Collaborating in the Weight Room

Imagine walking into a weight room and seeing posters with workouts on them, all tailored to working out a specific part of the body. Looking closer, you see a QR code in the corner. Snapping the code, you discover a video demonstrating each exercise. Through collaboration between the librarian and a weight-training teacher, this could become a reality in your school’s weight room! This is my account of a collaboration in an unusual classroom: the weight room.   

Getting Ready for the Workout

As a pre-service librarian, finding a teacher for an assigned collaboration was an intimidating proposition. Not only did I have to compete with time lost for snow days, I was under my own time crunch.  But, I knew I had to stop worrying and start asking! As a social studies teacher in the building, I had known the football coach, Mike Scott, for years. I decided to use my leverage as a friend and longtime co-worker. Imagine my surprise when he said, “Of course. When do you want to come in?” I asked Mike what he wanted his weight lifting students to know. He said “spotting techniques.” I had no background on that topic, but I knew that Mike would bring the subject expertise and I could identify the relevant information literacy skills.

Warming Up

To figure out how we would teach together, Mike and I met during a planning period. Mike wanted to review spotting techniques because he was tired of reminding students about proper technique during every class. At one point during our planning session, I asked, “What are the kids going to do when they graduate? Where will they look for weight-training information?” That question became the hook for our weight-training unit. We knew the likely answer was the Internet, so we decided we would teach students how to evaluate fitness-related websites, a learning outcome that addressed standards for both of our content areas (see Table 1). Once we figured out the end goal of our unit, the rest of the lesson fell into place.

Table 1. Linking Physical Education to Information Literacy

America's National Standards & Grade-Level Outcomes for K-12 Physical Education 

(SHAPE 2013)

AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learner (AASL 2007)
S3.H2 Physical activity knowledge: Evaluates the validity of claims made by commercial products and programs pertaining to fitness and a healthy, active lifestyle.1.1.5 Evaluate information found in selected sources on the basis of accuracy, validity, appropriateness for needs, importance, and social and cultural context.
S3.H7 Fitness knowledge: Demonstrates appropriate technique in resistance-training machines and free weights.3.1.4 Use technology and other information tools to organize and display knowledge and understanding in ways that others can view, use, and assess.
S3.H9 Fitness knowledge: Identifies types of strength exercises and stretching exercises for personal fitness development.3.3.4 Create products that apply to authentic, real-world context.


To provide support for the special education students as well as the English language learners, we broke down the big topic of “correct spotting techniques” into spotting techniques for exercises specific to different parts of the body. Each student group would be assigned a part of the body, and they would be responsible for researching new exercises and the spotting techniques associated with each exercise. The students would create posters to hang in the weight room so other classes could learn new exercises. We decided to add a video component to the assignment, so the students could demonstrate the new exercises and spotting techniques. I would upload the videos and create QR codes to point other students to the informational videos. 

Pumping Up

The students were eager to begin this unit in the lab. From the pre-assessment, I knew that most of the students were familiar with website evaluation, but they wanted to know more about weight lifting exercises. We started off with a story about a fellow coach who had hurt himself weight lifting and could no longer swim because of the pain. We told the class that we didn’t want an injury to happen to them, which made it important to learn how to evaluate sites about weight training and view good example websites. Mike and I led a brainstorming session where we discussed some examples of authorities in weight lifting, like the college strength coaches and different university fitness programs. We also discussed the pros and cons of using personal blogs and websites that sold products. It was great to teach with a weight-training teacher during this part, because he was the expert on identifying authoritative individuals and organizations. I introduced students to the CRAAP test, a website evaluation tool that could help them identify reliable sites ( Our goal for the website evaluation was that every group would be able to identify at least one quality source of information. 

During the lab, Mike and I walked around to help the students. Most of the students used the sites I suggested as good examples, although we did find some groups were quick to use Google. When one group was looking at a dubious site, we started asking them about the authority of the author. The students laughed when they saw the author was “Lucas” from the “Planet Vega” claiming to be 1014 years old!

The students created their posters and we gave them a quick exit ticket before they left for the day. One of the students wrote, “Mrs. Saladino showed us how to find a useful source and how to tell a good site from a bad site.” This was a “W” for the information literacy column! 

Technique and Equipment

The next day the students met us in the weight room and presented the weight lifting routine they had designed. The kids had fun being the experts and they loved being recorded on video. Mike asked one of his assistant coaches to film the students, so I was able to review the information about evaluating websites with the class. Mike reminded each group to include safety and correct spotting techniques with each exercise. After the films were made, I uploaded the video and used Movie Maker to create short videos of each presentation. We posted the videos to YouTube and created a QR code for each one using QRcode Monkey ( QRcode Monkey allows users to add a picture, like a school mascot, to the center of each QR code. I put the QR codes on each poster and hung the posters in the weight room. The kids love using their phones and clicking on the QR codes. 

Stretching Out and Cooling Down

The students enjoyed spending time researching new exercises and they continue to stop me in the halls to report on “their exercises” being used during weight lifting class. Their posters are still up in the weight room, and other teachers have asked about them. I didn’t know anything about weight training, but teaching information literacy skills reaches across all curricula and all subject matters. A big lesson here is to start with colleagues you know well, even if their subject areas are not traditional or expected library inquiry subjects. Join your colleagues for lunch and learn what they are teaching.  Look beyond the English department; often ESOL teachers or social studies teachers require their students to conduct research. Building new collaborations with classroom teachers can inspire both educators to find new “strengths” in one another and themselves!

About the Author

Meghan Saladino, MEd, is a social studies teacher at Annandale High School, in Fairfax, VA. She received her master's degree in curriculum and instruction from George Mason University and is currently pursuing a school library media endorsement from Old Dominion University. In her spare time she is raising two children, coaching their youth sports teams, coaching a masters swim team, and fantasizing about sleeping through the night again.

MLA Citation Saladino, Meghan. "Collaborating in the Weight Room." School Library Connection, October 2016,

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Entry ID: 2042607

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