I find that striking and fielding type units can be quite a challenge to the younger students as they have not developed the necessary hand and eye coordination skills to enable them to actually strike and field a ball successfully. Another consideration is that often times there is only so much equipment to go around. We certainly don’t want our kids idle and having to wait in long lines to be able to practice striking a ball off of a tee or fielding a ball.
Bearing this in mind, I believe that working with the students to practice and develop hand and eye coordination is critical as it builds the foundation of skills that are transferable to all striking and fielding type sports.
Today’s grade 1 lesson was about just this and I had the students, both individually and in pairs, work on 3 different activities; catching a bean bag that they threw up in the air, catching a bean bag on their tennis racket (they flung the bean bag up then caught it on the strings of the racket), and finally popping a tennis ball up in the air, letting it bounce then popping it up again and again. They would work on each of these skills individually first, then do it with a partner. After each activity, they were required to record the number of successful catches or tennis pop ups individually and with their partners(please examples of student assessment below).
As there are such a wide range of student abilities, activities such as this must be differentiated in order for learning and development to take place. The way I differentiated this lesson to suit all of my students was by getting the students to really inquiry into what level they believed they were at. Key questions that I asked were:
How easy is it for you to catch the bean bag with your hands or racket? and How easy is it for you to pop the tennis ball up in the air after it bounces? If the students answered something to the effect of “not easy at all” or “ I cannot do it”, I would have them stand still while throwing and catching (softer, easier throws or pop ups). If the students answered something like “I can do it, but it is not too easy”, I would have the students walk around slowly while catching and throwing or popping the tennis ball up. If the students answered (and a few did) that it was super easy, I would make them jog or run while throwing, catching, or popping tennis ball up.
The key was to challenge them by getting them out of their comfort zones!
From left to right, Andy Vasily (NIS), Sarah Bartlett (SAS), Eric Nicolai (SAS), and Nathan Heck (SAS)
I have always enjoy learning new games and activities by observing other good practitioners teach PE. It’s one thing to read about useful PE activities in books or on the internet, but to observe them happening ‘live’ is what I always find to be most useful. I have spent that last 2 days at the Shanghai American School as the grades 3 and 4 classes at my school went to Shanghai to play in a friendly soccer tournament organized by SAS. Everything went well with the grade 3 students as they got in a full day of soccer on Wednesday and returned back to Nanjing later that day.
However, the grade 4 students were scheduled to play a full day of soccer today, but we were unfortunately rained out leaving us wondering what to do in order to occupy our students for a few hours before heading back to Nanjing. The elementary teaching team from Shanghai American School were gracious as they offered up their own prep time to teach our students some new activities. Below is a quick bio on each of the three teachers who volunteered their time to help us out.
Sarah Bartlett has taught at SAS for the past 6 years and was teaching PE in Bolivia for 3 years before coming to China. Prior to that, she was a PE teacher in Virginia. She has loads of teaching experience.
Eric Nicolai is in his second year teaching PE at SAS. He taught in Prague for 5 years before moving to China with his wife and 2 kids. Eric comes from Washington and was a physical education instructor for a number of years before moving abroad.
Nathan Heck is in his first year teaching PE at SAS having taught for 2 years in Ecuador before coming to China. He comes from the US and studied and worked in business prior to becoming an educator.
The very first thing that I noticed about the games they taught is that both activities allowed for maximum participation. There was no winner, there was no loser. My students loved playing the games and were very active for the duration of the time played. I have done a brief summary of each game and will definitely use them in my classes in the future.
Sink the Battle Ship (created by grade 3 students in Game Creation Unit at SAS
Bibs, benches or longish type narrrow mats that can serve as imaginary battleships, dodgeballs, and hula hoops
The Set Up:
The benches or mats are spread out evenly around the gym. Each team has a battleship. Hula hoops are spread out randomly around the gym. Dodge balls spread out evenly on floor. Each team starts game beside their battleship and must put on team bibs
On command ‘go’ the students set off. They are only allowed to throw from inside hula hoops. The object of game is to strike people from other teams by throwing dodgeball (from inside the hula hoop). If someone is struck by the ball, they must go stand on their battleship. The only way they can re-enter the game is if someone on their own team, positioned from inside the hula hoop, throws a ball that is successfully caught from atop the ship. At this point, they can jump down off of the ship and play again. Throwers, from inside the hoop, can be struck by other teams throwing a dodgeball from inside of another hoop.
If a team’s members are all struck and atop the battleship, it is not game over. To re-enter game, they must run a designated number of laps around the gym. Once they have completed running these laps, the team can re-enter the game. If a person positioned inside of the hoop catches a ball thrown at them, the thrower must go and stand on their battleship.
