Empowerment and Action Through Physical Activity
Our 'Connections to Community' unit in grade 5 physical education has been rooted in the big idea of inspiring and empowering young people to be physically active through meaningful and relevant activities that are possible for students to follow up on in our community after school and on weekends.
We have designed this unit in a way that focuses on the concepts of 'taking action' and 'social connection'. In my last blog post, I shared the assessment booklets created for the students to record their learning over the last few classes of this unit and to do final reflections. As you can see in the photo below (which is from their assessment booklet), the specific things that they are encouraged to work on developing are outcomes directly stated in our physical education and health scope and sequence.
As we are in the final stretch of this unit, the students have focused on one physical activity that they would like to devote themselves to the rest of the unit and work with their peer group to create different types of games/activities that help them to develop their skills in this particular area. In the last few classes, my goal is to interview each student in order to give them an opportunity to discuss their learning and what they are most proud of.
I'd like to share one student's video below. She has worked really hard in this unit to develop her skills in both basketball and in bicycling. She has focused on better developing her bicycling skills for the remainder of the unit and has been super engaged in helping her peer group to design challenging bike courses and different types of activities during PE time to help develop their specific skills related to cycling.
As a physical educator, nothing is more satisfying than a young person finding true value and meaning through physical activity that can result in a more enriched life experience. The amazing thing about the girl in the video is that she just learned to ride a bike for the first time at the beginning of this school year. The first unit of the year was individual pursuits and bicycling was one of the important areas focused on. She's only been riding a bike for the past several months but has really embraced this form of physical activity and has found a lot of joy in it. It's been amazing to see her progress.
She is planning to team up with the other 3 students who have also focused on bicycling in our 'Connections to Community' unit in PE and go out into the community on the weekends to create a challenging cycling course that they can share with other students wanting to tackle a new challenge by bike. They have already spoken about using google maps to and other tech to help map out their course.
Hope you enjoy the video below. Thanks for reading.
Narrowing the Focus: Social Connection & Action
If you have had a chance to read the first 4 blog posts in this series, you will see that my number one goal in our 'Connections to Community' unit is to inspire students to take action on being physically active after school and on weekends.
The unit was set up in a way that got the students thinking about their community and ways that they can be physically active after school and on weekends. The students were able to identify a number of different options available to them, then zero in on the specific areas that are of most interest to them. We are lucky and fortunate to have amazing facilities in our community here at KAUST.
There are two big conceptual themes that have been driving all of the learning in this unit:
Although there are strong elements of voice and choice in our 'Connections to Community' unit, important outcomes from our physical education and health scope and sequence are being focused on. The students have been a part of the process of co-constructing success criteria related to their chosen areas of physical activity. The reality is that the students have been given a lot of freedom to explore their areas of interest in regards to being physically active, but to do so with a purpose to ensure that they are working toward developing the skills and mindset identified in the important learning outcomes in this unit.
Throughout the unit, the students wanted to explore the following areas of physical activity:
Basketball, Soccer, Skateboarding, Frisbee, Golf, Biking, Parkour, Scooter ball, American Football, Tennis
Two big questions discussed in this unit to help guide them toward developing a deeper conceptual understanding of the big ideas were:
In what ways can you take action to improve upon your skills?
How can you work together with others to help each other get better?
As we are closing in on the end of the unit, the focus is now on getting the students to find others to connect with after school and on weekends to meet up in the community and create games and activities related to their chosen area of interest. All of the students have zeroed in on one area of physical activity. In the last 4-5 PE classes, they will work together with their peers creating games and activities during the lesson that focus on developing the specific skills and attitudes identified as being most important in our scope and sequence. It's not just random play, but instead, play with a specific purpose.
The class is now broken into 3 distinct groups in moving forward for the remainder of the unit:
Biking, Soccer, and Scooter ball
I created assessment booklets for them last week that will be a tool for them to record their learning, to self-assess themselves in regards to the specific skills they are meant to develop, to reflect on their performance, and to give me feedback in regards to what I can do better as their teacher. As well, there is an area of the booklet that they can write down contact information of their peers so that they can get in touch with them after school and on weekends to organize meeting up in the community.
THE PE LIBRARY
One of my favorite initiatives by our PE department is the PE Library. Just as a librarian allows students to check out books to bring home to read, our PE department came up with a clever idea of creating a PE library which serves a similar purpose. Students can sign out equipment to bring home after school and on weekends to continue to work on their skills and to have fun.
I've created a specific PE library for my own class with all of the equipment that they might need to use after school and on weekends. Seeing as their choices are biking, soccer, and scooter ball, I will ensure that I have the necessary equipment ready for sign out starting this week. If they do sign out any equipment, they are meant to document this in their assessment booklets.
This unit has gone very well so far. My sincerest hope is that the students do take action to be physically active and to connect with their peers after school and on weekends. As it is the first time that a unit has been run like this, I'm not expecting a huge success. What I am really hoping to do is to continue to plant seeds of inspiration and to create a culture where students choose to be physically active after school and on weekends. In order to make this happen, every single thing we do in PE must be relevant so that if a student decides that they want to try it out after school and on weekends, it is available to them in the community.
The photos below show each page of the assessment booklets and what is expected of the students. The example below is from the 'Biking' assessment booklet. There are specific booklets made for scooter ball and soccer as well. Thanks for reading.