Students identifying problems that must be overcome at start of net games unit
We kicked off our grade 4 net games unit this week at Nanjing International School in China. As a starting point to the unit, I felt that it was imperative to get the students to firstly explore different net game related skills, but to also identify potential obstacles and problems that stand between them and their learning in this unit.
Using equipment from tennis, table tennis (ping pong), and badminton, I allowed the students to safely explore using this equipment in a sensible manner. They were instructed that they had to try their best to control the ball or shuttlecock either by themselves or with partners. During this pre-assessment phase of the unit, they were encouraged to truly think about how well they could control the ball and/or shuttlecock. No nets were used at this time as the focus was on the most basic use of this equipment.
After about 15 minutes, the students gathered around me to discuss what problems they faced and helped to answer the following question, "What are some major problems that we must overcome during the Net Games unit?". If we can get our students to think of major obstacles and problems that stand in the way of their learning ahead of time, we are putting them in a much better position to achieve success. It is a very differentiated approach as obstacles will no doubt vary from student to student. Getting them to identify these problems puts ownership in their hands as well and serves to decide which direction to take our lessons, especially in the early stages of a unit.
I was happy that they came up with the idea of being frustrated or not very confident as it allowed me to address the importance of having a growth mindset vs a fixed mindset. Being growth minded is something that I always stress as being critical to success in learning.
Please see the simple visual that we created in today's net games lesson. It was a great way to start the unit and the visual itself will definitely be used to generate further discussion over the next few classes. I will also use this visual to help introduce the important student learning outcomes for our net games unit.