Scanning and Noticing

drowningintheshallow

“when you are a step removed from the fray, you see things that come as surprises – and its important to allow yourself to be surprised.”

One stand out moment in my career to date is when I was looking at some promotional pictures an outside company had come in and taken to use for a new school website. Each department had set up exciting lessons so that the photographer could take some action photos. Chemistry decided on explosions, drama had designed a pupil led play, history acting out a famous Roman battle. We just got down to teaching rugby as we usually do. When the pictures came back we were given the chance to pick the best ones to use. As I was looking through them I saw something I hadn’t seen at the time of teaching,  there wasn’t one smile on either the children’s or the teachers faces…

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A Models Based Approach to PE: Cooperative Learning

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A Models Based Approach to PE: Cooperative Learning

Cooperative Learning within PE is a models based approach that focuses on students working together in small groups to master subject matter content. This essentially gives the students the joint responsibility of both learning the content and also ensuring that their peers learn it as well, moving the role of the teacher towards a more facilitatory role. Dyson and Casey in their recent book Cooperative Learning in Physical Education and Physical Activity put forward five key elements of the model as guidelines for successful implementation within the curriculum. They are:

Positive independence Success is only achieved when students work together in teams and rely on each other to complete the task. One students cannot succeed unless all students do.
Face-to-face promotive interaction There is time within lessons for students to talk to each other, working out common problems, coming up with solutions, identifying…

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Adventure Challenges in Grade Three

Grade three learners, in their unit of inquiry, “How We Organize Ourselves,” are studying the importance of making decisions together to cooperate and get organized.

In Physical Education they are learning new ways to communicate as well as organize themselves while having to solve a problem or to complete a challenge.

Learners had to guide a peer who was blindfolded and couldn’t see, by coming into an agreement of sounds that would help their partner to be aware of the space and where he could or could not go to.

Most of them chose to clap or click their fingers to have their partners moving and use some key words to have them stop moving. Safety was a big deal while doing this activity and students did a great job helping their partners to feel safe while moving into different spaces in the gym.

Their last challenge of the lesson was to lay down on the floor, put the blindfolds on and together create a human square. It required lots of communication and wasn’t an easy task. After the lesson, we quickly reflected on the importance of listening to others as well as being a risk taker and trying their best to help their team to achieve their goals.

 

New Country, New School, New Opportunities, New Challenges Part 1

My family and I recently relocated to Cambodia. This is not the first time we move to a new country. We have lived in several countries and several continents already, but moving means adventure, fun, discovering and learning new things, meeting new people and making new friends as well as adjusting to a new job in a new school and a different country.

Our transition has been quite smooth thanks to the support the school has given us. We were able to find a place to live just before I started to work and slowly started to get settled.

The school is great, I love the PE team and most of the staff seem to be quite friendly and approachable. It is an international school, so there are many different nationalities, not only within the student population, but also the staff.

The facilities are also something I want to mentioned in this post. I feel very thankful to have all those spaces to help me in my daily practice with my students and also to be able to use them for my own practice before or after school.

Here in Phnom Penh the days starts early. There is already some light around 5:30am and the sun rises before 6. I like to leave early and so I can ride my bike to school without feeling with the motorcycles, tuk-tuks, cars, trucks and all other vehicles you might find on the roads of Phnom Penh. At 6am there is not a traffic jam and, even if there are already so many people on the road, you don’t have the feeling of “controlled chaos” that I first experienced here sitting on the back of my tuk-tuk and just crossing my fingers when the driver would cross a very transited road.

The Khmer people, the people from Cambodia are lovely and always have a smile on their faces which also helps, especially when you feel stressed or overwhelmed with other things.

I started this as a series of posts I want keep on writing of my adventures in Cambodia.

Hopefully the next chapter will be on soon. I have so many things to write and reflect about.

Tuk-tuk ride

 

A Journey to Empower Students to be Active

This year I decided to start something new to promote physical activity outside of our physical education classes.

After school, many children join different physical activities and sports, however, many go home and spend their afternoon sitting with an iPad in their hands, playing games and watching movies.

Today’s digital world is changing the way students learn. As a consequence, children get sometimes exposed to lots of screen hours and it is not always ideal for their physical, mental, and social development.

In order to promote physical activity at my school, I decided to ask students to share any sort of physical activities or sports they practiced outside of PE either with their friends, or their families. I used a couple of hashtags, #fitwithfamily, and #fitwithfriends for students to share under these two bigs umbrellas.

All year long, learners could send me pictures of them playing different sports or being physically active. It was great to see the variety of activities they filled the end of their days, weekends, or holidays with.

I had students hiking with their families, riding horses, skiing down the slopes, playing soccer, badminton, ice hockey, basketball, etc. Others shared their climbing, ice skating, swimming, and running moments.

