Syllabus Planning in Physical Education

  • 11 June 2021
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Syllabus Planning in Physical Education
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This article provides examples for developing a syllabus featuring PLT4M programs. We recognize that there is no “one size fits all,” and that each school has a unique combination of goals, schedules, requirements, staff backgrounds, and student populations to consider when creating a syllabus. Use this as a blueprint as you begin to map out your Physical Education Roadmap with the help of PLT4M. 


Where to begin?

Prior to curating a syllabus, we recommend beginning with a curriculum map. A curriculum map encompasses the fitness goals and educational experiences for an entire school year, and may even span across multiple years and grade levels. The curriculum map serves as a central guide to ensure that each student has access to the same core competencies in their fitness education. 

Once you’ve established a curriculum map, the next step is to zoom in on your curriculum map and develop a syllabus. A syllabus takes your goals and core competencies into consideration, and brings them to life by mapping out the actual programs that will help you achieve those goals, and how they fit into your schedule. 

If you haven’t already, View our Curriculum Mapping resource. Then revisit this article!


Developing a Syllabus

  1. Revisit your big picture goals (AKA your Curriculum Map)
    • Which programs do you need to incorporate into your syllabus to achieve those goals?
  2. Define your building blocks:
    • How many classes will I have in a week/unit/semester/year?
    • What is the schedule? Days per week, block scheduling, etc.
    • How many days per week will I meet with students?
    • How many lessons per program are available? 
    • How long is each session? 
    • Where is class being conducted? What equipment will I have available?
    • What equipment is required for the programs I plan to follow?
    • What data/assessments will I track?
  3. Whiteboard it out!
    • Working within the building blocks outlined above, begin to map out a schedule.


Whiteboard it out!

Below are some syllabus examples. Keep in mind: your building blocks may not line up with these examples, and that’s okay! Use this for inspiration when curating your own syllabus. 


Example 1: Foundations




Goal: This syllabus provides students with a foundation of fitness built into a 12 week curriculum. The first 6 weeks will focus on how to properly perform functional human movements, and begin to develop relative strength, mobility, and training capacities. The last 6 weeks will introduce students to resistance training by adding weighted instruments and intensity. Simultaneously, students will begin to understand fitness and training concepts through our cognitive Foundations of Fitness program.


Assessments: Students will have the opportunity to assess their progress during the fitness assessment weeks which appear at weeks 6 and 12. 

The Fitness Literacy program includes supplemental chapter questions for students to demonstrate knowledge of concepts. 


Audience: Anyone—Grades 6-12, who is beginning their fitness or training journey. 


Programs Used: Intro to Fitness Part 1, Intro to Fitness Part 2, Fitness Literacy


Example 2: Intro to Weight Training




Goal: This syllabus provides an introductory education to the world of weight lifting and nutrition. This 15 week syllabus progresses through 3 weight training programs, each with a major focus on specific power and olympic lifts. The first 5 weeks will introduce the Back Squat, the Bench Press, and the Deadlift. The next 5 weeks will focus on the Front Squat, the Overhead Press, and the Hang Clean. Lastly, the final 5 weeks will introduce the Overhead Squat, the Push/Jerk Press, and the full Clean. At the conclusion of each 5 week cycle, students will establish baseline maxes in each of the lifts as well as record benchmarks for PLT4M’s fitness assessments. This syllabus also incorporates two nutrition lessons each week where students will begin to understand calories, the macronutrients, and how to apply this knowledge to everyday meals. 

This syllabus is an excellent starting point for students interested in learning how to train with a barbell. We recommend that any novice student follows this progression prior to beginning any advanced weight training program. Students will establish baseline maxes for all of the max lifts required to complete any of PLT4M’s advanced weight training programs. This syllabus is also the logical next progression after Example Syllabus #1: Foundations. 


Assessments: Students will establish baseline maxes for all power and olympic lifts taught in the program series. Students will also have another opportunity to record benchmarks for the fitness assessments that were included in the Intro to Fitness Part 1 & 2 programs, found in the first syllabus example: Foundations. 

The Intro to Nutrition program includes supplemental chapter questions for students to demonstrate knowledge of concepts. 


Audience: Grades 9 – 12 – Students and athletes who are looking to move on into the world of fitness and performance training through Weightlifting.


Programs Used: Intro to Weight Training Part 1 - The Powerlifts, Intro to Weight Training Part 2 - The Olympic Lifts, Intro to Weight Training Part 3 - Olympic Lifts Cont, Introduction to Nutrition



Example 3: Athletic Training





Goal: This syllabus is built for an advanced athletic PE class. It recognizes athletes that are in-season, and athletes that are out of season at any given time, and thus provides a training option for both. An Off-Season athlete will follow a 3-Day Weight training program, supplemented with flexibility and mobility training; while an In-Season athlete will follow a 2-Day Weight Training program supplemented with the same flexibility and mobility training. The goal of this syllabus is to create a cohesive training schedule all while addressing the individual needs of an athlete depending on their athletic season. 


Assessments: Athletes following this syllabus are required to establish baseline maxes prior to beginning their training. Lifting sessions will incorporate worksets to provide a real time evaluation and adjustment based on students progress. Both the Flexibility and Mobility programs also culminate in a squat therapy assessment. 


Audience: Grades 9 – 12 – Athletes who already have a complete fundamental fitness education and wish to prepare for a sport season, or wish to train through a competitive athletic season in order to maintain peak performance.


Programs Used: In Season Training, 3-Day Off Season Weight Training, Intro to Flexibility, Intro to Mobility


Example 4: Introduce Variety






Goal: Fitness is not one size fits all! This syllabus aims to provide students with an introduction to a variety of different fitness paths. The syllabus progresses through three different units—Fitness, Yoga, and Dance, while simultaneously teaching students fitness and mindfulness fundamentals through the use of PLT4M’s cognitive programs. Offering different units is an excellent way to help students discover their path to a fit and healthy lifestyle. Once students have experienced various types of fitness, they may continue to progress on the fitness path of their choosing. 


Assessments: The Intro to Fitness Part 1 program includes a series of baseline fitness assessments. The cognitive programs include supplemental chapter questions for students to demonstrate knowledge of concepts. 


Audience: Everyone! Grades 6-12. Anyone looking to explore different fitness options should begin with this fundamental program series.


Programs Used: Intro to Fitness Part 1, Introduction to Yoga, Dance Fitness, Fitness Literacy, Mindfulness

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