I place a lot of value on the thinking process in PE and, through the use of questions, I challenge my students to think deeply about skill development in our practice sessions in class. In yesterday's grade 3 striking and fielding lesson, we were focusing on striking for power and striking for consistency. I wanted the students to not only understand the difference between the two, but to evaluate how consistent they are in striking a ball. This required them to think their way through the process of striking and to have discussions before, during, and after the practice session that we had. Many of the kids showed a solid understanding of hitting for consistency and hitting for power, but a handful of students in particular really did an excellent job in this activity.
I think that when students authentically demonstrate either learner profile attributes or PYP attitudes it is essential to recognize this as soon as possible as it not only provides important feedback but definitely serves as a motivational tool. It has worked well for me in the past and I do it on a regular basis in my PE classes. I will include a photo of the student in action and write up an explanation as to why they are being recognized and post it on my PE display board in the PYP hallway of our school. As you can imagine, the students love being recognized and their efforts can be seen by parents, teachers, and other students walking past the board.
I love unwrapping central ideas with my students. I can see their minds busy at work thinking about important questions and sharing their wonderful answers with me. I have held off on unwrapping the central idea in my grade 3 striking and fielding unit for a couple of reasons. Even though we are well into striking and fielding, I believe that it is essential to give kids an exploratory go at a unit in order to give them time to understand and develop the necessary skills. As well, when actually unwrapping the central idea, this exploratory journey will provide them with the prior knowledge they need not just scratch the surface of understanding of the central idea, but to hopefully activate more of a deeper discussion and to make important connections to the key concepts, the learner profile, and PYP attitudes.
We unwrapped the central idea today and the kids were throwing around great ideas left, right, and center. I almost ran out of space on the large-sized chart paper, seen above, to record everything. Super ideas from super kids. The PYP attitude being focused on the most during this unit is showing 'Committment' (wanting to really work hard to improve their skills) and the learner profile attribute is being a 'Thinker' (thinking their way through the process of hitting and catching). The three lines of inquiry we are exploring during the unit are; an inquiry into the many ways to strike and field a ball, an inquiry into striking for power and striking for consistency, and an inquiry into how best we can improve upon our skills.
Thinking skills are critical in PE and whenever possible I challenge my students to think deeply about the way they practice in order to better identify what it is they need to focus on. It works well and, in my opinion, bears as much weight or more than the skill itself. Of course kids improving their skills is critical in PE, but what is it that we want them to walk away from our programs with, being excellent hitters and strikers of a ball or being able to analyze and breakdown a skill and identify points of weakness needed to be improved upon? To me the later is much more lifelong and valuable rather than the physical act of performing the skill itself. What do you think?
We are well into our Health Related Activities unit in grade 1 PE, so the kids have had lots of opportunities to participate in class discussions regarding how the different body systems interact while exercising. In order to further consolidate this understanding, I collaborated with the grade 1 teacher, Amy Thames, in organizing a maths integrated activity which was aimed at getting the students to record their times running for distance and running for speed and creating graphs based on this data over the course of 2 classes.
As we work our way through this unit, I am continuing to try and meet 2 main student learning outcomes that are found within our school’s PSPE scope and sequence; to recognize the importance of regular exercise and other elements in the development of a healthy lifestyle for current and future well-being, and to reflect on the interaction of the body systems during exercise.
So far in the unit, the students have shown a pretty decent understanding that the 3 body systems (circulatory, muscular, and respiratory) work together while exercising. What we are focusing on in the running for speed and running for distance activity is that regardless of how we choose to exercise, we are still working all three body systems. It is important that the students continue to get opportunities to understand and discuss this big idea.
To set the scene, this is what the students have done over the past week in PE and back in the classroom.
The Final Class Discussion
I had prepared for today’s class by creating the graphic organizer that you see below.
I had the graphic organizer up on the wall along with a couple of examples of the record sheets and graphs belonging to 2 of the students in the class. As well I had a large-sized poster of the learner profile attribute ‘Thinker’ also on the wall. I was really stressing the importance of students being ‘Thinkers’ during this class discussion as their ideas were really showing me what they have learned so far in the unit, in particular about running for distance, running for speed and how the body systems are effected by these types of exercise.
