When planning lessons or designing curriculum, a consideration is whether or not this is going to be meaningful to students. Are they going to take this beyond the gym to regularly participate in physical activity? How can PE translate into an active lifestyle?
In Drive, Daniel Pink says; ‘autonomous motivation promotes greater conceptual understanding, better grades and enhanced persistence in school and sporting activities.’ Pink highlights companies such as Google who give employees 20% of their time to work on topics that interest them; a policy which has led to the creation of Google News, Gmail, Google Sky and Google Translate to name just a few. It was not until reading The Power of Inquiry by Kath Murdoch that I saw how this could work within my environment.
iTime allows students 20% of their weekly PE time (at AISB students get 160 minutes of PE a week so this works out at 32 minutes on iTime) to explore a personal interest or question for a total of 4 sessions. In a classroom setting this could be very open-ended; for my PE classes I decided to have students relate their inquires to some form of a healthy and active lifestyle.
As an introduction and provocation, Grade 5 students past and present shared their PYP exhibition projects to show some questions that they explored and to demonstrate how they shared their learning. Two Ted Talks (1 & 2) as well as clips of apps such as Coach's Eye that students may want to use, were also shared.
For the following week, students had to prepare a proposal on how they were going to use their iTime. They shared their proposals to groups of 4-5 students, who were encouraged to ask questions and, if needed, students were able to refine their questions/targets.
Target setting meant that students had a focus, and enabled the student to have a goal to work towards during each session. When making the targets, we wanted to make sure that students set themselves a challenging, but realistic goal. Students marked out on the quadrant below how challenging their topic and presentation style was to ensure realistic expectations for themselves.
Inquirers In Action
Students organized each iTime session with 'Planning my iTime' document. This document was adapted from The Power of Inquiry by Kath Murdoch.
Students worked in differing ways, depending where they were in their inquiry; some had projects using apps to record a skill, others spoke to the head chef in the cafeteria about diet, some organised a Basketball session for younger students whilst others focused on a particular skill that they wanted to improve. At the end of each session students posted their iTime Target cards on our noticeboard to show where they were with their inquiry.
Communication with the students was vital, it was impossible to meet with each student during each session; so the feedback and questions that I gave them on their 'Planning my iTime' document became a way for me to make my thinking and wonderings audible to students.
Some students researched a healthy meal and made it. Sharing with their friends and explaining why it was a healthy recipe.
Whilst other students learned how to use different apps, and created their own 'How to' videos that they could then share with other students, so that they could improve specific skills.
Whilst one student, wondering why he only saw girls practising Gymnastics and Yoga, researched the benefits of these activities, prepared a speech (with the help of Mrs. Hughes). Faaiz delivered the TED style speech to Grade 4 students on trying raise awareness of the benefits of Gymnastics and Yoga, particularly amongst boys.
iTime was 20% of the students PE time to question to explore or a skill to develop, relating to PE. How did the students find iTime? I asked students to fill out their responses to three open ended questions:
2. One thing that would have made iTime better was...
3. Any other comments on iTime...
A re-imagining of iTime from a specialist perspective was a success; however it still had its difficulties. The variety of the projects covered by students was phenomenal, they genuinely looked forward to the time they could spend working on a topic they had chosen. Students demonstrated attitudes such a resilience, determination, self regulation and creativity that I had not seen previously in their PE lessons. Students took their projects home to research, explore, test and practise and they were genuinely excited to share this with an audience outside of class time.
Students set their targets, taking responsibility for their learning. The target cards were designed to try and ensure that students set realistic targets which challenged them; this was not always the case. This was their first attempt at iTime and I believe that if this was continued, students would become better at setting themselves realistic and challenging targets; an important life skill.
While some students wanted to work in groups, I explained that iTime is an individualised time for growth and personal development. Going forward if there was to be a compelling case for working in groups, their proposals would have to be presented to the entire class with class approval for them to be working together.
At AISB students have 160 minutes of PE a week, not every student is this lucky; timings and transitions needed to be well organised and structured. Communication with students with each student was predominantly through the 'Planning my iTime' document. How could iTime be more flexible i.e. if a student is really excited about their project on Monday, why should they wait till Wednesday to work on it? If excited to learn, who are we to stop them?
