As Cam and I have been working together on this flat classroom peer assessment project between our schools, I think it is great for him to do a guest blog on how things are going from the perspective of his students and the PE program that he teaches in. A project such as this takes a lot of commitment as it requires setting time aside to collaborate on Skype in order to mesh schedules and work through logistical issues that are sure to arise. Cam has been excellent to work with making this project all the more worthwhile professionally. Thanks Cam for your guest blog contribution!
Andy mooted this idea of a flat peer assessment over skype over two months ago and we were lucky enough to have some flexibility in our program to slide units around a bit to try to mirror his G2 and 3 movement composition classes. Through some fortune and some modification we also had classes that were on at similar times of the day.
From the outset the kids were enthusiastic about working with another school and also about the freedom that the elemental theme for the dance allowed. We used Cirque du Soleil as a stimulus for ideas and also as the theme music. Andy combined his gymnastics and dance together into one longer unit, whereas we had completed our gymnastics unit earlier in the school year, so just had to retouch on some of the those principles whilst introducing dance elements. The central idea was based around combining the two to create a movement routine.
The peer assessment occurred formatively and summatively along the journey with Andy and I sharing our classes progress throughout the unit. The kids got a real buzz from communicating with children from another school and we had a mini-geography lesson trying to explain where NIS was actually located. The instant verbal feedback was well-received, particularly the positive comments and observations, and having completed the assessment a few times on each other, the students were very familiar with the criteria and became accurate observers themselves.
The benefits of collaborating with another teacher (actually several throughout the entire process) are myriad. Often you get stuck in your own proven track and outside provocation and idea-sharing provides new angles on improving student learning. I had never thought of combining a dance and gym unit but having nearly completed the process it is something I will look to employ in the future.
Some of the difficulties we experienced were initially finding time to collaborate but we solved this as we became more familiar with each other’s timetables. The obvious technical considerations are always going to be present with bandwidth, camera settings, facility scheduling, class timetables all having an impact. However, each of these problems were solved with a shared solution-based mindset and the meaningful exchanges the kids were making over skype made all the work worthwhile.
I want to thank Andy for allowing me share in this experience and I would encourage any other PE teacher to consider using this form of experimental yet effective assessment at some point.
United Nations International School