Essentially, I was using this whole class discussion as a form of assessment to gauge whether or not the students were able to take their prior knowledge from this unit and apply it in a new context. I was focusing on the second student learning outcome seen above in the photo (to reflect on the interaction of body systems during exercise). The results were quite good as the majority of students in the class definitely understand that regardless of the type of exercise, the three body systems that we have learned about work together all of the time.
The students were able to describe how each of the three systems felt and were able to describe the interaction between these systems. Please see video below for snippets of conversation that took place during our class discussion. Also included below are examples of the students record sheets and the graphs that they had created with their classroom teacher, Amy Thames. Thanks Amy!!
As you can see by the central idea in this unit, I want my grade one students to understand the links between the respiratory, the muscular, and the circulatory systems. Throughout the unit, we have been engaging in all sorts of fitness related activities and having discussions about how these three systems change while when exercising.
Not only do I want them to understand that their bodies become stronger when they exercise, I also want them to be able to see connections between these systems (one of my lines of inquiry for this unit and an important key concept).
As it is a health related exercise unit, I am trying to bring lots of different options in for promoting good health, so today's class was focused on yoga and its positive impact on our body systems. I am lucky in the fact that my wife, a certified yoga instructor, school nurse, and ESL instructor is available to me when I need her to come and teach yoga sessions as she works at the same school as me. THANK YOU NEILA STEELE!! Neila happily agreed to come in and teach some basic yoga poses and to speak about their benefits to my students.
The assessment task, although simple in nature, really challenges the kids to show their understanding of the key concept connection and to describe how their bodies feel when practicing yoga. As they have been very use to being super active and moving their bodies in this unit, they were required to slow everything down while doing yoga. Neila led a very interesting discussion about the calming nature of yoga and how it's meant to relax our bodies and quiet our minds. The assessment task required the students to do three things:
A) To identify the yoga poses that they could do in today's class (by circling the pose on the assessment sheet)
B) To show which systems were at work while doing yoga (again circling an image that represents each body system)
C) To use one or two words to describe how each system felt while doing yoga
For the most part, students used appropriate vocabulary to describe how each of their systems felt while doing yoga. Many used words such as calm, quiet, soft, and slow to describe the circulatory and respiratory systems and words such as warm or hot to describe how their muscles felt while practicing yoga. Using descriptive words such as warm and hot are perfect as the muscles are being challenged while doing yoga. However, the very nature of yoga itself is calming to our respiratory and circulatory systems. Again, most of the kids made these important connections, but for the ones that didn't, their assessment has shown this, so I can spend more time with them next class in helping to clarify things with them.
I am happy with the assessment task as it once again helped to consolidate their understanding that all of our body systems are connected and work together which is one of the key goals in this unit and is highlighted in the PSPE Scope and Sequence. Please see some examples of student assessment below.
We were super busy in our kindergarten striking and fielding unit today as the little ones got the chance to put their striking and fielding skills to the test. As any skills related to striking and fielding can be quite difficult for kindergarten kids to learn, setting up an assessment task for them should be simple and fair, yet challenging in its own way. We really just want them to explore and experiment with the equipment in order to expose them to the idea of what striking and fielding are.
In today's task the students had to work with a partner on fielding different balls coming their way; rolling and bouncing balls, as well as balls of higher trajectory in mid-air. After working on on these different fielding skills, they each got a chance to practice striking with a bat, tennis racket, and a small cricket bat.
Once the students finished up all of the different skills, they completed a simple self-assessment task that had them evaluate how well they think that they did. As well, I got pictures of them in action to add to these assessment sheets. See examples of assessment below.
Despite the fact that my grade 2 students are a couple of weeks into our current net games unit at Nanjing International School, I just introduced and unwrapped the central idea in today's class with them. I don't believe it is always necessary to introduce and unwrap central ideas straight away in a unit as the kids sometimes need time to just simply explore and learn a bit first before challenging them to a deeper level of understanding. Choosing to wait before introducing the central idea, in this case, has given them time to work on very basic skills related to net games and has allowed for a bit of extra time as well to work on hand and eye coordination before moving any deeper into the unit. For many of these kids, they have had very few opportunities to play table tennis, badminton, or tennis so the extra time given to them before introducing the central idea has served them well.
