When asking other teaching practitioners to be guest bloggers, I encourage them to write about whatever they feel is good teaching practice as it is valuable to our profession. At times, I ask them to write about specific learning experiences that their students are engaged in within their classrooms. I have recently blogged, in detail, about an excellent collaborative effort happening with PE and the current grade 3 unit of inquiry on Body Systems. It has been great working with such a dedicated grade 3 teaching team (Marina Gijzen, John Rinker, and Georgia Perry). I have asked John Rinker to be a guest blogger and to write about the integration that is taking place with the Body Systems unit of inquiry and PE, but from his classroom teacher perspective. It is good to hear another teacher talk about the value of integration and to describe the vast array of benefits that it has for the learners in the classroom. I would like to thank John for taking the time to write up this guest blog post.
A Bit About John
John grew up a third-culture kid and has been teaching internationally for 20 years. He comes to NIS this school year from the International School of Yangon in Myanmar. Prior to this, John has worked in South Africa, Morocco, and Pakistan. John is passionate about learning, teaching, technology, filmmaking and photography, and blogs at http://johnrinker.edublogs.org/.
John's Guest Blog
One of the most exciting things about coming to teach at the Nanjing International School is the opportunity to collaborate with and learn from excellent teachers. I am part of an amazing Grade 3 PYP team, and our kids are currently exploring how we keep our body systems healthy for our ‘Who Are We’ unit of inquiry.
The PYP PE teacher here, Andy Vasily, has been working carefully to support us by integrating math into his unit on fitness by having the kids calculate and record different heart rates on a place value chart. In the true spirit of collaboration, Andy has invited the Grade 3 team to support his learning goals in PE just as he is supporting ours.
Andy taught the kids to feel their heartbeat by putting their fingers to their necks, but we wanted the kids to have more than the tactile experience of pulse so we grabbed a bunch of stethoscopes and brought them into our classrooms. The idea was to have the kids reinforce their understanding of heartbeats and heart rates by enlisting more of their senses. We wanted them to compare what they felt with what they heard, and to confirm their conjectures about what happens to the heart when we exercise.
In preparation for their PE class last week, the Grade 3 team taught our kids how to count heartbeats using stethoscopes. Students partnered up and took turns doing jumping jacks in class. The ‘doctor’ then listened to the heart beat and tried to imitate it for their ‘patient’ to hear. We then taught the kids to count heartbeats. This can be tricky as a heartbeat has two parts- the ‘lub’ and the ‘dub’- but the kids caught on quickly by listening carefully. We were then ready to send the kids to PE where Andy had big plans for them.
When they arrived Andy had prepared doctor’s hats and beautiful charts for the kids that allowed them to record both their tactile and their auditory experience of their heartbeats.
As partners, the kids took turns playing doctor...um...using the stethoscope while the other played a series of games, each one more rigorous than the last. In between games the doctors measured and recorded their patient’s heart rate. While the doctor recorded with the stethoscope, the patient took her own pulse from her neck. A final heart rate was taken after a cool down. Andy’s post on Maths Integration explains his plan in detail. The video below shows the students learning how to use the stethoscopes a couple of days before going to PE.
When PE was over and we had all our data, we went back to class and reflected on what we had experienced and learned by looking closely at how our heart reacts to exercise. This led to a fine discussion on why the heart pumps blood to our body and how our muscles use oxygen to create energy. A highlight of this discussion for me was the utter surprise/disgust when the kids learned that meat is muscle!
There were so many wonderful aspects to this collaboration. While participating in the PE class I could observe what the kids had learned from our classroom lessons about the stethoscopes. I loved being a ‘new student’ in the PE class and playing all the exciting games with the kids. It was brilliant to watch my partner’s face light up each time he heard my heartbeat. The discussion that ensued after PE back in my own classroom was eye-opening and fascinating. And, of course, I really enjoyed supporting a great teacher before, during, and after an engaging lesson.