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The Health Smart Virginia website provides sample lessons, activity ideas, and information resources to support health and physical education teachers in providing instruction across the broad range of Virginia Health and Physical Education Standards of Learning.

The Physical Education Standard Resources that are provided at each grade level address Motor Skill Development, Anatomic Basis of Movement, Fitness Planning, Social Development, and Energy Balance.

The Health Education Standards and Resources that are provided at each grade level are grouped into the following topical areas: Alcohol, Tobacco, and Drug Use; Body Systems; Healthy Environments; Health Promotion including Nutrition and Physical Activity; Safety and Injury Prevention; Social Emotional Health;  Healthy Relationships and Violence Prevention; and Health Careers.

The provided website resources include some original content, however, as a convenience to teachers, the website largely consolidates and/or directs teachers to numerous resources from other national, state and local organizations, as well as teacher submitted lesson plans. We are indebted to these organizations and individuals for the invaluable resources they have made available to educators on the internet. All content is solely provided for non-profit educational purposes and to support classroom teachers in development of their own lessons. We urge teachers to visit the original owners and sources of information as cited.

The 2015 Virginia Health Standards of Learning reflect age-appropriate knowledge and ability, increasing in depth and complexity as students mature. The standards are designed to provide a core body of knowledge while also allowing flexibility for students to develop personal values and beliefs as well as shared group norms, and for individual school-communities to address local health issues and emerging health concerns.

The standards follow the research-based recommendations of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for health education curricula by teaching functional health information; shaping personal values and beliefs that support healthy behaviors; shaping group norms that value a healthy lifestyle; and developing the essential health skills necessary to adopt, practice, and maintain health-enhancing behaviors.

The standards articulate learning goals in the terms of what we want students to know, understand, and do. Standard 1, Essential Health Concepts, provides foundational health knowledge – what students should know. Standard 2, Healthy Decisions, broadens student understanding of health content to allow students to transfer information in a variety of contexts to make healthy and safe life choices – what students should understand. Standard 3, Advocacy and Health Promotion, provides relevance for student learning and opportunities for students to demonstrate or design realistic outcomes for application of health information – what students should be able to do to advocate for their health and the health of others. The standards enable students to immerse themselves in a health topic from content to understanding to application and advocacy. As a result, Virginia students will be better prepared to make healthy decisions for themselves and influence others to do the same.

The 2015 Virginia Physical Education Standards of Learning represent an ongoing commitment to ensure rigorous, relevant physical education standards that reflect current disciplinary knowledge and research to prepare all students to be capable, responsible, and self-reliant citizens in a global society. Leading national public health, medical, and government organizations and agencies have called on schools to adopt more strategies to help children participate in high-quality physical education and physical activity to improve the public’s health and to prevent and control chronic diseases.

In an increasingly sedentary world, schools provide the best opportunity for a population-based approach to enhance the physical, mental, and social development of every child through learning and engaging in a variety of motor skills. In “Make a Difference at Your School,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reviewed scientific evidence and included 10 school-based strategies to prevent obesity. One of the recommended strategies is implementation of a high-quality course of study in physical education as the cornerstone of a comprehensive approach to promoting physical activity through schools. This not only provides opportunities for students to be active during the school day, but also helps them develop the knowledge, attitudes, skills, behaviors, and confidence needed to be physically active for life.

The 2015 standards reflect a comprehensive approach to learning and more accurately describe the developmental nature of understanding human movement concepts and attainment of skills (Motor Skill Development). Student knowledge of anatomical structures and functions has been scaffolded to provide context for improving skills (Anatomical Basis of Movement). The inclusion of anatomy and physiology concepts extends health-education knowledge, helps students understand movement, and prepares students for biology and other courses related to health sciences. The topics of personal fitness planning and physically active lifestyles have been combined to reinforce and emphasize that a person cannot have personal fitness without a physically active lifestyle. The addition of the concept of energy balance is essential for understanding the need for caloric intake to support body functioning and caloric expenditure for optimal cognitive and physical performance and healthy weight. Understanding energy balance provides the foundational knowledge necessary to empower students to think critically about their nutrition and activity choices and changing needs throughout life. The CDC document lists “knowledge, attitudes, skills, behaviors, and confidence” as important for high-quality physical education programs, and these skills are reflected in the Social Development strand. This strand focuses on the knowledge and skill sets that students need to communicate, collaborate with others, and to be contributing participants in the larger community.