Cam began his PE career teaching in a preparatory school in London within the British curriculum and moved back to NZ to further his training and taught there for two years in secondary school. He then moved, with his wife, to the International School of Tanganyika in Tanzania where he taught PYP PE for 4 years as well as being the Activities Coordinator. This is his first year at UNIS. He looks forward to extending his understanding of how to deliver more effective learning using the PYP model.
As Cam and I have been working together on this flat classroom peer assessment project between our schools, I think it is great for him to do a guest blog on how things are going from the perspective of his students and the PE program that he teaches in. A project such as this takes a lot of commitment as it requires setting time aside to collaborate on Skype in order to mesh schedules and work through logistical issues that are sure to arise. Cam has been excellent to work with making this project all the more worthwhile professionally. Thanks Cam for your guest blog contribution!
Andy mooted this idea of a flat peer assessment over skype over two months ago and we were lucky enough to have some flexibility in our program to slide units around a bit to try to mirror his G2 and 3 movement composition classes. Through some fortune and some modification we also had classes that were on at similar times of the day.
From the outset the kids were enthusiastic about working with another school and also about the freedom that the elemental theme for the dance allowed. We used Cirque du Soleil as a stimulus for ideas and also as the theme music. Andy combined his gymnastics and dance together into one longer unit, whereas we had completed our gymnastics unit earlier in the school year, so just had to retouch on some of the those principles whilst introducing dance elements. The central idea was based around combining the two to create a movement routine.
The peer assessment occurred formatively and summatively along the journey with Andy and I sharing our classes progress throughout the unit. The kids got a real buzz from communicating with children from another school and we had a mini-geography lesson trying to explain where NIS was actually located. The instant verbal feedback was well-received, particularly the positive comments and observations, and having completed the assessment a few times on each other, the students were very familiar with the criteria and became accurate observers themselves.
The benefits of collaborating with another teacher (actually several throughout the entire process) are myriad. Often you get stuck in your own proven track and outside provocation and idea-sharing provides new angles on improving student learning. I had never thought of combining a dance and gym unit but having nearly completed the process it is something I will look to employ in the future.
Some of the difficulties we experienced were initially finding time to collaborate but we solved this as we became more familiar with each other’s timetables. The obvious technical considerations are always going to be present with bandwidth, camera settings, facility scheduling, class timetables all having an impact. However, each of these problems were solved with a shared solution-based mindset and the meaningful exchanges the kids were making over skype made all the work worthwhile.
I want to thank Andy for allowing me share in this experience and I would encourage any other PE teacher to consider using this form of experimental yet effective assessment at some point.
United Nations International School
Differentiation and concept-based games teaching
I’m sure I’m not alone in having students complain, “No-one is passing to me” during a game in PE.
With the huge range of ability in classes, I often find myself conditioning games in order to keep everyone involved. This can be done by making an every team member has to touch the ball before you shootrule. Rules like these are great for keeping less confident students engaged.
However, they can also undermine the understandings that we are trying to develop when teaching games. The every team member has to touch the ball rule can, for example, undermine the concept of creating open space in order to create scoring opportunities; a team creates a fantastic scoring opportunity in front of the goal and then remembers that one of their team members (who might be in an extremely disadvantageous position) has yet to touch the ball and makes a pass that results in a lost scoring opportunity. The defenders, too, might be busy marking that one remaining player instead of defending the target, as they should be doing in an authentic situation.
Authenticity is the key to teaching game concepts. So, in a class where there is a large range in ability, I believe there is great merit in differentiating according to ability/experience level. If some students are not ready to compete with the strongest students, then give them the opportunity to play with a group of peers at a similar level. These homogenous groups can play with modified rules to make the concepts more accessible (e.g. in a basketball unit, some students might be ready to play with dribbling, while others play with no dribbling to simplify the skills required and the decisions they have to make – the concept of finding/making space in order to shoot remains the same). The authenticity comes not in playing the real rules (i.e. full versions of games), but by creating authentic situations that isolate important game concepts (e.g. creating space, shooting under pressure from an opponent, defending in a 2 on 1 situation). These activities are far more meaningful if they are challenging for everyone and this is best achieved by grouping according to ability.
