Concept based learning,  Criteria,  Goal setting,  Leadership,  MYP,  Teacher Reflection,  TGfU

Thoughtful Strategy can lead to Success.


Eyes on the Prize by Alan CC BY NC SA

Thoughtful strategy can lead to success.

In PE our team has been working hard to develop Key Concepts of study that could be used in any context – not just PE.  This has lead to some healthy conversation with our PE Team about the lifelong learning we want students to take from our subject and apply to other aspects of their lives and in our Net Games units we look at Strategy through the Key concept of how to plan for performance and collaborate effectively with others to do this.

Students have been working in designated teams of 3 (that I set up after lesson 1 of a round robin singles tournament and my knowledge of the students ability to collaborate and communicate with their peers).  Three people in a Double’s team is perfect as we have no issues if someone is absent and it means we have a coach or umpire for every game.  Each lesson I have had one of the group’s lead a cardio style warm up, this sets the tone for the unit as they are in charge and have to take risks to lead the warm ups.  I talk to the warm up group to get them to talk out their plan, get equipment ready (as everyone else sets up the Badminton nets) and then that group runs the warm up for 5 mins.

We then have had 15-20 mins where students have had to self identify Technical areas for development using the headings: Must, Should, Could to decide what are the most important ‘Must’ things they have to spend time working on and then once completed what Should they work on and Could they do next.  Students sat with their group and completed an evaluation on each other (court coverage, looking at their strengths/weaknesses in front court/back court and then footwork and ready position) in the first week of play which began thoughtful conversations about what their Must, Should, Could lists needed for greater success in their Double’s game play.

Students then worked collaboratively to skill-up from their lists with me assisting in coaching the various skills they were using.  I collated a YouTube playlist of as many Badminton skills and techniques as I could and had print resources available as well.  In the first 4-6 lessons after our skill-up sessions we then played TGfU games that included extra points for using the specific skill you worked on in that session successfully in game play; targets on the court (3 points if you hit the back corners or won for hitting the shuttle in the middle of the doubles’ players or hitting to the back or front court etc depending on what each team had been working on.)  This meant that my team could be earning extra points for hitting long/clear shots successfully and our opponents could be receiving extra points for serving short serves to my backhand side.  It got to the point where each of the four players had specific targets for success and this meant that the opponents had to outwit to stop them scoring extra points by hitting different types of birds or to different court spaces which added to our defensive game play and in-game communication and to their observation of the game.

Students then played in a Doubles’ tournament where they played each team for 6-7 mins in one lesson.   In these games there were no extra points and they had to really work hard and keep consistent.  We talked about how thoughtful strategy can work for both long term and short term – short term was to plan who (which double’s pair of your group of three) would play against the other group to work advantageously as you can and also to prepare for rests/breaks etc in a full lesson of game play.  Everyone had to have equal game time in the team of three.  I took the time to observe and write a comment for each students on my observations of their technical game play as well as their in-game communication and share these digitally with each of them.

After that we had a lesson of reflection and students had to answer the following questions (see below).  In order to do this, they had to self assess their Technical skills (Crit C Performance) both Skills and Game Sense/Strategy and their Interpersonal/Personal skills/Leadership focus (Crit D) before they answered these questions.  I collected their responses by Google form or written – student choice/preference.

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Criteria B: Planning for Performance

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 3.53.50 PM Students then had to tell me what they would take forward to their next Double’s group in order to prepare for our final unit tournament.   I am including a high level example of work from one of my G10 students:

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I spent time reading and commenting on each student’s work before the next lesson (!) and this has meant that as they have changed groups they are taking the time to sit and share their ideas and essential elements for development.  Moving forward we have three lessons where they will work with their group for 20 mins every lesson on their development with continued support from me and our resources, although to be honest they know exactly what they want to work on and I am there to keep them honest to this.  We will then have a final tournament with all four of our G10 classes involved and see where we end up.  It has been a journey to get our students to this point, but the learning has been so rich with clear goals and a unit that has been a lot about them planning for their own success.

Here are my takeaways from this unit:

  • students need choice and some advocation in what they want to spend time on but they also need to be aware of What they could be doing and it is important for the teacher and leading students to be very involved in this.
  • students need some pull out skill development time, especially as they don’t play this game outside of class time and to reach the higher strategic levels they need skill development but it has to be meaningful and be advocated from them to see them engage in it.  It is important for them to have some group choice when completing skill work – so that they can naturally differentiate and have some level of working in their zone of proximal growth.
  • students need planning time and feedback to help them make effective choices, this feedback can be peer, self and teacher but it must come early/mid in the unit not as a summative comment at the close of the lesson when it is too late.
  • students need scaffolding and using the assessment rubrics with clear authentic links is so powerful and drives the way in which you are teaching and offering learning experiences.  If the assessment I am doing interferes with the student flow of inquiry or choice then I need to make sure the assessment is valuable and authentic.
  • The use of TGfU was very powerful for simulating specific game play where there are abundant choices but the students stay with their easy choices (I can hit to this zone so why make it harder for myself?) and this opened up lots of discussions about where to hit and why and how to use strategy and formation to be a more effective player.
  • The use of a concept that can be broadened to any subject or topic etc is useful for engaging in what students can take from this into other areas of their lives.
  • Using the Must/Should/Could was a great way to force students to own their work and choices and be held accountable for what they were choosing to work on and justify this in the bigger picture (not just hanging out with their best mates).  These linked directly to game play afterwards which they enjoyed as they could see that their hard work was being used straight away.


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