me as well. Webinars, we do our webinars at Spark. You can find me there. Physedagogy, we blog. We’re trying to blog a little bit more, the phys ed summit, all that kind of stuff. So, yeah. There’s really no place that you can’t find me if you need to find me.

17:34 JR: Yeah. I love that.

17:35 NH: The big ones, if you need to get a hold of me quickly, Twitter. Anything social media, that’s the stuff, right away when I wake up, grab my phone, that’s what I look at first. Usually I tell people, “Social media’s the first thing I look at. Email’s the second thing I look at. So if you really need to get ahold of me, that’s the way to do it.”

17:49 JR: Awesome. I love what you said. What was it? There’s no excuse for not being able to get in touch with you?

17:54 NH: Right. Right. Yep. Yeah.

17:56 JR: There really isn’t these days is there? If you wanna communicate with someone there’s multiple ways to do it.

18:01 NH: Exactly.

18:01 JR: So thanks again for coming on today’s episode.

18:04 NH: Thanks for having me.

18:04 JR: You’re welcome. For everyone listening, you can get a full episode transcript word-for-word over at thepegeek.com/63 and you can get a list of all the shows notes too. So all the apps and things the Naomi has mentioned, you’ll be able to find links to those. But thanks and we’ll speak soon.

18:20 NH: Awesome. Sounds good. Thanks everybody.


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