Differentiating in this way helps us to honour the game concepts and presents a challenging and authentic context for all students to develop their understanding and movement skills in games. With Primary students, small-sided games are always the way to go; these games provide the perfect opportunity to be deliberate about group selections that will help everyone to be fully involved in a meaningful way.
Of course, there are plenty of occasions when heterogeneous groupings are ideal, such as in game creation activities or where peers teach skills to one another. For game play, I believe ability-based groups are the way to go.
We completed our gymnastics/movement to music unit in the grade 1 class today. As a final task the students, in groups, had to select 4 elements that they have learned and put them together into a short routine. It was a fun way to culminate the unit. Although I did not directly assess these short routines, I did have the students complete a simple final assessment task that had them identify what they liked the most about the unit, what they wanted to improve, and to evaluate how well they think that they did in the unit. Please see slide show below of three different examples of student work.
We had another round of peer assessment via Skype with United Nations International School in Hanoi today. My grade 2 class at Nanjing International School watched a grade 2 class from UNIS perform their routines and provided verbal feedback after each performance. We feel that immediate verbal feedback is best rather than pencil and paper assessment. The students at UNIS had some really interesting elements at work in their routines and were good performers. My students in Nanjing enjoyed watching the routines and gave the UNIS students some good feedback. Cam McHale, the elementary PE teacher from UNIS, who is working on this project with me will be guest blogging this week about how things went from their perspective at UNIS. Below are pictures and video of our classes connecting on Skype. A worthwhile activity that I recommend to any PE teachers out there!
Totally worth it to watch this 20-minute talk given by Jamie Oliver on the importance of teaching kids about food. A powerful message...
Today we did a test Skype run with United Nations International School in Hanoi in preparation of next week's flat classroom peer assessment project. As our grade 3 classes will be linking up on Skype to peer assess each other's routines next Friday, Cam McHale's students from UNIS and my students from NIS met each other on Skype today. Not only was it great that our students had a chance to meet on Skype, we were also able to work out logistical issues related to video conferencing matters. We are all set for next week's peer assessment project. Looking very forward to it. Please view slide show of my students practicing for their routines this afternoon. Lots of elements, lots of enthusiasm, and lots of fun to watch!
Flat Classroom Peer Assessment Project Update (Nanjing International School and United Nations International School)
The elementary PE departments at Nanjing International School in China and United Nations International School in Hanoi are continuing to collaborate and make improvements to the flat classroom peer assessment project that we started a few weeks back. For background information, please see the following links from previous blogs (http://www.pyppewithandy.com/2/post/2012/02/flat-classroom-collaborative-peer-assessment-project-in-pyp-pe.html and http://www.pyppewithandy.com/2/post/2012/02/flat-classroom-peer-assessment-project-update-nanjing-international-school-and-united-nations-international-school.html)
Cam McHale and myself had another collaborative planning session on Skype yesterday afternoon and determined that we are mostly on track with the project. There are certain logistical issues that we are still trying to overcome such as time zone difference and a consistent Skype connection, but neither of these two issues have held us back from seeing this project through.
Our grade 2 classes will meet next Wednesday morning as it is our turn(NIS) to assess the UNIS students doing their ‘Wind’ routines. We both agree that the most valuable part of the Skype peer assessment is verbal feedback given by students as it is immediate and the students find this most useful. Our grade 3 classes will meet on Skype on Friday, March 9th and perform their movement composition routines using the same assessment criteria that Cam and I created yesterday. Please see picture below of the assessment criteria. The assessment task is to use the color code provided to assess three criteria: combining elements, different levels, and body expression. I will continue to document how this project unfolds.
A bit about Marina:
Marina Gijzen comes from Canada and has a number of years international teaching experience having worked worked in Yemen, Azerbaijan, Germany, and China. She is a colleague of mine at Nanjing International School. Marina is a recent Growth Mindset Educator contest winner as her article on increasing student motivation was selected as a winning entry. Please view link if interested in learning more about Growth Mindset (http://grow.mindsetworks.com/cms/the-winners-of-the-third-growth-minded-educator-contest)
I asked Marina to share her excellent article which she was more than happy to do. I believe that her model for increasing student motivation can easily be applied to physical education. The model involves selecting a goal, identifying what may block you from achieving that goal, and setting intentions to overcome these obstacles. Please view Marina's article below and think about how you may be able to take her ideas and apply them to your own PE program. Thank you Marina for your valuable contribution.