These posters were an excellent contribution to my blog a few years ago by a great PE teacher from the Changchun American International School in China. I'm grateful to Stephen Li for sharing these posters with me. Stephen is more than happy to share these posters with the PE community, so feel free to use them as you wish. I've received many emails from PE teachers asking for a copy of these posters, so I have uploaded them as PDFs for anyone wishing to print them off. If you do decide to print and post them, all I ask is that you share a photo of these visuals up on your gym wall and email the photo to me. I'd like to share these photos with Stephen. Thanks!
The greatest unintentional misuse of classroom learning time is rooted in the way in which we deliver whole group discussions in our lessons. I’m as guilty as many other teachers in filling the air unnecessarily with repeated instructions, answering the same questions over and over, getting off topic, going on tangents, and being unclear with initial expectations.
When having whole group discussions with students, our goal should be to communicate as clearly as possible within the shortest time needed to efficiently state expectations. Even though we all understand this to be a key element of great teaching practice, it is easy to fall into the trap of talking too long and throwing out too much information to our students.
However, the very best educators understand the critical importance of engineering their whole group discussions in a way that maximizes opportunities to get students busy and active for a long as possible in class. Without question there is sound pedagogical justification for slowing the class down and using up more time to have valuable and meaningful discussions with our students, but it is also imperative to not hold back the ones who understand expectations and are ready to get going with the task that you have assigned them with.
A simple yet highly effective strategy that helps to maximize the use of time and allow the students who understand to get on with their learning is to allow them to do so! Do we really need to hold these students back to sit and listen as we answer a bunch of questions from other students who need clarification of rules, expectations, and/or how to do something?
Could we instead make it common practice to release the students who already understand and want to get on with their learning and keep back those students who may have clarification questions. In doing so, we are honoring the students who are ready to move forward and honoring the students who need extra time to understand things more clearly. The end result is that no time is wasted.
A good friend and colleague of mine, Kristin Anson (http://princessartypants.blogspot.com/), is an excellent art teacher who has set up her teaching space in a way that maximizes the use of time in order to let her students get on with being artists. In her first classes of the new school year today, she introduced her ‘Art Studio Rules’ and cemented in there in the top spot was one of the best time management strategies there is:
'When I am giving directions listen quietly with your hands down. If you have a question, ask me after the rest of the class has gotten up to work.'
Establishing important classroom norms such as this works to build a consistent culture of letting students get on with their learning. It seems so simple, but as mentioned earlier in this blog, we are all guilty of mismanaging time and creating unnecessary obstacles to student learning.
How can you better engineer your classroom discussions to ensure that you are maximizing every opportunity possible for your students to get on with their learning? An important question to always think about if we are to have the impact that we desire on student learning in our programs. Thanks for reading.
It is not knowledge, but the act of learning, not possession but the act of getting there, which grants the greatest enjoyment.
What does it mean to be a self-directed learner? What are the key factors involved in helping young people become more self-directed on their learning journeys? How do teachers need to set up their learning environment in a way that maximizes opportunities for students to become more engaged in their own learning? How can we better empower young learners to feel that they have what it takes to become their own teachers?
I believe that the most powerful types of learning occur when there is a strong sense of buy-in, but added to this mix must also be a deep level of emotional engagement and commitment embedded within this process. When the formula is made just right, amazing things can be achieved. At the heart of the learning process though must be a willingness by teachers to construct environments that give young people every opportunity possible to succeed in ways that best suit the talents and skills that they want to develop (under their own terms and conditions).
Without question direct instruction plays a pivotal role in helping students acheive success in school, but is there more that we can do to create the conditions necessary for deepening that sense of buy-in and emotional engagement? How is it that we can better design emotional hooks that inspire and motivate young people to take charge of their own learning?
I love to share stories with teachers and students that exemplify self-directed journeys of personal excellence and resilience. The story of Julius Yego is a powerful example of a self-directed learner who has truly achieved greatness. Julius is a world champion javelin thrower who is presently competing in the 2016 Rio Olympics and is predicted to win a gold medal in his event. Amazingly, Julius taught himself to throw javelin from an early age in his poor rural farm village in Kenya.
His interest in the sport continued to grow despite not having a coach. However, he was able to learn more about the art of throwing javelin by watching YouTube videos then implement these lessons into his daily practice. One thing led to another and he eventually became the first world champion from Africa and is now competing on the world stage in Rio. Examples such as this serve to demonstrate to students the strength of the human spirit and the beauty of the learning process.
Some would say that a provocation such as this is directed toward learning in physical education itself, however, I would argue that great provocations transcend subject area boundary lines. The Julius Yego story has all of the elements and phases of an amazing learning journey that is rooted in passion, trial and error, research, prototyping, reflection, and self-improvement etc. A great provocation to emphasize resilience and personal excellence.
