How many times have you fully intended to get some serious work done only to find that your precious hours and minutes get annoyingly chiseled away, leaving you very little time to settle into a rhythm and flow that allows you to accomplish anything worthwhile? There is no question that we sometimes experience unavoidable circumstances that result in our time being slowly stripped away from us, BUT to what extent can we hold ourselves accountable for the unnecessary and avoidable interruptions or useless distractions that result in the major loss of our time and productivity?
As many teachers are about to embark on a new school year, there are so many demands that will be placed upon them. Teaching is an incredibly tough job that requires us to constantly be on our games if we are to have the impact that we desire on our students. With all of the responsibilities to teach, assess, provide feedback, effectively plan and collaborate, manage students, coach, and have a personal lives, getting ‘time-jacked’ is the very last thing that we need.
So, I would ask you to think about the major reasons why you are being ‘time-jacked’ and evaluate to what extent you are responsible for this happening. Are there situations you could avoid that would allow you to maximize your time and efficiency? Are there people who mindlessly take up your time and energy causing you to fall out of rhythm and flow with the work needing to be done in order to be the most effective teacher that you can be?
Prioritizing what needs to be done and staying on track with your work is an essential skill necessary to better manage your time as educators. This little reminder is as much for me as it is for you. Love who you are connected with and those who truly make you better at what you do. Take every opportunity possible to let them know that they matter to you. However, remove yourself from situations and people who do not serve you in being the best that you can be. Minimizing unnecessary time-jacking in your life will no doubt give you back the valuable hours and minutes needed to maximize your own levels of productivity. Thanks for reading.
As I move into the final step of my 'supercharging student reflection' blog post series, it is my hope that teachers trying these ideas out in their own program will take the time to share with me how things go. I'd like feedback on the struggles you may have experienced, things you have tweaked, modified, or deleted and successes you may have had in implementing the steps outlined in this blog post series. It's been a great experience having to sit down and actually write out each step as it had me clarify and think deeply about the process in which I have students reflect in my PE program.
It can be a hugely rewarding experience to see students take ownership over their goals and to make legitimate progress towards achieving these goals. We can never really predict when a student will actually achieve their goal, so careful observation is obviously necessary throughout their journey. As a teacher, when you have seen enough evidence that clearly indicates that the student has made substantial progress, it is important to have a conversation with them about how they feel they have done in regards to their personal goal. When both teacher and student feel as though it is time to move on, Step 7 in the process really kicks into gear!!!
There are several different ways that we can celebrate student success in regards to achieving their personal goals in PE. I will share some of the ways in which I have helped students to celebrate reaching their goal, but as you can imagine there are so many other ways to do this as well. You'll figure out what is best for you and your students.
A Celebration Through the Learner Profile and PYP Attitudes
When my students have reached their personal goals in the past, depending upon what their goal actually was, I would connect it to one of the PYP Learner Profile Attributes or PYP Attitude posters seen below and give them a certificate of achievement along with a quick explanation of what they had accomplished. This is extremely time consuming, but if I had the certificates ready to go and everything organized, it was manageable.
I should've mentioned this in one of the earlier steps, but setting up a visually rich teaching space is imperative in helping to guide and facilitate important discussions in PE. I created the posters that you see below and have always kept them up in my teaching space. These visuals have always been extremely useful in helping to have important dialog and discussion about core values in regards to striving for personal excellence in my physical education program. And they are a great tool for making strong connections to their personal goals as well.
The PYP Attitudes
The PYP Learner Profile Attributes
If a student had a personal goal related to demonstrating better teamwork and communication skills, once they had achieved their goal, it was possible for me to connect their achievement to the PYP Learner Profile attribute 'Communicator' for example. I could then give them a certificate of achievement that highlighted the fact that they had demonstrated being a great communicator in regards to their personal goal.
The PYP Attitudes and Learner Profile Attributes are at the very heart of everything that we do in Primary Years Program, so connecting their personal goals to these attitudes and attributes is pedagogically sound practice and should make total sense.
Another example could be a student whose personal goal is related to showing better sportsmanship in PE. Once he or she had achieved this goal, a strong connection could be made the the PYP Attitude of 'Respect'. Giving them a certificate is a celebration in itself and worthy of recognizing their success with everyone in class. As well, they would have the certificate to bring home to show their parents.
A Celebration Through Student-Led Portfolio Conferences
Every year we have something called Student-Led Portfolio Conferences that takes place in April or May. These conferences are all about the students celebrating their achievements throughout the year by sharing their favourite pieces of work from each subject area with their parents. Most of this is done in the classroom, but I set up my gym in a way that allowed the students to bring their parents into their physical education space and take them through their learning in PE. The first thing the students do is show their parents their 'Sportfolio' which includes different types of assessment pieces from throughout the school year. This is also the time that the students would have a chance to show their goal-setting sheets and all of the reflections that they had done in regards to their personal goal. If they had already achieved their goal, it was a great time to celebrate this success and to provide specific examples of how they were able to accomplish their goal.
If they had not achieved their goal as it was still in progress, it was still a great time for them to share the strategies that they were working on in relation to their goal and any small successes that they had made.