I would like to thank the parents who gave me permission to share their child's work in this post.
*UPDATE: In January 2018 I shared my thoughts on personalised learning in PE with the ConnectedPE for their online conference. During this webinar I discussed my learning journey on personalised learning and used iTime as an example. You can view the webinar by clicking here.
After reflecting upon the Grade 3 Invasion Game unit (which you read about in the post below), myself and Mr Sota who I co teach Grade 3 with decided that the 'Create A Game' unit, would work really well as an adventure challenge unit in the future. As part of the CEESA Job A Like I created the image above to show the unit planned out using Kath Murdoch's inquiry cycle.
We (Alex Sota and myself team teach Grade 3) have just finished our Invasion Games unit and I wanted to share and reflect on the unit. We started off the unit posing the key question 'What skills are necessary to succeed in Invasion Games?' As we teach multiple classes we started off with the first group sharing their ideas, and then the next class would try and unpack the first classes ideas. This enabled the students unpack and get a deeper understanding of the ideas and concepts more quickly.
The unit started off as we had initially planned, playing a variety of invasion games like Capture the Flag, Beanbag Thieves and Benchball. We actively encourage students throughout our units to use the Wonderwall, the wall provides a space for students to post their wonderings and also encourages investigation and creates intrigue.
Whilst the wonderwall is great for shining a light onto what some of the students were thinking, we wanted to open this up to the rest of the grade. We used the wonderwall comments/questions as a communication prompt, these go out once a week through the homeroom. The communication prompt was done through padlet and this enabled students to expand on what their wonderings in the unit so far.
When reviewing student responses through padlet, we saw that a common area that needed to be addressed was the role of 'captains' in a team. Due to this we adapted the unit, we wanted to create a unit which enabled us to focus on teamwork whilst still having students understand the big ideas of Invasion Games in Grade 3, managing and creating space. We decided that students would spend the remainder of the unit working in small groups; no more than 3-4, on creating their own invasion games.
Students worked in their groups, sharing their favorite invasion games and what aspects they liked of them, with the idea of taking their favorite parts and creating their own (semi) original game. Intertwined with this we also asked students to complete a Frayer Model on what being 'leader' meant for them, we encouraged the use of this word instead of captain, as we felt it is less authoritarian and there can be multiple ways in which you can lead.
When students had the basis of their game, we paired them up with another group who they had to present their game to and play, the other group gave feedback on how the game was presented and how it was to play. Roles would then be reversed. The feedback was used to make any needed changes to the game and presentations, prior to sharing their games with the class. As part of their assessment the students created a diagram, equipment list and a QR code which led to a video of them explaining their games.
When completing this unit, we were pleased with the progress the students had made on their understanding of team roles, especially relating to teamwork and leadership. The games that were created were semi-original and showed a good understanding of invasion games. We have now adapted this unit for next year to have the Adventure Challenge unit focus upon creating a simple tag game, for a recent job-a-like I put this to Kath Murdoch's inquiry cycle which I will post share soon.
This was my teaching philosophy that Andy Vasily asked us to write down on a post it note prior to the first session on provocations at the CEESA PE workshop.
Andy stated (in hindsight, maybe as a provocation) that our role was to be mentors and to ‘forget about physical literacy’. Was this a planned provocation? Regardless, it certainly got my attention and created positive tension. I like Rachel Browns definition of a provocation from her blog, where she says ' ..ultimately the intention of provocations is to provide an invitation for a child to explore and express themselves. It should be open ended and provide a means for an expression where possible....' Andy gave provocative examples he's used throughout his teaching, his videos in particular created an emotional hook. The most useful tool was the @NoTosh brainstorming template;used when designing a provocation for an athletics unit (for a closer look at this please click here).
The provocations that Andy shared throughout the conference created an emotional hook, combined with @NoTosh brainstorming template I hope to find new, more creative ways that get students to rethink or reimagine their thoughts and learnings. How can we ensure a provocation creates an emotional hook for a whole group?