The central idea for this unit is, 'Better coordinating the movements of our hands, eyes, and feet increases success in net games.' The lines of inquiry are as follows:
An inquiry into the different types of hand and racket positioning in net games.
An Inquiry into the similarities and differences between the many kinds of shots we can play in net games.
An inquiry into the many ways that we can improve hand and eye coordination in net games.
We had a good discussion about what we have done so far in the unit and used this as a springboard to unwrap the central idea. You can see the ideas that the students came up with below.
The Learner Profile and PYP Attitude Focus of the Net Games Unit
As you can see by the picture above, I like to use clip art when unwrapping the central idea as it helps the ESL students and visual learners to make a better connection during our group discussions. When trying to initiate discussion about the Learner Profile and PYP attitudes, I do very much the same in the sense that I use posters/visuals that I have created to help in making stronger connections. The Learner Profile and PYP attitude focus for this unit are; Inquirer, Thinker, Commitment, and Enthusiasm. I always keep all 10 Learner Profile attributes and 12 PYP attitude posters visible on the walls in one place during any PE unit, however, when stressing specific attributes and attitudes that I want the students to focus on, I take out the ones of focus and post them on their own. Viewing the photo below may help you better visualize what I mean. We are well into the unit and will now delve much deeper into aspects of grip, footwork, and more technical aspects of net games over the coming weeks.
It is great to come across like-minded people in our professions. I was fortunate enough to meet a great PYP PE team at United Nations School in Hanoi, Vietnam last week when working with them on what good assessment looks and feels like in our programs. I am always on the look out and researching what other PE teachers are doing and this is how I came across Nathan Horne. I am glad that he happily agreed to be a guest blogger on pyppewithandy and share his thoughts on inquiry. Please read Nathan's article below on the role of inquiry in PE and be sure to visit his blog which is included
A bit about Nathan:
Nathan currently works as an elementary PE teacher at ISS International School in Singapore and has also previously worked in Milan, Phnom Penh and London. He is the author of the website iPhysEd.weebly.com and you can find him on Twitter @PENathan
The Role of Inquiry in PE.
"Our task is to educate their (our students) whole being so they can face the future. We may not see the future, but they will and our job is to help them make something of it.”
(Ken Robinson, in The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything)
I believe not in imparting opinions and knowledge, but encouraging and supporting students to create their own understandings, their own preferred future. I believe inquiry is the key to all learning and that as educators we should strive to nurture and honour the potential that each child can contribute to our community.
At the centre of my teaching philosophy is inquiry. I believe in teaching for understanding where decision-making and problem solving is critical. I aim to evoke an emotional response from my students in order to make learning compelling. Learning is interdisciplinary and by making meaningful links across curriculum areas, I enrich and support academic learning while helping students to live a skilled, healthy and active life.
I see myself not solely as a single subject teacher of Physical Education, but rather a health, social and wellbeing facilitator. who permeates every facet of a school’s curriculum. This interconnected and transdisciplinary approach allows students to participate fully in individual and group games, tasks, activities and experiences, and to successfully translate their experiences into other subject areas and a lifelong enjoyment of activity and wellbeing. In my program, students experience the joy of play and have specific opportunities for learning about movement through movement. There is a clear connection between Physical Education and children’s participation in their own lives.
Being technologically literate is now at the core of everyday life and changes the way we act, think, learn and teach. As 21st century educators we must be aware of new and exciting ways in which we can facilitate learning experiences for our students. Currently, I am working closely with our IT co-ordinator on ways to successfully integrate the use of iPad’s into Physical Education lessons.
In my classroom/gymnasium students are engaged in discussion and learning characterised by constant questioning. The ultimate goal is for students to have the confidence and inquisitiveness to ask WHY and more importantly WHY NOT?"
Getting the kids to use inquiry and having to teach certain skills can prove to be challenging at times. As the very nature of PE itself requires us to teach the kids many different technical skills related to sport, getting the kids to wonder, create, explore, and question about these skills, in my opinion, is the first step in the inquiry process.
