During the last few years, I have made much more of an effort to involve students in assessment design in PE. However, in the last year, I have really made a big push to get my students more actively engaged in helping to select important assessment criteria. There is no doubt that doing so gives the students much more ownership over their learning, but more importantly, it helps them to really breakdown a skill or task and think about what is essential in order to meet success.
For the last couple of weeks, our weekly Physical Educator driven #PEchats have essentially revolved around the topic of assessment and what it truly means as related to student learning. The conversations taking place on Twitter have been excellent with lots of great educators from around the globe sharing their excellent thoughts and practice.
Those #pegeeks out there that know my style know that I hold inquiry and student driven learning in very high regard in my program. I have received a few emails asking me to better define how I involve students in assessment design in PE, so I decided to visually lay it out. Doing so really helps me to think, on a deeper level, of how I involve students in assessment design. I always felt that I did well at it, but actually explaining it in visual form assists me in getting a better grasp of it. The 7-Step Model that I created is for my own purposes, but I felt as though it would be good to share. If any of you would like to use the model, please feel free. You may have to tweak or modify it in order to fit the needs of your program, but if you do use it, please give me some feedback as to whether or not you find in useful. I have a few workshops that I will be leading over the next several months, so would like to include this 7-Step Model in my presentations. Any feedback would be much appreciated. Here it is below. Any questions? Just ask!
Important Considerations in the Process
Time Management: I can pull this whole cycle off in a 40-minute lesson provided I am very prepared and organized. My teaching space needs to be set up and ready to go otherwise there will be too many obstacles. However, using this approach can be spread out over a number of classes for larger scale assessment tasks such as a summative final task in movement composition. The whole point is that you need to be flexible when using this approach.
Using Selected Criteria to Create Formative or Summative Assessment Sheets: For larger scale formative tasks, I will take away the selected assessment criteria and create assessment sheets to be handed out to students at the very start of the following class.
Write It All Down and Keep it Visible: Record the students ideas and leave them posted on the wall for the duration of the unit. These posters will inevitably serve to initiate further discussion later in the unit. I have had great success doing this in my classes.
A Description of Each Step
I have blogged a few times over the past several weeks about my role as being more of a coach and facilitator during the student designed Athletics unit. The beauty of taking this instructional approach is that it gives the teacher loads of time to walk, listen, observe, and record. I really resisted the temptation to jump in too early and start directing instruction as the students, more often than not, were able to get their learning back on track via discussion with their team members. However, there were still a number of moments that I did have to step in. One of these moments was recorded on video by a teaching assistant. Two points of discussion in the video were safety and a reminder of how forces are applied in long jump. Have a peek at the video to follow this discussion.
This unit has been really interesting to see unfold. The students have taken control of their own learning in very responsible ways. Of course there have been times when I have had to step in and direct instruction, but for the most part, the students have done very well in designing their own learning tasks. For a glimpse into the unit, please see slide show below.
The #pegeeks network continues to be such a great place to link up with other passioned educators. I am pleased to have recently connected with Brendan Jones. I have followed Brendan on Twitter for quite some time and have always enjoyed his insight and pedagogical approach within the domain of health and physical education. Brendan and I were exchanging Tweets a few weeks back and decided to meet up on Skype for a chat. At first the idea was to just chat for a few minutes getting to know one another and sharing our program. However, before we knew it, a full hour had passed and we were just getting started. I asked Brendan to guest blog on PYP PE with Andy and he was happy to get involved. Thanks Brendan for taking the time and energy to share your thoughts with us all. I look forward to our next Skype chat.
A Bit about Brendan
Brendan Jones works as Head Teacher PDHPE (Personal Development, Health and Physical Education) in a 7-12 comprehensive government school on the Central Coast of NSW (just north of Sydney).
He has worked in public education his whole career. He likes looking at the big picture, and backward mapping to the minutiae, not the other way round. He dislikes the stereotypes that PE teachers have been attributed (and sometimes perpetuate). Brendan sees HPE (Health and Physical Education) as having an easily acquired holistic role in developing many of the skills modern students need by being working smarter as educators, not necessarily just working harder. He considers himself a DIY educator and an “Edu-communist” - see his blog post about it here http://goo.gl/IJJWp. Currently Brendan’s time is spent on examining bigger picture pedagogical approaches and working out how to bring them down to his practical PE classes.