Once they were done doing this, I had stations set up in the gym that allowed the students to take their parents through, showcasing their specific skill development in the different units done in PE throughout the year. They also teach their parents how to do certain skills and actually play games with them as well. The feedback from parents is astoundingly positive as they rarely get a chance to see what is actually happening in PE.
And the CYCLE Begins Again!!
Once the students have achieved and celebrated their accomplishment in regards to their personal goal, it is now time to begin the process over again. The students will return back to the initial visual that was created at the beginning of the school year and select a new growth area to work on. The original visual that you see below is simply a reference point for them now. They do not have to choose an area identified in the visual itself, they can select any goal that they feel as though the need to concentrate on.
So ladies and gentlemen, there you go. My 7-step 'supercharging student reflection' blog post series is now complete. Hope you have enjoyed reading through the different steps and that some of the big ideas that I presented in this series have resonated with you. The very best of luck to you if you decide to implement these strategies with your own students. Let me know how it goes!!
If you have read all of the steps in my ‘supercharging student reflection’ blog post series, there is a distinct possibility that you may seriously be considering rolling out the ideas presented in your own PE program. Before doing so, please keep in mind that what I have written about relates specifically to my own teaching environment and students. There are aspects of this series that may not work in your own teaching space given the access to resources that you have and the overall set up of your class. Good teaching requires innovative thinking, so I’m sure that you have already thought about modifications that you would need to make to allow this blog post series to fit and to work within your program. So feel free to change up any aspect of this series when applying the process of student reflection in your own teaching environment.
What I would love to know is how you’ve changed things up or modifications you have made so that I can learn some new ideas for delivering student reflection in PE. As I lead many workshops and consult for different PE departments around the world, I am always looking to share great ideas, so please do let me know how you may be applying student reflection in PE.
Step 5 of my ‘supercharging student reflection’ blog post series was all about establishing expectations and to ensure that the students understand and grasp just how important being reflective is when setting goals for ourselves. To aid in making this happen discussions need to take place about the power of reflection and it must be a requirement that the students reflect at the end of each class for a set period of time. This period of time is up to you, but my general recommendation would be that you get your students to reflect for roughly 3-5 minutes at the end of each class for a few weeks.
To give you a specific example, my students have PE for 65 minutes two times in an 8-day cycle. I would have them reflect every class for three or four weeks straight. This means that they would be required to write reflections for roughly 6-8 classes in a row. However, this could go on longer if need be.
Once you have done this, you are ready to make the transition over to Step 6 in the process which is all about students ‘owning their goal’.
Now that the students are very aware of their personal goal and have reflected on it with regularity, we want to begin to ease off of the requirement placed on them to have to reflect each class. In order to assess whether or not they have truly taken ownership over their goal, we must allow them some freedom to decide when to reflect. We ultimately want to get them into a head space that has them identify certain AHA moments in their learning or recognizing when they have made specific progress in regards to their goal.
In setting up an environment that allows this to happen, you must have the students' reflection sheets or other digital means of reflecting ready to go every class. This is the most important part of allowing students the opportunity to take ownership of their personal goal. When the students identify major moments of learning related to their goal, they need to understand that it is critically important to document this progress by doing a quick reflection. Seeing as this could be at any point of class during a unit, having the tools to reflect ready to go allows the students to access their means to reflect any time that they want. It doesn’t have to be at the end of class, it can be any time.
I will give you a hypothetical situation here. Let’s say Student A has a personal goal related to being more proactive in communicating with their teammates, sharing ideas, asking questions, and clarifying uncertainties. If an activity was done in class that required groups of students to work together and Student A took initiative to be more a part of the group and to communicate on a deeper level, this may be a worthy time for them to reflect. Perhaps their group even had more success due to an idea that Student A had shared with his or her peers. This is even a better time to reflect. So, the idea is that Student A would hopefully recognize that their contribution was important and that it is a great moment to go and reflect. This is the time that they would go over to their sheet or digital means to reflect and do up a quick reflection that captures their progress or learning related to their personal goal. They wouldn’t just walk away in the middle of an activity or game, but during the next break, they could easily go and reflect during this time.
I guarantee that there will be students who take no initiative whatsoever to reflect on their personal goals. I have had students not do a single reflection for 4-5 classes in a row in PE. This will no doubt happen with your students as well, so what should you do when it happens? Certain students will take some nudging for sure, there is no question about it. With some students you will have to stay on them and help them understand when they should reflect. Give these students a prod at the beginning of a class and say something to the effect, “Today you are going to focus on your personal goal and by the end of class write a 2-3 sentence reflection about how you did in regards to the goal.” It is necessary to remind them about their goal and to jump in when necessary to get them to write reflections. Also, as their teacher, when you have seen major progress or a genuine moment that they have demonstrated moving forward with their goal, you can easily let them know they’ve done well and it’s time to go over to do a quick reflection. The bottom line is that you must stay on those students who need it in regards to reflecting on their personal goal.
Hopefully, over the course of the semester or term, you will see their reflection sheets begin to fill up with their thoughts and ideas. Great evidence to support their growth for sure!!
