My grade 1 students are well into their unit on Health Related Activities in PE class. It is my second year teaching this unit at the Nanjing International School in China. When I finished up this unit last school year, I had reflected on the learning experiences that I had my students engage in and asked myself a few very important questions:
A) What was it that the students walked away from the unit actually knowing?
B) How can I better align the assessment tasks with the lines of inquiry and the central idea?
C) What was essential for students of this age to know and understand about health, exercise and the body?
The answers that I came up with helped me in shaping how I was going to plan and teach the same Health Related Activities unit this school year. As for question A above, I realized that the students had a very general understanding of the body and how exercise affected it. They could identify the three body systems highlighted in the central idea. Overall, not too bad considering the students are only in grade 1.
As for question B, I felt that last year's assessment tasks allowed for the students to record their progress and show some understanding of how exercise affects the body, but I needed to tighten up this assessment to ensure the students could make stronger connections to the central idea and lines of inquiry. I have taken more anecdotal notes and have had more discussions with the students so far in this unit this year which has really helped to check their understanding. It seems to me that they are definitely making more progress when compared to last year. As well, I have created what I feel to be better rubrics that are more clear to the students and easier to complete.
Now on to question C. I believe it to be essential that the students are able to identify the muscular system, respiratory system, and the circulatory system and to know that these systems interact while exercising.
Having the students be able to specifically describe the impact of exercise on these 3 systems, to me, is a very important part of the unit. In terms of the muscular system, it is not critically important, at this age, to be able to name specific muscles, but I think it is still a good thing for them to be able to identify which muscles are most at work while exercising. As for the circulatory system, describing what happens to the heart when exercising is a must as well as demonstrating an understanding that their respiratory rate speeds up as well. The students should also be aware that good health is often a result and eating well and exercising regularly.
What lines of inquiry will define the scope of the inquiry into the central idea?
I will be describing, in detail. more about the learning experiences and assessment tasks in grade 1 Health Related Activities over the next few weeks. Are you teaching a unit similar to this? If you are and would like to share some of your experiences please let me know. Thanks!