In Step 4 of my 'Supercharging Student Reflection" blog post series, we looked at how teachers can set up an environment that allows their students to set authentic goals in PE. Although it is critically important to have students reflect on all domains of learning, the aim of this blog post series is to get students to set goals that address learning and growth within the affective domain (awareness of attitudes, emotions, feelings, relationships with others, etc.).
These goals should transcend specific physical skills related to sport and focus on more encompassing ideas that can be carried forward from unit to unit in PE. For example, a student selecting a goal that would have him or her work on becoming a better dribbler in football is indeed a worthy pursuit, however, if the unit changed and football was no longer being worked on, the goal wouldn't apply anymore. Having the students create goals that transcend specific units allows them to carry their goal forward in order to continue to work on it regardless of the unit being explored.
Time for Step 5 of this blog post series.
With the assistance of the teacher (via mini-conferencing), the students have selected a personal goal to work on throughout the term. It is now time to begin setting the stage for them to regularly reflect on this goal. Some teachers will have their students reflect by pencil and paper, while others will have them reflect digitally. Regardless of how the teacher decides to get them to reflect does not matter, what's most important at this point is that the students understand that reflection will be a regular part of what they do in PE.
For this to happen, my advice would be to set aside 3-5 minutes at the end of each class for a few weeks in a row to get them reflecting with consistency on their goals. Step 5 is about creating expectations and establishing that reflection is a natural part of the goal-setting process. During this time, it is very important to remind them to keep their goal in their mind's eye, to remember the strategies for success related to their goal, and to be ready to reflect on their goal at the end of PE class.
Although this process is about establishing expectations and to make reflection a regular part of PE, the ultimate aim is to hand ownership over to the students for them to decide when they will reflect on their goals. However, in the short term, to give them practice reflecting, it is important to make it a requirement that they reflect at the end of each class.
HEY, WAIT A MINUTE MR. ANDY!!!!
I don't blame you if you are saying or thinking to yourself, "There are other ways that I must assess my students in the units that I am teaching in PE". "If I'm taking 3-5 minutes each class to get them to reflect, how I am going to give them time to assess themselves, assess their peers, or complete an assessment task in general in the unit actually being taught?"
My answer would be that you have to carefully manage your teaching and assessing time. There is no question that you will need to run some formative assessment tasks alongside student reflection time in PE. The first few weeks of establishing the routine of reflection with your students is a very important time. However, the reality is that you will need to focus on the unit itself and the assessments that need to be done. I would say that during this time any formative assessment tasks needing to be done take priority. On the days when you must have the students complete a formative assessment task, they can take a break from reflecting on their personal goals to concentrate solely on the unit specific task at hand.
As for the formative and summative assessment tasks, another option would be to build in a general reflection question related to their personal goals that addresses how they are doing in the unit. For example, take the example of Alex's goal from the Step 4 blog post. Alex's goal was to work on better controlling his anger and frustration in PE. A general reflection question on a formative or summative assessment task could be:
So, as you can see, it is possible to link the students' personal goal to what is happening in the unit itself at times and to do so in a very general way that applies to all learners in your class. It's certainly not necessary all of the time, but when it makes sense, I highly recommend taking the initiative to do so as it lends itself to constantly reinforcing that their personal goals are important and relevant to all learning in PE.
Goal-setting and reflection can and should play an integral part of any physical education program, but it requires a carefully crafted environment to authentically bring it to life. I hope Steps 1-5 have made sense to you. Are their any doubts or uncertainties? Is there anything that you see that could be improved upon, modified, or deleted from this process. Do you see potential in rolling out personal goal-setting and reflection in this manner in your PE program? I would love to hear your feedback. I'll be posting Step 6 over the next couple of days. Thanks for reading.