Steps 1-6 have all been about creating a methodically engineered environment which supports authentic goal-setting and working toward achieving these goals through genuine reflection. It will take time, effort, energy and consistently to make it all happen, but once again I would like to stress that it is so worth it in the long run. I'll be posting the last step of my 'supercharging student reflection' blog post series within a couple of days. Hope I have you thinking!!!
In Step 4 of my 'Supercharging Student Reflection" blog post series, we looked at how teachers can set up an environment that allows their students to set authentic goals in PE. Although it is critically important to have students reflect on all domains of learning, the aim of this blog post series is to get students to set goals that address learning and growth within the affective domain (awareness of attitudes, emotions, feelings, relationships with others, etc.).
These goals should transcend specific physical skills related to sport and focus on more encompassing ideas that can be carried forward from unit to unit in PE. For example, a student selecting a goal that would have him or her work on becoming a better dribbler in football is indeed a worthy pursuit, however, if the unit changed and football was no longer being worked on, the goal wouldn't apply anymore. Having the students create goals that transcend specific units allows them to carry their goal forward in order to continue to work on it regardless of the unit being explored.
Time for Step 5 of this blog post series.
With the assistance of the teacher (via mini-conferencing), the students have selected a personal goal to work on throughout the term. It is now time to begin setting the stage for them to regularly reflect on this goal. Some teachers will have their students reflect by pencil and paper, while others will have them reflect digitally. Regardless of how the teacher decides to get them to reflect does not matter, what's most important at this point is that the students understand that reflection will be a regular part of what they do in PE.
For this to happen, my advice would be to set aside 3-5 minutes at the end of each class for a few weeks in a row to get them reflecting with consistency on their goals. Step 5 is about creating expectations and establishing that reflection is a natural part of the goal-setting process. During this time, it is very important to remind them to keep their goal in their mind's eye, to remember the strategies for success related to their goal, and to be ready to reflect on their goal at the end of PE class.
Although this process is about establishing expectations and to make reflection a regular part of PE, the ultimate aim is to hand ownership over to the students for them to decide when they will reflect on their goals. However, in the short term, to give them practice reflecting, it is important to make it a requirement that they reflect at the end of each class.
HEY, WAIT A MINUTE MR. ANDY!!!!
I don't blame you if you are saying or thinking to yourself, "There are other ways that I must assess my students in the units that I am teaching in PE". "If I'm taking 3-5 minutes each class to get them to reflect, how I am going to give them time to assess themselves, assess their peers, or complete an assessment task in general in the unit actually being taught?"
My answer would be that you have to carefully manage your teaching and assessing time. There is no question that you will need to run some formative assessment tasks alongside student reflection time in PE. The first few weeks of establishing the routine of reflection with your students is a very important time. However, the reality is that you will need to focus on the unit itself and the assessments that need to be done. I would say that during this time any formative assessment tasks needing to be done take priority. On the days when you must have the students complete a formative assessment task, they can take a break from reflecting on their personal goals to concentrate solely on the unit specific task at hand.
As for the formative and summative assessment tasks, another option would be to build in a general reflection question related to their personal goals that addresses how they are doing in the unit. For example, take the example of Alex's goal from the Step 4 blog post. Alex's goal was to work on better controlling his anger and frustration in PE. A general reflection question on a formative or summative assessment task could be:
So, as you can see, it is possible to link the students' personal goal to what is happening in the unit itself at times and to do so in a very general way that applies to all learners in your class. It's certainly not necessary all of the time, but when it makes sense, I highly recommend taking the initiative to do so as it lends itself to constantly reinforcing that their personal goals are important and relevant to all learning in PE.
Goal-setting and reflection can and should play an integral part of any physical education program, but it requires a carefully crafted environment to authentically bring it to life. I hope Steps 1-5 have made sense to you. Are their any doubts or uncertainties? Is there anything that you see that could be improved upon, modified, or deleted from this process. Do you see potential in rolling out personal goal-setting and reflection in this manner in your PE program? I would love to hear your feedback. I'll be posting Step 6 over the next couple of days. Thanks for reading.
Hi everyone! It's been quite a while since I posted my last Good Teaching is L.I.F.E Reflection guest blog. For those of you not familiar with this guest post series, I will give you a bit of background. A couple of years ago, I created a L.I.F.E model that allowed teachers to reflect on their journeys in education and major things that they have learned over the years. You can see the model below:
Essentially, I have educators reflect on each component of my Good Teaching is L.I.F.E model sharing their personal perspectives, tidbits of motivation, and the different ways in which they have made progress and experienced growth in their careers. I've always enjoyed reading these reflections and hope my readers do as well.
A friend of mine, whom I have never met in person, agreed to do a Good Teaching is L.I.F.E reflection quite a while back . His name is Blue Jay Bridge, a well-respected educator from Manitoba, Canada. Blue Jay should be considered an ambassador for what quality physical education is all about. There is no doubt that he goes above and beyond what is required in order to consistently provide a great experience for his students, but to also continually advocate for our subject area on a much wider spectrum. Although we've never met, I highly respect Blue Jay's work and the dedication that he brings to our profession.