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This idea also involved teachers and the community. Some teachers shared their journey being “fit” with other teachers and friends, with their families, or both. Some sent the pictures through social media such as “Twitter”, “Instagram” or “WeChat.” Some by email or just hard copies.

I printed it all the pictures and posted them on the door of the gym with the name of the student, the class, and section. I also had all the names of sports and the physical activities printed so students learned new words.

Although it was a small project targeting, students, teachers, and the community, I feel that it had a great impact on students’ learning. One of the best parts of this project for me was to see students who were not always so confident in PE feeling so proud of themselves when others asked them for instance about their fencing or climbing experiences.

As a physical education teacher, I want to educate children to be physical literates who enjoy physical activity and are keen to participate and try out new activities. It is essential that they understand the importance of physical activity to lifelong health and well-being.

I made this little video with Flipagram trying to capture the essence of the project.

In addition, @katievhobbs, the wonderful elementary art teacher at our school and I did a little collaboration where she asked students to draw their “fit moments.” Click here to see the collaboration between Art and PE.

Towards the Deep End

drowningintheshallow

Do we teach for joy and delight? These words from Scott Kretchmar have been ringing in my head since I first heard them on Andy Vasily‘s podcast with him a few weeks ago. Fun and Delight are two human experiences which can be realised through movement. To Kretchmar fun is a shallow and fleeting distraction, a way of overcoming boredom. Delight provides a deeper more memorable experience that keeps people coming back to movement. Rugby was both fun and delightful for me. Fun was what got me into rugby, but it was delight that kept me returning week in and week out for 25 years. Since hanging up my boots I have engaged in many other physical activities that I have found fun, but nothing that offers me the delight that rugby did. My search for it in something else remains elusive. As Kretchmar says delightful experiences…

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Mom, Dad, I have swimming today…

Today I feel thankful because I am finally going to be able to teach swimming to my students.

We did have the first unit of swimming at the beginning of the school year but, since then, we’ve been struggling for the pool to reopen.

Having less than a month left of school and twenty classes to fit in the weekly schedule, we managed to have students in the water for two sessions, which is way too short but better than nothing.

Since we live in the south of China, close to Hong Kong, the weather can be very hot and humid at this time of the year, so having the swimming pool available for us is fantastic.

I guess swimming has been part of my growth and development and I find it difficult to understand that many people my age or on younger have not had the opportunity to learn such an important life skill.

Cultural believes and previous experiences have led to certain people to have fear of the water. This affects our students because as parents feel scared they excuse their children from joining our swim classes. It is indeed a sad thing that happens in many international schools and I wish parents will be more reflective of the consequences of not letting their child to be exposed to new learning opportunities.

As I reflect on what happened today, I received four emails from parents excusing their children to join the swimming lesson, I am trying to find the best way to communicate with parents and let them know that their children are actually lucky to have such opportunities in life and that hopefully, they let them give it a try.

I do not want to end up this blog post with a bitter taste though.

I have to say that most of my learners were in the water, pushing themselves, trying to improve their skills in both, front crawl and backstroke and had a blast just being active in the pool.

My last lesson today was in grade 1 and I loved to see the joy they had in the pool as they worked on their pencil glides, their kicks and played tag games in the water.

If you think about, what can be a better way to finish your week than being in the swimming pool in your PE class.

I just want to restate that I am thankful for what I have to offer my students and what I was able to receive from my parents, teachers and swimming coaches as I grew up.

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Being Creative Energizes Me

Today I decided to start my lessons with a different warm up. I made up a game based on something I learned in a PE Conference.

I used five stabilization exercises we usually do during warm-ups:

  • Plank
  • Lunge
  • Side Bridge
  • Mountain climbers
  • Squats

And I wrote down those exercises in 5 big pieces of color paper.

I asked the students to get in groups of 3 or 4 and think of the exercise, draw a picture of it and think of the number of repetitions or seconds to hold the posture for.

After a few of minutes of collaborating with their groups, learners shared their posters and explain how to perform the exercise they had on their poster.

Once every group shared, we started playing the game that consisted of half of the class had a card numbered from 1-5 and the rest of the class didn’t. Those students with cards were taggers and had to tag somebody using the same locomotor moments that the person they were after.

For instance, if one student was skipping and the other was to tag him, the tagger had to skip as well in order to tag him.

Once tagged, the student would get the numbered card and would have to find the poster with the respective number to execute the exercise. After having finished doing the stabilization exercise, he will become a tagger.

The response from the game was great! Students loved it and it just was a perfect way to have them warming up differently. This game meant working on many social skills such as communication, collaboration, complex thinking and independent learning.

I did this activity with my fifth graders, then I simplified it with my fourth graders having only one person to explain the exercise to the whole class and playing the game right after.

