Thanks to all the #PEgeeks that shared their one-word answer to my son's question, "If you had one word to describe PE, what word would you use?". Eli was thrilled to know that so many teachers from around the world took the time to answer his question and helped me to create the PE Wordle that you see in the poster below.
If you would like a copy of this poster, let me know and I will email it to you. I have printed mine off and will post it in my gym. Great words to describe the essence of PE.
Although this is a beautiful setting that any one of us would love to kick back and enjoy, as PE teachers, we should not have the feeling as though we are alone, on an island, when planning our lessons, units, assessment strategies, and learning engagements.
For a long time, especially in my initial years teaching PYP PE, I stumbled my way through, trying to figure out how I should be teaching within the program. Mind you this was before the time that social media really took off, but the point is that I felt as though I had nobody to bounce ideas off nor colleagues to collaborate with.
Still to this day there is an assumption that PE is still very much a stand alone subject. I would strongly argue against this for a number of reasons, but one of the biggest would be the fact that 21st century learning is about developing the whole student. Effective teaching must address not only sport and fitness, but also the enduring concepts/skills that are transferrable across the curriculum. In the Primary Years Program (the PYP) there is a strong emphasis on transdisciplinary learning. This is achieved through the teaching of the transdisciplinary skills (see this link to learn more) which are broken down into 5 essential areas: Social Skills, Self-Management Skills, Gross Motor Skills, Communication Skills, and Research Skills.
The very nature of a transdisciplinary program requires extensive collaboration between the single subject and the classroom teachers, especially during times of integration with the unit of inquiry. The key to understanding that PE is not simply a stand alone subject revolves around the fact that other important links to the classroom curriculum can and should be made whenever possible. I have long been trying to integrate maths and language arts into PE whenever possible and this can be achieved through a wide range of tasks.
However, the responsibility to integrate maths and language arts is as much the classroom teacher's responsibility as it is the PE teacher's responsibility. Developing the whole child means that all teachers, both classroom and single subject, must collaborate both informally and formally whenever possible to ensure that authentic and genuine learning is taking place on a consistent basis. This means that the lines between subject area boundaries are blurred and blend together forming the foundation for a holistic curriculum in which students can truly acquire the skills necessary to move forward in the 21st century.
On our way to school today, my oldest son, Eli, came up with a great question for me. I told him that his question was so cool that I would post it as a "Question of the Day' in hopes that any readers on my blog would also contribute their answers. The question that he asked me was, "If you had only one word to describe PE, what word would you use?". I thought about it for a few seconds and responded with 'Healthy'.
I am asking any readers to do me a simple favor. Please answer my son's question in one word and post it in the comment box of this blog post. Once I have collected a list of words, I will create a wordle that shows my son all of the one-word answers that people came up with to describe PE. It will only take a second of your time, so I would greatly appreciate the help! My son will love it as well. Have a great day!
I blogged yesterday about a new model of instruction that I am going to put into place in my upcoming Athletics Unit in grades 3 and 4. I also included a JPEG of a Student Learning Outcome Checklist that I am going to use to kick start the unit. Although this is a rough draft at the moment, I threw it out to the grade 3 teachers for their feedback and am pleased to have received back some excellent questions that have further initiated my thinking about the task that I described in yesterday's blog post.
One of the grade 3 teachers, Marina Gijzen, asked whether or not it was necessary to have the Student Learning Outcomes listed in order in a linear fashion. Having an order would simply indicate where the students need to begin. She was not saying it was correct, but just wanted me to think about how I will introduce the SLOs. It made me think that introducing the Student Learning Outcomes in a linear fashion does not allow for student-initiated differentiation.
I like the idea of having the Student Learning Outcomes presented in a way that the students do not know where to begin when designing their own learning engagements. Doing so will challenge the students to truly think about which entry point is best in terms of where to begin their learning journey. I believe it will serve to help them self-differentiate as they must evaluate the SLOs and decide which ones they feel comfortable with and which ones must be learned and developed from square one. Please have a look at the Student Learning Outcomes that I am including on the student's checklist of skill acquisition for the Athletics Unit.
I am happy with the feedback that I received from the grade 3 teaching team today as it has already helped me to better design the start of the Athletics Unit. If you are interested in seeing how this unit evolves, I will be blogging in detail on a regular basis over the next several weeks.
Over the past several months, I have been researching ways to provide students with more genuine and authentic ways to learn in PE. In my pursuit of creating a model of instruction that allows students much more ownership over their learning in my program, I was lucky to come across the work of Ewan McIntosh, a fantastic consultant who recently visited our school. I blogged about Ewan a couple of weeks ago and have been very interested in the work that he, Tom Barrett, and Peter Ford are doing in making a true difference in education.
Their work has inspired me to make a change in the way I teach by getting students to be much more actively involved in their learning process. I have a new vision for the way that I will run my PE lessons and will begin by putting this to the test in my upcoming Athletics unit. I believe that learning engagements will be much richer in nature and both problem finding and problem solving will be in effect from day one of this unit.
For me to truly assess the effectiveness of this new learning journey that my students and I will be involved in, I will be documenting each step of the way on my blog. It will allow me to reflect on an ongoing basis throughout the unit to ensure that I can improve and refine my instruction and my student learning.