I meant to have his Good Teaching is L.I.F.E Reflection up a long time ago, so apologize for not doing so earlier, but I'm super happy to finally share it. Without further adieu, here is Blue Jay's reflection. I hope you enjoy it.
A Bit About Blue Jay Bridge
Blue Jay is a husband and father of 3 children. He lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada where he has been teaching Physical Education for 14 years.
He is the co-creator of the website www.PhysEdSource.com.
Blue Jay has presented his use of technology to enhance the learning of his students at numerous city & provincial Phys Ed conferences and recently at the 2013 PHE Canada National Phys Ed Conference and the 2015 PHE Canada National Phys Ed Conference. Blue Jay was also a chair on the organizing committee of the 2013 PHE Canada National Phys Ed Conference.
His Phys Ed program was featured in the May 2012 Canadian Living magazine in an article titled, "Gym Class Heroes."
Blue Jay is a guest blogger for ParticipACTION and Tennis Canada, having written blogs on topics such as "Enhancing Physical Education with Technology", "Rain or Shine, An Active Summer Offers Fun and Health Benefits", and "Five Sports That Will Improve Your Tennis Game."
Connect With Blue Jay Here
Website - http://mrbridge204.strikingly.com/
Blog - http://mrbridge204.wordpress.com/
Twitter - @MrBridge204
Instagram - MrBridge204
Vine - MrBridge204
Pinterest - MrBridge204
LinkedIn - Blue Jay Bridge
YouTube - Mr. Bridge
Blue Jay's Good Teaching is L.I.F.E Reflection
As I am in a new full-time consulting role, I just returned a few days ago from working quite intensively with an international school in Shanghai. I love nothing more than working with PE departments helping to make already good programs even better. I presented my 'Supercharging Student Reflection' blog post series to the teachers that I was working with to get them thinking about how they address student reflection in their program. The thing that I emphasized to these teachers was that if they choose to roll out the ideas presented in this blog post series, doing it all at once with every grade level is not the way to go as it would be too much too soon. So, bearing this in mind, I want to remind you as well, that should you try these ideas out, I highly recommend doing so on a small scale to see how it goes. There will no doubt be some struggles that you encounter along the way, so delivering these ideas on a smaller scale will allow you to more readily address potential challenges and create solutions to help overcome them.
In my last blog post (Step 3), I had a thought provoking response from a teacher in the UK whose work I highly respect. This teacher seems like a mystery man to many people on Twitter as he has yet to reveal his real identity. He is known as @ImSporticus and despite my endless attempts to get him to Skype with me, he is holding tough and won't give in.
I'll eventually crack him for sure, but regardless of whether or not this happens, I think the writing that he shares on his blog is an invaluable resource to teachers as he constantly churns out excellent content that is immediately applicable in any physical education program. I totally appreciate the feedback that he has to offer as it helps me to clarify and dig deeper into what I write.
The comment that @ImSporticus left on my last blog post ' Step#3: Identifying Struggles was this:
Hi Andy. I am hugely enjoying this insightful blog series on student reflection. Whilst I do agree with you that the affective domain is hugely important, my understanding is that all the domains of learning in PE should be of equal importance. If we are looking to build our students ability to critically reflect on their current performance, development and learning in PE, then we need to get them to look at all the domains. from there they can start to make the best choices for them to develop. Take for example the following hypothetical situations: Child A has high motivation, but always argues with the officials. Child B enjoys participating, but struggles with spatial awareness and balance. Child C has good motor control but never works to the best of their ability. They need to be able, with advice and support from us, to see their strengths and the area of improvement with out favouring one domain over the other. Keep up the excellent work. I look forward to reading the rest of the series.
The different hypothetical situations that he writes about using Child A, Child B, and Child C as examples are exactly the types of students that we all have experience teaching in our PE programs. @ImSporticus goes on to write that if we are looking to build our students ability to critically reflect on their current performance, development and learning in PE, then we need to get them to look at all the domains and from there they can make the best choices in regards to their own learning.
I couldn't agree more with @ImSporticus' stance and truly believe that getting students to reflect on all domains is extremely important. I must clarify that I do get students to continually reflect on all domains throughout the year in their unit specific learning experiences. Although the overarching aim of my 'supercharging student reflection' blog post series is to emphasize goal-setting in regards to the affective domain, the students still complete mini-reflections on an ongoing basis from unit to unit during formative and summative assessment tasks. It is during this time, that they reflect upon their actual skill development and concepts that they are learning about with each passing unit.
On a much broader plane, the type of goal-setting that I describe and breakdown in this blog post series is getting students squarely focused on the affective domain and in doing so, the goals that the students create for themselves ultimately transcend any PE unit itself. Their goal is meant to be carried forward with them from unit to unit. Once both student and teacher feel as though they have made consistent and steady progress, discussions can be had that allow the student to set a new goal to work toward.
I am super lucky and fortunate to have a teaching assistant with me in my PE classes at Nanjing International School. This teaching assistant comes with the students to each PE class. Obviously having an extra pair of eyes, monitoring what is happening in my lessons is of great value.
