I am happy to have Ken share good teaching practice on this blog. He and I have recently been discussing ideas that he could blog about and he told me about an excellent plan that he and the maths teachers at Western Academy Beijing have been collaboratively working on this school year. It is definitely worth reading this blog as authentic and genuine learning is taking place. I look forward to seeing how this project plays out next year.
Ken Forde went to the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. He studied physical education and geography graduating in 2004. Soon after graduating he accepting a teaching position at a public school in the UK spending 3 years there. Opportunity led him to teach in United Arab Emirates where he was introduced to the IB and PYP frameworks. He taught in UAE for 4 years before moving on to Western Academy Beijing this year. It is his first year teaching in China and his first year of the MYP. Ken is passionate about football, but injuries have cut short competitive play, but this has allowed him to put more focus on his coaching which has been a valuable experience for him.
HPE and Math Integration
The idea of curriculum integration through PE was introduced as a theory to me while in university, however, the practical application of it was very limited in the BC provincial and UK national curriculum frameworks in which I started my career.
It was not until moving into an IBPYP school in the 4th year of my career that the true possibilities for cross-curricular integration became clear. But even at this time many of the links were forced efforts to tick boxes, rather than create truly authentic learning experiences for the students. Upon reflection these early efforts were well intentioned but lacked a clear understanding of how integration could work outside of classroom curriculum subjects.
Now, after 4 years of PYP, and finishing my first year of MYP, the possibilities for authentic integration seem to be popping up on a regular basis. This post will share a specific example of integration between Math and HPE that myself and another teacher are planning for next year.
One of the middle school Math teachers was looking for data to use in a statistics unit. She came to me asking if we had any. You can only imagine both our excitement at not only having this data but the opportunity for the kids to apply math curriculum learning to their own performances; truly authentic integration. This year, as many HPE departments do, we ran a series of fitness tests for all students in the middle school. These included the 20M beep test, Illinois Agility Test, Push Ups (30s), Sit-ups (60s), Vertical Jump and Sit & Reach. These tests were performed four times this school year, providing us with a mountain of data and limited ways of using and displaying it.
The plan for next year is to use the data from 2011-2012 during math classes. The students will use these data sets to calculate some statistical results such as mean, median, mode and standard deviation (SD) of various groups; gender, grade, test type etc. Once we have these basic statistics established, the students will incorporate this knowledge into their personal goal setting for the fitness unit. Hopefully this will help them create much more realistic and achievable goals based around the idea of means and percentile categories. Learning about and calculating standard deviation with anonymous data sets can be a good introduction to the concept, but learning SD with their own data becomes a much more relevant and authentic task as the results and analysis directly apply to them.
For example, understanding the mean beep test score for all grade 7 boys is 8.6 provides a very narrow scope for goal setting, they are either above or below, which in a students eyes means they are either better or worse. Applying statistical tools such as SD in Math class will allow students to see where they fit within a bigger picture and apply it to within their goal setting.
The final benefit of this integration will be the ability to create school based fitness norms. I have never liked using external fitness standards as the tests all vary slightly and no single set of tests and standards is a perfect match to any school in terms of facilities, equipment or time constraints. This results in many schools creating a hybrid series of tests. In my current school, fitness testing for students is not linked to any performance aspect of their assessments. What I feel is important for students to gain out of fitness testing is a chance to see personal improvement, and reflect upon the processes that allowed this to occur. Allowing them to see where they compare within the school population may help reinforce a positive mindset towards physical activity, but more importantly may provide a struggling student with the confidence that personal improvement is achievable. Using school developed norms will provide a much more accurate comparison for students than us applying an arbitrarily selected series of national or international fitness norms.