Brendan's Guest Blog
I’ve evolved as a learner and knowledge consumer. I’ve moved on from pure PE practice and now include bigger picture concepts as part of my learning portfolio.I’m deadset against spoon feeding kids with information. I want them to think. So I’m keen to more clearly understand Inquiry Based Learning, Discovery Based Learning, Problem Based Learning and the Biggs SOLO and the way they would look in a comprehensive High School PE class of mixed ability students.
What’s happening in my world?
I’m a member of the worldwide #pegeeks community, but lately I’ve been following closely the transformation of this online learning community from casual enthusiasts to a more organised capitalised venture. Capitalised doesn’t just mean money (which is happening), but the notion that it now has “a value” more than just learning - in personal status, self-promotion and compulsive organisation. The pipeline of information that #pegeeks was has now turned into a torrent - I’m finding it increasingly difficult to monitor the information overload. So I have to impose filters - I don’t follow people as much as I follow “leads” to blogs or websites. That’s where the best stuff happens. More about that later.
Coincidentally I’m witnessing the evolution of the PE class from what I see as traditional practice to a more “modern” practice. For many, modern practice is based around the use of electronic devices and apps. While I see the strategic use of device/apps as an important engagement option for teachers, they are still just a tool, like a stopwatch or trundle wheel are. PE teachers are identifying resource needs and creating them. On reflection, my views on technology have changed over time - from seeing the use of technology as a “cure all” to a more nuanced understanding of how good teaching practice consists of many things, with technology being just one aspect of that. A bad teacher with an iPad is still a bad teacher.
What I like?
Twitter is great. I love how ideas are constantly flowing, exchanging, evolving in that space. What I REALLY like is when the conversation moves from Twitter to a blog where the “Hey! - I’m doing something great!” tweet is unpacked in the sort of detail a PE practitioner can understand. This is where ideas are truly shared, collaborated on in the comments section and the entire body of practice evolves. If you are a #pegeek and reading this, and you don’t have a blog, start one now and share there.
And blogging is warts and all - the successes and the failures, why you did it, what conditions exist that help and hinder...and most importantly - what did the kids get out of it? Not just your opinion...I want to see what they said.
I’ve always taken chances with my teaching. The new things I try can crash and burn and the fallout is restricted to my class - the kids are in on it, because I include them in the plans from the get go. If it doesn’t work, they tell me. My successes I share with my faculty, so they can try them to. I haven’t mentioned the challenge yet. Here it is.
The rubber hits the road when I try to get others on board - namely my faculty. Set piece, one off teaching strategies are different to pedagogical change - especially for those teachers who are resistant to change. This is my challenge - trying to make the practice “pill” not a bitter one to swallow for the people I’m trying to lead.
I always try to leave my class with a question, so here’s one for anyone that reads this - What will it take to move everyday thinking and practice from that of an information consumer and sharer to that a pedagogical creator and enabler?
As my Athletics unit comes to a close, I must reflect on what worked and what didn’t in terms of the new approach that I put to the test. I originally blogged about this new approach several weeks ago. If you missed that blog, you can check it out here. There were definitely a number of successes in this unit that I am very pleased about. As well, there were some major challenges. The one major challenge that I faced was the fact that I simply ran out of time in the unit. It didn’t go completely as planned due to a couple of reasons. The main reason being that I had lost a couple of classes in grade 3 and 4 PE because our school was putting on its big elementary production. I had to give up these classes in order to let the students attend rehearsal for the production.
Because we had fallen behind in the unit, I had to step in the last week and really direct all of the learning that took place. However, having said this, it was best to step in and direct the instruction as I was teaching high jump and shot put. These 2 events really do need more of a hands on and teacher directed approach. Although I took control away from them when learning these 2 events, I still had them discuss in groups the technical aspects of high jump itself and shot put. The grade 3 classes are currently doing a ‘Forces’ unit of inquiry and the grade 4s did the same unit last year. The kids were able to carry on a very intelligent discussion about how certain forces are applicable in high jump and shot put (transference of learning). Some words that were thrown about by them students themselves were ‘acceleration’, ‘friction’, ‘inertia’, ‘weight’, and ‘force’.