It was necessary for me to have mini-conferences with each of my students in regards to what they felt their goal should be. Each mini-conference lasted roughly 2-3 minutes and it was during these conversations that I was able to help students narrow in and specify what their goal was. In some cases, I had to recommend a goal if the student was stuck, but most of the time, the students were able to create an authentic goal that was very much applicable to them and their learning in PE. I simply helped the students verbalize and specify what their goal was if they had trouble doing so themselves.
During mini-conference time, I had stations set up for my students to rotate through. This allowed me to pull them over, one by one, to have a conversation with them regarding their goal. The teaching assistant took the lead during this time which freed me up to conference with each student. I no doubt was still very aware of what was going on as the students rotated through each station, but was also present for each student during the goal-setting discussions.
As my school was not one-to-one laptops or iPads, using technology to get students reflecting on these goals was not possible for me, so I had to resort to old school pencil and paper. In helping students select their goals, I was also able to give them specific strategies to put into practice as they worked toward improving upon their goal. I recorded each student's goal, as well as the strategies to be put into practice when trying to meet this goal. Their goal and strategies were recorded on an A3-sized piece of paper along with several boxes that the students could write reflections in.
In the example below, you can see the goal that Alex had come up with for himself. I digitally saved each student's goal and strategies, so that if they filled up the reflection sheet, I could go into my class folder to print off another one for them. As for Alex, the goal he had set for himself was spot on. His anger and frustration at times really held him back from experiencing PE to the fullest, so he knew that this was an area that he had to work on improving over time.
The reality is that many teachers reading my 'supercharging student reflection' blog post series do not have teaching assistants. Mini-conferences are quite important in the process of setting up authentic goals with your students, so my recommendation is that if you do not have a teaching assistant, that you hit up a colleague to help supervise when you are meeting with students individually. Better yet, go straight to the top and explain the goal-setting process to one of your administrators. Put some heat on them to come in and supervise. The initiative that you are taking with setting up an environment of authentic goal-setting is worth a look from your administrator, so that they can see firsthand the great learning environment being set up up in PE.
If you have great access to technology, there are some excellent tools that can be used to digitally record student reflections in regards to their goals. The first thing that comes to mind is setting up a Padlet for each student. Padlet is more or less an online bulletin board that is excellent for capturing each student's thoughts and ideas. As well, photos and videos can be uploaded directly on to their board. I began tinkering with Padlet a bit in my teaching last school year.
I created a quick little example of what Padlet would look like if you were to use if for student goal-setting and reflective writing. If you are a tech savvy teacher, I'm sure that you could come up with a myriad of ways to digitally capture student reflections, but just wanted to give you a glimpse into what Padlet would look like. As you can see below, the students could simply add their own reflections throughout the term or semester.
In concluding Step 4 of my 'supercharging student reflection, blog post series, I want to emphasize that this step is all about creating an environment that allows students to set their own authentic goals in PE. Step 3 played a big part in allowing them time to truly think about potential obstacles, struggles, and challenges that they face in PE while Step 4 was about setting the actual goal itself. If you are to try these ideas out, you will also need to think about the best way for students to actually begin to reflect on their learning. In my case it was pencil and paper, but should your technological environment allow you to use digital tools to roll out student reflection, great!
I'll have Step 5 of this blog post series out within a couple of days. Until then HAPPY Teaching (and planning)!
Before getting into Step 3 of my ‘supercharging student reflection’ blog post series, I want to re-emphasize that making reflection a regular part of the student experience in physical education requires a great deal of structure and is no easy task to deliver with consistency. I’m not trying to scare you away from trying to deepen the reflection process in your program, but just remind you about the idiom that I referenced in Step 1 of this series, “Life is a marathon and not a sprint!!” Trying these ideas out is like training for and ultimately running a marathon. It takes time, commitment, and determination.
Although the idea of journal writing (reflection) might appeal to teachers, the management of supplies, time, and feedback might be daunting (Parker & Cutforth 1996). However, there are distinct strategies that can be applied to make the process more viable in the long run. I will discuss strategies that I have used in the past in upcoming blog posts, as well will share what some of the research has shown to be effective in making student reflection a more regular part of your physical education program.
I’d like to now move into Step 3 of my ‘supercharging student reflection’ blog post series.
In Step 2 of the process, students were exposed to the visual that was created to help make explicit the reasons why they felt that PE was an important part of their school experience. They were also given opportunity to add further ideas to the visual. As we begin to broaden out and add to the visual of student ideas related to why physical education should be an important part of their school experience, it is necessary to begin to have discussions with the students about potential obstacles, road blocks, and challenges that they face in regards to what may prevent them from achieving success in PE.
Having this important dialog and opening up these discussions with our students will allow them to hopefully look within themselves and to initiate a process by which they can begin to identify what potentially holds them back from demonstrating the traits, mindset, work ethic, and other affective aspects necessary to embrace being physically active for life. After all isn't that what our ultimate aim as physical educators is, to get students to embrace being physically active for life???!!!!
There is a distinct possibility that at this point, you may very well have to step in to ask further key questions. Chances are the students will not identify all of the big ideas why PE should be an important part of the curriculum and a critical part in their school experience. If you run out of space in the initial visual, you can simply create another one to pair with it. However, it is important that all of the biggest, most important ideas are all posted as we move forward in Step 3 of the process.