We are currently in the third week of our net games unit in grade 4 at Nanjing International School. As we are really beginning to fine tune our skills related to net games, having the kids begin to explore different types of shots was my focus of this week. There are numerous ways in which to achieve this goal such as me modeling the skills for the kids or showing You Tube video clips of good players executing various styles of shots.
Although this way of teaching is effective, I believe that having the kids actually inquire into all the different ways to hit shots in net games would take on more significance in this learning journey. So, bearing this in mind, I challenged them to put their amazing imaginations to work in a fun net games related activity that I called ‘The Changing Walls, Ceiling, Net, and Floor Space Game’.
Resources Needed (the more variation of equipment the better)
Ping Pong Paddles
Ping Pong Balls
Large Plastic Paddles
4 cones per pair
Aim of the Game
Working with a partner, the students had to imagine that they were playing a net game inside of an imaginary room. They had to decide how high the walls and ceiling were, how high the net was, and how much floor space there was. The 4 cones given to them would act as corners of the room and would indicate to them the amount of floor space that they had. For example, they could have very high walls and a high ceiling, but very little floor space or they could have very narrow but long floor space and medium height walls and ceiling (with a low net). Whatever combination they came up with, they had to experiment with different types of equipment and playing the shots required considering the size of the room, height of the walls and ceiling, and height of the net.
They played the game for a few minutes and then would switch all aspects of the room. Once they changed all aspects, they had to discuss and practice which shots were needed. They were allowed to change equipment whenever they wanted.
I can say for certain that the students were fully engaged in this task with imaginations running wild. However, most importantly, as the assessment shows, the students were generally able to identify all sorts of different style shots that they had to play. These were some of their answers; high-long, low, soft, hard, far, close, arching. I made it very clear that it didn’t matter if they could or could not play the shot because what was most important was them showing an understanding of the shots required.
The Assessment Task
I gave them their assessment sheets and they had to draw the rooms that they had created in their imaginations with their partner. They had to describe which shots were easy and which shots were most difficult. As well, some chose to use colored lines to indicate different ball flights.
In next week’s lesson, we will now begin to break down each of the shots they identified and show how these shots are used in actual play. We will do a number of mini-drills aimed at helping them to practice these different types of shots. I believe this to be a strong example of how inquiry can be used to effectively teach skills in PE. Please see example of student assessment below.
I just returned from Hanoi, Vietnam having had the chance to work with the elementary PE team from United Nations International School helping to define what good assessment should look and feel like in PYP PE. UNIS should be proud of its elementary PE team as they are a very passionate and switched on group of educators (Cam Mchale, Dave Cuming, and Andy Dutton).
We collaborated and worked together on improving the process of creating pre-assessment, formative, and summative assessment tools and tasks to be used in the units that they will teach their students as the 2012-2013 school year progresses.
Andy Dutton shared with me an excellent assessment task that he created for his kindergarten students in today’s Athletics lesson. I feel that the assessment task is very strong as it included excellent maths links, was varied, and used images to help the kindergarten students make connections to their learning experience in Athletics.
A bit about Andy:
Andy Dutton is new to the Elementary PE team this year. Before coming to Hanoi he has worked in Australia, England, Saudi Arabia and Japan. Andy loves spending time with his family and being active.
The students had to complete 3 different tasks in this lesson; running around a 40m track, jumping and throwing. As a means of introducing the concept of both time and length measurement from Maths, Andy had the students pair up, one student being peer observer and the other student actually doing the event.
As a way to have the students measure time, Andy had the peer observer count bananas as their partner ran around the track. So, partner A would count 1 banana, 2 banana, 3 banana and so on until their partner completed the 40m loop. They told the runner (their partner) how many bananas it took and then the runner circled the number of bananas it took them to run their loop on the assessment sheet. The same process was followed for jumping and throwing. However, the measurement of length for jumping was to pace off the number of steps they jumped and record this by circling the appropriate number of feet on the assessment sheet. For the throwing part of the assessment they threw the ball then counted off how many body lengths it was from the point they released it to where it landed. This was then recorded on their sheets as well.
Andy had them assess using one color in today's class, but will have them assess in another color in a future class then compare their results. A very clever and fun way to get young kids to measure length and time in Athletics. I love it Andy!! Please see assessment sheet below.