7 Seas Game
For the sake of organization, we kept the same teams together from Sink the Battleship. This is definitely a cooperative type challenge requiring teamwork and communication.
Equipment Needed: One mat for each team that can is the foldable kind.
The Set Up:
Very easy in the fact that all that is needed is one foldable mat per team.
The teacher gives a number of different commands and the students must respond to each command in a timely manner. Here is a breakdown on the commands.
As the students march around the perimeter of the gym, each person must be in contact with the mat. The teacher then shouts out one of the following commands:
Each team must carry their ship around the gym.
On ‘Incoming’ command, the students must stop, unfold mat as quickly as possible. Each member must drop down on to mat onto knees, getting as low as they can while covering their heads as if a missile was coming in. They remain in place until the next command.
Each team must stop walking with mat and choose someone to be carried by the group on the mat.
Students must stop, unfold mat and get under it, either crawling or walking. Everyone must be under mat.
All of the players on your team must change to a different ship. Players cannot be with anyone from the ship they were just on.
Fold and Stand!
Mat must be folded up and placed on floor. At this point, the entire team must stand atop the mat. They all must be on the mat. The object is to somehow unfold mat while remaining atop it. Their feet cannot touch the ground when the team is attempting to unfold the mat.
Fold Back Up and Stand!
Once the mat is unfolded, the team must stand on the mat and try to fold it back up without letting their feet touch the floor.
I was fortunate enough to meet Guy Walker a few years back when I attended a PYP PE workshop (led my Mark Baxter) at Upper Canada College in Toronto, Ontario. It was easy to see, from the start, that Guy and I shared many of the same views about the practice of teaching PE and worked together for most of the workshop. We stayed in touch for a while after the workshop, but, due to being busy and having families, our communication faded. However, we have once again been reunited through our shared passion for teaching PYP PE. I am glad to be in touch with Guy again and am equally pleased that he accepted my invitation to be a guest blogger on PYPPEwithAndy. Thanks Guy!!
A bit about Guy Walker......
PE teacher at Children's World Academy (CWA) in Montreal, QC. An IB World School for nearly 12 years. He is originally from Western Canada, where he studied Education at the Univ of Alberta in Edmonton- a double major in PE and Biology.
He has been at CWA for 6 years and believes so strongly in the IB and its' mission and philosophies. His daughter attended the school 4 years ago and is now going on to high school in the fall. The school taught her to be both and inquirer and very reflective about her studies.
While at CWA and learning about the PYP and how PE fits in, he decided to take his interest to the next level and apply for the IB Academy. The training was in New Orleans. Guy has led workshops and been on school authorization teams. This past April he had the opportunity to lead the Role of PE workshop in Minneapolis with Mark Baxter (Upper Canada College), Guy will also be leading PYP PE workshops in Colorado in the summer, as well as in LA in the fall.
He is excited at the prospect of being part of the change within the PYP and incorporating specialists- especially PE- into the POI and as a major part of the collaborative planning at schools. He sees a real need for stand-alone planners for specialists and classroom teachers making authentic connections to these planners and supporting them whenever possible.
His goals for the future include taking on the role of PYP coordinator at CWA and continued involvement in leading workshops and site visits- the exchange of dialogue with other PYP teachers has been and will continue to be valuable Guy.Thoughts By Guy
On the weekend of April 20th, I was fortunate enough to lead a Role of PE workshop in Minneapolis with another PE specialist- Mark Baxter from Upper Canada College in Toronto, Ontario.
Leading up to the workshop, we surveyed the participants and asked them their goals for the workshop and what they hoped to get out of the weekend and where they stand at their own school(s) with collaborative planning as well as their comfort level with the PYP.
Lucky for me, the responses were the same as I had a few years previous when I first started at an IB school. Some were not sure where and how they were to fit in at their schools and did not know how to address inquiry in the gymnasium, courts and fields where their teaching takes place.
For the duration of the workshop we addressed the concerns they had through TGFU (Teaching Games for Understanding) practical sessions in our extra-large conference room. We also took on the task of going through the POI's of different schools and making links to classroom planners. A lot of interesting ideas were generated on how to make the authentic links to planners.
In addition, we got into creating planners for stand-alone units in PE. Net games, invasion games, adventure challenge and fielding games units were created and are shared to this day between the participants.
All in all it was a great weekend and I am sure I speak on behalf of Mark when I say it was just as valuable for us as workshop leaders as it was for the participants.
It is common for single subject teachers to try their best to integrate when authentic connections to the unit of inquiry are happening in PE. I am frequently asked by other PYP PE teachers how often I integrate during the school year. This can be a bit difficult to narrow down because in my opinion, there are different levels to integration. Full integration is when I sit in on planning meetings with the classroom teachers and plan how connections to the unit of inquiry can be made. I then create learning opportunities in my unit that connect directly to the UoI - its central idea and the lines of inquiry. I consider this to be ‘full Integration’.