During a practical session Andy focused upon time, more specifically on how we can be smart with our time reducing teacher talk time (target from now on is 20-30%), whilst increasing activity time for students. There have been times when I have reflected upon my lessons and thought about whether or not I was talking too much, not only impacting on students ability to be active but also, limiting the students time to collaborate and construct their own learning. Andy provided practical ideas such as divide classes into smaller groups and teams. (Coming soon: post about how I have integrated this within my lessons and the impact that it is having.)
Post conference goals
*Recording with a stopwatch my teacher talk time daily on specific lessons and reflect on ways to keep this to a minimum (using some of the strategies used at the conference, listed below)
* Being an active member of #physed and using my blog more to reflect on my teaching practice.
* To spend more time on creating my provocations, to get students hooked right away in the unit, using @NoTosh brainstorming tool.
Strategies Throughout the Conference
Learning Nests – Each participant had a piece of chart paper hung in a central location, after each session we’d write down our reflections here.
1 minute Ted Talk – At the end of the conference we had 1 minute to share our learnings, or further questions from throughout the conference.
Walk and Talk – With a partner walking around the space sharing ideas and reflections.
Parking lot – After the walk and talk we are able to post any questions that you had which followed that session.
Demo Slam - Split groups into 8, each participant had to share their main takeaway from the session in 20 seconds.
Compass Points - Big chart paper with North representing 'Need to know', East 'What are you excited about?', South 'Suggestions' and West 'Ways to adapt / modify'. Students walk around looking at a piece of working adding their thoughts.
Gallery Walk - Assessments hung around the gym, walk around a do a 'Chalk and Talk'; where participants walk around, looking at the work that is displayed and adding their thoughts to it using the compass points as a guide.
Give one, Get one - Paper is divided into 6 block, 3 on the top and 3 on the bottom. Across the top you write down three important points, then you go around sharing your points with others. If someone shares something that resonates with you, add it to the bottom row.
Elbow, toe, back to back and hokey pokey groups. Create a friendship circle for anyone who has not found a group or partner.
Andy Dutton - @PEAndyD
A 10 week intensive, pull out program led by @PEAndyD. It is a MRT (motor remedial program) for children 7 and under who do not have appropriate gross motor skills for their age.
Something else shared by @PEAndyD was to get students to create a movement that represents each word of the central idea creating a sequence. repeat throughout the course of the unit and the students will know the central idea. We did it and it was great!
In preparation for the Early Childhood moving into a multi-million euro Reggio Emilia inspired building we were joined by Elena Giacopini and Matteo Bini from Reggio Emilia to further our understanding of the Reggio approach.
I was coming into this training with little of what Reggio Emilia looks like and how it would affect my practice. Reggio is an approach and not a method and therefore it is a philosophical framework and does not provide any standards or outcomes. Reggio is an inquiry based approach that recognizes that learning is transdisciplinary, based on the theories of social constructivism, and should be student centered, whilst placing a great importance on the environment.
Elena and Matteo constantly provoked and made me question a variety of aspects of how I approach my role in student learning. I do believe that students learn from one another and that they are more engaged when they are not being ‘taught’ at. Upon reflection, there are times when instead of focusing on the students experiences and letting this shape the learning. I sometimes impart my knowledge or funnel students into my way of thinking. Are there times when this is ok? How could some specific skills be taught otherwise?
Documentation of students learning is key at Reggio Emilia, this can be seen through the portfolios which are made and follow the students through the school, to how the day is organized and through teacher meetings and discussions. The challenge that I have been contemplating recently is how do we document the process of learning within PE, I have previously recorded a dance routine that students have done at the end of the unit, placed this within student portfolios, but how did they move through the creative process to this end point. Whilst ‘doing’ is a fundamental part of learning, is it enough? Students and teachers must document and reflect throughout the process.
One of the key focal points of Reggio Emilia is the 100 languages, which Loris Malguzzi, founder of Reggio Emilia, described as the ‘Infinite ways in which children can express, explore and connect their thoughts, feelings and imaginings.’ The Reggio Emilia approach recognizes and appreciates children as competent and naturally curious learners who can express themselves, and we as teachers need to recognize and document how their learning is developing. Jay McTighe highlights the multi-faceted aspects to learning and how we should consider this when assessing ‘An important concept in assessment lies in our understanding of learning and the learning process and a recognition that learning involves much more than just taking in conversation and giving it back. It involves constructing meaning and making sense of things, seeing things from a different perspective and truly developing an understanding of what students are learning’ so if as an inquiry teacher we are hoping to develop students understanding of key concepts we need to design tasks and ask questions which takes students learning from knowledge to understanding.