We are on a week long holiday starting tomorrow. Sports Day is the first Tuesday once we get back from our week off, so I did a final wrap up discussion in which we discussed the new approach that I used in this unit. I asked them to give me their feedback as to how they liked the unit. I also encouraged those that didn’t like this student led design approach to let me know as it would give me great feedback as well. I told them that hearing things that they didn’t like would help me to be a better teacher.
Although the unit has wrapped up, I will still do a few more blogs on some of the learning experiences that my students were engaged in. As well, once Sports Day has concluded, the students will complete self-assessment tasks and reflections. I will definitely be sharing the results on my blog once
Switched on Students with Offering Great Feedback
The Words of My Students......
Sean: “I really liked being able to design my own learning because there were no limits on what we could do with running, jumping, and throwing.”
Lennard: “I like the Athletics unit because we could form our own groups and create our own running, jumping, and throwing activities.’
Amelie: “ I liked the Athletics unit because we had to figure things our on our own”
Harald: “ I enjoyed the Athletics unit because I like running, jumping, and throwing. We could choose what we wanted to do by ourselves.We could find problems and things that didn’t work and then ask Mr. Andy for help.”
Lucas: “ I liked the Athletics unit because we could choose our own learning groups and figure out what we could and could not do.”
Owen: “ I liked this learning because we had a lot of freedom to choose and practice whatever activities that we wanted.”
Tirso: “ I liked this unit because we were outside in the nice weather. We could run, jump, and throw. Mr. Andy could have taught us more though.“
Julian: I liked running, jumping, and throwing, but I didn’t like choosing groups because some of my group members didn’t help out and went off on their own.”
Francesca: "I liked the Athletics unit and feel the same way as Amelie. I liked learning on my own."
Twitter has been a wonderful professional development type opportunity on a day-to-day basis as many great educators from around the world can connect and share their wisdom, knowledge, and good teaching practice. The tendency for me has been to tune into and focus on connecting with other educators that share the same vision that I have. I have been very fortunate to make a connection with Amanda Stanec and through Twitter and by email, we have had some excellent discussions about 21st century learning as it related to different instructional models and approaches in the arena of physical education. Despite Amanda's busy schedule, she happily agreed to guest blog on PYP PE with Andy. Here is a bit more about Amanda Stanec.
Dr. Amanda Stanec was born and raised in Nova Scotia, Canada where she attended and played soccer for St. Francis Xavier University. Through these years, Amanda developed a strong worth ethic to accompany her active lifestyle, in sport and other physical activities, and positive outlook on life. Amanda moved to the US over 15 years ago to begin her teaching and coaching career. During this time, she also attended graduate school at Virginia Commonwealth University. Amanda attained a Masters of Science with an emphasis in physical education and sport psychology from VCU. Completely cool with her love of learning, Amanda enrolled in a PhD program in Kinesiology within the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. Here, Amanda was awarded the outstanding doctoral student in the Curry School of Education at UVa in her graduating year (2006).
Amanda’s two biggest successes – by far – are her two young children who inspired ABLE: Education & Wellness Consultants. Through Amanda’s pursuit of modeling an active, productive, and positive life to her children, ABLE was formed. Amanda can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MoveLiveLearn and through her consulting business here.
Amanda's Guest Blog
First, I want to thank Andy Vasily for inviting me to contribute to his amazing blog. I haven't known Andy very long, but I respect his work very much and am already a big fan. In other words, I am humbled to offer my thoughts on how physical educators can empower students to take control of their learning.
Physical education (PE) does not magically teach life lessons. Teachers must carefully plan to connect learning experiences to life outside of the PE classroom. When this happens, PE provides an unique platform to: teach life lessons; make connections to content learned in the classroom; and, (of course) to teach important health-related material related to physical education. In short, content learned in PE is incredibly important. Empowering students to take responsibility in their learning is critical to preparing them adequately for the 21st century.
So how do we do it? Below are three tips that physical educators can immediately incorporate into their classes to increase students' sense of empowerment in their classes.
