Teacher Reflection

Individual Pursuits Part 2 – Climbing Unit

If you have come to this page without reading Part 1 – please take a moment to read the process that has gone into this unit.  It is important that you know that this is not a stand-alone Climbing unit, but is one of a range of units offered for students to choose from.  It is entirely possible to teach this unit as a stand-alone unit, but you may wonder why the assessment rubric is designed the way it is rather than to possibly be more Climbing specific.

Quick Introduction

At ISB we offer some Choice units to our G7-8 classes.  We have evolved this practice to allow student choice but for all students to still be assessed using this same standard despite the choice that they make.  Each teacher then uses the same assessment rubrics but is working within their own style and approach and this allows us as teachers to have autonomy over our class but to be working to the same outcomes for our students.  

I will say that in this unit as we wrote reports, we also discussed what sort of report comment we might write based on the rubrics we had used for assessment – it was clear that we needed a sentence about their student as a learner work; a sentence about their movement in the given unit and then one about their ability to goal set/reflect as part of the work in the unit.  So, we each wrote 3- sentence report comments that teachers could then copy-paste back into their own class students reports for the end of Semester grading.  This sort of collaboration is so rich, it gives students the same approach so that it doesn’t matter which PE teacher they have, they are all receiving a standard department approach to this Choice unit. 

Meaningful PE – guiding our thinking

The folks at Meaningful PE have really opened up the thinking that I am using as I process what we are doing in PE at ISB. I shared this in Part 1 of this series, but here are some of the ways that I am using the different ‘lenses’ to consider how to create units that meet the needs of our students and how we can manage that using our Curriculum and our current timetable and spaces. Here are some of the questions that came up/ come up as I consider what we want to try and get out of units/lessons: 

Personal Relevance – how are we connecting this work to students previous experiences or what they could do next?  (Ex. Previous work; outside sport or activities; things we offer at school or in our community; how are we helping students to find relevance if they have not done this activity before?) How do we know what the students are interested in exploring as part of this unit? Lesson?  Who is teaching this, how might we bring relevance to this? Is this a unit that may have had some past trauma that we need to pre-address with students?

Challenge – how are we pushing students to really challenge themselves?  How are we polling or finding out what is challenging?  (Motor skills? Social situations? Being organized? New apparatus? New teacher? Injury?) etc.  What does “challenge” look like or feel like in this unit?  How could we nudge students further?   How can we get feedback on this?

Social – are they choosing a unit based on their mates being in that class? Or not? How do we keep things social but also have high expectations of this class and them in it?  How do we group students?  Do they decide? Does it change over time?  Do we have a teacher chosen group and then let it evolve over lessons?  How do we support students with fewer social connections? How might we help group them? How do we support students who chose a Choice unit to be with friends, but has no interest in this activity?

Fun/Delight – how do we gauge fun?  If we discuss Challenge/s and fun with students, where do they see themselves and how do we find the balance of this? How do we make this fun knowing that most of our student population are so over-scheduled, they need to ‘play’ more?

Motor Competency – we want students to learn about movement and themselves moving – how do we do this in this unit?  What feedback tools?  What resources do we need?  What do the students want to learn about? How do we do this with lots of different levels or experiences and how do we support injured students?

Rock Climbing Unit!

This blog post is to share the Unit that I developed for my Choice Rock Climbing unit.  We have our own Climbing Wall that has 5 auto belays on it and we have room for some bouldering between the auto-belay setups.

This is the information I post on our Learning Hub Platform for students as part of the unit:

Lesson 1: Introduction and Safety Focus

Each lesson we meet at the start to check in and look at the theme for the day. We then had some ways we could interact either as Athletes, Coaches, Support people or as Researchers and Plan/Reflectors.

Lesson 1 resources/notes shared with students

Lesson one is always ‘messy’ as we try to get everyone ready to be on the Wall, but we aren’t always sure how long the safety conversations will take to get through. We focus on how the unit will be set up, what my expectations are around Safety and being on task and then I ask them what they want to get out of this unit – below are some of the prompts that I ask students to read and then respond to as we get started. The major focus here is on SAFETY and what their responsibilities are to themselves, to others and then what they need from me.

Lesson 2 – Safety (always) and STRETCHing ourselves

Safety reminders are important and occur at the start of each lesson. I quickly work to remove myself from any initial safety checks of students and have then self/peer check so that I can be around for more serious support and monitor how they are taking care of each other. I have found that it is important to have discussions around safeguarding and talk through the importance of not just touching someone else’s harness or their carabiners without consent and permission. We can demonstrate a lot of the safety as the person in the harness, ourselves. We don’t need all hands on us as we show that we are safe.