Here KG students are drawing themselves after climbing a tree, self and peer assessing work. Students talk about body positions/movements/key features whilst considering point of view and use of different materials.
Whilst I regularly observe, question and provoke during PE lessons, how do I document this with each child? Making thinking visible routines having proved extremely useful, but this is only one ‘language’. How often should I conference with students? How is this information stored and shared with other teachers and can other teachers comment on what they have seen? How do I document children reflecting on the process, as this constitutes learning. These will be the questions I will be taking forward, documentation should show the process of student learning, showing both the student and the teacher how their learning developed.
Just before our winter break, our KG students started their Movement Composition unit, with the three weeks before the holidays we used this time for students to work on a dance that they would perform for their parents during their winter show, which showcases their work for the year to date, specifically in music, art and PE.
I teach KG with another teacher, Mr. Sota, and we had decided to use 'A night before christmas' as our provocation for the dance, we read this story to the students two times, the first time was for the students to familiarise with the story. When we read the story the second time we asked the students to raise their hand if they heard an action word, or a word that sounds like a movement and Mr Sota would note the word down, after discussing this with our students we ended up with the image below.
Students worked in small groups, pairs or individually to show movements that came to their mind when they heard or saw the action word, the book that we had read to the students was also beautifully illustrated which also really helped the students. Alex and myself set the music for each section and students started to put their movements that linked with the action words to the music. As teachers we helped students with linking their movements or providing feedback throughout the process. Students looked at different ways of travelling, changing their levels and speed dependent upon the music. This process lasted two weeks, in the third week, we practiced in the performance space with the other classes. At the end of week 3 we presented the final performances, to the KG teachers, families and other classes as part of our winter show. The students performed with confidence, matching their movements to the music and also communicating expression.
This was the first time that we had run this unit, looking back we were pleased how the students interacted with each other and the book and the created some really pleasing work in a relatively short space of time. For this unit next year, we have discussed how when we present at the winter show we would like to show the process more, instead of just having the final dance and story. We would also like to give the students the opportunity to try different roles that go into a production for a winter show. Although everyone performed during the show, it's hard to think that some students wouldn't have preferred to try different roles, such as creating masks and hats for the dancers, or assisting with the stage production/directions, all of which would have had a beneficial impact on the performance and more importantly for the students involved.
After reading the Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencioni, which presented three (what would appear on the surface at least) as very obvious traits that make up the ideal team player, these were:
1) being 'people smart', how we interact with other people
2) showing self motivation or hunger for improvement and responsibility
3) being humble
We have just started our Adventure Challenge unit with our grade 4 students, this unit focuses upon developing communication, cooperation and problem solving skills, all essential to team work which can be used in every aspect of life. We have started off the unit asking the students to inquire into what they believe the ideal team player looks like in skills and characteristic traits. We will be collating the common responses and making a working grade 4 document that students will be able to add to with post it notes as we progress during our unit.
Throughout the unit students were able to add post it notes of examples that they were encountering during the unit to a combined Grade 4 Frayer Model. By the end of the unit we combined our reflections to help make a display of what Grade 4 thought was the 'ideal team player'. As we went through the behaviours and character traits and tried to group them, we saw that it followed the three groups from Patrick Lencionis book (People Smart, Humility & Hunger) When discussing this with the students, they agreed however they wanted to change hunger as they did not feel this represented what they were had discussed as a group. They felt that their ideals covered also helping others on the team to improve and understand and a student felt that 'Drive' would suit what they meant better, he explained this to two of the classes and they agreed. It was quite a surreal moment as Drive was the book that I was reading at the time.
Saw this great video of Andy Vasily and Andy Hair, two fantastic PE teachers who are planning for inquiry in an Invasion Games unit together and have shared their progress. Thought i'd share it with you all, I'm looking forward to the next video to see where their unit has taken them.