1. Foster Student-Centered Learning. Student-centered learning is defined slightly different throughout the literature. For the purpose of this post, student-centered learning is when the needs of students are considered in all aspects of planning, teaching and assessing in physical education. In student-centered learning, traditional direct teaching - or teacher-centered learning - is replaced with the teacher serving more as a facilitator in the learning process rather than a commander. Students-centered learning in physical education may take shape as: student choice; student interest; peer and self-assessment; and students' personal goals are evident.
Example of student-centered learning physical education. In a teacher-centered class, physical educators might explain rules, skills, and strategies necessary for optimal participation in activity prior to the activity occurring. Contrarily, in a student-centered environment, a physical educator might design a physical activity where students participate in fitness stations and earn cards which have such rules,skills and strategies written on them. After forming groups during a stretching/strengthening stationary task(s), students share and organize cards to determine how the activity should be carried out in order for optimal success. Voila! Students are engaged, ALT-PE (Academic Learning Time - Physical Education) is high, students are having fun, and students become responsible to share content with their peers. Win. Win. Win. Win.
As you might imagine, the physical educator would have more opportunity to give skill specific feedback during such an activity while students are piecing together what is to come, rather than sitting students down to explain an upcoming activity. And, that's not all. Facilitating lessons such as this make teaching so enjoyable to the physical educator as the light bulbs are switching on throughout the teaching space.
2. Promote Collaboration in Physical Education. We hear it all the time. 21st Century Learning. I'm okay with that. I like the concepts put forward to promote 21st century learning - collaboration being perhaps my favorite. Before I talk about what "good" collaboration among students in physical education looks like, I would like to encourage everyone reading this post to work tirelessly to collaborate with other educators in their schools.
Why? Well, schools are often designed to marginalize PE teachers from other educators in the building. We often work in a corner of the school furthest away from the school's entrance and classrooms. Maybe it's because physical activity + fun + engagement = loud. Regardless, it's hurt our profession. We need classroom colleagues to see what we are doing so they can weave physical activity throughout all their lessons, and we need to work hard to incorporate their materials in our classes to make learning more meaningful for all students.
How? Reach out. Send an email and ask what students are struggling with in their math, science, social studies, and language arts classes. Make it a point to weave these problem areas into the lessons. Offer to hold a PD session at the school centered around kinesthetic learning or physical activity in the classroom or how to incorporate aspects of physical literacy into their lessons. Let them know that you don't view education as a "we" vs "them". Collaborate in a way that promotes teaching the whole child, not just one side of a child's brain.
Collaboration Among Students? In my humble opinion, in order to promote effective student collaboration physical educators must teach students communication skills. These communication skills include (but are not limited to): listening, verbal communication, and non-verbal communication. A key point to consider is that students should demonstrate the ability to collaborate effectively with all members of their class community. Thus, students might need to: speak in close proximity to a child who is deaf; speak in far proximity to a student on the Autism Spectrum; or, demonstrate more patience than normal toward students who they simply don't connect with. Moreover, students should be given opportunity to identify areas of outside of school where collaboration are essential, and understand why.
3. Connect with Your Students. Hopefully, you know your students. If not, get to know them. I know this isn't always easy when some students unfortunately only have quality PE once in five days and class sizes are large, but we must work tirelessly to build community early in the school year. Either way, student motivation is a great predictor of not only your lessons, but how your students are feeling and whether or not something is weighing on their minds. You read their faces if they are stressed, sad, or frustrated. When you see students' motivation decrease, ask them why. Maybe you planned a poor lesson, maybe their scored lower than desired on a math assessment, or maybe their feelings were hurt by a peer. Make sure you take the time to ask what's going on in order to help them refocus their learning efforts.
The impact? I recall a class of grade 8 girls who seemed so down. I stopped my entire lesson and talked with them. They had PE five days a week and while I would never had done this early in my career, I wanted them to know that I cared deeply. Yep. We "talked" for an entire 40 minutes. Guess what happened? Those 21 students gave me the most amazing effort the remainder of their final year in middle school you could ever imagine. We bonded and this completely empowered them to take control of their learning. What did we talk about? First, I listened. I remembered being 14 years old. Then, I talked. I talked about gratitude. I talked about opportunity. Finally, I asked them questions. I asked them to talk to each other. And then, I told them I loved them.
