A successful strategy to try out in your classes
For those of you who read my blog, you have seen that I often create visuals that unpack or breakdown the big ideas and concepts in the units that I teach in physical education. These visuals serve multiple purposes throughout the unit and greatly assist in giving the students a specific direction with their learning. In this blog post, I want to share with you one of the most powerful ways that I use these visuals in my classes. I will give you a specific look at the process to see for yourself just how powerful it can be in regards to student learning. If you have never used the strategy, I encourage you to try it out for yourself.
The strategy that I am going to describe is something that I’m currently putting into practice with my grade 2 and grade 5 classes as both grade levels have just begun a net games unit to wrap up the school year. To kick start the net games unit I used the following key question to check for prior knowledge with my grade 2 students, “What do you know about net games?”. I had the students do a walk and talk for about 3-4 minutes discussing the question and sharing their answers. We gathered as a whole class and the students began to share some of the thoughts that they had. I recorded these thoughts in my journal without judging them as being right or wrong.
Once class was over, I went over my notes identifying the most common answers and then created the visual that you see below.
Since grade 5 is also doing net games, I wanted to use the same key question with them. However, to begin their net games experience, I showed them the visual created with student answers from the grade 2 class. I could see their eyes quickly scanning the visual checking out all of the thoughts on the poster. At this point, I told the grade 5 students that they would do a walk and talk to discuss what they know about net games, but they had to either extend upon any of the ideas from the grade 2 class OR they could discuss any totally new ideas or thoughts that they have.
Once they came back from the walk and talk, the grade 5 students really dug deep, sharing lots of great thoughts and ideas about net games. Some of these thoughts definitely extended upon the grade 2 ideas, but many ideas brought up were completely new. Once class was over, I created the visual that you see below for the grade 5 class.
The beautiful thing here is that the grade 5 students have identified key terminology and vocabulary that the grade 2 students may not understand but need to know. I am now going to use the grade 5 visual to teach some of the new vocabulary to the grade 2 students next time they come to PE. As the unit unfolds for both grade 2 and grade 5, they will closely monitor, discuss, and learn about what’s happening in the net games unit at the other grade level.
It’s great for students to know and understand that there is a shared, common experience in many of the units done in PE. Whether it be having to understand key vocabulary, skills, concepts or other big ideas, using visuals across the grade levels has been a super effective way to teach my lessons. From a transdisciplinary point of view, the visuals don’t even have to be from the same units as certain ideas and concepts can easily transcend specific unit boundary lines and often times even subject area boundary lines.
How do you unpack big ideas and concepts in your classes? How do you make these ideas and concepts visual to your learners? How do you use these ideas and concepts to breakdown and unpack the learning that is taking place in your program?
I believe that these are the non-negotiables of good teaching practice. Share you thoughts in the comment box below. Thanks!!