As the students come into the gym, there are a number of different provocations that can be used at this point. The point of the provocations areplea about emphasizing the affective aspects of the PE and sport experience. Perhaps, it’ll be videos and photos of students and adults:
Step 3 is all about students beginning to get their heads around goal-setting and in doing so, they must address where they fall short or need to improve. It is critical that we steer students away from identifying or singularly focusing on a specific physical skill related to PE and sport. As physical educators, if we are to get our students to embrace being physically active for life, it is my firm belief that goals such as ‘I want to be better at corner kicks’ or ‘I want to run faster’ or I want to throw farther are not the way to go.
Wait a minute here, please refrain from wanting to hit me on the head with an empty Merlot bottle! Please do not think that in any way I do not believe how critically important individual skill development is in PE. The development of physical skills is an absolute must in any PE program. However, when trying to get students to find a joy and love of being physically active for life, we must begin with the affective domain. If we can address the affective domain, we are helping the students develop the tools necessary to understand and believe in themselves. In winning this battle, the students pursuit of developing the necessary physical skills in PE and sport becomes so much more reachable and attainable.
Therefore, in moving forward in Step 3, we have to have discussions with our students about their personal and social selves. And factored into these discussions are critical topics such as self-worth, self-confidence, respect and sensitivity towards others, responsibility, cooperation and fair play (Parker & Cutforth 1996). Once these important aspects have been emphasized and discussed, we are now ready to truly move forward with authentic goal-setting in our PE program.
TIME to DIGEST
The students are not going to be able to handle everything at once and will need some time to digest all of the discussion that has taken place. Step 3 of the process may take a few classes for the students to get their heads around things. Perhaps it’ll take 3 or even 4 classes. I recommend that you give the students 5-7 minutes of sharing and discussing by getting them to do a walk & talk at the start of each class. Continue to jot down in your journal any major discussion points that stick. Give a few minutes to have a group discussion. Here is an example of a key question that could be used to initiate dialog and discussion about identifying obstacles, roadblocks and challenges that they may face.
Tell them that they must keep reflecting and thinking about this key question. You could even send an email home to parents letting them know that the students are about to goal-set in PE and that it is important to have discussions with them about the key question.
However you complete this step of the process is entirely up to you, but what is most important is that you get the students beginning to narrow in on a specific goal that they will create for themselves to begin the reflection process in PE. This goal can and should transcend any particular unit and be all encompassing in nature. They should be able to carry their goal with them over from unit to unit throughout the semester.
Step 4 is all about the goal itself and creating the tool to get students to begin reflecting with regularity in regards to their goal.
Is anything unclear to you at this point? Do you have any comments or questions. If so, please fire away in the comment box below. Thanks for reading!!
Which way to go with our thoughts?
Without question one of the major keys to success in my teaching has been digging deep with my own thoughts in an effort to find constant meaning in what I do. Not only from my own practitioner perspective but to also try my best to truly look at learning through the eyes of my students. I guess that’s what gets me fired up and has kept me going, day in and day, out over the years.
The inexorable link between teaching and learning is undeniably among the most powerful forces that shapes our journeys as educators. If we stop learning and cease to stay relevant within our profession, teaching can become an incredibly tough job, especially in regards to our own levels of motivation. Staying relevant and continually learning often times requires us to look beyond teaching itself to find tidbits of inspiration that can be infused within the lessons and units we teach to our students.
Whether it be listening to podcasts from various thought leaders across different industries or reading articles and books both inside and outside of education, I always find meaning and relevance that can be specifically applied to the work that I do in education. This does not take away from the fact that striving for deep expertise in my subject area is an absolute priority if I am going to have the impact that I desire on the teachers that I train and the students I teach and coach. Subject area expertise is a constant pursuit that I have embraced for many years.
However, the main point of this blog post is to emphasize just how important it is to keep our eyes and ears open to learning opportunities that exist all around us. One of the best quotes I have come across that emphasizes this point comes from Austin Kleon’s best selling book ‘Steal Like an Artist’. In the book, Austin shares a quote from Jim Jarmusch, an American independent film director. The quote hits the nail on the head when it comes to staying motivated to learn.
Trying to improve and grow as educators requires us to get deeply lost in our own thoughts. It may seem messy, confusing and not make any sense, but in getting lost, we truly end up finding ourselves AND along with it, some powerful ideas that can be used within our teaching. So, go on, get lost, and when you come out of it, I guarantee you’ll be better for it. Happy teaching (and learning).
Before really going into Step 2 of my ‘supercharging student reflection’ blog post series, I want to take this opportunity to outline why reflection has played such a huge part of my PE program over the years. However, before delving into this, I want to address a common misconception related to student reflection first.