By times, it is an absolute necessity to talk things out. Of course we want to maximize and optimize physical activity at moderate to vigorous intensities - we want our students to gain health benefit from our classes. However, it is also justifiable to talk things out when the intent and result is a deepening their understanding of an important life skills / enduring concepts. This being said, it's even better when such conversations can happen during "active learning" environments (i.e., at the end of an activity when students are cooling down / stretching).
Empowering students' learning in physical education is critical to optimizing activity time as well as learning the important concepts in physical education, classroom materials, and life skills. It takes planning and practice, but it's definitely worth it. Hopefully these three tools will fit in your PE tool box and allow you to get your job done to the standard that your students deserve and you strive for. Best wishes, and keep making a difference in the lives of your students - your work matters...a lot.
My thoughts and prayers go out to every single person affected by the brutal and senseless attacks that took place today at the Boston Marathon. Lots of talk on Twitter today about how horrible the acts were and how bad we all feel for the victims of this horrendous tragedy. As we all try to make sense of what has happened, we should also be reminded of the great power that we have as educators to make a true difference in the lives of our students.
In this age and time, we all talk about our own views about where we feel education should be heading. What should our student be able to know, learn, and do? We hear about so many teachers under pressure who must ensure that their students achieve certain standards in testing. We talk about how to better integrate technology into our lessons and in our classrooms. We discuss our views on curriculum change and teacher appraisal. The list goes on and on and will continue to go on and on despite the tragedy that took place in Boston.
How about this? How about really having a look at the powerful roles that compassion, empathy, consideration, grace, kindness, and love can play in a young person’s life. How about truly taking every learning moment possible to instill these traits within our students. How these traits cannot take priority over specific subject area content, I will never know.
I am only throwing my thoughts out there, but I believe our world can be so caught up in achievement that we sometimes forget what is most important. We can forget about the traits and characteristics that will help our young people be great adults. In the famous words written in one of my favorite books of all time, Tuesdays with Morrie, “We must love one another or die”.
Our education systems of today need to do a better job preparing young people to be great adults. Once again, my thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by the Boston Marathon attacks.
As part of my grade one Athletics Unit, the students are working on different forms of running, jumping, and throwing. In today's class, I had my students practicing their running technique after we had a very important discussion about what good running looks like. We watched some of the older students, in high school, running the 200 meters on the track. The first thing that they noticed was how smooth the good runners looked and that they had stayed in their lanes.
I then demonstrated what poor running looks like, it was quite comical in nature, but the point was for them to immediately compare good running vs poor running. They mentioned that I was all over the place, side to side, lane to lane while running. We were able to conclude that good runners run in as straight a line as possible. I then took them on to the field and asked them to look around and to think of ways that we could work on improving our running technique. They came up with the idea of using lines on the field to run on.
I was hoping that they would think of this and once they did, I introduced the idea of them observing one another while running or having a coach's eye. They loved thinking of themselves as teachers or coaches. I put them into pairs and for about 10-12 minutes they took turns running on the lines on the field and closely observing one another. They provided immediate feedback and as I walked around, I could see that they were very engaged in the task. I have included a short video below of what this lesson looked like in action.
My thought off the day is really a reminder about just how powerful listening to our students conversations can be in helping us to better our instructional practice. Refraining from actually getting involved in their dialogue, but only listening and recording key points from their conversation and/or things that they may be struggling with. The new student design of learning approach I am testing out in my current athletics unit allows me the freedom to walk, observe, and listen closely to their discussions and conversations as the students are busily working away at designing their own learning. It provides me with a very easy source of feedback as to whether or not they are on the correct track. When they are really struggling I can step in to lend a helping hand or to offer them advice.
Along with being a registered nurse and elementary school teacher, my wife is also a certified yoga instructor. She is super passionate about teaching yoga to kids and often volunteers to go into other classrooms and into PE to do one-off yoga sessions . She is one of my greatest resources when it comes to including yoga as part of my PE curriculum. I have a video here that really sums up just how powerful yoga can be to young people. The video is from my wife's after- school yoga club that she runs each week at Nanjing International School. It is worth the watch! If you want specific yoga advice or ideas to implement, drop me a line and I will pass it on to my wife to answer for you.