Recently, our PE Department offered Choice Units to our Grade 7-8 population. We have themed these options around a central focus – this time it was Individual Pursuit – and we offered a range of opportunities for student choice. I intend to blog about my units in a separate post, but I was able to offer Running and Climbing as two of the choices to my different classes. We have three or four teachers in the same block, allowing us to offer 3 or 4 options to students as part of Choice.
The feedback from several of my Runners and Climbers is that they felt motivated by choosing something that interested them and that the opportunity to set goals (each lesson) and then to research/learn about a topic or concept that we then practised/ and reflect and set new goals was a valuable part of their experience.
Students were offered opportunities to engage in Running activities/practice plans that met them where they are and stretched them to consider how to grow – whether they measure this from Rate of Exertion or use of distance or time or different types of motivation, everyone reflected on finding a new way to run or run further or be more aware of their running and how to plan/reflect.
My climbing students focused on a range of ways to climb. There was no teacher pressure to climb higher, but rather to focus on working to a point of failure – which could be to climb high/different routes or colour climbs/ harder incline or blindfold climb or against time – a range of ways that they chose to engage, pre-map a route practice, climb, coach and reflect on their processes. Their reflections were very valuable to me as a teacher, offering a chance to see how they challenged themselves. Some students could not reach a point of failure. They were not able to push that boundary to have to stop or fall off the wall because they couldn’t continue. This was a great reflection on why they always played things safely!
One of my PE classes completed the Tripod 7Cs survey and the lowest score for me is around Challenge. I will say that the Tripod 7Cs Challenge questions really do focus on classroom practices, so perhaps the questions/responses from students aren’t an accurate reflection on what Challenge could look like in PE. I have felt that our PE program lacks challenge, we see more students with less experience, and the differentiation feels like it is growing – and I suspect that Covid and prolonged lack of access to outside sports/activities will exacerbate this challenge for students and PE teachers. I have found the Meaningful PE examples and conversations around Challenge to be a much richer source of suggestions, evidence and research to draw from.
For my Professional Learning this year, I would like to continue looking into ways that we can challenge our students. I feel (without data to support) that I do a good job supporting my weaker/less experienced movers and my average movers but my top end movers are not always well supported or challenged. Part of this, I suspect, is that they don’t have other stronger players to engage with, and if they are pushed to do something harder or more challenging, they don’t always appreciate this (maybe they are worried that if they can’t do something, that others will think differently of them?) I wonder what data I might collect in trying to support my more able students. I have been wondering about this set of people for some time at ISB. We have tried to create learning opportunities that give us room to move students between class groupings and creation of learning hubs but I have found that this can affect Care – as we as teachers don’t then get to know our students well so there is a need for balance here.
As part of my PD, this year I would like to try and have conversations with Leadership and Technology people about how PE/Specialist courses can try to offer more Choice and easier movement of groups of students when the paperwork or digital work takes so much longer to do than it should – it is a major inhibitor to creating more opportunities to move students across classes or to work with a greater range of coaches or teachers at school. We have a Learner Agency continuum at ISB – it looks like a soundboard with the opportunity to turn up some things between teacher/student and turn down others. You might offer Choice to students but have a teacher-driven course and assessment. You might ask all students to do the same assessment in the same way or offer a choice of how they want to share their learning with you.
In order to create and ensure we can offer these opportunities in PE at ISB – what are the top 5 ways that we need our systems to support us better?
- PowerSchool – landing page to easy access student data (ex. blue heart, allergies etc) with other teachers?
- PowerSchool – landing page has access to all classes at a glance, not just the ones you teach that day.
- Choice units – PowerSchool to Excel then DX to Excel to PS – the time it takes to enter data, can this be streamlined
- DX export grades to PS easily, reduce data entry.
- DX – uploading to multiple students – assessments, not one at a time.
- DX – not allowing students to change their photo, easy to check students ID
- PowerSchool/email – different names of students can make this process confusing as we swap classes/students
- Sharing content/ rubrics from DX to other teachers in a confidential way rather than printing and writing and then sharing. Cover teachers, Aquatics teachers, other PE teachers etc
Below is the Tripod 7Cs Challenge information – I like some of the reflection questions but would love to see more ideas for non-classroom focused teachers.