However, on a smaller scale I believe there are loads of opportunities to integrate or make important connections. ‘Maths Integration’ is a great way to link what they are learning in maths to PE. Recording and collecting data, analysing data, graphing, and mental maths are among a few ways that I integrate maths into my PE lessons. There are also one-off type integrated activities that I can do, but I ensure that they fit nicely into the unit that I am doing in PE. Besides these one-off opportunities, no further connections to the UoI should be made as it wouldn’t be authentic.
If the unit of inquiry doesn’t fit into the PE unit, I take a look at the key concepts, learner profile attributes/pyp attitudes that the students will be exposed to in their UoI as another way to make strong connections. My students in grade 3 are currently doing a unit on Natural Disasters. Despite the fact that there are no connections possible to Natural Disasters in PE, I can still support their learning in this unit by linking the key concepts to the target games unit they are about to begin. Through informal collaboration with the grade 3 classroom teacher, Marina Gjizen, we narrowed down how the concepts could be applied to the Target Games unit they will begin today. In addition, the main premise of the central idea is that people use past experience to change behaviour. The little twist I will put on it is that in PE it is not so much behaviour, but performance.
The key concepts for this unit of inquiry are Form, Responsibility, and Reflection. Therefore, I will apply these concepts to my Target Games unit as well in order to lend support to the UoI. I created the poster below to initiate discussion with the students. I will record all of their ideas on this poster during the unit.
Is this integration??? Not really, but I believe that it is still a very important link to the UoI. What do you think???
Regardless of grade level, adventure challenge type units are among my favorite to teach as the opportunities to challenge students, get them thinking, and working together are endless. True and authentic learning can take place at every step of the way during these units. Kids can learn about one another and themselves constantly, but most importantly the concepts of perseverance, resilience, communication, and trust can be addressed in every lesson. I opened up the adventure challenge unit today for kindergarten with a game that I have done numerous times over the years. This game can be modified and increased in difficulty to suit any age level.
I call the game "Capture the Gold" or "Cross the River" or "Avoid the Gators" or whatever I feel like on the day! However, the challenge remains the same. Please see videos below to get an idea of how this game works. you can truly modify this game in a zillion ways. Although I did not do any assessment, I have done many forms of assessment when the students have played the game in the past. Watch and think about your own space and resources and think of how it can be played with your students. Chances are many of you have already done many similar games. Want to share these games??
Please go to my PYP PE teacher forum page that I have set up on this website and share any adventure challenge games you have done (http://www.pyppewithandy.com/pe-teacher-forum-connecting-with-other-good-practitioners.html#/). I am always looking for new ideas!! Thanks
The Challenge is Set!!!
The First Go!
Houston, We Have a Problem!!
There has been lots of discussion on PYP blogs such as Threads debating whether or not central ideas and lines of inquiry should be introduced at the beginning of a unit. I have read varying viewpoints from a number of experienced PYP teachers who have shared their opinions on the topic. I must admit that I was very hesitant to even consider not posting central ideas and lines of inquiry at the beginning of a unit. I felt that having a discussion about the central idea and lines of inquiry and posting them for all students to see kind of set the stage for the journey that they were about to embark on.
As I read other teachers points of view on this debate, as hesitant I was to change my mind, I did begin to see the value in the giving students time to explore, conceptualize, grapple with uncertainties, contemplate, discuss, and share at the beginning of a unit. Was it really necessary to post the central ideas and lines of inquiry from the start of a unit? I was now much more open to the idea of not doing so. My grade 4 students began an ‘Invasion Games’ unit today in PE and I decided the time had come to try something new in my teaching, so I did not post or discuss the central idea and lines of inquiry for the unit.
When I set out to create central ideas and lines of inquiry for the units that I teach in PE, I like to have a general brainstorming session about what is important to know. I then use these brainstorming notes to formulate the central idea and lines of inquiry that I will put into action during the unit. Please see picture above of how I created the central idea for the invasion games unit. It usually takes me a while to come up with, what I feel, is a genuine and authentic central idea that is worth exploring. Even though I did not post this central idea and the lines of inquiry for the invasion games unit, this is what they are:
Central Idea: Successfully attacking and defending space depends upon having a coordinated plan, managing space effectively, and working together as a team.
