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.