Making more sense of important learning outcomes
I need to give a little back story here before going into the main part of today's blog post.
There are a number of different professional learning teams for teaching faculty at NIS this school year. All teachers are required to select a professional growth area and to team up with other colleagues who have chosen the same theme. I was appointed learner leader for the Critical Thinking and Creativity professional learning team at NIS for the 2014/15 school year. Once on a professional learning team, all members are paired up with a critical partner. The role of the critical partner is to observe their partner and provide feedback that specifically relates to their professional growth goal.
For those of you who have been on my blog before, you have read and seen that a big part of what I do in PE is to make learning outcomes explicit at the beginning of every unit that I teach. I always create visuals of the essential student learning outcomes and use these visuals to help guide my learners and give them specific direction in each unit.
This year, I have made it my professional growth goal to further breakdown these student learning outcomes into 3 distinct domains. I believe that I can further enhance student learning by getting them to understand that learning takes place in different forms. If I can get my students to understand what these different domains are, I will hopefully be putting them in a better position to identify what their needed areas of growth.
My buddy, Ross Halliday, wrote an excellent guest blog post on my website over a year ago in which he spoke about learning with the head, the heart and the hands. He explained that his school embraces this approach and makes it a big part of what they do day in and day out. I spoke with Ross today and told him about what my plans were for using his idea of the head, the heart, and the hands.
I had also spoken to a PE lecturer from Brock University in Canada, Tim Fletcher, a couple of weeks prior, about my process for making learning outcomes explicit. I respect Tim very much so valued his input and feedback. Tim and I had a great discussion about the importance of addressing the personal and social domains in PE which gave me food for thought as I moved forward with my planning.
Over the past several weeks, I have been trying to refine and narrow down my instructional approach in PE and think of a specific professional growth goal that I can work on throughout this school year as part of my professional learning team plan.
As I am always trying to refine, modify, tweak, and adjust my teaching practice, I felt that introducing the concepts of learning with the head, the heart and the hands meshed nicely with my Critical Thinking and Creativity learning theme. Getting the students thinking about these different domains and identifying specific obstacles that may prevent or hinder their learning is a valuable goal which is worthy of pursuing this school year in my opinion.
A bit of background into each of these domains. I have modified these definitions to fit my own specific professional growth goal and the needs of my students.
Learning With The Head (Cognitive)
This deals mainly with factual learning, how the student thinks, what they know, and what they remember. It is essential for students to have a general understanding and knowledge of the important facts, rules, strategies and safety in the games we do in PE.
Learning With The Heart (Affective)
This domain deals with how the students think and feel about themselves, how they get along with their peers, and how they communicate. It deals with persistence, grit, and resilience. It also includes to what extent they are helpful with their peers and how they handle frustration, disappointment, and anger.
Learning With The Hands (Psychomotor)
This area deals mainly with the doing part, the essential skills needed to participate in the games and activities done in PE. Although it is referred to as learning with the hands, I have emphasized with my students that the eyes, body and feet are also involved here.
Grade 4 Net Games Unit
A couple of weeks ago we finished up a growth mindset unit in grade 4 PE. I blogged about the growth mindset unit here. The unit was one of the best that I have taught due to the fact that so many students were engaged and really into the growth mindset goals that they had set for themselves. In the end of unit reflection, 100% of my students in grade 4 said that they wanted further goal setting in PE, so I set up the current net games unit to honor their wishes.
The first three classes of the net games unit were about immersing the students in different types of net games experiences. A full class each was devoted to tennis, badminton, and ping pong in order to get the students thinking about which net game that they want to work on the rest of the unit. Today they were required to narrow down and select that one net game.
Check out the visual below. A couple of weeks back I had the students think about what they found most difficult about tennis. The students soon figured out that the difficulties in badminton and ping pong were quite similar.
The visual above was to begin the process of identifying potential obstacles that would hinder my students' learning in the net games unit. I then used this visual to draw out the actual student learning outcomes in the unit. I recorded these outcomes in student friendly language as you can see from the visual below.
Enter the Head, the Heart, and the Hands!!
To open up today's class, we quickly went over the student learning outcomes in the net games unit. I then introduced the idea of breaking these outcomes down into three categories; learning with the head, the heart, and the hands. I asked the students to give me some examples of what domain some of learning outcomes would fall into. They needed some help and guidance of course, but they seemed to understand. We'll dig deeper as the unit goes on, but they did super well today. See some examples that we came up with in the 3 visuals below. For 'Learning With The Hands', I had to demonstrate different types of shots for them to understand. Many knew they types of shots, but not how to describe them, so this is where I had to step in directly to give them answers.
In the assessment task below, the students were required to write their goal and to identify one thing that they thought that they would struggle with in regards to learning with the head, the heart and the hands. The task took about 5 minutes at the very end of class. I believe that we have great information to continue moving forward in this unit. Looking forward to seeing how it all unfolds.