ACHPER,  Teacher Reflection

What tools do you use in #physed? Why?

2015-05-20 12.15.52

My typical whiteboard after a class….

There has been a very healthy amount of discussion in #physed and #pegeek spaces about tools that the PE teacher should have or should be dribbling over in their attempt to be a more effective teacher and most of these tools are tech based.  We seems that from now on, we will always have new technology and apps and other gadgets that can provide us with new opportunities to teach our students or to engage in new learning experiences.

However, recently I had the opportunity to present at the ACHPER conference in Adelaide and I was very surprised to find that some of the core tools that I take for granted were not being utilised by #physed teachers.   I would like to be really clear about the 3 tools that I use everyday in my classroom and why I use them.  This is an honest account of where my classrooms are up to and how I am using tools in them.

  1. A whistle.  A good whistle (I have been experimenting here – we all have one we love) and sign language cues for my students so that they know what is going on using observation rather than shouting or voice commands.  A good visual signal and repeated signing cues and repetition has meant that I don’t have to constantly shout over noise of my students and that they need to look my way to get the cues.  This has been invaluable in the pool where it is so noisy and kids can be very easily distracted.
  2. A whiteboard.  I always have whiteboard markers in my pockets.  This year our Department used part of our equipment money to purchase 3 new whiteboards.  We now have 2 big boards on wheels in the Gym, one fixed in the Movement Room (fitness/dance room) and one smaller one on wheels that can be moved around to new locations including outside.  This tool is the one that I use the most – every lesson.  I then take photos of the notes and either add them to my school blog or put them into the Google Doc that has the class notes for students to be reminded what we did in class or the information or answers or questions so they have a reference to go back to.  Often the kids have PE and then a full day afterwards and to have spaces where they can see what we discussed is important.  At ACHPER, Mark Wiliams had his session in the Gym where he wrote all over the whiteboard on Monday and when I went to use the same space on Tuesday afternoon, I erased his notes.  No one had used the board for the sessions that fell in between ours.  I had to wonder why?  We are teachers of language and ideas – are we documenting them? Are we sharing them?
  3. Screen/Projector and computer (so yes, cheating to have these as one) – we have had projector screens installed in our Gym, Movement room and a TV for hooking into the computers and this has also been a big shift for us in how we are teaching and what we are using in our spaces.  We are lucky as we have these technologies and work in Japan where our wifi and speed and bandwidth are awesome most days so we are not waiting or lagging on videos or music.  I now use Google docs for all work related stuff and we use these to collaborate in groups allowing me to show and share ideas from other classes and to see videos of work to critique or YouTube to dance with etc.

So here are my three tools.  If I had to add more they would be my watch (stop watch, timing their work and checking class times) and then my android phone for video capture, tweeting out to my community and emailing video/photos or other to students or to myself for adding to blogs etc.  I am also fortunate to have an iPad mini and my Mac Book pro – the computer is used for every work moment that requires longer emailing or creation of resources.  My iPad is a feature in my classes periodically but isn’t getting the use it once had.  It will return next year as my Grade 8’s start having one each in their PE classes – stay tuned for that!

What tools do you use in your #physed classes?  Do you use a whiteboard?


  • mhamada

    Thanks for sharing Ken, I too am phasing out my whistle (same as you loud voice) but at UNIS it was my best mate to save my voice (I have heard that many PE people retire or have to consider their career with throat damage from loud talking – I find that the first weeks after Summer break my voice and throat are affected as we get back into loud voice practice). I can appreciate that at a conference we may find that people use many tools, but I also feel that if you aren’t asking kids to write on the board or to use it for a thinking space, (can we do that every time on our projector?) then you are taking away something from your learners. I hope it is that people do use them and regularly!

  • Ken

    Great summary. Interesting observation about the whiteboard at the conference. The optimistic side of myself would suppose with the proliferation of back-channel tools available during conferences the other presenters were curating a live and in-depth summary of learning during their session. However, my pessimistic side thinks they just got caught in the conference trap of lecture to the group and click through the PowerPoint.

    My tools on a day-to-day basis:

    1. Macbook Air: The majority of day-to-day is done on this in lesson. We have access to iPads and I use them when appropriate but I am finding it less and less useful as a dedicated classroom tool.

    2. Projector: This is my whiteboard. I have it projected onto a board on wheels, so I really have two in one. From next year we will have 2 permanent short throw projectors onto mounted whiteboards in the gym, so that will be my homebase (so to speak) for lessons.

    3. iPhone: Stopwatch, video on the fly, twitter etc. This is never out of reach during a lesson or throughout the day.

    I appreciate you use a whistle and used one for a long time but over the past 4 years have completely removed it from my pockets (couldn’t even find one today for a colleague). I have a loud voice but don’t spend all lesson shouting, rather I have a bank of 3-4 clear instructions for transitioning, starting or stopping. The kids are great and I am aware that moving to another school might mean I would have to add it again, and when I do it will be a Fox40.

    Great post as always Mel!

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