Creating strong emotional hooks can inspire young learners in physical education. Through careful, well-thought out planning, a stimulating environment can be constructed that supports learning and development in PE. I'm very lucky to work with a number of very passionate PE teachers who commit themselves to creating warm and inviting learning spaces in their program.
He recently taught an individual pursuits unit that had a specific focus on developing fundamental movement skills in the young kids that he teaches. Over a few planning sessions, Zack and I discussed different ways to create emotional hooks that would help to better engage the kids in this unit. He came up with the idea of having a super hero theme for the entire unit that would be rolled out in the first lesson. Throughout the unit, the students unpacked different super hero skills and explored those skills in a carefully designed space that Zack had set up.
As the unit progressed, Zack had students tune into what type of super hero they would like to be, what skills this super hero possessed, and how they might work to develop these skills. I observed several classes and collected data on the level of engagement and focus the kids showed. It was clear to see that the students were all very engaged and thoroughly enjoying the unit. As the kids are quite young, they of course needed reminders to stay on track and to be re-directed at times, but the data showed that many of the students remained on task for most of the 30-minute class. This was consistent over a number of classes that I had observed Zack's students.
As a culmination to the unit, Zack had the kids dress up as super heroes and showcase their talent on the final day. He even sent a letter home to parents encouraging them to allow their kids to come to school dressed as super heroes! Zack kept the classroom teachers in the loop by informing them of what was happening in his unit, so they were fully aware of the plan for the final day.
In the last class of the unit, the atmosphere was buzzing as students had free exploration of different stations that had been set up. There was tumbling, jumping, throwing, rolling, balance beam walking, and leaping from tall buildings (the tall building being a stack of mats!). Zack had an assessment set up that allowed him to see each student's super hero skills. It was pure joy in motion.
When teaching early years students, how do you structure your environment to help create those strong emotional hooks for your students? How do you use story and provocation to capture their interest and immerse them in the unit? Would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for reading. If you are an early years teachers, I recommend connecting with Zack Smith as he has lots of great ideas and resources to share.