Narrowing the Focus: Social Connection & Action
If you have had a chance to read the first 4 blog posts in this series, you will see that my number one goal in our 'Connections to Community' unit is to inspire students to take action on being physically active after school and on weekends.
The unit was set up in a way that got the students thinking about their community and ways that they can be physically active after school and on weekends. The students were able to identify a number of different options available to them, then zero in on the specific areas that are of most interest to them. We are lucky and fortunate to have amazing facilities in our community here at KAUST.
There are two big conceptual themes that have been driving all of the learning in this unit:
Although there are strong elements of voice and choice in our 'Connections to Community' unit, important outcomes from our physical education and health scope and sequence are being focused on. The students have been a part of the process of co-constructing success criteria related to their chosen areas of physical activity. The reality is that the students have been given a lot of freedom to explore their areas of interest in regards to being physically active, but to do so with a purpose to ensure that they are working toward developing the skills and mindset identified in the important learning outcomes in this unit.
Throughout the unit, the students wanted to explore the following areas of physical activity:
Basketball, Soccer, Skateboarding, Frisbee, Golf, Biking, Parkour, Scooter ball, American Football, Tennis
Two big questions discussed in this unit to help guide them toward developing a deeper conceptual understanding of the big ideas were:
In what ways can you take action to improve upon your skills?
How can you work together with others to help each other get better?
As we are closing in on the end of the unit, the focus is now on getting the students to find others to connect with after school and on weekends to meet up in the community and create games and activities related to their chosen area of interest. All of the students have zeroed in on one area of physical activity. In the last 4-5 PE classes, they will work together with their peers creating games and activities during the lesson that focus on developing the specific skills and attitudes identified as being most important in our scope and sequence. It's not just random play, but instead, play with a specific purpose.
The class is now broken into 3 distinct groups in moving forward for the remainder of the unit:
Biking, Soccer, and Scooter ball
I created assessment booklets for them last week that will be a tool for them to record their learning, to self-assess themselves in regards to the specific skills they are meant to develop, to reflect on their performance, and to give me feedback in regards to what I can do better as their teacher. As well, there is an area of the booklet that they can write down contact information of their peers so that they can get in touch with them after school and on weekends to organize meeting up in the community.
THE PE LIBRARY
One of my favorite initiatives by our PE department is the PE Library. Just as a librarian allows students to check out books to bring home to read, our PE department came up with a clever idea of creating a PE library which serves a similar purpose. Students can sign out equipment to bring home after school and on weekends to continue to work on their skills and to have fun.
I've created a specific PE library for my own class with all of the equipment that they might need to use after school and on weekends. Seeing as their choices are biking, soccer, and scooter ball, I will ensure that I have the necessary equipment ready for sign out starting this week. If they do sign out any equipment, they are meant to document this in their assessment booklets.
This unit has gone very well so far. My sincerest hope is that the students do take action to be physically active and to connect with their peers after school and on weekends. As it is the first time that a unit has been run like this, I'm not expecting a huge success. What I am really hoping to do is to continue to plant seeds of inspiration and to create a culture where students choose to be physically active after school and on weekends. In order to make this happen, every single thing we do in PE must be relevant so that if a student decides that they want to try it out after school and on weekends, it is available to them in the community.
The photos below show each page of the assessment booklets and what is expected of the students. The example below is from the 'Biking' assessment booklet. There are specific booklets made for scooter ball and soccer as well. Thanks for reading.