It's been a while, but I'm super pleased to be back in the gym teaching PE over the next several weeks. Although much of the work that I now do with teachers at Gardens Elementary School is helping them to plan teaching, learning, and assessment in their subject areas, it has been quite some time since I planned and taught my own unit. My current job role, as Pedagogical Coordinator, has taken me away from teaching, but it is still very important for me to stay in the trenches of teaching, so that I never lose sight of how incredibly demanding it can be. As well, it's important for me to continue to work on refining my teaching skills.
My goal over the next few weeks is to blog about the unit that I am teaching, with my colleague, Bill Kelly, and the journey that we hope to take our students on. The overarching theme throughout this unit is to create the conditions for students to want to take action to be more physically active when not in PE class.
The first step of the process was to interview all the grade 5 classes before the unit began to see their favorite ways of being active in PE class, at recess time, after school, and on weekends. Most of the classes came up with similar ideas, but they also had different ideas to share. Using this information as a starting point, the unit will be structured around providing students with an opportunity to explore and develop skills specific to their areas of interest.
In planning forward in this unit, it was important to refine the number of outcomes and concepts that we felt were most important to address in their learning in this unit. In order to emphasize just how critical taking 'action' is, we decided to make this the overarching theme or idea to be addressed. So, with 'ACTION' as the big concept being focused on, the supporting concepts we came up with for this unit were; Organization, Social Connection, and Skill Competence.
A strategy that we put into practice at our school is to combine two big concepts together to create a driving statement or conceptual question to be unpacked with the students. This allows them to identify and co-construct success criteria in order to deepen their learning and push their thinking forward. Please see conceptual visual below to better understand what this looks like.
We must make sure that all of the concepts that we have chosen support and reinforce everything that we are striving to get our students to know, understand, and be able to do. Therefore, during the planning process, we must be able to articulate exactly why it is we have chosen the outcomes, concepts, and important dispositions that we have. My teaching partner, Billy Kelly, and I have taken a lot of time to do this. When looking at the dispositions below, you will see the strong connection to the big concepts in this unit.
The last part of the initial planning process was to focus on what specific skills we wanted the students to develop in order to allow them to take action on being physically active with others at recess, after school, and on weekends. The specific skills I am referring to here have nothing to do with the physical literacy skills they will need to develop and strengthen in this unit. These skills will come out a bit later as students zero in on specific interest groups that they would like to join as the unit progresses (to be explained in later blog post).
In order to kick start this unit off on the right foot, it was necessary to ensure that my teaching partner and I had a sound structure in place in regards to concepts, skills, dispositions and driving questions that we hope to unpack with our students.
The visuals above show all of the big ideas that we hope to focus on and develop a deeper understanding of as the 'Connection to Community' unit progresses.
Now that you have seen the basic structure of this unit, blog post #2 will delve into the provocation that we used to get the students tuned into the big ideas of 'taking action' and 'social connection'. Thanks for reading!