Lines of Inquiry
An inquiry into determining which skills are most important to learn and practice in invasion games
An inquiry into creating plans that best suit our team and its members
An inquiry into how best to attack and defend space
Introductory Lesson to Invasion Games Unit (Pre-Assessment)
To set the stage for the unit, I had the students take part in a number of very modified invasion type activities increasing with difficulty in each game. I had posted 4 questions, on separate posters, around the gym to be answered, in groups, after participating in the various games played in class. I think that after giving the students to get a sense of what invasion games were, they were in a better position to analyze the requirements of each of the games played today. I could then use their answers to determine what they already know which can help with my planning of the unit. The 4 questions were:
Off We Go!!
To start the class I divided the class into two teams with one team wearing bibs. The students took part in the following 4 games.
Game A (Invade and Touch Wall)
Students must invade other team’s space (teams separated by center line running width of gym) by crossing center line and trying to make it to back wall without being touched. If they are touched in the other team’s half, they must return to their own half immediately. If they are not touched and reach the back wall, they earn a point by touching the wall. At this point, as long as they are touching the wall, they are safe. BUT, they must wait for a team member to make it to the back wall in the same fashion. Once another team member has made it to the back wall, together the two of them, holding hands or linked together can return safely to their own half collecting a point each for their team. They only way to return and collect points is joined together with another teammate, not on your own!Once in their own half, they can then attack the other team’s space trying to do the same.
Object of game: Collect as many points as possible while trying to stop other team from gaining points.
Exactly the same as game A, but they only difference is that they now must make it back to their own half, on their own and not joined to a partner. If they can make it to the back wall, touch the wall, and run back to their own half, they have earned one point for their team.
Exactly as game A, however, each team now has 5 dodgeballs. To gain a point, the players must carry a ball over center line and into the other team’s half, make it to the back wall, throw the ball off of wall and catch it on the rebound (with no bounce) without being touched by any member of the opposing team. If they are successful in doing this, they must wait for a team member to do the same. Once a team member has done the same, they can the join hands and are safe to walk or run back to their own half. If they are touched, before reaching the wall or while in the process of throwing ball off of wall and catching on the rebound, they must return to their own half, with the ball. Every single time they come back to their own half, regardless of gaining a point or not, they must hand ball over to another teammate, so that they can have a go of it as well.
Similar to game C with the only exception being that opposing players can either tag you by hand or throw the dodgeball at you when you are in their half. Throwing the dodgeball adds another element to the invasion game.
Creating a Team Strategy
The students were allowed to meet several times to discuss, modify, evaluate and revise team strategies that they had created. They tried to employ a number of different tactics during the 4 games played and were asked to evaluate these tactics on an ongoing basis. I want them to understand that they need an organized plan in order to be successful. It will be something that I focus my lessons on heavily during this unit.
After the 4 games described above were played, I quickly put the students into 4 groups to quickly rotate through the posters and answer the questions. It was interesting to see their answers. I can see that they are already on track to discovering the central idea for themselves. I will take a few more classes before unveiling the central idea to the students.
Some student answers
Poster#1: Describe how teams can be successful when playing invasion games. Also describe how individuals can help their team.
Must put people into positions
Must guard space better
Communicate how to work better as team
Put speedy people as attackers
Poster#2: Describe what you think invasion games are.
Getting points and guarding
Putting people in different spots to help get points and guard
Attacking and defending
Poster#3: Which PYP attitudes do you think are most important when playing invasion games?
‘Cooperation’ because through group work and helping each other we can get points more easily
‘Confidence’ because you need to be confident to share your ideas with your team
Poster#4: Which Learner Profile attributes do you think are most important when playing invasion games?
‘Risk-Taker’ because you have to enter the other team’s half even if you are stopped
‘Thinker’ because you have to be smart when thinking of a plan for your team. Putting people in spots makes us think about who is best for the spot.
Teacher Reflection (should central ideas be posted at start of unit???)
I think that the class went very well, was organized, and challenged the students to work together on a team. They took part in valuable discussion at the end of the class and seemed to all have a general understanding of what invasion games were. I can see firsthand that not introducing the central idea at the beginning of the unit is worth much more of an exploration on my part. I am not use to it, but will give it more consideration as today's first attempt when very well in demonstrating that students can still be extremely engaged without being introduced to central idea.
In today's class, my grade 3 students had to predict and then record their actual results in 4 different events that they will be competing in during next week's Sports Day at Nanjing International School.
My goal was not to just get them to predict and record, but also to remember and be able to explain 2 important technical aspects of each event. Prior to doing each event, we had a discussion about key technical points. It was important for them to know and understand these technical aspects and be able to apply them during the event itself in order to try and produce their best result possible.
They made their predictions, did the event then recorded their actual result also being sure to include an explanation of 2 technical aspects. The class went very well and upon a close look of their formative assessment sheets, most students were able to recall 2 technical aspects which demonstrates that they were being attentive and listening to expectations. Please see example student assessment below.