What can students learn from watching this short video? How can Julius' learning journey be unpacked and examined by students in an effort to show the many different roads and styles there are to learning. This video is not about creating world champions but more importantly inspiring young people to understand the possibilities that exist. Happy teaching!
As the 2016 Rio Olympics draw closer upon us, it is a perfect time for physical education teachers to take full advantage of this wonderful opportunity by creating strong links to the mission and vision of what this international event of excellence represents. The Olympic experience roots itself in timeless core values that emphasize the spirit of fair play, inspiration, motivation, resilience, solidarity, peace, and a relentless desire to be the very best that we can be regardless of circumstances.
The very nature of these core values can and should be embedded within all learning experiences delivered in physical education and are not specific to just track and field (Athletics). When designing units taught in physical education, there are plenty of opportunities to highlight, discuss, and draw out essential values that can drive the learning that takes place with your students.
Creating strong emotional links to learning is of paramount importance when considering how best to reach each student and to emphasize that all of our journeys are about striving for personal excellence. Regardless of the unit being taught in PE, the launch point in which we kick start our units and deliver our daily lessons plays a pivotal role in how deeply we engage our students in these learning experiences.
Below is an excellent video that is all about having an ‘I can’ attitude when facing obstacles, challenges, and impediments that potentially slow our path to success in life. It is perfect for instilling within our students the importance of hope, determination, resilience, and personal excellence. As you watch the video, think about the driving questions you could ask your students that will help to elicit valuable discussion and thought provoking action.
Every provocation begins with a driving question. This is the initial question I might post on the wall or chalkboard before starting the video in order to give my students a great sense of focus in regards to what they are about to watch. What would your driving question be?
I hope that you enjoy the video and share it with your students and colleagues.
“We are not defined by our ‘lack ofs’ or ‘shortcomings’ but more so by our character and the attitudes that define our journeys.”-Andy Vasily
For those of us still on summer vacation, it should no doubt be a time for rest, relaxation, connecting with old friends and family, but most importantly, a chance to recharge our batteries in preparation for a new school year. For my southern hemishpere educator friends, you are halfway through your teaching year and are a month into a new term. Whether you are on extended summer break or have just gone back to school from your winter holiday, our paths continue to be sprinkled with opportunities to gain new insight, motivation and inspiration that can easily be missed if we shut ourselves completely down from being open to growth and learning during our time away from our students and colleagues. It’s this new growth and learning that can reveal itself in a multitude of ways when we least expect it.
As important as it is to shut off and completely remove ourselves from the busyness of our schools and, in general, from the demands that teaching places upon us for most of the year, there is no question that we have chosen a profession that needs us to be at our very best and to model what life long learning is all about.
Being motivated, inspired, and passionate about what we do is critially important, but it’s not enough as excellent teaching is also dependent upon having deep content knowledge within our subject areas. However, I would argue that before this happens, we need to sustain our levels of motivation and inspiration over the long haul in order to maximize the impact that we can have on students and to approach teaching and learning with the intensity and energy needed to bring on our A-games with more regularity.
I know many educators who always take time away from their summer or winter holidays to go to some type of professional training in order to deepen content knowledge in their areas of instruction. In fact, I’ve got quite a few friends from the US and other parts of the world that just attended three days of great learning and growth at the 2016 National PE Institute held in Asheville, North Carolina. Investing precious holiday time in professional training is a noble pursuit that is well worth the effort for sure.
However, if you cannot attend professional training during your summer and winter breaks, great learning opportunities still exist every day and are all around us. I’d like to share an excellent quote that I came across a few years back that has always stayed with me and speaks volumes about the importance of always remaining open to all of the opportunities that exist for growth and learning in our everyday lives.
The mind of any great educator I know refuses to stand still and rest. It pushes itself along this endless path of learning by seeking, even at the micro-level, new insight and inspiration on a daily basis. They steal ideas around them. They modify, tweak, and adapt these ideas BUT always give credit. Perhaps it is an inspiring YouTube video that serves to remind us about the importance of making a difference in the world. Other times it could be in the form of a newspaper article, a radio interview, inspiring podcast or the daily conversations that we have with friends, family or even strangers who enter are lives when we least expect it.
You just never know at what angle or entry point this new learning will take place in our lives. Remaining open to the many lessons that life can teach us about the beauty of the world and its people helps to put into perspective just how powerful a role we play in inspiring and motivated our students to find their purpose and drive to be lifelong learners themselves.
Deepening the content knowledge we possess within our subject areas is just one of the many important aspects of being the best educators that we can be.
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”
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