As many students have climbed, some are very strong and experienced climbers and some have never climbed, we need to find our starting point. Lesson 1 gave us a climb or two and so now I ask students to think about what they need to STRETCH them today – how might they work on a specific technique (I have a resource page as part of my sharing with lots of videos, pdf resources to do with Holds, Flagging, Edging, Centre of Gravity, etc) so that they have some places to begin as they climb/ reflect on what they need next.

Reflection: 1. If you could have this lesson all over again, what would you keep/do differently and why? 2. What STRETCHed you today? Add some detail. 3. What is your focus STRETCH for Lesson 3? (4. Anything else to share?)

Lesson 3+4: Strategies and Holds

These lessons focused on What skills or strategies people were using on the Wall. We shared some resources, and also looked at some of our stronger students climb and had them give some tips to our class. We had a look at how we might Grip some of the more challenging Holds, how to plan and scan the Wall for Jugs and what we could do in some of our more tricky parts of the Wall.

We also looked at Fundamentals of Climbing – a video and some information and then the groups that we formed all had at least one experienced climber who could demonstrate and talk through the 5 fundamentals of climbing.

While students are climbing: I am checking their harness/carabineer safety etc, asking the ‘coaches’ what the climber has planned (have they shared it?) and modelling using correct terms as best I can. I offered iPads, they had their computers to film and I was checking what they were doing on their computers to make sure it is was on task. They found having multiple resources very helpful, as I had already done the research to find good ones.

Reflection: 1. What was your STRETCH Climbing Goal? Be specific. Add some detail. 2. How did you work to achieve that goal? Be specific. 3. How did that STRETCH goal work out for you? 4. What is your focus STRETCH for Lesson 4?

Lesson 5 + 6 FAILing and LEARNing

At the start of this lesson, I did a self-assessment check in to see how they felt they were doing. We did this on note cards using the rubrics, and then I used these to talk to students over the course of the lesson to get more detail or see how what they felt was “all good” differed from my teacher perspective! The assessment rubrics are at the end of this post.

Stretch yourself to FAIL – we talked about what skills or strategies or how what we were choosing as athletes needed to exceed what we could manage today. I encouraged them to fall (safely) off the Wall today – to push so hard or choose a challenge that was too great and to then Fail. Fall. Reflect and go again.

Reflection – STRETCH to Fail

1. Where did you STRETCH and Fail today? Be specific. Add some detail. 2. What did you learn from this? Be specific. 3. How did you work to try and overcome that failure? 4. What is the next step?

Lessons 5-6-7 was a mix up of the previous lessons – them working to STRETCH and FAIL and then researching some ways to improve. Their research flowed between computer resources to people who could demonstrate and coaches who could film them and then sit as they talked through their climbs together. This was my favourite part, having two students joined at the hip as they planned the wall, identified the most challenging areas for that athlete, talked through options, visualised it, maybe practised on lower down Holds that were the same, and then coach there supporting the athlete as they climbed. This process became so ingrained in students, that we see it in our ASA Climbing program with those climbers who have come either to PE or from PE to ASA. It is magical to watch.

Students were asked to film their final climbs (or to film every climb and choose 2) to submit as part of their assessment.

Final Assessment Tasks

I set two assessment tasks, the same tasks as my Running Choice Unit.

Examples of Student reflections

Assessment Rubrics:

Teacher Reflection:

This unit was challenging for me as I am not a Climber but I found having a very similar structure for Running and Climbing was really good for keeping a clear focus on the way we were planning/climbing/reflecting and going around again. As there was such differentiation in previous experience, it was important to gather what the students wanted to investigate, try and how they would grow. This allowed students to start wherever they were/are and to then add on as they wanted to – with reflections and focus around their trials, growth and interest. This unit took a lot of time for me, I had to really work hard with students who came to Climbing because their friends were there, but they didn’t have an investment in the actual Wall or Climbing – and we talked about how to be a supportive friend and coach and how we could make new friends along the way! I spent time discussing how students were taking greater ownership, what they chose to do, how they interacted with the lesson and with others – or how they didn’t. I set high expectations for them being on task – and was quite ruthless with the loss of technology and emails sent home – if they didn’t come prepared to meet me at that level.

I spent time offering feedback to every reflection on Padlet and on our Learning Hub, and I wrote handwritten cards to 4 students who grew as coaches and took great responsibility for their own learning and the learning of others – outstanding.

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