I won't reveal too much at this point because I am still thinking my way through how the unit may evolve, but as a starting point, I can say that I will have students very actively engaged in designing all of their learning activities in the Athletics unit. My role will be more of a facilitator and coach in this process lending assistance and help whenever the need arises.
On day one of the Athletics unit, I will share with the students the Student Learning Outcomes(SLOs) that are in place for this unit based on our PSPE scope and sequence document. In kid-friendly language, I will breakdown each SLO and discuss what they look like. The kids will be made aware, from the very start of the unit, what specifically they are expected to know and be able to do by end of the unit.
They will then be asked to define obstacles/problems that may hinder or prevent them from achieving these SLOs at the end of the unit. In groups they will then begin to design their own learning activities keeping the end goals always in sight. I have included a rough draft below of a Student Learning Outcome Athletics Checklist that they will keep near and dear to them throughout the unit. Despite the unit still being three weeks away, I felt that making the SLO Checklist early would allow me some time to refine it. I am pretty happy with my first draft, but I am sure to make some changes before the unit kicks off. I would love feedback from anyone out there.
A closer look at the Student Learning Outcomes can be seen below. As you can see, the students will be required to self-learn a number of different essential tasks related to Athletics, including using a stopwatch, recording both time and distance related to specific Athletics events, learning special techniques related to running, jumping, and throwing, and setting up their own stations in which to practice. As well, goal-setting will be a huge part of this unit from day one.
Must of been the St. Patty's Day festivities yesterday, but I am a bit low on motivation today. However, I'd like to post a great quote that I once read. It sums up just how powerful teaching can be. Let's not forget it!
“A teacher affects eternity: he can never tell where his influence stops.” –Henry Adams
Simplifying the Differentiation Process in PE
When considering ways to better differentiate within lessons, I'd like you to consider Sternberg's Three Intelligences for a minute. When differentiating instruction really took off a few years back, I remember being in a workshop that focused on using Howard Gardiner's Multiple Intelligences as a means to differentiate learning engagements within a lesson.
At the time, I was very excited to put into practice differentiated instruction based on the multiple intelligences in my PE classes and thought that I had come up with some really good ideas. However, there are now 9 intelligences (see this link) and trying to come up with differentiated instruction to suit 9 different types of learning preferences can be quite difficult. A lot of recent research in education is now challenging Gardiner's multiple intelligences theory for a variety of reasons.
In a workshop held by Caroline Tomlinson at my school this year, she spoke about Robert Sternberg's Theory on the Three Intelligences. Essentially, differentiation can be greatly simplified by using Sternberg's theory as there are only 3 intelligences: Practical, Analytical, or Creative. Students can fall into one of the categories or could show a mix of one or two of the others. So when considering ways to differentiate, we need to only consider three categories of learners NOT 9 categories of learners as defined by Howard Gardiner.
I am not saying that either is correct, but can only give you a point of reference based on my own teaching experience. I have found that it is indeed much easier to differentiate lessons using Sternberg's theory. What are your experiences differentiating instruction within your PE lessons. Would love to hear from you. Thanks!
A lot of my research and work of late has been focused on finding a better way to teach PE. I have been downloading a number of Kindle books in order to find research that is relevant to a new model of instruction I am trying to create and test out. Often times this requires me to go outside the realm of PE in order to find excellent ideas or models that I can then transfer over to the arena of physical education.
One of the authors that I have come across is Angela Maiers, an educational consultant and motivational speaker. As I read her book, the 'Classroom Habitudes', I realized that much of what she writes about is immediately applicable in PE. She essentially highlights 7 habits and attitudes of successful learners and explains why these ‘Habitudes’ (as she calls them), need to be developed within the students we teach. As she points out, it is not only critical to better develop these habitudes within our students, but also within ourselves as well if we are to continue to grow within our role as educators.
I have found her book to be an excellent resource and I highly recommend it. As Angela Maiers states, the 7 habitudes are as follows: Imagination, Curiosity, Self-Awareness, Courage, Adaptability, Perseverance, and Passion.
There is no doubt in my mind that creating as many opportunities as possible to address and teach these 7 habitudes to our students will, without question, increase the value in any physical education program, regardless of curriculum requirements.
As I have stated many times in the past on my blog, developing skills such as the 7 habitudes and other related enduring concepts play just a pivotal a role in physical education. Of course, learning sport related skills is also important, but as students walk away from our PE programs, what is that we want them to take with them that will best prepare them for the future? A question to think about and I would love to hear your answers! Send me your answers and I will post them or add your opinions to the comment box below
Students designing their own schools? Is it possible? Watch the video below to see some amazing learning taking place. Can this model be applied to PE? I think it can be. What do you think?
I enjoy finding inspirational stories, quotes, and cool creations on a daily basis. My goal is to now share these findings at least once a day on my blog. Kind of like a New Year's resolution, but beginning in March! I hope that you enjoy them as much as I do. I love creativity! Anyways, my friend, Sonya TerBorg, has an excellent blog that I have followed quite regularly. She has been super busy and has not be able to do much with it of late, but she is back in business. I thoroughly enjoy her thought-provoking blog posts. I have posted a very creative post of hers from today. You can find her blog here. Nice to see you back in action Sonya!
KAUST Faculty, Pedagogical Coach. Presenter & Workshop Leader.IB Educator. #RunYourLife podcast host.