Importance of Involving Students in Making Learning Outcomes Explicit at the Start of a Unit
The purpose of this blog is to show one of the ways in which I strive to make student learning outcomes explicit at the beginning of a unit. This preassessment strategy involves the use of video, skill exploration, and the creation of a visual that is a collaborative effort between the students and the teacher.
The focus of my grade 5 PE classes is now on striking and fielding over of the next several weeks. To help set a positive tone from the start of the unit, it was critical that I make the student learning clear and explicit. But, rather than rambling on and on about what they need to know and to be able to do, I used an approach that I have successfully used in the past. Today’s class was broken into 4 distinct parts, each one having a specific purpose.
I searched for a number of You Tube videos that highlighted great plays in baseball, cricket, and rounders. In total we watched about 6 or 7 minutes of video as an important introduction to the unit. Once the different video clips concluded and before moving on to the more physically active part B of the lesson, I asked them to think about the different skills they saw in the video and to begin to explore these skills using the equipment that was available to them that I had ready and prepared.
This part of the lesson was very hands on and allowed them to explore the different skills that they had seen in the video clips. As safety is always important, we discussed parameters in which they could explore and I set them off. They were free to work on their own, in pairs, or in small groups. To differentiate in regards to striking I had ready to go soft baseball bats, cricket bats, rounders bats, tennis rackets, and ping pong paddles. Why tennis rackets and ping pong paddles you might be wondering?
It was more important to me, considering it was the beginning of the unit, to allow students the opportunity to explore any form of hitting with an object. In this initial phase it didn’t matter to me whether or not it was actually cricket, rounders, or baseball type striking. Using tennis rackets to hit soft balls and ping pong paddles to hit around table tennis balls still helps in narrowing their hand and eye coordination focus.
In part three of the lesson, the students and I gathered together to have a discussion. I asked them to identify skills and big ideas that they felt were important to develop and learn more about in Striking & Fielding. I am very aware of the actual student learning outcomes that are focused on in our PE department’s scope and sequence, but I felt that through questioning I could get them tuned into what these may be and record their thoughts on a visual posted on the gym wall.
I was sure to create the visual using kid friendly language to ensure that the students could really understand what was being presented to them. What’s great is that they ideas that they came up with aligned very closely to the student learning outcomes in our PE Department’s scope and sequence which I thought was going to be the case. I strongly believe that allowing the students to be involved in the process of identifying learning outcomes that they will have to meet is even more explicit in nature and helps to pave the way for a much better direction from the very start of the unit.
As a pre-assessment task the students had to show me what they learned from the class and to identify which learning outcome that they felt was going to give them most difficulty in the unit. This will provide me with important information to push their learning forward as we progress through the striking and fielding unit. All in all, a very good start! Have a look at their assessment sheets below. Thanks for reading.