I have recently blogged about a new approach that I am putting into practice in my current Athletics unit at Nanjing International School in China. If you didn't get a chance to read the blog posts, you can do so here and here. I have worked hard to research different types of instructional models over the past few years and this journey has often led me outside the box of physical education. My focus during this unit will be on helping to sustain student motivation by giving them much more control and direction over their own learning.
As I stated in previous blogs, the unit began with me introducing all of the learning outcomes for Athletics, to my students, in a language that they could understand. There are 9 learning outcomes that they need to be able to know and do by the end of the unit. On learning teams, they will design all of their own learning, record their plans, reflect on their successes and failures, and focus on giving feedback to one another. The vision of my own role during this unit is one in which I act as a mentor, a coach, and facilitator helping them whenever the need arises. This will no doubt entail running mini-workshops and activities based on the needs of the students as we progress through the unit.
The students will have iPads and laptops available to them during the course of the unit as well. This whole approach may seem like madness, but I believe that by giving them more ownership and responsibility, they will hopefully feel more empowered to learn.
As a starting point, I am using the pre-assessment sheet that you see below. Essentially, I am highlighting 2 learning outcomes that they are responsible for, the measurement of time and distance as related to throwing, running, and jumping in Athletics. I will provide them with measuring tapes and stopwatches and set them off. They are to record any difficulties and/or questions that they have on the pre-assessment sheets. It is worth noting that they have formed their own learning teams and have selected team members wisely as they know maths will play a big part in this unit.
SAFETY, SAFETY SAFETY
I know that some of you by now may be thinking about safety. If I am to set kids off running, jumping, and throwing surely safety is a major issue. I totally agree with you! In fact, running, jumping and throwing in a safe manner is one of the major student learning outcomes during this unit. Safety has been seriously discussed with the students. I will observe them constantly, but am handing responsibility over to them to show me that they are practicing Athletics in a safe manner. They will be asked to reflect on safety a number of times throughout this unit as well. I am there to step in immediately should any student be in danger of hurting themselves or hurting others.
SUCCESS and FAILURE
I will be blogging about both success and failure during this unit. Trying out a new approach such as this, especially with students so young, will prove to be challenging. Seeing what does not go well is a great form of feedback and documenting these times will be professionally rewarding as I will be able to revise and improve my instruction as the unit moves forward. Would love to hear any comments, questions, or concerns that you have. I appreciate the feedback!