I have received emails from countless teachers over the years who have surfed my blog looking at different examples of student assessment and reflection. Although appreciative of the work I share, many of these teachers have told me that they do not have the extra 10-15 minutes that it takes to give students time to reflect. This is a common misconception that must be addressed. I have always aimed to keep student reflection time within a limit of roughly 3-7 minutes during my PE classes. This is mostly done at the end of class, but can happen any time depending upon the task at hand. However, in saying this, a culture and environment must be set up that allows the students to understand the structure and routines related to reflecting on their own learning. This takes time to develop, but with consistency it becomes a part of the fabric and design of the PE experience.
As a general rule of thumb, student reflection takes up roughly 3-7 minutes of my PE classes, however, there are times that it can take longer. In some cases, it may take 10-15 minutes, but this is always at the end of the unit during the summative assessment task. I have sound pedagogical justification for taking this extra time at the end of the unit because it is imperative to allow the students the time necessary to substantiate their thoughts, beliefs, ideas, and growth that has taken place during whatever unit they had just finished up.
In large part student reflection has the ability to tap into the affective domain which has everything to do with personal and social development that can be summed up below:
The affective domain (Krathwohl, Bloom, Masia, 1973) includes the manner in which we deal with things emotionally, such as feelings, values, appreciation, enthusiasms, motivations, and attitudes.
Setting up a culture of student reflection allows the teacher to recognize how the students feel about themselves and others, to deal with their aspirations and problems, and to gain better insight into the attitudes and beliefs that they hold about their own learning (Parker and Cutforth 1996).
When educating the whole student, we must take every opportunity possible to address the affective domain and in doing so, we put ourselves in a better position to effectively listen and respond to our students’ genuine needs. Placing perfect fit challenges upon them becomes even more possible when we give them opportunities to reflect on their own learning journeys ultimately leading to further growth and development in regards to their performance in the subject area of physical education itself but also well beyond its boarders and boundaries.
Furthermore, the students' reflections document and demonstrate the personal and social growth that can occur in physical education programs, and this information could be used to support claims regarding the importance of our subject in the school curriculum (Parker and Cutforth 1996). A definite added bonus as we endeavour to advocate for for our subject area to those who make important decisions about its future.
In Step 1 of my ‘supercharging student reflection’ blog post series, you read about how I used the key question “Why should PE be an important part of your school experience?” to springboard a discussion with my students. My aim was to get them to identify, on their own and with each other, why PE is so critically important in their lives. The use of provocation came into play in Step 1 and plays a part of Step 2 as well. As I reveal Step 2, I want you to truly reflect on the importance of making learning outcomes and thinking explicit and ways that you do this in your own program. It’s now time to discuss Step 2, so here we go!
As I collected all of the students responses to the key question, it was now time to sift through and have a closer look at their answers. During this process, I was able to narrow down on the most commonly mentioned ideas, thoughts, and answers. I simply circled these answers in my journal so that they stood out among all of the ideas elicited from my students.
During my prep time, I took the most commonly mentioned thoughts, ideas, and answers and created a large poster-sized visual. This visual was ready to go the next time that the students came around. I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Holy smokes, I have to create a visual for each class!!!”, however, you do not have to do this. I create one visual per grade level. I give each class a chance to share their answers to the key question and jot these ideas down in my journal. For example, I have three grade 5 classes, so each of these classes had a crack at the plate with sharing answers related to the key question. Once the entire grade level had a chance to explore the key question and share their answers, I had the visual ready to go.
Could you even use one visual across a few grade levels? Yes, I’ve done this before and it works well but requires a more specific structure. I don’t have the time to go into here, but if you want to know more about this contact me directly for details.
As the students came around for the second class, the visual was up. This visual served as a provocation itself as I had the students partner up with someone and do a walk and talk discussing the answers already given and seeing if they could come up with any more big ideas related to the key question. This is how we began the second class and in most cases the students were able to narrow in on a couple further ideas that could be added to the visual. I recorded additional answers in my journal and added these answers to the visual the next prep period that I had.
I also used some other provocations in video form to get students to dig deeper into the key question. After seeing the visual that was created, I showed a couple of classes YouTube videos of super active people of all ages to lots of different activities to emphasize that physical activity should be a part of our lives forever.
So, to sum up, Step 2 of the ‘supercharging student reflection’ blog post series is all about making student thinking visible and explicit. For me personally, I love creating visuals by hand with lots of different coloured markers but it is not necessary to do it this way. Many of you reading this blog post series are extremely innovative and resourceful educators. How you choose to make their thinking and learning visible is up to you. However, I want to emphasize that making it visible and explicit is a non-negotiable of good teaching. It’s something that must be done!!!
Before moving on to Step 3, I want you to reflect on the first two steps and begin to think about your own students. What key question would you use to help initiate discussion related to the importance that PE plays in the lives of your students? How would you record their answers? What types of provocation would you use? How would you make their thinking, their ideas and answers visible and explicit?
Thanks for reading. I’ll have Step 3 up on my blog within a couple of days. Any questions? Feel free to post them in the comment box below.
I’ll use the old idiom “Life is a marathon and not a sprint” to illustrate the point that creating long term sustainable change in any area of our teaching takes time, effort, energy, commitment, and a steadfast determination to do whatever it takes to improve upon student learning in our programs. So, bearing this in mind, as you read my ‘Supercharging Student Reflection” blog post series, please understand that the strategies that I present will take a lot of time and energy to implement. However, in saying this, I do believe that the effort will be well worth it in the long run.