I think both ways were very valuable for student’s learning. The second one was much faster and learners started to be active sooner than the previous class.

This game involved lots of creativity from students as they had to choose different locomotor movements to get away from taggers.

Canyoning in Hong Kong

I have always been a nature lover. I find peace in the quiet majesty of mountains, in the hidden depths of rushing waves. Loving nature is an essential part of who I am.

As a physical educator, I believe it’s important to give students the opportunity to be active beyond the field and the court, immersed in the outdoors. This year, I organized a field trip for our fifth graders, taking them to one of the most beautiful country parks of Hong Kong. 

Many people picture Hong Kong as a huge, bustling city, where shopping is the only thing on everyone’s mind. In reality, Hong Kong is full of hidden havens and natural treasures. Hundreds of islands and hiking trails give us the opportunity to experience the outdoors in an active, immersive way.

I wanted my students to experience this kind of environment, so I contacted an outdoor activity company for suggestions. They recommended “canyoning” as a good activity for my students’ age range.

It took two hours to travel from Shekou to Sai Kung Country Park, which is located in the New Territories. This long drive posed some limitations on the activities we could participate in, but that didn’t matter in the end — everyone had a blast.

The counselors had tons of energy and did a wonderful job explaining the importance of safety and respect. They also taught students important tips about being a global citizen in all aspects of their everyday lives.

Our main activity consisted of hiking down a river while navigating over the rocky slope. Students learned how to spot safe stepping rocks by looking at their color. A gray rock was dry enough to walk on, while darker, brownish rocks were wet or covered in algae, which meant they were too slippery for our feet.

Students learned how to communicate with their peers by letting them know if a rock was wobbly or looked unstable. They helped each other to the best of their ability, offering their hand and words of encouragement if a classmate needed some extra assistance.

Throughout the trip, my students constantly offered positive observations and comments, such as, “This is so cool,” “I love it,” and “This is so fun!”

At the end of our river journey, we glimpsed a gorgeous view of the ocean — such a pretty and relaxing sight, surrounded by trees and mountains. We could even see a few fish swimming the crystal-clear water. We were so lucky to have chosen a bright, sunny day for our field trip. The sky was blue, and the pollution that had been quite bad in Shenzhen suddenly seemed to have vanished. It felt like paradise.

We stepped out of the riverbank and out of the canyon, shaking the water from our clothes. We returned to the campsite by hiking on a pleasant trail through the forest.

I am attaching parts of students’ field trip reflections to this post. Many of them are EAL (English as an Additional Language) students so you may encounter spelling mistakes and grammatical errors in their pieces. Please understand that this is part of their learning process, as they continue to discover new ways to communicate their thoughts. 

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Canyoning Reflection Lars 5B

canyoning field trip- Ben5B

Canyoning Reflection By ByeongJun 5B

Fiona’s 5B Canyoning Reflection

AMPed (Autonomously Mastered Purposeful education) Program

Last November I got this email:

“Hello SIS Colleagues, 

We are excited to begin our AMPed curriculum in Grade 1 and we would love your help. Starting in Trimester 2, we are looking to offer our Grade 1 students a variety of learning and exploring opportunities on Day 3s, from 1:20-2:00 pm. 

We would like to offer a “Career AMPed” project where the students have the chance to shadow members of our community and see what it is like to do the many jobs that make SIS the fantastic place it is. You would sign up for just 1 session, just 40 minutes with a small group of students (10 or less) that will spur thoughts, questions, connections, and insight into the minds of our young students as they see and experience what it is like to be…you.

The Grade 1 team feels that you would have wonderful guidance, skills, and enthusiasm to share with the students in this alternative learning setting. Would you be willing to work with a group of Grade 1 students for one block on one Day 3? We will ask one TA to come with the students to help you.

Please let us know if you are interested and available to participate in our AMPED projects on a Day 3 in Trimester 2. 

We’re really looking forward to this dive into exploring new ideas and learning with Grade 1!

#funnerthanrecess”

…And so I decided to help and be part of the project…

So what is AMPed? Click here to learn more about it

Later in the year, I was assigned a group of Grade 1 learners who came to learn about Physical Education. Since I was in the dance unit, I asked them if they would like to help me teach a dance class to kindergarten students.

I showed them how I planned the lessons, how I assessed the students using rubrics, the vocabulary we were going to be looking at during the lesson, and then everyone got a job to help with. Some of the first graders were in charge of the warm up, others of the music for the dance, others picked a child to assess following the rubric I gave them.

After the class, the Career AMPed, as they called them, reflected on their learning as “PE teachers” by sharing what they enjoyed doing and what they thought it was hard as a physical education teacher.

I thought it was a great experience for them, as well as for me as a facilitator of their learning.IMG_0951IMG_0970IMG_0978