Since January and the visit made by Reggio Emilia educators Elena Giacopini and Mateo Bini I have been contemplating how best to document learning within PE, specifically within Early Childhood, whereby we are able to show the process of learning. The January PD session made me reflect upon my own practice whilst believing in a social constructivism approach to learning, how does my learning environment reflect this? How does my documentation reflect the learning that takes place within my lessons?
For the purpose of this blog post, when talking about documentation I am referring to what will appear in a students portfolio, documentation of learning happens throughout the unit and guides the inquiry. A particular focus has been how to show the process of learning to the parents so they are aware of this and can become part of the process with their child.
KG started a new unit focusing on transportation systems, in PE our central idea was 'Our body is a transportation system'. The unit was to look at the effects of exercise on the body, with our initial idea to focus on the cardiovascular system i.e. how blood is transported around the body and the respiratory system the inhalation and exhalation of oxygen, as the unit progressed tho student interest led to a focus on the cardiovascular system.
Whilst going through this process, we (I team teach KG with Alex Sota) tried to allow more time for student voice and to avoid rushing learning with a perceived need to 'get something done' by a specific time. This enabled student voice to become central to the learning, with our role as facilitators responding to their ideas, interests and conversations.
Through making student learning visible, documenting their conversations and working theories students were able to see and reflect upon their learning. As teachers we were able use this information to plan following sessions, leading to more authentic inquiry. Whilst through the inclusion of multiple student voices in the students documentation it reflects the process of student learning, showing understanding and constructing meaning as a continuous process.
After going through this process I still have many questions; are the connections I have made to student comments really my own connections? Should I have included more of the student 'physical' developments in the portfolio? How or when to is the best time to use a provocation to ensure that all students voices are heard? Did all students really want to focus on the cardiovascular system after feeling their heart beats, or did we as teachers direct this?
After reflecting upon the Grade 3 Invasion Game unit (which you ca read about in the 'Inquiry Teaching' section), myself and Mr Sota who I co teach Grade 3 with decided that the this unit, would work really well as an adventure challenge unit in the future; with emphasis on teamwork and creative collaboration. As part of the CEESA Job A Like I planned to share the presentation above, though due to time restraints ended up highlighting the unit using Kath Murdoch's inquiry cycle as an overview. Please click on image to see the presentation.
Is it really a month since #AISB17PE? Conferences that I have been too in the past have been a great motivator and provided me with many practical activities which I have been able to apply within my lessons, straight away in many instances. In my previous blog post on #AISB17PE I set myself some targets, with the aim of developing my practise as a PE teacher these were:
*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.
A big take away from the conference was the organisation of time & equipment and the environment that this creates for learning. I was particularly keen to record my teacher talk time, whilst believing that my classroom environment is a place that students are actively involved in the process of learning and that students are teachers in their own right. Does my practise reflect this?
During #AISB17PE Andy talked about teacher talk time and I set myself a new target of 20-30% , with this I took my stopwatch to my lessons. Teaching across various age ranges (KG, Grades 1, 3 & 4) I recognise that my teacher talk time already is somewhat dependent upon the age group I'm teaching, talk for over a minute to my KG group and a glazed over look or fidgeting tells me they are not engaged.
Recording my teacher talk time over the last month has been an interesting experience, dependent upon the lesson and the stage of the unit students are in my talk time has been from 17% up to 42%.
Recording my teacher talk time over the last month has been an interesting experience, dependent upon the lesson and the stage of the unit students are in my talk time has been from 17% up to 42%. Walk and Talks; a strategy modeled by Andy where students partner up walk and share ideas and reflections on a set topic and then share with the wider group has been the biggest change in our classroom environment. This has enabled students to understand, construct or develop new learnings for one another. As students have gone through the units, walk and talks have enabled students to explore and pose more wonderings; helping us to go deeper conceptually.
I have also used 'Compass Points' to get Grade 4 students to give feedback on their fitness circuits that they have designed to try and improve 3 different components of fitness, this enabled students to receive feedback from their classmates in a quick way. I also found that students were more honest and open to constructive feedback that they received when doing this, in comparison to giving feedback face to face.
Andy also showed us quick ways to get the class divided into teams, these generally got students up and running as soon as they came in and when a signal was given students had to go toe to toe or back to back etc, anyone who didn't get a partner or part of a group could meet up in a already assigned friendship area. This has helped a lot in reducing inactivity, and also has led to a decrease in behavioural issues as upon reflection these issues occur during 'down time' and by reducing this transitions between activities have been a lot smoother.
One month on from #AISB17PE and there have been many takeaways from the conference that have had an instant impact on my role in student learning. Teacher talk time was the big focus as I started on this blog post, but as I have gone through the last month thinking about this I have decided that going forward I will need to consider a more effective way of measuring teacher talk time than just minutes and seconds. There are times when it is needed to front load a lesson, maybe at the start of a unit or during a provocation. Is there a way that I can measure the value of what I am saying?
Newly released research from the UK shows that physical activity rates are on the decline for boys and girls from the age of 7. As highlighted in my blog post on Balanced and Barefoot by Angela Hanscom, a move towards a more sedentary lifestyle has a big impact on a child development impacting among other aspects of life, attention skills, controlling emotions, balance, decreased strength and endurance and a weakened immune system. Whilst a move towards a swipe culture and a decrease of outdoor play areas should be looked at, the research suggests that the decline happens early into a child's school life. Could this be because there has been a shift towards a more school-ish view of child development? Emphasis moving towards classroom and away from children learning through free play. This could be supported with the decreases currently made to recess times around the world. What does this also mean to me as an Elementary PE teacher? Is the curriculum that I'm delivering only engaging students during our contact time? Should we not strive to inspire kids to play outside of school time? How do we do this? What are the prohibiting factors?