I'm going to describe each phase of this journey, in detail, using examples of my past teaching to hopefully inspire you to try it out for yourself, with your own students, in your own teaching space. If you are interested in implementing these strategies in your PE program, I advise that you proceed with caution, not trying to roll things out all at once across each grade level. My strongest advice would be to experiment and tinker with these strategies with only one grade level in the first term or semester of your school year. Observe and monitor how it goes making the necessary changes and modifications along the way. Only you and you alone know your teaching space and environment as well as the resources that you have at your disposal to effectively implement these changes.
For those of you familiar with my style of teaching, you know just how important a role student reflection plays in my PE program. I have tested out lots of different ways to get my students reflecting on their own learning and performance over the years and have yet to create the 'perfect' way to do so. However, through constant tinkering, I have developed what I believe to be very effective strategies to get students to set authentic goals and to reflect continuously on their progress (or lack of) related to these specific goals.
The journey in making this all happen begins at the start of the school year and works outward from that point. Setting the stage for authentic learning in PE must begin from day one! I believe that it's imperative to get our students to truly understand the value that physical education plays in their lives, but rather than tell them the reasons why, I aim to have them figure it out on their own through the process that I will blog about in this series.
My ultimate goal in this blog post series is to share with you a process by which students set authentic goals in PE and reflect continuously on these goals. More about these goals later, but for now I want to introduce step 1 in the ‘supercharging student reflection’ blog post series. I hope you read on!!!
The big ideas in step 1:
Use of provocation and key questioning
It is necessary to provide a reference point and a bit of back story to help give you more insight into how I start the school year off in PE. Last year I blogged about a strategy that I used to get my students thinking about the following key question: Why should PE be an important part of your school experience? My goal in using this key question was to get students to begin to identify big, overarching ideas about the importance that PE plays in a school’s curriculum. I recorded this key question on a large piece of poster-sized paper.
The provocation that I used to help begin this discussion was to get my students to imagine that PE time was being taken away from them.That instead of having 2 classes a week, their PE time was going to be cut to just one day a week or may even be totally cut from the curriculum. When asked how this would feel, many students felt the injustice of it and how extremely unfair this would be. I told them that if they are to protect PE they must come up with an argument why it should remain a part of the curriculum. I had them imagine that they had to present their case, their smart reasons why PE should remain in the curriculum, to our school’s administrative team.
I also told them that many schools in America and Canada face this actual dilemma, that PE time is being drastically cut from the schedule or in some cases, classes are combined so that the PE teacher can have up to 70-80 students in a class. My students were shocked to hear this and felt compelled to brainstorm reasons why PE was so important in their lives. The use of this type of provocation tapped into the students’ sense of empathy and compassion which propelled them to have a sincere discussion about why PE is such a critical part of their school experience. At this point I provided them with an opportunity to do a ‘walk & talk’ and to share their answers related to the key question.
After a few minutes, I had them gather as a whole class to begin our discussion and it was at this point that a torrent of ideas and thoughts poured out of the students. It’s critical for me to record my students’ thoughts, ideas, and answers in regards to the big ideas and key questions asked in class and to do so without judging them as wrong or right.
I have two simple ways in which I do this (amongst other ways as well). The first way is to record their ideas in my journal. So, as they bombarded me with their answers, I quickly took notes. Students have tendency to repeat what others have said at times, so when this happened, I simply placed a check mark in my journal beside the original idea that was repeated. The second way that I get students to record their answers is using yellow sticky notes. I put yellow sticky notes up on the walls around the gym with a scattering of pencils on the floor as well. As the students did their ‘walk and talk’, when they came up with ideas, they could run over to a yellow sticky note, write their idea down, then continue on with their discussion. The walk and talk lasted a total of about ten minutes. I used both ways (the journal and the sticky notes) to record student ideas during the first week of school.
Step 1 in the process concluded with the sharing and recording of student ideas. They had a chance to really dig deep into why PE is so important in their lives and in a school's curriculum which serves multiple purposes in my opinion. It helps to bring recognition to the importance of our subject area, but to also use student voice to advocate for PE's rightful place in a school's curriculum. I'll have step 2 of the 'supercharging student reflection' blog post series up within a couple of days. If you are interested in learning more about this process, come on back to read!! Before leaving you with some important considerations, I want you to think about the following questions:
To what extent do students have the opportunity to reflect in your PE program? What obstacles prevent you from being able to go deeper with student reflection in your classes?
#1: The key question used in this first class is not concrete. There are multiple ways to ask this question and to come up with much better wording. The important thing is that the key question stimulates the students’ thinking in regards to the importance that PE plays in their lives.
#2: The provocation used in this first class can be anything that will tap into their sense of emotion and compassion. I used the idea of PE time being cut which is an absolute reality. As you will see in step 2 in the blog post series, there are other ways to also provoke their thinking in regards to the key question posed at the start of the first class.
#3: Recording student ideas can be done in a plethora of ways, especially if you have access to iPads and other digital devices. I’m old school journal and pencil myself, but of course you know what’s best for you!