Introducing the Central Idea in Grade 1 Health Related Fitness Unit
Although we are into our second week of the health related fitness unit in grade 1 PE, I have held back on introducing the central idea for this unit. For those teachers who may not work in the Primary Years Program (the PYP), the central idea is essentially the driving theme behind the unit. We want the students to progressively build upon their understanding of the central idea as they work their way through the units in PE. Through a number of learning engagements very much inquiry-based in nature, the students continually develop their understanding of the central idea and share their knowledge on a regular basis.
The main reason why I do not introduce the central idea straight away in a unit relates to my pedagogical belief that great value lies in allowing young people time for exploratory activity at the start of a unit. Regardless of the unit, I try to provide as many opportunities as possible for the students to explore and to develop curiosities related to the unit. These curiosities are recorded in the form of student questions. As well, the exploratory time gives them a chance to think about what might be important to learn. When I record their ideas about what is important to learn, this is a great chance to make the learning outcomes explicit at the start of a unit. I think that it is critical for the students to be aware of the learning outcomes at the beginning of the unit as it often times leads to greater success.
In yesterday's class I introduced the central idea for the health related fitness unit by writing it down on a large piece of chart paper. As you see above, the central idea for this unit is "Our heart, lungs, and muscles work together when we exercise." Although this statement might seem simplistic in nature, the real challenge of understanding this central idea lies in the students making connections between these body systems. As they progress through the unit, the students develop a greater understanding of these connections and are challenged to demonstrate this understanding in a variety of forms.
Making Learning Visual
As I introduce the central idea in a unit, I collect a bunch of visuals related to the topic. As this is a health related fitness unit, all of the images I gathered connect to sport, health, and exercise. As we unwrap the central idea, I add these visuals to the central idea poster. The poster remains up on the wall for the entirety of the unit and is constantly referred back to when having important discussions related to the big ideas.
In yesterday's class the students were able to identify the 3 systems that they felt were working the most in the unit which were the heart, the lungs, and the muscles. Now that we have identified these 3 systems, I have introduced the proper name for these systems (circulatory, respiratory, and muscular). Both my grade 1 classes had a go at contributing their thoughts to the central idea poster. The first class, as you can see by the photo below identified the three systems at work when exercising and the second class was able to identify different types of exercise and what was needed to keep our bodies healthy. The visual that was created will definitely help to stimulate further discussion. Any new ideas will be added to the visual as we progress through the unit. Have a look at the photos below to see how the second class added to the ideas of the first class.